Monday, April 20, 2015

New Header & Canva Review

Have you ever used Canva? It's a great design program that helps you design Photoshop-quality work with NO Photoshop stress. It is easy to drag and drop photos, texts, and symbols. There are even templates you can alter to make your own. I was playing around with it and came up with these new designs for my header. 

Option 1: Simple, cool, hazy look, casual yet boxy typography. 

 Option 2: Summery, joyful, FUN, handwritten typeface

Let's have a vote! Which Canva created header do you prefer for this blog?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Do You Have an Accent?

I grew up in a house of strong New York accents. My mom has an especially thick accent. It was so much different than the standard American English I heard on TV, or how my teachers and classmates sounded in rural Pennsylvania.

My grandmother, the modern woman, spoke without an accent. She had a perfectly manicured way of speaking. Clear and proper, especially when she used her phone voice. Something in my childhood brain told me that I should sound like that. I trained my ear to recognize accents and I trained my mouth to avoid them.

I became righteous and inwardly judged people for speaking with accents. I would think "How sloppy and uneducated! Why should I listen to your mispronounced words?!". Looking back, I see how foolish I was.

When people speak they are showing you parts of themselves. They are sharing what they think or believe an they are also showing you the places they've been. People show you a map of their life when they speak. My neighbor, a military man, has been stationed all over the US. When he speaks there are y'alls mixed in with his Minnesotan accent.

What got me to love accents is meeting someone from Boston. It's a charming accent and it reminds me of my favorite movie, Good Will Hunting. Loving the person who talks with this accent might have had something to do with me loving the accent.

Accents are beautiful.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Perception of Reality

Each of our perceptions of reality is real. How we feel about these situations are just as real too. Your experiences, no matter how ultimately universal are different.

Here's the good news: you are not locked into your perception of anything!

There are two golden ways to stretch your perception. Both ways take practice, but are attainable.

Ask Questions Especially "WHY?!" 
Asking questions can help you get to the bottom of your situation. Start with easy questions, and get to the harder ones.

A few weeks ago, I was driving through the streets of Philadelphia in my old burgundy Volvo. It was around 10am after a one inch snowfall from the night before. Flurries were in the forecast all day. As I was driving, I noticed the flurries made my world look like the inside of a snow globe. The sky was a brilliant blue. The sun was warm and friendly. My mind automatically thought it was snowing again. I saw white snowflakes floating though the sky and the weather station said  there would be snow. In this moment, I thought "why". I asked myself "why did it look like it was snowing?". That questions made me question my perception of reality. I look around and take notice of the fluffy snow drifting from the tops of buildings surrounding me. It wasn't snowing at all, the wind was just blowing snow to the ground. Although I was experiencing the same beautiful snowy moment, it was somehow different.

Language is Important

We use words to describe our world. We describe our perception of reality to others and most importantly to ourselves. There is a dialogue going on in all of our minds, all of the time. These stories we tell ourselves can be a blessing, curse, or something in between the two.  

Language is an important when looking at your life from multiple angles. In the story above, I talked about it snowing when I saw snowflakes floating around. The more accurate language to describe it would have been to say "I saw snow". Seeing snow floating around to describe the event is truth in both perceptions of that situation, where as saying "it's snowing" is limiting.

Valentine's Day is upon us. I have been noticing 'woe is me because I'm single' posts have been popping up on social media like dandelions on a suburban lawn. With a perspective change, the reality of this situation can be turned on it's head. There are a few ways to get out of this hole using language. Valentine's day is a day for love, right? What is stopping anyone from loving each other? Romantic love is commonly celebrated on on February 14th, but can't we redefine it? Love is love is love. Self love, love for friends, love for family, love for strangers. Ever get that warm and fuzzy feeling from doing something sweet for someone else? Ever love yourself so MUCH you are bliss-ed out? Redefine the things that upset you. Dissect what bothers you, find the basic meaning and apply it to your life. Setting you self up for failure will result in failure. Setting yourself up for something better won't give you perfection, but you'll have a better view of your life.

Slow down, listen to how you talk to yourself. Talk back, take over. xoxo

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

5 Big Ways to Save Money!

Around Halloween, I resigned from my teaching job. I couldn’t have chosen my own happiness above my job if I didn’t have the savings to do so.I am a natural saver. I squirrel away money, then spend it in big ways. The last time I had a big chunk of money, I bought a house. This time, I quit my job and essentially bought my happiness back.

Here are some tips to help you save money, live a more simple life, and choose yourself.  

You will be surprised how many duplicates you have. Sort through your belongings and keep likes with likes. Throw out anything expired: cans of food, medicine, almost all opened cosmetics you haven’t used in the last month, etc. Maybe you have 3 bottles of the same color nail polish, or 6 cans of black beans. Check your cupboards and closets before you buy new stuff. Make an effort to use the stuff you have. Make some burritos with all the black beans!

Purge and Sell
 Look through your closet, house, garage, and storage unit. See those clothes that don’t fit right?  Or the jewelry from the Ex you never wear? How about the shoes you only wore once because they pinch your feet? Gifts that aren’t you that still have the tags? Get rid of them! Consign them or sell the stuff on Craigslist/Ebay. For the clothes/stuff in ok shape, donate it and get a tax return form.  Threadbare clothes can be cut up into rags and used for cleaning instead of paper towels. Did you know you can sell (not so) old textbooks to Amazon? Or list old bridesmaid dresses/shoes online? Here or here  Or sell your old phone back to your cell phone carrier?

Buy Smart
Be aware of sales. Memorize the average price of the things you like so you can better recognize a good price. Buy your basics when they are on sale if you don’t already have an unopened spare. See a sale on undershirts and yours only have about a month left before you turn them into rags? Get em! Do you make smoothies for breakfast? Get your fruit on sale (frozen or fresh). If you buy fresh fruit, wash and cut it up into small chunks before packaging it into baggies.

Buying smart also means using sites like Ebates and Retail Me Not when shopping online. Ebates gives you a percentage of your total purchase price back. They send you a quarterly check. Last Christmas, I bought most of my gifts online, and received a $20 check the next quarter.  Here’s my referral link.  You don’t have you use it to set up an account, but it benefits both of us. You earn cash back on stuff you are buying anyway, and I get a referral bonus.  Retail Me Not is a site where you can search for promotion codes and sale codes.  That means you can unsubscribe from all of those store emails! Phew!

Be Creative!  
You recycle, right?  There is a program in some cities called Recycle Bank. It’s free and easy to sign up. Once your sticker is on you recycling can, you can start saving money. You can redeem points to get coupons on stuff you already buy, or free gift cards.

Save your cans and sell them to a scrap metal shop. I have a few garbage bags in my basement of clean soda cans. When I have enough to fill up my granny style shopping cart, I'm hauling it over to the metal shop! If you are saving your recycling anyway, why not make money off it? Some states have deposit centers where you can return bottles and cans for cash… well cents.

Do you have extra time on your hands and an expensive hobby? Ask your local yoga/dance studio, day spa, gym, etc. if they are looking for help in exchange for free services/classes!

Do you have an extra room in your house? Join Air BnB Or love animals? Sign up for DogVaca. Join the share-economy.

Seek out free stuff! The library is my favorite place. I love the books, movies, author lectures, and even audio books available through the Free Library. The Philadelphia Art Museum offers free Wednesday yoga classes with (pay what you wish) admission.

Use Less
Do you have cable? Do you really make good use of it? I canceled my cable subscription, got a Roku box and Netflix. That alone was an $80 monthly savings!

Take inventory of your waste. Are you always throwing out leftovers? Make an effort to eat your leftovers for lunch instead of getting take out. Freeze your leftovers and eat a homemade frozen meal on busy nights instead of ordering pizza. My friend, Ashley Zanolli, is an environmental engineer specializing in food waste. In this article, she was interview on the topic of holiday food waste. Applying these ideas to your everyday life is easy.

Be conscious of your utility consumption. Program your thermostat so that it will be cooler at night and while you’re away in the winter, and warmer while you’re out in the summer. Buy insulated curtains to keep heat in during the winter and hot temps out in the summer. Draw the blinds when you aren’t home to help keep the temps steady. Unplug “energy vampires”, like computer chargers, when not in use. Turn off the lights when you aren’t in the room. Replace burnt out light bulbs with energy efficient ones. They even make energy efficient dimmable bulbs, so there is no excuse! For other tips check out Energy Star's site.

These are tips that I have lived by over the years. They work for me, and I encourage you to try them yourself!

Friday, December 12, 2014