#166 Organize a Food Drive

Perhaps now… before we’re all inundated with people asking, it would be more effective! It doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy…

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#66

Organize a Food Drive

Perhaps one of the best feelings ever is that sensation that settles in when we do something selfless that benefits someone else. It seems as if there is some type of disaster annually that strips communities and its residents of resources and even without, there are always people in need for a variety of reasons. Food pantries exist for this very reason yet during disasters and especially near the holiday’s, their contents dwindle to levels that make it difficult to meet need.

Feel good feelings

As an individual, it seems that there is often little we can do other than contribute money but that means someone else does the grunt work. This suggestion is aimed at increasing your sense of Eudaimonia (a deep sense of well-being) by initiating, organizing, and following through with a food drive in support of a local pantry or a larger effort at providing supplies to disaster relief.

Getting started

After connecting with a charity that will accept the donation, it may be necessary to establish a collaboration with your work, school, or spiritual organizations to get energy, committment, or permission. Generally it’s as simple as placing collection containers in an obvious place and inviting people in that environment to participate by contributing to the cause. Unexpired canned or boxed food items are always appreciated as are paper products that any family could use. Some drives are specifically aimed at children or infants. What a blessing it would be for a food pantry to be inundated with a supply of diapers it can offer its patrons!! (I know, diapers aren’t food but they are often desperately needed).

Start now

This is a common effort during the holidays and we’re entering that season so it may be something you want to add to your to-do list or your ‘holiday intention’ yet I would offer “why wait?”. Perhaps now… before we’re all inundated with people asking, it would be more effective! It doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy… a phone call to a pantry or charity to get needs and details… an email or flyer distributed to your cohorts… the actual collection… and then delivery. It could be one box or ten.

Motivate the gang

This may be a great activity for your family, your bible study, your business team, your department, your bowling team, or your book club. It’s bound to boost your gratitude level, your sense of belonging, and your overall well-being and that’s just the benefit to you! Your energy will most definitely help others and make life easier for someone who need their own boost. I hope you’ll consider…

Organizing a food drive.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#167 Clean Out Your Car

A true cleaning means getting into the glove compartment (does anyone actually keep gloves in there?)

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#167

Clean out your car

If it’s true that a clean house is a predictor of your health and happiness then it must follow that the cleanliness of the inside of our automobile is also somewhat of a predictor… especially for those of us who spend a ton of time driving. Our mental health is more stable when our environment is stable – organization and cleanliness manifest a sense of stability no matter the location.

Top to Bottom

Reader’s Digest suggests there’s much more to cleaning the interior of our car than simply dusting and vacuuming and an order in which to do those things. To start – as in your home – you should vacuum first! But from top to bottom; starting with the dashboard, then the seats, and finally the carpet. Vacuuming creates dust so don’t wipe things down until the vacuuming is finished. When you wipe things down, don’t stop at the obvious… be sure to wipe the inside of the door – the door jam – it’s the part that everyone first sees and ultimately determines how tightly your door closes.

Nooks & Crannies

A true cleaning means getting into the glove compartment (does anyone actually keep gloves in there?), the center console, and the seat pockets. I’m lazy when it comes to those areas and when I do make the effort, I typically find little treasures that make me cringe, not to mention items I’d forgotten I had. Generally I’m a few dollars richer for the loose change that has collected there.

Taboo Items

The next step is to be sure to remove all the items that one should never keep in a car. Valuables is the obvious choice but there are other items that can be negatively affected by significant changes in temperature (heat & cold); plastic, for example. Eliminate any water bottles that have been exposed the the intense hot temperatures possible with a car sitting in the sun. Same advice goes for anything electronic; computers, cell phones, and tablets can overheat when exposed to extreme temperature, rendering them temporarily inoperable. Electronics are also frequent targets of thieves, making your car a tempting target.

Benefits

Inevitably, getting into a nice clean car that smells fresh ignites that ‘new car’ sensation – always a good feeling. Cleanliness is like a blank slate and allows your mind to focus on tasks at hand; clutter is distracting. Cleanliness helps us avoid the perils of allergens; the inside of your car is a small space so keeping the air there dust free will ultimately be beneficial. Take a look at your schedule and find some time to carve out so that you can …

Clean out your car.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#168 Create a Piece of Wall Art

These are only a few options and a really great way to decorate on a limited budget. It’s also a great way to change up your home decor without breaking the bank …

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#168

Create a piece of wall art

Just getting started in your first home? Feeling crafty? Wanting a change of decor? Creating your own piece of wall art isn’t nearly as difficult as you may think! Depending on how industrious you feel, it can as little as a few minutes with some simple supplies or you can go all out, using power tools and scrap wood.

Starting small and easy is generally a good idea. Some masking tape, a couple of canvases, and complimentary paint colors is all you need for this first abstract look.

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I used this technique for the bathroom walls in my daughter’s hall bath a number of years ago. It encompassed a pack of coordinating scrapbook paper, an inexpensive canvas, and some Modge Podge. Any shape works but this ‘leaf’ or ‘pointed oval’ makes a pretty great flower. You can make this for less than $20.

wall1

Using circles is also a great idea. There are lots of options here…  Paper on canvas, wood on canvas, wood on wood, even plastic. You can use a variety of items here or simply spray paint wood circles and clue them to a painted board or repurposed canvas you pick up at a thrift shop.

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Getting more labor intensive, a variety of wood projects are also low cost. Scrap wood can be purchased at surplus shops for next to nothing and joined to create a panel ready to hang. A painted word purchased on Etsy or at a craft show adds a pop of color and personal interest.

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A creative use of different stains can also be interesting. While the picture below depicts inlaid wood – the same effect can be accomplished by using tape and different stains.

This last piece may be as simple as sending the kids outside to pick up a few sticks nature provided the last time it was windy! Cutting them to fit inside a shallow box you’ve built and painted creates a really interesting focal point for a room anchored in natural elements. It brings the outside, inside.

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These are only a few options and a really great way to decorate on a limited budget. It’s also a great way to change up your home decor without breaking the bank or investing so much that you feel compelled to keep something even though your tastes have changed.

This is a great family activity and a fantastic way to encourage creativity. Art is a completely subjective endeavor and so… if YOU like it – that’s all that matters!  Hopefully, this gets your wheels turning about how to fill some empty space on a wall in your home just waiting for you to …

Create a piece of wall art! 

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

 

#169 Memorize a Poem

Memorizing a poem that you enjoy helps to build upon appreciation of artistic expression in general.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#169

Memorize a poem

Aside from “Roses are red…” and “Miss Mary Mac…” have you ever memorized a poem? Can you recall it now? Memorizing is good for your brain and poems are often good to practice because there is typically a cadence that makes it a little easier. It may be good for your spirit as well… the material we memorize sits a little further in our brains and becomes deep knowledge.

Repetition

Unsure of your ability to memorize? Think of all the song lyrics you know… you’ve memorized them without intent just by listening to the song over and over. Really, anything we do over and over can be implanted in our memory banks. Think of the church service you cantor without much forethought, or the pledge of your fraternal organization. Repetition is a key to memorizing.

Irish Blessing

My mother had a plaque above the kitchen sink that I often read as I washed dishes and I remember it now… decades later; The Irish Blessing:

May the road  rise to meet you,

May the wind be ever at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon  your face,

And the rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

I encourage you to pick a poem from this list of Best Short Poems to Memorize or another that resonates with you, print it out, and tape it in a location that you can easily read it a couple times a day (computer desk, kitchen or bathroom mirror). Before long, you will have memorized the poem in its entirety.

Benefits

Memorizing a poem that you enjoy helps to build upon appreciation of artistic expression in general. The ‘artistry’ in the poem exposes you to language that may not be a part of your typical vernacular; expanding your vocabulary. It has the potential to expand your verbal and emotional intelligence which, are attributes associated with higher rates of well-being.

Take a short tour of the link above, visit the library, or think of a poet you’ve enjoyed in the past, pick out a verse, print it out, and …

Memorize a poem.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#170 Roast Marshmallows

Some people like their marshmallows lightly roasted – the color of toasted bread and soft, almost completely melted on the inside.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#170

Roast Marshmallows

Yesterday, I wrote about Camping (or Glamping) and anyone who’s had that experience knows the pleasure of sitting around a ‘camp’ fire. Tradition, for our family at least, has been to include marshmallows so that we can roast or toast them as an evening treat. There have been many a conversation about how to do just that.

Perfection

Some people like their marshmallows lightly roasted – the color of toasted bread (perhaps where the term “toasted” originates) – and soft, almost completely melted on the inside. It’s accomplished by finding a part of the fire that is mostly molten coals with a low blue flame,  if any. A slight roterisse action will assure coverage across the entire circumference. It will bubble just slightly and color slowly. If your marshmallow meets matches this description and you wait just a few minutes after pulling it back from the fire – it will be slightly crispy on the outside as the sugar begins to crystalize again – making it absolute perfection – IMHO.

Variations

Others seem to find enjoyment by placing their marshmallow directly into the flame until it, in itself, becomes a torch. Quickly, it turns black and will consume the sugar entirely if it is not blown out. The underbelly of these are still firm and can often be toasted again if only the blistered ‘skin’ was removed. It’s a great way to extend the life of your marshmallow if – you can tolerate the ‘burned’ flavor. There are a few who are fearful of burning and lack patience to thoroughly roast so they ‘warm’ their mallow to the point of being soft enough to quickly dissolve.

Alternatives

A campfire is perhaps, the most favorited location to pass a bag of fresh marshmallows but it’s absolutely not the only way to experience the joy of the sugary treat. In recent years we’ve seen an explosion of homeowners with backyard fire pits or chimineas on patios and decks – offering year round alternatives to traditional campfires. In the absence of those options, there’s always the convenience of a gas grill or the flame of your own gas stove. In a pinch, there’s the heat produced by the electric burner on your kitchen range. Pop a marshmallow on a large meat fork, turn the burner on high and rotate. (I may have resorted to that method a time or two during my apartment living years.) As a novelty, a few companies now manufacture ‘roasting kits’ using a small sterno can as flame fuel. Hey, whatever works!

Savor the memories

No matter how you do it, the simple act of popping a perfectly roasted marshmallow into your mouth or smashing it between graham crackers with a block of chocolate (s’more) will instantly remind you of one of the most fun aspects of childhood. Take yourself back and enjoy a few minutes of pleasant memories by savoring the flavor and all that it brings with the satisfactory act of…

Roasting marshmallows.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#171 Go Camping (or Glamping)

Glamping is a relatively new twist to the idea of camping – taking all of the reasons people don’t camp – and erasing them.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#171

Go camping (or Glamping)

I didn’t exactly grow up camping the way so many people have but it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with getting away and sleeping outdoors, once I did.  There’s just something very natural about sleeping outdoors. Perhaps it calls to our ancestral memories when outdoor living was the only option. When we can spend time outdoors (or with the essence of being outside) without the frustration of insects, bad weather, or discomfort – it’s a wonderful experience that resonates deeply for most of us.

Options

Camping accommodations are about as diverse as there are places to camp. When you’re young and broke, tent camping is a great place to start. Small, easy to set up tents are inexpensive as are tent camping sites – especially at National Parks. There are pop-up campers, hard shell campers, fifth-wheel traveling homes, cottages, cabins, yurts, and various contraptions that have been turned into camping rentals (i.e., treehouses, cabooses, etc.). Likewise, prices run from just a few dollars a night to potentially hundreds if you’re Glamping in an elaborate tree house with all of the comfort amenities.

Comfort

Glamping is a relatively new twist to the idea of camping – taking all of the reasons people don’t camp – and erasing them. Glamping is perhaps the very best way to experience a change of scenery away from home while embracing a bit of the best camping elements. Glamping give you a chance to do all of the things that are great about camping; cooking on an open fire, eating outside, stepping out of your sleeping area and taking a hike, embracing copious amounts of fresh air, etc. By definition, Glamping is where campling and modern comforts (bed & flushing toilets) – collide.

Rental

The idea of Glamping has become so popular that AirBnB lists dozens of owners who are now making money by offering ‘accommodations’ that take camping to a whole new level. RV’s – Tents with beds, and treehouses are only a few of the offerings available now on these online overnight reservation services. Imagine the owner of a farm in western New York who puts up a large tent out on the edge of his tree line, lays in a throw rug, a queen sized mattress with high end linens, a few high powered battery operated lamps, lots of throw pillows, prepares a fire ready to light, and then leaves a tray with s’more fixings for you to enjoy at some point in the evening. Oh… and don’t forget the chemical toilet that’s available so you won’t have to succumb to any ‘out house’ experiences. That farmer… smart guy!

Certainly, throwing down a sleeping bag next to a babbling brook after sundown and watching the raccoons try to steal the bag of hot dog buns you left on the picnic table while you roast marshmallows over a fire you made by collecting scraps of wood across the forest floor… there is a beauty to that simplicity as well.

Perfect timing.

It’s that time of year in the Northern hemisphere where camping is prime… warm days and cool nights. Leaves will be changing colors and there will be a crispness to the air that is attractive no matter where you stay. It’s a time of year when the mountains call. There’s so many advantages to getting away from the daily stressors of your life and communing with nature – even if you do it in comfort! Your stress level will reduce, your exposure to Vitamin D will rise, your connection to family and/or friends will strengthen and your opportunity to ‘get grounded’ improves dramatically when you…

Go camping (or Glamping).

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#172 Review Your Will

It’s important to understand what happens if you do NOT designate your wishes.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#172

Review your will

We hear this legal advice all the time and yet I am amazed how few heed the recommendation. When did you originally write you will? [Stop reading right now if you don’t have one and make THAT your priority today.]

While I am not an attorney and no one should take my advice as officially ‘legal’ – I spent half my adult life as a financial advisor and would often review this element with clients as we were addressing the complete ‘financial’ picture. I served as Executrix for my Grandparents’ estate and learned more about what ‘not’ to do as we plan for the time when our assets get distributed to people we love.

Times Change

Many of us design our first will using very basic structures because we’re young and have little to distribute. As we grow older, accumulate material items and wealth, have children, and lose older relatives, the way we think about ‘who gets what’, will change. The people we want to carry out our wishes may also change as relationships morph over that time. This is all in addition to and separate from what needs to be addressed when there are dependant children who need to be considered.

Digital Information

Today, in conjunction with the traditional considerations, we need to think about some things that have never been issues such as your digital legacy. Many of us have photographs in online accounts… Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social identities. What do you want to have happen to that data? Your Executor needs to have a list of your electronic passwords and some direction of what to do with that information. Facebook offers a “Legacy” account; Read THIS. Do you want that information deleted or protected as historical data?

Disbursement

Experts agree that our wills need to be revisited every five years; more if our circumstances change (buying house, having children, etc.). It’s important to understand what happens if you do NOT designate your wishes. Dying Intestate (without a will) will activate a line of distribution that is automatic when someone fails to make their preference; spouse first, then children. Without a spouse (married partner) or a child, the line of disbursement moves to parents, legal siblings, and eventually – if none of those relationships exist – aunts and uncles. There may be a friend or charity that would benefit from your estate more than great Aunt Mary and so a will is a necessity.

If you haven’t recently considered your afterlife wishes, take some time to think about what is important to you and then…

Review you will.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below