#49 Do a Science Experiment

Most of them use household items and create rather magical effects – even though they are all the result of science happening.

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.

#49

Do a Science Experiment

I know, when I think of this heading / topic, I immediately think of my refrigerator and all of the items that made their way into the far back; the things that are currently growing various forms of mold and each qualify as hazardous substances. They are unintentional science experiments and not the kind I am recommending you try.

As many people – especially your 7th grade science teacher – will tell you, science is cool. From observing and understanding magnetic properties and chemical reactions, basic scientific principles are interesting to observe and promote our sense of wonder and curiosity – two elements that contribute to feelings of happiness.

Some science experiments are magical. There are several here in this YOU TUBE video that will make you the most amazing aunt, uncle, grandma, pop pop, or parent in the world if you can pull them off. Most of them use household items and create rather magical effects – even though they are all the result of science happening.

If you don’t have a scientific background, I recommend that you stick to those things that you can find in books or online. Attempting to mix chemicals without knowledge of their interaction can be very dangerous and there are more than one news reports of people killing themselves because the lit something or mixed something that shouldn’t have been.

Whether you get a book or go online, there are hundreds of experiments that you can do to satisfy your curiosity or perform magic at the next family party. All you have to do is gather a few supplies and practice. Grab a friend, a kid, or a neighbor and surprise them as you…

Do a science experiment.

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

#53 Eat Dessert First

It was predominantly a consideration of understanding balance; that sometimes, as a treat, you could set aside the rules and do what you want instead of what you ‘should’.

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.

#59

Eat Dessert First

I happen to be writing this from the balcony of a cruise ship where dessert is available almost 24 hours a day. I’ve noticed that by the time I am offered desert each night, I am far too full to add anything else to my digestion system and I am reminded that my grandmother would often treat us to the pleasure of eating dessert first.

I think the concept of eating dessert first is centered on knowing how to treat yourself. My grandmother understood the concept of self-care and while I’m not sure everyone in her world saw it as such, she didn’t hesitate to meet her own needs. She was a strong woman who understood what was good for her and what wasn’t.

For her, eating dessert first wasn’t about indulging in sugary treats versus nutrition, or giving in to fanciful whims of confectionery concoction on a regular basis…

It was predominantly a consideration of understanding balance; that sometimes, as a treat, you could set aside the rules and do what you want instead of what you ‘should’ (with consideration, of course).

I used this strategy once in awhile with my children and offered them an “upside down dinner” – starting with dessert, moving to an entree, and then offering a salad to end the meal but of course, no one ever opted in for the salad selection!

Today, as I move through the buffet line at lunch, I am going directly to the dessert section and select the yummiest option as my first course justifying it as the pursuit of self care! I strongly recommend – for the sake of life balance…

Eat dessert first.

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

#58 Build a Sandcastle

Our senses are often intrigued with the juxtaposition of water and sand and even more so when they are combined to create an entirely different texture.

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.

#58

Build a Sandcastle

Hopefully, it’s not 30 degrees where you are currently… making this suggestion sound utterly ridiculous and unattainable for several months. If it’s a bit warmer, it may actually be the perfect time to try this happiness tip because the beaches are probably mostly deserted and/or there’s bound to be a sandbox that could use a little TLC this time of year.

Why?

Building a sandcastle may be an activity that epitomizes childhood. We don’t seem to care how many crooks and crevices get filled with sand when we are children and believe it or not – it works our brain.

Cooperation

Most of us don’t build sandcastles alone. When we enlist the help of others, we are automatically thrown into the task of cooperation. It’s a great way for children to learn how to cooperate and for others to delegate. It’s a useful opportunity for a group of people to see how individual efforts contribute to a bigger project and outcome.

Creativity

It may be obvious that building a sandcastle employs a certain level of creativity. Most of us have not studied castle structure or architecture and so we are building based on memory of books and television; maybe even solely from our imagination. We have the opportunity to design anything that we fancy and so it’s a great outlet for creativity.

Spatial Skill

It’s a time when dimension, volume, and depth become important to the overall task. It forces us incorporate vision and make adjustments for scale – at least a little. Our brains will naturally attempt to make modifications when an element is too distorted and so it is good practice for spatial awareness.

Sensory and Motor Skill

Working in the sand engages your brain in a couple of other interesting ways. Our senses are often intrigued with the juxtaposition of water and sand and even more so when they are combined to create an entirely different texture. It’s a great time to be intentional and savor the experience. Additionally, there’s a certain level of motor skill involved; both gross and fine. Shoveling sand to build a mound and then carving the sand for detail uses different muscles as well as different areas of your brain.

Family Time

I’ve outlined why building sandcastles is good for your brain and dexterity. It’s also a fantastic family experience and it doesn’t have to be a summer beach day in order to enjoy it. A sandbox in the backyard or in the park can be accessed at any time and if you can get past the idea of sand covered clothing (it is easier to wash off with a dip in the ocean) ~ it’s a wonderful treat for the entire family.

Treat yourself to a free play day by getting outside in the fresh air and …

Build a sandcastle.

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

#65 Digitize Your Old Photos

For those of you still thinking about the money you spent to print all those film shots, here are the reasons you’ll want to and a couple of ideas of how to go about it.

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.

#65

Digitize Your Old Photos

Every time I think of this task – one that remains always on my ‘to do’ list – I find something else that has a much higher priority; often watching reruns of Game of Thrones. It seems that anything would be better than attempting the gargantuan job of digitizing my collection of photographs. The fact that I have a huge collection certainly dates me as anyone in their twenties or younger barely remembers the challenge of buying film, taking a photo, and then remembering to drop it off to be developed. For those of you still thinking about the money you spent to print all those film shots, here are the reasons you’ll want to and a couple of ideas of how to go about it.

Physical photos

Keeping all those photographs takes up space and forces you to be protective of them because paper prints are easily damaged. If you eventually get them out of shoe boxes and into albums, the amount of space they require quadruples. In reality, only a fraction of the photos that we have are keepers. Many of them are random scene shots from a location we visited a decade ago and/or of people we barely knew. As you go through them, if you can’t remember who is in the photo or where it was, discard it.

Share

The best part of having the photos is the ability to share the memory years later. My children loved sitting down and looking at photos of me growing up and they like to reminisce about their own childhood now yet a paper photo is difficult to share unless you are side by side. Digitizing them allows you each to have a copy with ease and the ability to share them with a couple of digital clicks.

Access

Perhaps this is the very best part about digitizing your photo library, it’s available to you at any time and with very little effort. Whether you opt to store them on a flash drive, a hard drive, or the cloud – digital photos only have to be a swipe or click away. While there are varying opinions of cloud storage, I use Google photos and absolutely love it. I know I can’t lose it, it’s available on my phone at all times and it does some pretty cool things like grouping similar faces together so that I can access only photos of the person I want to see.

Digitizing

Now here’s the hard part. Getting all those paper photos into digital format… There are several options if you have the time, it’s probably better to do it yourself. That way you can ‘clean out’ the ones you don’t want and/or send along paper copies to those who may love them the most. You can do it with a scanner designed exclusively for photos (the easiest way), with a regular scanner [the one incorporated with your printer] or you can use a smartphone app. All of these methods will take some time and dedication.

Or… you can pay someone else to do it. A service like GoPhoto.com or ScanCafe.com will do it for you if you send them your photos/slides/negatives and there are local brick and mortar services in most areas as well. Some allow you to bring whole photo albums in and will do the tedious work for you!

No matter the direction you opt to take, the benefit will be great as you realize the joy of being able to stroke the keyboard a couple of times or swipe a couple directions on your phone and access all of your life memories because you made the effort to …

Digitize your photos.

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

#78 Revisit Your Childhood Home

t can refresh our minds of a simpler time and allow us to reflect without all of the complications that have settled upon us since.

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.

#78

Revisit Your Childhood Home

Many of us go ‘home’ during the holiday’s and are reminded of childhood memories and the places they represent. Often, just driving past a movie theater or a diner will elicit fond memories of times past. Those places where we giggled over infatuations and had our first dates. The place we caught our first fish and the location of our our first kiss; all of the ‘firsts’ of childhood are there to induce one memory after another.

A trip down the memory lane of childhood can be beneficial on many fronts. It reminds us of where we came from. Sometimes, a little humility feels good. It can refresh our minds of a simpler time and allow us to reflect without all of the complications that have settled upon us since. When we are reminded where we came from we can make the effort to reconnect to that younger self; to remember our purest beginning.

Sharing the place it all started is fun. Children are humored by the stories we tell about a time they can only imagine. The enjoy getting to know the person behind mom, dad, aunt, or uncle. Our significant other can garner a better understanding of us if we are open to giving them a tour of our early selves. Often, moving through our childhood habitat allows them to gain insight about how we came to be who we are.

Going ‘home’ may ignite more memories than would be typical to have. It’s common for people, places, and things to stimulate a deeper memory bank and one often begets another. Before long, a flood of visions of your younger self will be moving through your mind.

Often, knocking on the door of the home you grew up in will introduce you to others who are sharing many of the same kind of memories. People have been known to offer tours of the house in its current state and are frequently quite curious about the history of those who came before them!

Some people don’t have great memories of home and may avoid going there. The benefit of closure is considerable if you can visit without reliving the pain or discomfort that may have been a part of your childhood. I recommend to clients that you prepare to watch the memories as if they were a movie with an arbitrary actor instead of personalizing the memory. This technique can be very healing, especially if you are with someone safe and supportive as you move through the recollections.

If you are going ‘home’ for the holidays, consider taking a significant other or a dear friend and …

Revisit your childhood home.

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

#161 Make bread from Scratch

Of course with a hot loaf of crusty bread to look forward to, there begs a question as to what you’ll serve with it; a hot bowl of homemade soup?

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.

#161

Make bread from scratch

Is there anything better than the smell of fresh making bread? One of my favorite childhood memories is coming home from school and entering a house filled with the aroma of bread in the oven. This is considered an “odor-cued memory” – a smell that, in an instant, propels us back to a fond childhood memory.

Pass it Down

For this reason – although not the only reason – the suggestion to make bread from scratch and fill your home with the aroma is meant to induce those pleasant memories and instil them in the brains of your own children or those around you. It’s a two-fer… you’re bond to recall wonderful memories AND eat some hot, fresh bread.

Simplify It

Bread doesn’t have to complicated. The invention of the bread machine simplified the process and eliminated the need to knead, rise, knead, rise… it’s automatically achieved inside the machine. No machine? No worries… there are great breads that don’t need all that attention. Indeed, some of the no-knead recipes resemble more organic and unprocessed (basically, because they are…) loaves that are more popular and tasty these days.

The Whole Meal

Of course with a hot loaf of crusty bread to look forward to, there begs a question as to what you’ll serve with it; a hot bowl of homemade soup? A big bowl of chili? A large pot of marinara covered pasta? Regardless of the choice, you’ll need a stick of ‘real’ butter (preferably salted – because everything is a little better with a tad of salt), and potentially some jam or honey for the desert portion of the meal. Freshly baked bed with a little dollop of sweet makes a great follow up if you have any belly space left!

Here’s a list of 40 Insanely Delicious Yeast Bread recipes for you to browse. After selecting one, gather the ingredients and treat yourself to the pleasure of …

Making bread from scratch.

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