Clever Tuesday Tips

Don’t have a pizza cutter on hand? Use scissors to cut pizza!

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Amplify phone speakers by putting them in a ceramic bowl

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Can’t quite finish your iced coffee? Put it in the freezer overnight and fill it up with cold-brewed coffee the next day. Voila- just like a coffee ice cube!

Birthday Freebies

On our birthdays, society rewards us for basically accomplishing nothing except making it to another year. One such benefit is companies giving us free things and I plan to milk it for all its worth this year. Here’s what I plan to enjoy on and around my birthday:

  • Free coffee from Starbucks [must have the Gold Card]
  • Free ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s [must be a member of Chunk Spelunker club]
  • Free Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity breakfast from IHOP [must be part of the Pancake Revolution club]
  • Free smoothie from Tropical Smoothie Cafe [must sign up for TropiDeals]
  • Free medium coffee from Dunkin Donuts [must sign up for DD Perks Rewards. And let’s be real, I’ll need two coffees on my birthday!]
  • Free dessert fondue for two at Melting Pot [must sign up for Club Fondue]
  • Free car wash from Carolina Auto Spa [sign up here]
  • Free bottle of wine from Irregardless Cafe [sign up here]
  • A surprise from Red Hot & Blue [must join the RHB Club]
  • Free shots from anyone I can convince to buy them…
  • [Added] 2 free tickets to Goodnights Comedy Club [once you join the mailing list]
  • [Added] Free entree from Rocky Top Hospitality [includes Draft on Glenwood; sign up here]

For more free birthday stuff, check out Active Rain, here, Frugal Living, and FreeBirthdayMeals.org.

Where else can you get free stuff on your birthday?! Anyone else as “opportunistic” [read: cheap] as I am?

P.S. For an interesting discussion at “for all its worth” vs “for all it’s worth,” check out Grammar Girl. Clearly I use the term “interesting” loosely 🙂

Source: sweetapolita.com via Melissa on Pinterest

Keeping Your Sanity During Hectic Weeks {or Months}

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I’ve been feeling a bit frazzled and I realized why: I have a super hectic next few weeks that I’m starting to gear up for.

Within the next three and a half weeks: 4th of July; my Norwegian family in town for four days; my dad in town for about a week; my birthday; a trip to Hollymead; a trip to DC; and a ton of work stuff, as well as the usual Change the Triangle meetings, tennis dates, kickball games, blogging, etc. Although it’s all great stuff, it’s extra chaotic because some of it overlaps. In addition, a lot of it happens mid-week, which means my work schedule has to be changed around. I am definitely not complaining but sometimes having a flexible work schedule is hard because the only person I’m really accountable to is myself!

Here’s how I plan to keep my sanity over the next few exciting weeks:

  • Use a calendar: I make sure all my events and activities are marked in Google calendar so that I can keep track of everything. I need to make set work hours during the next few weeks to ensure everything gets done.
  • Prioritize: Obviously, work has to be a top priority. But my family from Norway has never been to Raleigh and I don’t see them often, so that will take priority over hanging out with friends for the week, for example. I look ahead at my calendar {see above} and make arrangement for ongoing commitments that I need to skip or reschedule.
  • Have alone time: The only way I keep my sanity is having alone time to breathe and decompress. I read a book, rent a movie, catch up on blogs, watch Friends, or take a walk to keep myself in check.
  • Schedule in exercise: Though exercising might feel like it should be the first thing to go, I try to make time for it. I know it always makes me feel calmer and better about myself. Better yet, I try to combine it with other activities to kill two birds with one stone {i.e. scheduling a tennis date with a friend or taking my family to Umstead for a hike}.
  • Plan meals ahead: I don’t want to buy and waste tons of produce, so I’ll probably eat very simply over the next few weeks. Prep meals {like Mexican casserole or soup} and freeze them. And just for the time being, I force myself not to feel guilty for splurging on convenience foods like snack-sized packages of carrot sticks with ranch.
  • Communicate with others: I try to let everyone who might be affected {friends, coworkers, significant others} know that I have a crazy few weeks ahead of me {or I just make them read my blog!}. Communicating helps prevent hurt feelings and missed obligations.
  • Automate as much as possible: I automate everyday things, like paying bills. I don’t want to have to worry about them as I try to enjoy lounging by the pool or dinner with my family.
  • Realize that sh*t happens: Most likely, I will drop the ball on at least one thing. But I try to remember that the vast majority of things are easy to recover from! Remember the rubber ball analogy 🙂
  • Live it up! It’s not every day, week, or month that I get to celebrate my birthday with friends, take yet another trip to DC and Hollymead, handle top-secret work projects, or see my family. I’m planning to live these next few weeks up!


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Tips for Preparing a Multiple Course Meal

The other day, I prepared a four course Mexican-inspired feast. Throughout my four hours of cooking, I wrote down a few valuable tips for maximizing efficiency and minimizing time and stress when preparing such a big meal.

  • Take the lid of your trash can and move it close to your work stations.
  • Read through all of your recipes first so you know how long each thing takes.
  • Set out items that need to be at room temperature {for example, I needed room temperature cream cheese for my Mexican chocolate cheescake}.
  • Likewise, plan ahead for items that need to be defrosted. For last minute defrosting, place item in a Ziploc bag and place in a bowl of warm water. Do this early on in the cooking process so you don’t have to rush the defrosting. Rotate water every 5-10 minutes.
  • Set up separate stations with all of the ingredients needed for each recipe.
  • Check each recipe to see what ingredients you need for more than one. For example, I used red onions for my watermelon feta salad and my enchilada casserole, so I chopped enough for both at the beginning.
  • Likewise, do the same steps at the same time. For example, open all your cans and then put the can opener away.
  • Roast vegetables {like the red pepper I used} in tin foil to minimize clean up.
  • Be comfortable with a mess. Clean up as you go but realize the kitchen will be a wreck until you’re done.
  • That being said, clean your cheese grater right away. Nothing is worse than trying to pry dried cheese off a grater!
  • Think ahead to what you can make with leftovers. Red onions and black olives from a Mexican casserole and feta from a watermelon feta salad can be made into a simple Greek pasta.

Check out Timing a Multi-Course Meal like a Pro for more helpful tips!

Source: westelm.com via Lauren on Pinterest

creative {romantic & friend} date ideas, part ii

for part i of creative {romantic & friend} date ideas, click here!

rent sunfish sailboats at lake crabtree

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bring wine and cheese and watch planes from the observation deck at the rdu airport

listen to live music:

jazz at koka booth amphitheater on wednesday evenings

sunday evenings at fred fletcher

music on the porch at carolina theater on friday evenings

seaboard station on friday evenings

*visit the morehead planetarium and science center in chapel hill

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*take a trip to the new wing of the museum of natural sciences

go to an amusement park [carowinds or king’s dominion are manageable from raleigh]

hike at umstead or pilot mountain

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*go rollerskating at jellybeans

ice skate at the raleigh winterfest ice rink

tour the the jc raulston arboretum

do a wine tasting at a vineyard [try hinnant family vineyards]

take a daytrip to the beach

visit tucker lake

feed the ducks at shelley lake

watch an outdoor movie [go to the north carolina museum of art, the summer movie series on hillsborough st, or movies by moonlight at koka booth amphitheatre]

*peruse awesome clothes at thrift stores or vintage stores [check out father and sons]

*spend a rainy afternoon reading at barnes & noble or starbucks

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* = good rainy day activity!

What’s the best date you ever had? What other ideas do you have for a great date? What is your favorite way to spend a day with friends? 

P.S. My birthday is a month from today! See it on my calendar 🙂

on trusting your gut

My gut is right 99.9% of the time. Life should be easy, right? Not so quick- I’d wager to say I trust my gut about 75% of the time. The other 24.99% of the time, I think back hours, days, or weeks later and scold myself for not going with my gut. In retrospect, things are always so clear. Or, as they say:

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Actually, I think “they” only say the second part but this Pinterest image made me laugh.

Things are clear in hindsight, but it would be awesome if they could be so clear in the present. I’m blessed with an almost foolproof gut, but my challenge is to learn to distinguish between my gut and my other natural responses.

Sometimes I’ll have a negative gut reaction to something and think “I’m being too judgmental” or “It’s just a little thing; I should overlook it.” And you know what? Sometimes I am being too judgmental and sometimes it is just a little thing!

I’m still working on how to tell the difference but in the meantime, I have a few techniques that generally help me.

  • Ask other people but take it with a grain of salt: Dating someone new? Find out what other people think but remember that it’s not the end-all-and-be-all. Choose the people who you consider good judges of character 🙂
  • Make a weighted pro and con list: Sometimes just the act of making a pro and con list can help you realize what you really want. But take into account that everything is not valued the same. Accepting a new job? A great work environment might be a pro and a lower salary may be a con, but which do you actually value more?

How do you distinguish between following your gut and not dismissing things too quickly? Any techniques for learning to trust your gut? 

creative {romantic & friend} date ideas

I’m always looking for fun, new things to do- both on dates and with friends, so I assume my friends and readers are too! It’s easy to get stuck in a rut [dinner and a movie anyone?], but I always find it enjoyable to branch out, discover new things in my city, and have funny stories to share!

Thank you to Sara Rose for helping me compile this list! 

visit the asheboro zoo

do go-karts, putt putt, laser tag, and/or bumper boats at frankie’s fun park

*visit the museum of life and science

take a segway tour [check out triangle glides]

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try stand-up paddleboarding [check out triangle glides at lake johnson or lake wheeler or ride stride at falls lake]

take a ghost tour [check out tobacco road ghost tours]

go berry picking or apple picking [depending on the season]

visit a corn maze and go on a hayride

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*watch a movie in imax 3d or at blue ridge 14, the $2 movie theatre

rent paddle boats at pullen park [bonus- they have a few gluten-free options at the pullen place cafe!]

attend a hurricanes hockey games or a durham bulls baseball game

go for bike ride and picnic on the capital area greenway trail system or at the raleigh rose garden

*go bowling [try sparians bowling boutique and bistro for a classy date or amf for a more casual experience]

play tennis

fly a kite

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*attend a comedy show [go to goodnights on wednesdays to get a free ticket with the purchase of dinner. or try improv at comedy worx]

take a trip to the farmers’ market [look here for a calendar of events]

attend an event at lafayette village, a cute european style village in raleigh

canoe or kayak at lake johnson

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take coffee and bagels (gluten-free of course) and eat them on the rocking chairs at lake johnson

sit on the deck at boylan bridge brewpub to watch the sunset

* = good rainy day activity!

What’s the best date you ever had? What other ideas do you have for a great date? What is your favorite way to spend a day with friends? 

how to efficiently monitor content on the web

1) Google Reader: I use Google Reader as both as professional and personal (read: blog) resource. I subscribe to interesting blogs and websites, then check in 1-2 times per day to read up on my new content. High on my list: Lifehacker, The Kitchn, The Everygirl, and a billion lifestyle/cooking blogs (including all the blog girls!). I love that you can star posts to refer back to at a later time. You can also create folders to group subscriptions by topic (e.g. design, fashion, cooking, work, etc).

2) Google Alerts: I mentioned awhile back how important it is to monitor the internet for references to yourself. But you can also use Google Alerts to search for miscellaneous content across the web- I have an alert set up for “social recruiting” and one for “Boolean AND recruiting” so I can stay up-to-date on the recruiting field. The best part? You can have all Google Alert content sent directly to your Google Reader (see above!).

3) Twitter: I’m obsessed with Twitter and everyone knows it! Without harping on all the benefits, I’ll leave you with two tips: use lists to filter content by user (I have a ton set up but don’t actually use them often). In addition, save searches and check them regularly (I have “The Raleigh Forum, “Raleigh coworking,” and “#socialrecruiting,” among others).

4) LinkedIn: LinkedIn Today is daily news based on your profile details and interests- I always find one or two interesting articles when I browse! Yet another incentive to keep your profile up-to-date…

Staying on top of news and content in my fields (yes, that’s plural!), in addition to browsing interesting content just for the heck of it, is an important part of my daily routine. I love having a little system in place to do it effectively.

How do you efficiently and effectively monitor for interesting content on the internet?

Source: weheartit.com via Debbie on Pinterest

link roundup for the week!

I pretty much relate to every word in this post by Gen Y Girl, entitled “You Don’t Have to Have It All Figured Out.” Can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I graduated! P.S. I think Kayla and I could be good friends if we lived in the same city 🙂

I love the Oprah quote at the end of Elle’s post on being thankful.

Here’s a pretty crazy True Story from Yes and Yes: My Mom Made Me Smuggle Drugs.

I need to study these 6 Pro Tips for Tasting Wine before my next field trip to The Wine Feed!

Going on a summer vacation soon? Read these tips for hitting the ground running when you get back home.

And another LifeHacker helpful hint: use Mason jar lids as egg rings!

And in very important life debates: apparently wooden cutting boards are better than plastic ones. Which means I need to learn how clean my wooden one!

Apparently coworking originated at Regus Office Suites..but not in the way they think.

My roommate just told me about an awesome browser app called Invisible Hand. If you’re online shopping, it will show a discreet pop-up bar if it finds a better price on the same product on another site. Amazing for consumers {though probably not for many e-commerce retailers}.

tip time!

Why yes, that is an Easter egg hiding in my baggie of cut vegetables! Use Easter eggs {which are very discounted right now!} for holding dressings, ranch dip, ketchup, soy sauce, etc. They’re the perfect size and they don’t leak. As I told my sister, “don’t be jealous of my handy pastel-colored carrying case!” #nerdalert

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As soon as you take off a pair of socks, safety pin them together before throwing them into your laundry hamper. No more mis-matched socks floating around your house!

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If you just had your eyebrows waxed and are experiencing some redness, just dab a drop of Visine on the red spot. Clears it right up- just like it does for red eyes! {Thank you to Alison for this tip!}