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!


my joy budget

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When I saw the tweet “Why drinking lattes and working more can make you happier (and other bliss-making money advice) from @lvanderkam,” I obviously had to click on the link immediately. Lattes, working, and happiness? Sign me up!

It’s a great article- the kind where I want to copy and paste just about every quote! I’ll save us both the time- follow the link for the whole article but see below for my commentary.

Laura Vanderkam is a financial planning author who asserts that “Every dollar is a choice…So when you think more broadly about how you spend it, you’ll find that money can buy happiness.”

Small indulgences have an outsized effect on happiness. Buying a house and buying a latte will both make you happy when they come into your possession, but you only buy a house once every few years (or decades). You can buy a latte three times a week, and you’ll enjoy it every time. When it comes to happiness, the general thrust of the research is that frequency trumps intensity.

A house, a fancy car, or expensive furniture certainly make you happy when you buy these objects. But then you adapt to them. Happiness research is finding that variability forestalls adaptation. That’s one reason that travel, and getting together with friends, tends to make people happier than their furniture. Furniture is always the same. Every trip is a new adventure.

She’s speaking my language with the latte talk {well, I actually order soy mistos. Potato, potato}. But seriously- every time I savor a morning soy misto or an afternoon iced coffee or a special treat Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate {which I won’t be doing anymore since it contains gluten!}, I appreciate the heck out of it. It’s comfort and happiness in a cup.

As for every trip being a new adventure- uh, yeah! According to my personal research and calculations {pushes glasses up on nose}, I think our Bahamas cruise supports that theory 😉 It certainly brought me more happiness than an equally priced couch would have. As a side note and shameless plug, I recently created a Travel category to document my happiness-inducing trips.

So you now know probably already knew that coffee and travel are in my “joy budget.” So are comedy shows, drinks with friends, and concert tickets! What’s not? Make-up {I used to live for it}, most clothing {except the really special pieces}, boring on-the-go lunches {I can make them for cheaper at home}, books {I can get them fo’ free + late fees at the library}.

What’s in your joy budget? What’s not? 

Source: here via Amelia on Pinterest

For more on financial planning, see this post!

a fun-packed week & weekend

This is a pre-scheduled post. I am writing it while sipping coffee in my comfy bed. By the time you see it, I will be out and about- buying new jeans, grocery shopping, watching football 🙂

  • Met a new friend for coffee at Starbucks {still on a quest to become the Foursquare Mayor while limiting the amount I spend on coffee. Tough choices}. We pondered what you call “extracurriculars” after you graduate…
  • Went to The Pit for the first time with Sara. I enjoyed it but wasn’t blown away. Definitely fun in terms of atmosphere though! After dinner I got to see Sara’s sick loft apartment.
  • Took a long walk with Maddie and a friend. I always feel productive combining socializing with exercise…even better when I’m getting my dog exercise too!
  • Made Mussel, Clam, & Shrimp Soup in Spicy Broth
  • Enjoyed a fun lunch at Gravy with all of the members of The Raleigh Forum. We’re a very male-dominated group, so I’m on a mission to bring in some estrogen 🙂
  • Hosted an open coworking day at The Forum- we saw tons of new faces! Things went smoothly except for the fire alarm going off mid-day. Whoops!
  • Got back into the gym with a long yoga class. My back has been hurting so I was itching for  a deep stretch. Yoga was just the cure I needed!
  • Set date for a LivingSocial employee get together
  • Chose the winner of the Night in Raleighwood giveaway
  • Birthday dinner for my sister’s roommate, Sarah, at Humble Pie. I ordered the butternut squash conchiglioni- amazing! It was like manicotti, stuffed with ricotta in a sauce with charred tomatoes, capers, and pesto. I told everyone at the table a really gross story and Sarah thanked me after for helping to bring everyone together. Haha!
  • Went to the Rembrandt Exhibit at the NC Museum of Art. Admittedly, I’m not much of an art appreciator. Maybe I should have taken a class in college….but I did really enjoy the exhibits (particularly the photography section) in the other wing. I’m about enjoying art, not taking it too seriously
  • Doing some serious training and exercise with Miss Maddie
  • Game night (charades!) with a few friends. Such a fun way to spend a freezing, rainy Saturday night

It wakes me up daily, don’t need no Starbucks

After lots of searching and taste-testing, I’ve determined my four favorite coffees to brew at home. Brace yourself, because none of them are from Starbucks! Like my reference to this song in the title?!

Just like I did with wine, I’d like to do a coffee tasting to narrow in on my preferences. From the four coffees below, I think it’s safe to say that I prefer light-medium roasts over dark roasts. But I think it’s easy to confuse one’s likes/dislikes about strong vs weak with light vs dark roasts.

Dunkin Donuts Decaf- Medium Roast

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Archer Farms Coconut Macaroon (found at Target)

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Trader Joe’s Organic Fair Trade Breakfast Blend (Medium Roast)

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Harris Teeter Limited Edition Toasted Almond

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what i love today

I’m a firm believer in turning your hobbies/interests/loves into your job or career. I love cooking, I started GW Bites. I love community building, I now co-own a coworking space.

But when your job gets stressful, you have to remember what you love outside of work.

So here’s is today’s edition of Things Besides Work that Cristina Loves:

kitchen tips from a cooking enthusiast

Over the past year or so, I have gleaned a lot of very useful kitchen tips, both out of necessity and curiosity. This is what I’ve learned so far:

  • Keep fruit flies at bay by setting out a bowl of water with vinegar and dish soap. They are attracted to the vinegar then the soap kills them.
  • A cookie sheet, with a plate on top to weigh it down, is a viable alternative to a Crockpot lid
  • Place hardened brown sugar in a bowl next to a cup of hot water; microwave for 1-2 minutes to re-moisten the sugar
  • An oven mitt with a silicone side can serve double-duty as a jar opener
  • A step-top trash can is worth the investment
  • Microwaving sponges help prevent that gross sponge smell and kills bacteria
  • An immersion blender is the best $15 investment ever
  • Plastic grocery store containers (like the ones feta comes in) make great reusable Tupperware
  • Zucchini does not need to  be blanched before freezing. Simply grate it and place it in a Ziploc bag. This was helpful when I bought 7 zucchini for $1.50 and couldn’t use them all at once!
  • 1/2 a cup of coffee grounds = 8 cups of coffee
  • Freeze coffee grounds to keep them fresh
  • Coffee cubes are great for preventing watered-down coffee on hot summer days
I’m sure I’ll think of more tips soon, but feel free to post yours in the comment sections [My stats tell me that you’re out there, so I encourage you to comment!]

yoga makes me cheesy

Doing a challenging yoga class this morning has encouraged me to set intentions for the week in order to keep myself on track..and maintain my sanity during this incredibly exciting but stressful time (can’t share details on that YET but I will soon!).

  • Reach out to potential new friends & work out partners (just contacted 3 girls who posted for a exercise buddy on the board at the Y)
  • Work out (Pilates, yoga, tennis, running, biking, or anything else physical) at least 4 times a week
  • Water my new basil plant so that it thrives. Same for my big green plant in my “office”
  • Take on my work projects with gusto. Go above and beyond!
  • Remember that this is an incredibly thrilling time and that all of the stress is just minor bumps in the road that make me stronger and more adept at handling things that come my way
  • Take deep breaths throughout my day
  • Prepare simple and delicious meals that are good for me and give me energy throughout the day
  • Switch to decaf coffee
</end> cheesiness 🙂

    coffee cubes

    Just settling in for a morning of work with a post-run smoothie, a big bottle of cold water, and iced coffee. The temperature is supposed to be triple digits today, so hydrating is uber-important. I know coffee isn’t hydrating, but I’m trying to combat that with my other drinks 🙂 You know it’s hot when your window unit is set at 81 degrees and it feels like an icebox in comparison to outside!

    I thought I’d share a super simple summer tip- brew coffee, let cool, then pour into ice cube trays. When you’re ready to have your iced coffee, just drop in a few coffee cubes to make it cold without watering it down. And I just realized another perk this morning: when I leave the gym in the morning, my leftover coffee cubes have partially melted, leaving me with a delicious post-work out “coffee shot.” Refreshing 🙂