Friday, November 30, 2012

Tis the season of …Re-gifting?

I know (believe me) that life can get busy and sometimes there is no time for the last minute shopping spree. You may find yourself in a situation that you’re running out the door to birthday, anniversary, Christmas or Chanukah party with nothing in hand and there is a desire to grab an unwanted unopened gift sitting in our house to pass along. 

Every year my husband and I receive gifts that we know right away have been “re-gifted” and have been sitting in our friends’ basements or a relatives closet for over a year and now show up nicely wrapped at our doorstep.  People are under a strange fog if they think that they are being crafty and that a re-gift is not obvious. If not done right and without a little bit of thought put into the item, a re-gifted item could have a reverse effect of brightening someone’s day and result in hurt feelings , negative impressions, and embarrassing moments. In fair warning to all the “re-gifters” out there, if your friends catch on to your plot you may be receiving the not-so-hot gifts next time around. 
That said, “re-gifting” can be ok in some instances, especially for those that are budget conscious. In this economy not everyone can handle the huge expenses with buying new gifts fro all. A re-gift can become a great gift for someone if its done correctly with a few personal touches and a little bit of thought.

1)    Use a little bit of common sense and think about the receiver. Will this person use or appreciate the gift you did not want? If your children never played with this item would your friend’s children (or parents) appreciate it?

2)    Usability: Do a little research- has this gift been discontinued since you received it (just in case your will want to purchase any supplemental items to it)?

3)    Condition. Does the gift look new? Can you spice it up with better wrapping fit for the occasion? 

Some gifts actually make a good presents.  Gifts that are ok to re-route to a new home:

1)  A great bottle of unopened wine or cognac (if your friends drink! Don’t bring it so they open it just for you :) )

2)  Clothing items, if new with a tag on them- such as children’s clothes, a shawl- just make sure you know the style of the person getting the gift. I have received re-gifted kids clothes before and loved it! It was something I used right away, was my son’s size and style.  

3)   Books and Games- a great new book or a fun family game is always a great gift if unopened and if you know that the gift will be used. (i.e. Make sure your friend likes to read or loves to play games).

Alternate quick solutions not to re-gift:

1)    Create your own money or gift card-holder:

Sometimes, just giving money is a great way to show you care.  Everyone enjoys getting a little extra cash, even if it means that you didn’t go out and shop.  Here is a fast way to use extra gift-wrap paper around the house to create your own money or card holder. If you want to create a little surprise (and if you feel the person receiving the gift will like this)- quickly pull into a gas station before the event and buy 25 dollars worth of lottery tickets to put into the beautifully crafted envelope instead of cash…one of them has to win, right?

2)   Sending Flowers via internet or buy flowers at the store- a quick bouquet brightens the day. If it’s a major event consider getting a cool potted plant- they last and most people enjoy them.

3)    Send an E-card with an attached gift certificate

4)    If you’re crafty you can always create something from you. Anyone receiving the gift will see you put work into it and appreciate it.

5)    When in doubt...Pintrest!-

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A must-have...

I would like to highlight one my biggest trade secrets of a succesful work I will not advise anyone on organization, stretching, soft skills, or any of the typical things you secret is (drum roll please) a space heater!

 I work in an office located in an office building with central heating and cooling. No matter how hard the building management tries, they unfortunately cannot regulate the temperature to my personal preference. In fact, I work in an office that consists of 95% women and we've noticed that we are almost always cold.   We all layer, which helps, but even with the layers I am always just a little uncomfortably cold. I noticed that whenever I feel a little colder than I want to be, like a toothache, it makes me less productive. I tend to get up more to walk around the office, I tend to take lunch earlier, I make excuses to "heat up".

One of my colleagues let me borrow her space heater and it was "love at first heat"! I have the thing blaring under my desk, creating a cocoon of warmth in my office. It's wonderful! I come in the morning, turn it on, and cuddle into my workspace. Although it sounds like now all I need is a blanket and to fall into a blissful sleep, I actually begin to concentrate on my work.  Not only do I have better concentration but my saleswoman kicks in in full throttle, I am friendly to my coworkers, I don't complain, I want to stay in my office. It's really a great tool and my advice of the day.

I found this really great article for businesses and the connection of temparature to workplace productivity. Check it out:

Side note:

Granted there are women that do not fall into this category, but most of my friends and colleagues will agree that we like the thermostat higher than our significant others. My husband and I have an evening tradition, everyday I wrap three blankets around me on the couch while he sits watching TV comfortably in a T-shirt.  We have had many silent battles over the thermostat at home...while he's upstairs I would sneak to the living room to turn it up, and while I slept he would turn it down. My husband is practical by nature and always remembers to turn off the thermostat when we're not at home. I am realistic by nature and know that when we come home it will be FREEZING, so I naturally "forget" to take that step when leaving the house. I know its not frugal and I know that saving money is important, but I would rather skip going out to dinner than coming home from my cozy car to enter a refrigerator.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Bad movie...

Yesterday, I made the mistake of watching another completely idiotic movie all the way to the end.  I always do this, I hope...and hope...and continue to hope that the movie will get better and the end will make up for the two hours of my life that I have completely wasted watching pure crap.  The only merit I can give the movie is that it started off pretty well, mysterious, funny, almost like the beginning of a good airport bought detective novel...and then it just went downhill.  Therefore I can summarize my evening as glued to a movie filled with aliens eating people to take over the earth basing their invasion from a Costco in Ohio. Anyone, like me, who has mindlessly tortured themselves to sit through the end will know exactly what movie im talking about. 

If you're wondering...yes, I did loose brain cells in the experience. The lousy part is that no matter how hard I will try to forget, every movie I watch latches itself to a small part of my memory. The good and the bad, the scary and the funny, the romantic and the tragic are all in a way a mini part of my life. For example, the movie (terribly depressing but deep) "The House of Sand and Fog" always comes back to me, I can relate to some of the scenes of family or mistakes or feelings that were portrayed...or "The Visitor" (just an awesome movie) about an unlikely friendship about a typical American working man with an illegal middle eastern immigrant, totally different lives and such a cool combination of friendship through music...and after all that my thoughts still have to revert to aliens taking over Costco.

I always wonder why I do that to myself. Why can't I just turn off the TV, look away, stop watching! It's like an accident, is it my sick morbid curiosity, stubbornness, laziness, persistence, idealism? I guess every single one of these adjectives can be used as an excuse to my decision and in fact each scenario played out in my mind while I sat and stared...

Scenario 1 Stubbornness:  "the movie said comedy so I will continue watching until I think its funny."

Scenario 2 Laziness: "the remote is over there, changing the channel would mean getting fact I think I needed to pee for a half an hour now...oh well."

Scenario 3 Persistence: "I want to sleep, my head hurts, this movie sucks, but by my nature I will finish what I started! "(this scenario sounds almost heroic)

Scenario 4 Idealism: "Maybe in the next scene, they will show something nice...I'll keep watching"

The sad moral of my little rant is if the commercial looks bad...JUST DON'T WATCH IT! Sadly, it is the end of my post and I am still talking about this movie, when will it end?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I hate being sick. It feels like I have had a cold or flu every two weeks this year, like my body is on overdrive and can't cope with the amount of things that need to be done.  Stress just knocks me down and my immune system fails me. This week has been hard, I have been walking in a fog, where my brain can't think, remember, or care. It feels like I have been so lazy, that every minute I'm awake I have to consciously tell my body to perform everyday actions..."move foot", "blink eyes", "breathe"etc.  I have never done this...but I really want to pass out on my keyboard at work right now.

I guess I'm just a big baby when I'm sick though and want someone to think for me, to take care of me, to see that I'm cold and get me a blanket, to say to me "aww you look terrible, don't do a thing, let me bring you some tea and honey". No one can do this better than my mother. If I were with her now, she would force me to stop working and get off the computer, tell me to forget about deadlines that the world will not stop turning if I take a break, tuck me into bed, take away the phone, and make chicken soup, while forcing me to gargle salt water and sniff steam...and she would be right. And I would complain and grumble how much I don't like doing this while secretly savoring the attention and loving that I'm being taken care of. 

Since I became married and became a mother, it is now my responsibility to do this for my children, to think for them, to care for them, to shower them with my attention when they feel bad...and all the while I miss it SO MUCH for myself.   I tell myself that I need to take care of myself, but these are just words- I just don't. My husband says the same thing...but you know what, today...this week...I need a push to do this...I need someone to think for me...

P.S. How much snot can come out of a human being's nose...I mean really?!?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


 I have moments in life, random moments, when I just catch a glimpse of something that I know will be a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life ( I know it as soon as I experience it). These are little things, like the look on my daughters face when I disappointed her because I didn’t read her a book, a glimpse of a deer tail jumping into the woods this morning, looking at the moonlight shining off of a white fence as our car drove by the few minutes before pulling into the ER to deliver my son, my father smiling widely across the table at a restaurant, noticing a leaf bug (one of those really cool looking leaf look alikes) under my car- one bright green color on a dark and dreary pavement; painting over a picture my sister drew for me and regretting it immediately;  making out to a full Scorpions Album (this moment was a little longer than a “glimpse”).  These little moments are imprinted into my mind and continue coming back to me, days, weeks, months, years after they happened.  These moments are a mix of failures, regrets, happiness, and simple observation.  Somehow with all the chaos of life, these are the moments that come back to me when I lay there at night thinking, these are the things that are in or on my mind when I remind myself to be grateful, and somehow all the things that pissed me off this week or last month are not part of them.  I often wonder why is it that it was this specific event that I remembered, why not the many others I try to remember but can’t. I guess that these are the little glimpses that shape who I am and my choices or should I say my choices shape the glimpses of who I am…chicken or the egg?

P.S. Sorry all, just having PMS…very sensitive today.

Monday, November 19, 2012


 “…um, what was I talking about?”

It seems that I have reached a point in my life where I can admit that my brain completely zones out.  Some days I feel like I have clinical short-term memory loss.  It ranges in intensity of forgetfulness from minor details to major events! For example, yesterday I made a cake- put the main ingredient (butter-scary thought) into the microwave to soften- forgot its in the microwave 3 minutes later mixed the rest of the ingredients and baked it without ever adding it in OR went to turn off the light , saw my phone –picked it up instead forgot about the light went upstairs and thought “Crap!” OR honestly I have no recollection of how I got to work this morning, just driving on autopilot (frightening, I know!) OR forgetting the grocery list, forgetting weekend commitments, forgetting names, faces, birthdays…etc. WHAT IS GOING ON?!?

I think there are several factors playing out in these scenarios:

First- Too Much. I always have 10 events happening at the same time- so I have adapted to switch to a new thought or a new event a moments notice. When I cook I am talking on the phone, with the kids, checking my computer. When I work- any normal human being would gasp at the amount of open windows and running tasks on my desktop…I literally shift to a different project every 10 minutes.  It’s a world of technology that always reaches us without a second to rest, the phone has constant updates, the radio can be switched to a new tune, the ipod/ipad, computers. Some call it ADD, I just call it –MY CRAZY LIFE. I need to find a better way to organize my thoughts, tasks, and events.

Second – SLEEP. I always lack it, I never have enough. No matter how hard I plan or try I always get to bed after 11:30pm…it causes a whole snowball of issues with getting up in the morning.  My husband is AWESOME and lets me sleep in on the weekends so I recharge, start strong with on Monday and by Friday am a snapping, edgy, confused zombie that has no idea what’s going on. NEED SLEEP.

Third- Time. I just don’t take the time to digest information.  If someone introduces themselves and says “hi I’m Suzie”, I say hi nice to meet you and keep running. Two minutes later I forget her name. If I said “Hi Suzie, nice to meet you…you remind me of a friend from California (not that that’s a typical statement you say to someone you just meet, but you get the point)” - I would create the association and remember her next time I see her.  I just don’t take the extra 5 seconds of time.

So I have made a resolution to help my memory: I just forgot what it was… :)

But seriously, I did a bunch of research on bettering memory through items I use everyday and through a little better organization. Here are some of my important tips:

-My Personal Memory Trainer- Phone Application: (there is an app for everything right? Well this one does wonders and can be done while standing in line for lunch OR (although no one admits it) bathroom breaks :)-

-Organization- I know that there are TONS of sites out there and TONS of research...but the one that has worked for me at work and at home is to write the TOP 3 TASKS- that is all.  Everyone has a huge to do list at the beginning of the day, whether you're at home or at work. This To-do list grows as longer as soon as I look at it. So I put aside- write my top 3 and do as much as possible to address them without distractions. 

-Write things down- never believe your brain if it tells you "Ill remember this and write it down when I get home" - DO IT RIGHT AWAY. 

-"Eat that Frog"- To anyone interested, this is actually a very cool book that gives you  short and sweet tips to stop procrastinating and just to do your tasks... It's main message is that if you had to do 20 things today and one of them was to "eat a frog"- do that first and everything else in your day will get easier.  It's actually helped me to think this way since I found that I make up excuses and small insignificant tasks run my life so that I can ignore or forget about the "frog"

Here's a link to a great video about this book:

Friday, November 16, 2012


Alright. I’m not sure if everyone experiences this in their lives…but my husband and I live in a secret world of complaining neighbors.  Yes, mysterious neighbors that seem friendly, seem to have the happy white picket fences, kids and dogs, and seem to wave when approached, but when something gets out of whack…one (or some) of them somewhere on our street complains to the city.  We have had several visits from the police at our door because of our snow piles come out on the road, our bushes being too lush that it blocks their view of pulling out of the street nearby (ironically, that bush is the only one that actually survives our landscaping attempts), we even had complaints that our trash can (on trash days, I must add) is distracting. We live on a main road next to a side street that is positioned in such a way that when cars pull out to the main road they are just a tad bit lower on a hill so the view is a little rough. But the view is rough because of the hill, not because of our home. I’ve tested it…in fact after cutting our beautiful bushes, taking the trash in, and plowing the driveway away from the street toward our garage so that our cars can’t get into own garage…the view still sucks.

To all our neighborly “neighbors”…here is my silent complaint:

It sucks having to feel like a parole violator and to have police show up to our door. It sucks explaining to our four year old why the good police man yelled at their bad parents. It sucks knowing that people can’t just suck it up or simply approach us with a request, one on one, instead of going straight to the city to issue citations.

To all our neighborly “neighbors”…here is my silent advice:

 Stop Scapegoating People! Take a little extra time to look both ways and your safety to pull onto the road will not be jeopardized.  If you do need to solve the issue, take time to be human and simply talk to us to explain why you need something done before issuing a formal complaint. We would be very glad to oblige knowing you asked nicely.  Maybe put a KIND request letter in the mail if you’re too scared of a face-to-face conversation- mark it as Anonymous.  Getting the city to cite us for your issues may get you a solution but frankly pisses us off and taints our impressions of you and our neighborhood.


Thursday, November 15, 2012


It’s one of those days today. Just a simple, don’t want to get out of bed, just want to look out the window see the sun and frost, and not hurry day. Only one problem, its not the weekend. I looked at my alarm, I know that I have to wake up the kids, cook breakfast, take them to daycare, and get to work…but wow…this this is like pulling teeth today…my inner lazy voice is SO loud…its not just whispering “five more minutes”, but shouting “TAKE THE DAY OFF!”. So on days like this, when I know I can’t succumb to the sweet lazy commands, here is my advice in dragging my butt out of bed:

1)   Agree to disagree: Succumb to the 5 more minute whisper but make a resolution that this is as far as you go.
2)   Start to think of food: I start getting so mouthwateringly hungry for breakfast that I can’t stand to lay in bed one more minute
3)    Momentum: I know that once my feet hit the floor, then momentum takes over and I begin to run on overdrive…routine, brush teeth, get ready, kids, coffee, cook, car…everyone knows their drill and can do it with their eyes closed. Just think to yourself “feet on the floor”.
4)   Think Nike: “Just do it”.