What Not to Do Today

2369734521_3717582d7c_mIn our ongoing series — counting down to the holidays — we have some very important advice for today:

Whatever you do, don’t go to the post office.

According to the postal service, today is the busiest day all year to ship or mail anything.

Still must mail? Try these time saving tips:

1. Outsource — with sites like Task Rabbit you can actually pay someone else to wait in line at the post office for you. You can hire your own personal assistant on a task-by-task basis and name your price.

2. Ship from Home — with the USPS print at home option. Schedule your pick-up online (you’ll need about 24 hours), pay from your computer and print the label at home.

3. Just Wait — if you want your package to arrive by December 25th and it’s a domestic shipment, the postal service says you can wait until December 20 for first class mail and all the way to the 22nd for express mail.

 

Photo via Flickr by: by Nieve44/Luz

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12/12/12 What Do You Plan to Do?

Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 6.49.17 PMO.K. Don’t freak out—but Wednesday is going to be the last repeating day in your lifetime—yep even you young ones! Sure there will be a 02/02/22 or a 03/03/33, but these are not truly repetitive numbers. And if you spend too much time on the Internet you might get the idea that it could be one of the last days “of” your lifetime. We don’t agree – we just think it’s pretty awesome that we can all celebrate 12/12/12 together online.

And as usual – we’re taking this opportunity to make some positive changes (a dozen to be exact) 0r just keep doing these things that are already making your life better

1. Be Grateful! It’s good for you. According to U.C. Berkeley’s Greater Good, it can lead to; stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure; higher levels of positive emotions; more joy, optimism and happiness; acting with more generosity and compassion and feeling less lonely and isolated.

2. Be a good friend! And if you feel like you’ve got friends that are not making you feel good about your self, ditch ’em!

Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis. A landmark UCLA study suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women.

3. Find religion (in your food!)  Have you tried bible bread?

4. Cry if you want to. It’s good for you! 

5. Stop it! OK you might not remember the well-loved TV  shrink, Bob Newhart but many thought he had a great advice. Click here.  OK if that doesn’t work, try this.

6. Take the  stairs. Why not burn 7, 800 calories a year just by taking the stairs?

7. Eat these foods! To boost your mood.

8. Dump him! You know he’s lying! Don’t rationalize with yourself, “Oh, but someday he’ll realize I’m the one for him.”  Do we need to remind you of Bob’s advice #5.

9. Get smart! Use either an online game or an app to work on your brain! Think of it as the gym for your mind. We like luminosity but tell us if you have a favorite too.

10. Deal with your debt! so you can sleep!

11. Buy yourself some Uggs! (OK maybe that’s just on our wish list!)

12. Be Present.

Regardless of what you do on Wednesday – enjoy and treat it like the special day that it is!

Cute Animals Boost Productivity!

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We knew it! Time spent oohing and aahhing over sleeping kittens is time well spent! According to a study on work performance out of Japan  Looking at cute animals, say researchers at Hiroshima University, whether they’re actual kittens or cartoon characters like Pikachu, creates positive feelings that translate to increased friendliness and productivity.

Kawaii (cute things) things not only make us happier, but also affect our behavior,” wrote research team head and cognitive psychologist Hiroshi Nittono. “This study shows that viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioral carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus.”

Start your week off with a boost of productivity -and share this with your friends!

NASA Inspired Cocktails From A Real Rocket Scientist

photo by Morgan Hendry

With Morgan Hendry ‘s permission I am sharing the post he wrote last week as he and his colleagues waited to hear if the landing of the robot Curiosity survived to fulfill her mission. Hendry works for NASA and is also a musician in LA. (see his bio below). He (seems like with help from colleagues) created the official Mars Science Landing Cocktails, which can also be enjoyed as a celebration for the success of the event. Also, for those who want to follow the mission tweet-by-tweet follow the robot named Curiosity as ‘she’ roves the red planet. 

Onto Hendry’s blog…

Highbrow musical compositions aside, when the rubber hits the road, I’m a man who enjoys his drink.  My love of Tiki concoctions sometimes walks that thin cliff’s edge between a light hangover and insanity.  Then there is, of course, The Head (which is still lurking in my garage).

It’s probably no secret that my day job is at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  If it was, well, these were the clues…  With a week to go until the MSL landing and in the spirit of merging art and science, I wanted to share a little project that my friends and I undertook.

I now present to you the official unofficial Mars Science Laboratory cocktails!

Here’s Hoping (that we actually land…)

  • 1 lime
  • 1 3/4 ounce New Make Rye
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1 Luxardo maraschino cherry with small scoup of liquid

A little aperitif created by Kerri Anderson (honorary JPL engineer).  Shake over ice. Add cherry and liquid to martini glass before pouring in cocktail.

Little Green Man

  • 0.5 oz Pernod
  • 0.5 oz light rum
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 sugar cube (with a drop of green food coloring if desired)

This is something that I put together.  If you’re a fan of black licorice or absinth, you should enjoy this one.  Pour Pernod over ice to cloud before combining with rum. Pour in shot glass over sugar cube.

MSL Flaming Aeroshell

  • 2 parts Silver Tequila
  • 1 part Cherry Heering Liquor
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • Squeeze of blood orange juice
  • Splash of grenadine
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Ice

Scott Nowak created this fantastic Tiki inspired punch.  Pour ingredients into a punch bowl filled with ice.  Cut lime in half and clean out pulp after it has been squeezed. Fill with 151 rum. Float lime shell on cocktail. Light 151 on fire for flaming aeroshell effect.

Massive Angle of Attack

  • 4 parts spiced cranberry cider
  • 3 parts rum
  • 2 parts amaretto
  • 1 sugar cube soaked in high proof rum on a spoon per drink/glass

What can we say, we were all pyromaniacs growing up…  Mike Burger and Maggie Scholtz created this one.  Basically you have to get the burning sugar cube into the glass without lighting the top of the drink on fire (or else you “burn up”).

Little Green Men

  • 6 parts vodka
  • 4 parts Midori melon liqueur
  • 2 parts triple sec
  • 1 part lime juice
  • Pop Rocks

Ethan Post created this shot totally independent of mine.  Shake ingredients together and serve in shot glasses rimmed with pop rocks.

I’ve got to say, I was totally blown away by both how original and tasty these all were.  Granted, like any project, we had a few misfires…

Seven Minutes of Terror

  • 1 handle of Jack Daniels
  • 1 tube
  • 1 funnel
  • 2 friends

Calculate tube size required to allow 1 handle of jack to flow through
it in 7 minutes.  Attach appropriate tube to funnel.  Lay down on ground.  Have friend stand over you with funnel, tube, and jack.  Have second friend hold your mouth open.  Insert tube in mouth.  Have friend pour jack in funnel, maintaining appropriate head pressure for duration of 7 minutes.  Scream if desired.

Be sure to tune into NASA TV next Sunday around 10 pm Pacific.  Regardless of what happens, we’ll all likely have a few of the above in our system.  Happy landings!

Who is Morgan? Here is what he says….

“I have been a musician and rocket scientist since 4th grade.  I play drums/keyboards for the LA based instrumental rock band Beware of Safety, write electronic music as The Laterite Road, and just landedsomething on Mars.  More info can be found at my website.”

 

 

Got Gold? Here’s How to Sell It

Gold Hawaiian Charm Bracelet: Value $2,000

With a nod to Micheal Phelp’s gold rush during these summer games, we wanted to help out our readers who might not be in pursuit of gold but in pursuit of cash for their old gold.

First of all – we’re a bit weary of sending in gold by mail for cash -but we’d love to hear from anyone who has had a positive experience with it. Instead, we’ve gone the more traditional route of finding a broker and or jeweler and taking it in ourselves.

A few things to know before you sell your jewelry.

1. The price of gold: This is listed daily on Thebulliondesk.com

2. Find the stamp that tells you the karat of your piece.

3. 24 karat = 100 percent gold. Therefore, divide the karat you have by 24. An 18-karat gold piece is 75 percent gold (18 karat / 24 karat = 0.75 or 75 percent).

4. All experts say unless you absolutely trust your jeweler it’s best to get at least two opinions on the value of your gold before selling.

To get some real numbers we took our gold to Robin McNally at Pacific Precious Metals. First she checks the karats, weighs it and then gave us a rough estimate. If we were serious about selling, she X-rays it to separate the metal alloys to be sure her the stamps are accurate. The lead photo is a charm bracelet of 14k charms, that weighs 88.9 grams which equals a bit over $2,o00.

Necklaces = 45.34 grams of 14k gold, = 1,457 ounces = $1,027

Grandma’s watches and Gucci — ALL gold plated, value = sentimental.

For the serious miners in the crowd … we loved this long instruction from wikihow on how to calculate the value of scrap gold, complete with using an acid test on the gold to make sure it’s real. Believe us -it’s easier just to take it into an expert like Robin. The whole process took less than 10 minutes.

Secrets of a Server: 9 Tips on Tipping

Did you know Make it Simple Sister’s own social media maven Ginger moonlights as a cocktail waitress? What better person to finally give us the bottom line on those pesky tipping situations. What we love about her tips on tipping, is that she’s like the Emily Post of the food and beverage industry, tellin’ it to us straight.

1.) 15 percent is no longer a good tip, although it is acceptable. When I go out I tip 15 percent for BAD service. If it’s mediocre I tip 18 percent and if it’s good I tip 20 percent or more. Try to think about it like this…how much did this server have to do for me and how happy were they to do it? Then tip accordingly.

2.) Keep in mind…tips for servers are the same as paychecks are for most people. Servers in CA make minimum wage, which isn’t much to speak for after they pay taxes. Their tips are their wellbeing and they are counting on them.

3.) If you split the check and only tip on half, we notice. You haven’t fooled anyone.  Same goes for paying part in cash and part on a card. The server knows how much your original check was.

4.) If you order drinks at a bar you can usually get away with tipping $1 per drink. Although, if the drinks are fancy and the bartender had to muddle mint, blueberries and schnozzberries and then shake vigorously then you should probably tip more. It’s also a good idea to tip more if you want the bartender to remember you for ‘next round’ purposes.

5.) Anytime you order food you should tip as if you were at a restaurant…even if you are sitting at the bar.

6.) Never ever tip with coins.

7.) A good tip goes a long way. Servers and bartenders remember good tippers and will often give them free stuff, discounts and better service the next time they come in.

8.) In a world filled with happy hours and Groupons you should always remember to tip on what the original check would have been. You may have gotten a swingin’ deal but the server is doing the same amount of work.

9.) Too much to think about? Get the free QuickTip app that quickly calculates your tip for you and lets you choose the percentage you’d like to leave.

Wait…How Many People Over 100 are Alive Today?

Next time there is a lull in the dinner party conversation – throw this stat out to the table. “How many people are alive today who are over 100?”

According to Laura L. Carstensen, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, who gave a speech to a room full of women in Mill Valley last month, the answer is 70,000.

Just let that sink in. This means there is a very good chance you will have a very long life. The message Dr. Carstensen, author of A Long Bright Future, gave to the eager audience was DIVERSIFY financially, emotionally and physically.

* Be prepared financially. Talk to a professional or at least create a savings plan.

* Get a hobby (or three) – Learn the ukelele, pick up a golf club and learn the rules or get those binoculars and become a birder. In other words dig in … you could be here for awhile.

* Stay healthy and care for your body, find a few sports that you enjoy doing.

As you ponder your bright new future here are some wise words from some pretty impressive ‘old’ people.

The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes.
~Frank Lloyd Wright

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
~Henry Ford Quotes

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, But beautiful old people are works of art.
~Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
~Abraham Lincoln Quotes

Aging seems to be the only available way to live a long life.
-Daniel Francois Esprit Auber-

If I’d known how old I was going to be I’d have taken better care of myself.
-Adolph Zukor-

Organize Don’t Agonize – ID Your Clutter!

Just in time for spring cleaning we’ve turned to Hollie Gregory of Hour25 Concierge who is in the business of making other people’s lives run smoothly. Apparently ‘getting organized’ is the top priority for most of her clients. In the next couple weeks she will be offering our readers, the same advice she gives her clients. Enjoy!

When I ask new clients what services they could use the most from hour25, organization is almost always on the list. Oftentimes when I press them for more information about those specific needs, they take a deep breath, sigh and say “with everything.”

Organization should not cause pain and agony…ever. A new book from “The Happiness Project” author, Gretchen Rubin, entitled Happier at Home (due out September 2012), explores how all aspects of our home may contribute to our overall happiness. Organization is definitely a key aspect of home life.

Clutter comes in many forms and the reasons we hold on to items we may or may not need are numerous as well. Here are eight types of clutter excuses that can hold you back from having your own organized home:

I’d be a mean horrible person if I let this go….”

My mom, mother of three has boxes of some of our school projects in the basement closet. I don’t think she ever pulls it out for a walk down memory lane. It can now be tossed without guilt. I am the youngest at 35 and don’t think I’ll be needing any of it.

I spent so much on on it!

Did you buy this item 20 years ago? Chances are, you’ve gotten your money’s worth and if you’re not using it now, donate or toss!

I might need this someday.

Someone might actually need it TODAY!

I might do this someday.

Think you’re Martha Stewart and have grand ambitions of crafting on a rainy day? Be honest with yourself. You probably won’t. Donate the items to your nearby after-school program.

I don’t know where it goes.

If it doesn’t have a home now, it never will. Donate or toss!

My thoughts don’t have any power. Do they?

Don’t keep items in your home that create any type of bad energy. Believe me, they’re not worth keeping.

But I never wore it (Guilty!)

And you probably won’t! Most times when they do fit, you have moved on to a different style.

There’s too much stuff!

Still not ready to ‘deal’ with clutter take a few minutes to read this enlightening article in Psychology Today, called Psychology of Dress, the Doctor is In…Your Closet!

What? Fitness Giveaway?? Yep…read on!

Hello ladies! We are honored to be included in the fun fitness giveaway, which corresponds with the release of Cami Checketts’ novel Dead Running. That’s right, just sit back and click away for gift certificates to yoga classes, sports watches, clothing etc. etc.

A note from the Cami, the author:  
Win one of these amazing prizes simply by following this blog or liking my Facebook page and leaving a comment below. Please visit each of our sponsors’ websites to learn more about their products and decide which one you’d like to win. While you’re at their site, like their page or follow their blog to show our gratitude for their donation to this fun blogfest. You can enter on as many different blogs as you like, a list of the participating blogs is featured at the end of this post.

Let us know if you win!!!

Hugger Mugger Yoga Experiencedand Beginner Yoga Packages.
  Value: $325.00
Hugger Mugger on Facebook

Two MIO Global Active Watches

Value: $239.98
Sign up for My MIO
Like MIO on Facebook
MIO is the number one brand in strapless Heart Rate monitoring
with features like calorie management systems, all day steps counting,
distance tracking, and fitness assessment tools.
Three months online fitness training
Value: $150
Fitcore Website — Fitcore on Facebook
Three Lebert Stretch Straps
Value: $48.49 each
Like Lebert Fitness on Facebook
Flexibility and mobility are two vital components of fitness.
The Lebert Stretch Strap™ is a simple, innovative tool that will
allow you to stretch more comfortably and hold that stretch longer!


Two $50 Gift Certificates to spend on Running Chics fitness apparel.
Running Chics on Facebook
Whether you’re running a race or just running around town, you should feel comfortable.
And there’s no reason you shouldn’t look good, too!
We’re Running Chics…just like you,
and we know that fashion and performance can go hand-in-hand. 
Altra Running Shoes – Value: $109.99
Altra Zero Drop Website – Altra Running on Facebook
Altra Zero Drop Footwear features the world’s first ever line of fully cushioned Zero Drop™ running shoes designed to improve form and reduce initial impact.

iFrogz Armbands and Earbuds – Value: $175.00

iFrogz Website – iFrogz on Facebook
 iFrogz is native to Cache Valley and offers awesome accessories for your iPods, iPhones, and iPads.
Six month adult membership – Value: $157
Smithfield Recreation Website – Smithfield Rec. on Facebook
One Month Membership – Value: $90.00
Crossfit’s Website  – Crossfit on Facebook
*Available in Cache Valley only

Autographed Copy
Donated by Cami Checketts
Buy Now only $3.99 Kindle
Cassidy Christensen is running.
Running from the mercenaries who killed her parents.
Running from a scheming redhead intent on making her life miserable. 
Running from painful memories that sabotage her dreams of happiness.
With two very tempting men competing for her attention, she hopes she’ll finally have someone to run to, but can she trust either of them? When secrets from her past threaten her family, Cassidy decides to stop running and fight for her future.
Follow this blog or like my Facebook page and leave a comment below to enter to win one of these great prizes. Please list the top three prizes you’re interested in with your comment. An entry will be chosen from each of the participating blogs and then drawn through random.org. Prize winners will be posted be on Cami’s Blog.
Contest closes: May 18, 2012
Open to residents of U.S. and Canada.
Thanks for stopping by!

The blogs involved in this giveaway are some of the top fitness, running, book, and Mom blogs on the internet. Have fun checking out their content and entering the fitness giveaway on each of their sites.

Delegate! It Will Make You Happy ;)

Happy Monday – First we’d like to you have you start off with smile …(hint, click the word smile). Why? well, there are are proven healthy benefits for those who can start the day with a giggle.

To continue the good feeling – we wanted to share a study Real Simple Magazine did on women and work life balance.  Editor Kristin van Ogtrop wrote about it in her blog last month. Basically, the magazine commissioned a national study with the nonprofit Families and Work Institute, and surveyed 3,230 women ages 25 to 54 nationwide to better understand the relationship women have with time.

The result:  55 percent of the women were happier when they delegated tasks (like cleaning, pet or kid duties) to their spouses or partners.