Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Shaving tip I really have to share right now!

Okay, yes. That's a weird title. But once again it is late and I really want to share this tip with you before I go to bed.

If you are REALLY into science, and are reading this when you are awake and alert, might I suggest reading the history of 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner, among other things, by going to the article "How does hair conditioner work?" on the website Scienceline? This isn't the end-all of the science behind conditioners, but more of a detailed introduction, and it makes for interesting reading.

And the reason I am talking about it is that for the past ten years I have NOT bought Shaving Cream. Neither has my husband. We share a bottle of generic conditioner. It is CHEAP and it lasts a LONG time. And leaves my skin feeling smooth and silky, just like the expensive stuff.

Yes, that is my BIG TIP!

It's huge! Did you know that I have probably spent less than $10 - TOTAL - on bottles of conditioner over the past TEN years?!?

I know this seems like a little thing to get excited about, but the next time you run out of shaving cream, give it a try. You might just decide it is worth the savings!!

Johnson's Baby Shampoo, 20 fl oz.

And by the way, did you know that Johnson's baby shampoo is a GREAT product for removing eye makeup? Especially tough-to-remove waterproof mascara? It's GREAT because it has the no-more-tears aspect - you won't cry if it gets in your eyes, and it removes that hard to remove makeup!

So there you go, two tips today. Try them, you'll like them!  and PLEASE feel free to share any of your own tips in the comments below. I'm always hoping to learn something(s) new every day!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Winter Sky - Seize the Day

Having grown up in the north, the cold winters we experience here in Pennsylvania are short. Definitely cold, but shorter than I grew up with. That's not a bad thing, but I really do love the winter. It makes me appreciate spring that much more.

But I love the smell of the cold air. I love it when the scent turns to snow, and you can tell it is coming. I like the how the sky turns pale and the sun turns a soft lemon color.

The trees contrast starkely with the blue skies, as the leaves are gone and the trees aren't so much one big object anymore, but many small bodies reaching into space.

The berries are so bright, in contrast.

In the summer, the bright fresh berries we grow are the same hue as the bright green grass and bushes and even the same hue as the royal blue sky. But though faded, the red of the rose hips still seems so boyant against the pale winter blue.

December 1st. Enjoy whatever it brings you.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Awesome FREE resource to help you be Creative

You know that I feel the need to imbue life - work and home - with creativity.

Well I couldn't resist sharing this giveaway I came across today.
Click HERE to go to a post by a Mixed Media Artist, Mahe Zehra Husain. I've been following her for a few years, and she has previously published several ebooks. You can find them all on Amazon by searching using her name. Most of her books are free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers, or minimal cost to everyone. One of them is The Ultimate Guide to Upcycling, a green crafts book. I love it. I have this one, but I am just too tired to look in my library to check which others I've got. I just want to post this for you to check out!

Earlier this week I saw on Amazon that she had another book, and it was listed as a cookbook. I thought, what?? hmmm...

So tonight I popped over to her site and found that the cookbook is an ebook about CREATIVITY.

I should have KNOWN! You will LOVE it.

I see some recipes in here that I've used, and some I haven't, so I can't wait to get started. She is so creative and this ebook is a great resource!

And on TOP of all this, she has MULTIPLE Free Resources

Go enjoy her site at alteredrecycling.com. You will LOVE her Christmas giveaways and more!!

Catering: Feeding the Crowd for a Work Event or a Home Party

Catering. I swear that every time I host a big event I say that next time I will hire a caterer. I use caterers at work but I've never hired one for my home. I'm just too stubborn. But I hire caterers weekly for work events of all sizes, and I would like to share a bit of what I have learned.

We’ll talk about event details, coffee, and alcohol consumption in future posts, but first we’re going to talk about food. Yes, I know we'd all rather talk about the decorating and fun touches, but if there isn't enough food there might be a revolt!

Whether you are ordering food for a work event or a party at home, the rules for ordering food are often the same. 
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
For breakfast foods, a continental table can serve you well with little effort. You can allot 2 pieces of breads or pastries per person, and one piece of fruit. If you add yogurt, arrange for 8oz each (though in my experience your attendees won’t eat it all, even if you offer things to sprinkle in). People really love bagels (don't forget to ask the caterer if they provide a toaster - but this may be an extra charge so you might want to provide your own).
Lunches can vary so much, but remember that men usually eat more than women. And different groups eat differently, though you can’t really plan for that unless you have served them previously. For a simple lunch you should have a simple main dish of 6oz or so, two side dishes, a bread, a dessert, and one drink per person. I always order a few extra lunches if my budget allows it, because we often have people who walk in at the last minute, and I like to offer a few additional beverages - often water. 
Dinners basically follow the same rules but the size of the main dish can be increased.

The nice thing is that once you order from a caterer, you can ask them for their recommendations.
Most caterers would like as much notice as possible, and usually have a last date/time period for final count, usually 24 hours in advance. After this date the count would not be able to be changed.
Catering costs will also include an added delivery and/or set up fee, and the caterer usually provides serving supplies. However, you should always ask a new caterer, so you don’t assume incorrectly and end up without serving utensils. Once we decided to be order from a restaurant that didn't usually cater, and we ordered delicious food from an authentic Nepalese restaurant. The delivery people didn’t leave serving utensils. We had to scramble! We made it work but now we keep a limited number of supplies in our office in the event it happens again.

Finally, make sure to find out if any of your event participants have allergies. You will need to give this information to your caterer.

If you have any tips or tricks for catering events, please share them! 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Life Changes (Mom's Growing Pains)

I am someone who has allowed myself to be wrapped up in my children's lives, to the point that it was a shock when my oldest became a senior in high school.  That was the year I learned the definition of "helicopter parent" and found out that I was one! That was a rough year.

Right now I just want to set the stage for a family gathering - the day AFTER Thanksgiving. Those who are far away have come home for the weekend, and the youngest is alternating between having a ball with the fun roucous older siblings and having her much needed personal time.

Being the day after Thanksgiving, a variety of activities were scheduled. Some shopping trips in the morning, a hike in the afternoon... and in between was lunch.  LEFTOVERS!

Delicious, right? 

But as we noisily gathered in the kitchen, jockeying for elbow room, hefting various trays of food to the table, I started to ask where our oldest child was. He graduated college three years ago and since then has been living at home trying to pay off his college loans. His is the only boy (man! sorry) and has a great intellect and wit.

As I looked down the hall to call him to join the fray, I remembered that he had moved out barely three weeks ago. It happened so fast, and I'm so happy for him, but how strange is it that he isn't around to add to the craziness. So Mom is once again dealing with another life change. And as usual, the kid's growing pains don't seem to be as hard on them as they are on me! But I know this is just another of life's changes that helps me to grow, and I just pray that his new experiences will bring him the happiness that I have found in this life.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Routine #1 to Make Packing (for Lunch) Easier (with printable)

Packing lunches has been a lifelong issue. With four  kids, a husband, and myself needing to eat daily (the nerve), lunch planning is important.

When my husband and I were #dinks (dual income no kids) - so many years ago - we made our own lunches. When the kids were born I started to make my husband's lunches. Then I asked myself what was I doing?? No, actually I felt bad for him because by then I was staying home with the kids. And we have four kids. So he basically got whatever I could reach out of the fridge.

As the kids got older, he started to plan his time better and make his own lunches. Me, time saver that I am (AKA lazy), created a great system for the kids to get their own lunches ready for school.

I purchased paper bags (my kids hated carrying those cute lunchboxes after they passed second grade) and a large plastic tote that fit on top of a cabinet. I also purchased sides like pudding or yogurst, and made or bought granola bars. Weekly I also bagged vegetables and/or cheese, and kept them in a clear bin in the refridgerator.

Opening the paper bags, I set them in the tote in rows. Then I placed a napkin (and sometimes a note) in each one. After that I would add any other food items that didn't need to be refridgerated.

The lunch bags sat, ready to go, and each day the kids would just need to make their own sandwiches, toss them into one of the bags, perhaps also grabbing some veggies and/or cheese, and grab their water bottle.  The benefit to this is that we were never OUT of anything - because the items were all accounted for within the paper sacks. When I wasn't doing this, you might find all of us in the kitchen on a school night running around looking for just about ANYTHING to go into those lunch bags.

From YoungatHeartMommy.com

If you have (or used to have) a great idea for making lunch packing easier, let me know! All comments and input are appreciated!

I also wanted to leave you with a printable and instead of creating one for you, I discovered that the Happy Home Fairy create an entire year's worth of notes for you to use when packing school lunches. Why reinvent the wheel when someone else has done such an amazing job!

Friday, November 21, 2014

From work to home: how to avoid blowing up in anger

I am not good at confrontation. I avoid it at all costs.

In my home life this has been manageable for the most part. Not that I haven't let lose in front of the kids during their lives, but when people want to work together and respect each other, they learn tricks to make that work (I will revisit this topic later).

anger IconHowever, how do you manage that if you work outside the home? What if your boss is pushing you. How do you respond?

I find this a challenge. For good or bad, my boss has mostly done this using email (perhaps because I diffuse the situation when she is in the office?). The benefit of an email is that I can choose to respond, or to avoid responding.

The last time this occurred I declined to answer via email, because I felt it was not the place to have that type of discussion. Plus I was really upset.  Seriously. And when we both came into the office we had a good talk, albeit stiff, and then we seemed to go on even better than before.

However, I had one of those emails again today.  It has been about 6 months. This was asks me about something that was not done when she wanted it done.

I was stunned when I read it. Unfortunately I read it when I got home from work. I only logged on to work email to get someone's email address.  Darn. Because it threw me over the edge and I admit I even browsed local job postings.

Should I have responded with my actual answer? Which was that the first delay was because you forgot to include me in the email, and when you finally sent it to me (14 days later), it was on my to-do list and as I work for her 10 other employees, I have to set things up in order of importance.

Boy am I pissed. Its taking everything not to rant and swear here.

So as you can imagine, I could use some tips to learn to avoid blowing up in anger, so that I can keep my job, lol.  Help!

Just a note: My stress was for naught. I didn't respond, and after the weekend this not a worry. I addressed it in my own time and my supervisor didn't even sweat this. See what we do to ourselves? I don't know about you, but I've got to let things go a little more and not jump to conclusions! :-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gifts for Coworkers

It's getting to be holiday time, and for some reason, we seem to have more birthdays in our office as well.  What do you do about birthday gifts for your co-workers?

Do you give any?

Birthday Ideas on Parents.com
I would love to hear your take on this.

As I have worked in an office, I find that it can be quite expensive to recognize birthdays. Some people have found a solution by giving a card along with a $1 scratch off lottery ticket. Cards used to be expensive, and happily they aren't any more.  There's no excuse for not having a few in your desk (see this).  At my local Dollar Store you can buy nice cards (funny, too!) for two for $1 (yes, one DAHLLLER). So at the very least a card is nice.

But how do you decide who is going to get a present?  There is one woman in my office who gets lots of gifts, from lots of people in the whole building, and she doesn't do anything special.  Honestly, I always feel like buying her gifts, too, lol. She's someone whom I always want to take under my wing and encourage, and I have a feeling that's what happens to other people as well.  Weird. Not sure how she makes that magic happen, but I love her!  She's like my crazy sister.

On the other hand, some people keep to themselves and no one even knows when their birthdays are.

We took care of this in our office by making an office phone number contact list (just for our division) that also has our birthday month and day on it. So each month we can wish each other happy birthday. I take the dates off the list on the first of each month and send out an email to our whole team, reminding them of the birthdays. I love this because I end up talking to some people with whom I might never exchange words.

So what do you do about birthdays in your office? Any tips or advice?


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Another use for the fingernail polish remover in your personal drawer

Everyone has their calendar on Outlook. Those of us in constant contact all share our calendar views.

Why would boss XX want everyone's calendar's on a dry erase board in the middle of our hallways.

We all belittled it.

But you know what? It helps!

Sometimes we take a walk across the office without looking at our calendars and end up looking through doors and windows until we remember to walk over to the hallway dry erase board and read it. It's closer than going all the way back to our desks.  And while the support staff usually look at the calendars, for some reason the management and team leaders never - ever - seem to remember they have that ability. And now that they are trained that the hall board is there, they are less likely to come bothering the support staff in our cubicles.

The calendar itself is actually three very large dry-erase boards, and one of the staff is a car-guy who suggested using car pinstriping to delineate the rows and columns.  This worked great.  Then we used Sharpie markers to write the names in the left-hand column, and dry-erase markers to enter locations during the days of the week. When new staff come, we use the fingernail polish remover from my personal drawer to erase the names and re-do the list. Perfect!

We also use a dry-erase board to re-write the car-usage calendar for the 3 company cards that we share.  Even though that is on a shared calendar as well, no one (again, except the support staff) seems to get that they can reserve it from the comfort of their own seat.  They inevitably walk the hallways until they get to the location were the dry-erase board is, in order to schedule the use of a car.

Well, we're not all rocket scientists.

And that's why they have us, Stellar Support Staff.  Because without us, they wouldn't be able to do what they do!

Greeting card stash (why you need it!)

No, you don't need the Hallmark brand, but let me tell you, working in an office setting you will ALWAYS want to keep a stash of cards in file.  Whether your boss needs one, or a coworker surprises everyone with the news of an impending retirement (or a baby), a stash of cards will come in handy. And of course, this also is a trick that you can use at home. 

You will want to go to the Dollar General and pick up some cards, since they often have 2 for $1 cards that are so much better than the generic "in the box" packages. Just pick up a few happy baby cards, some birthday cards, some blank cards, and a bunch of SORRY for your LOSS cards.  Yes, before I started work I had no idea how many people lost family and friends so often. Clearly I was in my own little world, because these are the most needed cards in my stash.

Another thing to keep in your personal stash of cards is one or two small gift bags and tissue paper.  You will need this at least once a year.  While you can usually run out to get a one dollar lottery ticket for a card, or a $5 coffee gift card, there will be times that will require something a little weightier, and you won't want to have to stop at another store to buy a bag and paper. 

These are just a few of the necessities for looking like the most "together" staff member in your office. I'll have some more suggestions coming up.  In the meantime, feel free to add your tips in the comments.  I promise I'll read them. I might not publish them, but I'll read them!  :)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Where have you been? ...asks Rihanna AND your boss

When I first started with my company, I considered it a unifying act when I answered emails via my phone. I took work home with me (another subject we'll talk about later) and I checked my iPhone every time it buzzed. I was part of a team!

Two years went by, and my mother died. I went home for the memorial on a weekend before a big event that I helped to coordinate. Stressed to the max that I wasn't going to be in town, my boss was anxious about my leaving, though I only took off Friday and Monday around that weekend.

She thus emailed, texted, and called me every half-hour while I was gone. 

This was the beginning of the end for my love affair with getting emails from work on my iPhone.

Letting that simmer for a year, I went on vacation for a week. There was nothing going on that couldn't wait for my return. Except of course, other people who were not in the loop. And, of course, my boss, who is actually awesome, but who thought I had a document she needed.  I felt bad for her, but she emailed me imploring me to help her find this document. She was begging! Multiple times. All I could say was that I hadn't ever seen it, but if I had it then it would be in my to-do box.

We had awful phone reception where we were going, and our wifi was spotty at best, so after a few stressful email responses, I did the unthinkable.

I DELETED my work email from my iPhone!

I felt bad for a day or two, but I felt so free! No longer was I saying, "I'll get into the kayak when I'm done answering this email, honey".  I just GOT IN THE KAYAK!

When I returned, my boss apologized (I told you she was good) for the barage of worried emails. I now still do NOT have work emails on my phone, and I feel great. If something is important - for example, if it is during the work day and we are in different locations - she texts me.

However, I don't know that I could have deleted my work emails earlier in our relationship. So I will caution you - beware starting off your job with adding your work email to your phone, as it may be something that is hard to get rid of, once everyone sees how accessible you are.

And if you DO decide to remove it, consider your boss's attitude.  You may need to expound on a white lie, for example, "...I don't have enough data to get all of that on my phone..." which will work for most supervisors unless you are in the tech industry.  And if they insist that you are wrong, and they can help you with your phone, blame it on your mother (or father, or girlfriend, husband, or ??). Okay, just kidding about that last line. You're on your own there!

Do you have any experience with answering Emails from home or vacation?  Do you have any suggestions to share?  I am always looking for new, better, or different ways to do things, so don't hesitate to comment!

                      Thank you for stopping by!

While I'm still reading this, I'm looking forward to receiving this on Wednesday (its a gift for my hubby but I'll get to play, too!):

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Creativity and Your Role as Support Staff

This summer I was asked to teach a session on creativity during a day long event for support staff.  I was thrilled!  I am a secretary, and I enjoy my job, but I am also many other things... and the organizers asked me to to this because they know me well.

At the start of my session, the group made its way around a large table that I had previously set up with tablecovers, paints, and canvases, and I introduced myself. I told the participants that I had a four year degree in Art History, and that I enjoyed putting my research skills to good use as a secretary. At least one of the women took offense at this, and thought I was kidding - denegrating her position as a secretary.  Quickly disagreeing, I explained that I was quite serious. Every day in the work I do, I use some of what made me a great student.  My ablity to think creatively, my tenacity, and my skills researching.

And this is the point of this blog.

I would like to help everyone expand their skill sets for the office! Not that I am the end all, but I will share what I know, I hope you will share what you know, and that we can ask others to join us to share what they know.


Reading anything good?  Here is what I'm reading today: