This article listing 33 Amazingly Useful Websites kind of blew my mind. Some I knew about, some don’t seem that helpful for me, but some are just awesome.
Some very sage, practical advice for writers. I immediately sent this article to two of the writers I know because it seemed like a must-read.
We all always want to make big drastic changes, but most of the time what we really need are small, baby changes, one thing at a time. An excellent reminder.
Laura told me I was “winning” at this list, which is a huge compliment but I don’t think totally accurate. It’s good advice though, full of things that I think all us 20-somethings should strive towards. I’m definitely trying!
Such a good, much-needed perspective on not shopping while travelling: “In general, shopping takes us into a mindset of “lack”. We go into a mode of “needing” something, of fear that we’re missing out on something. We can spend an entire day in changerooms and High Streets that could be anywhere, frantically on a mission.” I’ve fallen victim to this kind of mindset while travelling before, and I’ll be sure to keep it in mind next time I’m on a trip.
I listened to another old but excellent episode of the TED Radio Hour this week about millennials and how they (we) might be the next greatest generation. It talked about doing good, meaningful work and making your own jobs.
I liked reading about what mothers want to teach their kids. It seems like stuff we should all keep in mind: get enough sleep, treat ourselves with kindness, be grateful, talk about hard things.
This weekend I’m doing some beach yoga and going to my first Korean baseball game, which should be a ton of fun! You can see photos from my adventures by following me on Instagram @lifeinlimboblog. Have an amazing weekend, everyone!
Here it is: the long-awaited Kindle review post! Before I start, you should know that I am in no way being endorsed or rewarded for the sentiments expressed here and I am not affiliated with Amazon in any way (except in the lusting-after-everything-they-carry way). This is just my true view on the product. Enjoy!
I loveto read. Reading is my true love. So before we get into why I love the Kindle, I’d like to start by clearing up the following:
I will never stop buying real books
I will never get rid of my bookshelves of wonderful real books
I too, am a sucker for turning musty-smelling pages made of paper
So… it’s not like I hate books or anything, it’s just that there are so many situations where the Kindle is so much more convenient. Examples?
You’re a journalism student, forced to read upwards of five newspapers a day. Rather than wrestle with the dastardly pages of print newspapers, you simply subscribe to them on your Kindle and they are delivered overnight via WiFi, at cheaper rates than print subscriptions.
You’re an english lit student, forced to read several million classic novels per semester. You get them all for free on the Kindle store (since they’re old and out-of-copywrite) and bring your 8.5 oz device around instead of lugging novels to the library.
You’re a business woman who loves reading, and who must go on several business trips per year. You simply browse the selection on the Kindle store, download on the go, and read!
Okay I have to stop. I feel like I’m writing a Kindle ad campaign. A cheesy one. An unsuccessful one. So let’s move on to the review portion of the post, shall we?
Features I Love..
I can read with one hand. This may not seem like a big deal, but consider this: no more do I have to worry about the book closing if I don’t hold down the pages. I can read all like “Look Ma, no hands!”. It’s way more fun than it sounds, I promise.
I can highlight whatever I want, and those highlights get collected for my later perusal. When I read A Fraction of the Whole, I underlined tons of enlightening paragraphs. But the only way I can find them now is by flipping through the book – frustrating. When I read Crazy Sexy Diet on my Kindle, I highlighted a whole bunch of tips on everything from veggies to exercise, so now I have the Sparknotes version on both my Kindle and my computer.
I can search for whatever I want. With any books, I am forever flipping back through the pages, in search of that one sentence that stuck with me or that one character introduction that didn’t seem important at the time (but now I can’t remember who they are!). On my Kindle, I can search for anything on any page, and it’s actually a surprisingly reliable function.
I can learn new words easily. Whenever I don’t know a word, I just move the cursor next to it and voila! A definition from the New Oxford dictionary.
There’s a web browser, so whenever I have WiFi, I can look at anything I want online! And websites render surprisingly well on the browser.
It has the capacity to Tweet or Facebook any highlights I make, if I choose. So get ready to geek out with me if I post my favourite passages from Alice in Wonderland!! Hehe.
It has a stellar battery life. Since getting it mid-January, I’ve only charged it once, and it’s still going strong. If you keep the WiFi off except when you’re using it, I’m told this prolongs the battery even more.
It’s really easy to buy content on the go – Amazon uses a one-click system which makes it simple to buy things without the hassle of typing in credit card numbers every time.
I wish that the Text-to-Speech function was a little more refined. As it stands, almost any ebook you download from the Kindle store has the capacity to be read aloud to you by a robotic voice. As much as I adore the idea behind this feature – hello, reading while doing chores!!! – it doesn’t work very well right now. I’ve tried it several times now, and the voices (your choice of male or female) tend to blur words together, making it very hard to understand. But it’s such an innovative feature, so hopefully updates will come out soon!
I wish the keyboard was a bit faster, it lags slightly. Not enough to really impair anything I do, but enough to be noticeable.
I’ve gotten most of the content on my Kindle online, for free. If you become the lucky recipient of a Kindle, the first place I would look would be Kindle’s own page on where to find free Kindle content. My favourite of these would be the Kindle Popular Classics page, or Project Gutenberg. Both websites specialize in free, out-of-copywrite classics – everything from Emma to Dracula.
Newspaper and magazine subscriptions seem to be priced much lower on the Kindle than in paper, and most come with a free trial period, anywhere from 14 (Globe and Mail) to 60 (New York Times) days.
And the huge plethora of paid content is nothing to scoff at either! I mentioned that I read Crazy Sexy Diet, it was one of the first books I ever purchased on my Kindle. After seeing the price in the bookstore (about $30 Canadian), I decided to save myself some money, and bought the ebook version for $9.99! Sure, it won’t be an addition to my paper book collection, but I still got all the same information, and at a significant discount. It’s good for us students!
Anyone out there have an eReader? If so, what do you use it for? What do you like or dislike about it? I’d love to hear any tips/tricks/hacks you have to share with a newbie owner!
And if you don’t have one, would you ever consider getting one? Why or why not? Let me know what you think about them in general.
As always, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a comment below!
So. You had a long, luxurious break spent gorging yourself on food, friends and free time. You wasted away the days sleeping in, watching movies and making sandwiches, leaving the mess for someone else to clean up. You had a wonderful, lazy, ridiculous few weeks off.
..Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and school has presented itself as an inevitability that you are suddenly dreading with every fiber of your being. You have begun your goodbyes: “Goodbye, social life! Sayonara free time! Adios fun!” and begun your hellos: “Hello boring academic reading! Bonjour exhaustion! Ola junk food!”. Suffice to say you’re probably not feeling great about the coming semester. Visions of sugarplums summer vacation are dancing in your head.
Never fear! Your guide to beating the blahs is here!
1. Make it easier for yourself
Get organized! Pick up some colourful binders, label them and keep your notes filed away where you can easily find them. If possible, take an interesting, easy course. Re-arrange your schedule so that it fits your life: for example, eliminate early classes. Stock your freezer with quick, easy meals like perogies, lasagna, edamame, pizza, burgers, bagels, frozen dinners, etc. Make it easy for you to eat whole, balanced meals instead of skipping them or ordering food (expensive!). Stock up on essentials like toilet paper, paper towels, kleenex, toothpaste, etc, so that you don’t have to always be running to the store for more.
Anything that you can do now, up front, to make it easier for yourself in the long run, I encourage you to do! That way, later on, when you’re running out of energy, time, and any essentials, you’ll be grateful to yourself for having cleared away some of the muck and creating a slightly easier existence.
2. Inject fun into your routine
Brighten your note-taking with colourful pens and/or paper. Schedule a study/textbook reading/cooking gourmet food date with a friend once a week. Make time for your personal special activities: turn the computer off one hour earlier and spend the time reading, writing, drawing, dreaming. Take the scenic route to class. Create elaborate meals whenever you have time. Dress up for school. Take a bubble bath instead of a shower. Watch part of a movie every time you finish a reading/assignment. Reward yourself for doing annoying tasks (laundry, dishes, toilet-cleaning?) with candy, a magazine, a new eye shadow, etc. Resolve to wind down with a glass of wine once or twice a week. Listen to music while you’re getting ready in the morning.
I know people who say they just don’t have any time for fun. That’s nonsense! As long as you make a small effort in your day to stop and smell the roses & appreciate the little things, you’ll be happy at the end of every day, rather than burnt out and depressed.
3. Fix what’s broken
Replace that old towel that never dries you off properly. Buy a shoe rack so that it’s easier to find and organize your shoes. Write yourself a reminder to water the plants, take out the garbage, etc, etc. Pick your clothes up off the floor. Move that table that you keep running into. Re-organize your kitchen cabinets so it’s easier to reach the things you use most often. Hang up that picture that’s been leaning against the wall since March. Buy a timer for the oven so that you stop burning things. Re-arrange the furniture so that you feel more zen. Get to class earlier so you don’t get a bad seat.
By ‘broken’ I mean not working. Take a good look at your life, your home, your daily routine, and hone in on the things that annoy you every day. There are most likely several things that bug you on a daily, weekly or occasional basis that only require a few minutes of effort to change. In order to have a successful semester, try tweaking a few things in your life to keep you running smoothly and happily throughout the school year.
4. Make your space beautiful
Buy new linens for your bed and make it a cozy, nest-y haven. Keep photos of friends and family around all the time. Clear the clutter off your desk or workspace. Cover the walls with magazine cutouts, photos, murals, collages, artwork. Keep all your favourite things in plain sight. Colour-code your bookshelves. Paint the walls your favourite colours. Hang up a blackboard and write inspirational quotes on it in colourful chalk. Buy scented candles. Have living things: pets, plants, flowers. Always have soft music playing.
Make your house a home, a place where you love to be. Make your bed just for sleeping so that when you cozy down into your fluffy duvet, it feels luxurious and comfy. Light candles, play music, keep beautiful things all around you. When exams roll around, it will be nice to have a special, comfortable place that relaxes and calms you.
5. Cut back on time-wasters
One of the things I’ve never understood are people who complain and complain about how exhausted, burnt out and stressed they are, who complain about having absolutely no free time, and who spend several hours a day on facebook. Huh? I don’t get it. Unless your desired use of what little free time you have is to creep people on the internet, than this whole statement doesn’t make sense. The sad part is, I know people who say that no, they have no free time and no, time spent on facebook doesn’t count as free time. Wait, what? So they’d rather be doing activities that they actually enjoy, like reading a novel, riding their bike, hanging out with friends? And they can’t do those things because they don’t have time? But they have time to log into facebook for hours at a time? Confusing.
I’m not exactly a saint on the social media front, and I have logged a good chunk of time on facebook, but I would never claim that I had no time for activities I enjoy. I simply chose to spent that free time online instead of engaged in interesting activities. One of my resolutions for the new year is to cut down on time wasters. Force yourself off of facebook, off of twitter, off your blog reader, stop watching tv shows you don’t even enjoy, quit checking your email 340 times a day, and focus. Force yourself to find other ways to spend that time. Force yourself to do a more mindful activity. It won’t be easy, since your brain would initially prefer to be on autopilot skimming through pictures of that weird kid from high school’s family reunion, but your soul will thank you in the end. Pump up the creativity!
And Breathe Deep!
Find joy in the little things. Always plan so that you have something to look forward to. Put in the work every day so you don’t have to cram at the very end. Spend some time every day re-centering yourself, relaxing, and breathing deep. Work hard, play hard, focus in class (my very best advice to myself, it’s the single best way to spend less time reviewing at the end of the course), don’t procrastinate. Make time for the special things. Get enough sleep and good food. Don’t burn yourself out. Smile.
Okay, so now that I’ve tackled gifts for the men and for the women in your life that you can purchase, how about a few ideas of what you could potentially make them yourself?
Creating a gift yourself is a totally a win-win situation. You will feel very accomplished and fulfilled, and they will LOVE it because you put in the three key ingredients: time, effort and love. That is the recipe for successful gift-giving.
I know what you’re thinking though: “I suck at DIY. I am the least crafty person in the whole world. It’s too much work. I don’t wanna!”
Hush, child. It will be fine, alright? I’ll take you through this, step by step!
1. Framed Photos
While not exactly DIY, giving a gift of a photo in a beautiful frame definitely reflects thought and effort. People are always looking for unique, pretty things to put around their homes as reminders of people who love them! So here’s your chance to contribute, I promise your present won’t be in vain.
Here’s what you do:
+ Find a beautiful photo, either online (try here, here and here) or of your own creation
+ Look for one that would be special to the person: either a photo of them, their family, or just a beautiful landscape or image of something they really love.
+ Get your hands on a frame! Idea: see if you can find one at Goodwill or a thrift store and spray paint it a pretty colour. Fun fun fun.
And there you have it. A lovely reminder of you and your love!
2. Baked Goods
One of my favourite gift options for the holidays is baked goodies. Cheap, easy, adorable, thoughtful, it’s the perfect gift! Plus, there are so many fun and creative ways to package your treats.
+ My top picks? Cookies of any variety, cupcakes, squares, holiday-themed bark (try candy cane, maple, white chocolate & cranberries..the list goes on!), if you’re ambitious – or you only have a few gifts to give – pie, cakes, pumpkin breads, biscotti, chocolates (truffles, brownies, mmm)! Am I making you hungry yet? Good, that means your giftee will be just as amazed and delighted by your present.
+ Wrap them up in cute ways! Find an old tin with a cute pattern on it, line it with wax paper and fill with goodies. Or get a pretty plate and stack it high, then wrap the whole thing with cellophane and a pretty bow. Or how about buying a pretty purse or bag or cute little Christmas stocking and stuffing it full of treats?
You do that, and visions of sugar plums will be dancing in their heads.
3. Do-it-Themselves Baked Goods!
Another fun and easy idea is to create a cute little package for someone to make themselves their own treats on a cold winter’s night. Even if they are self-professed non-bakers, they will definitely be grateful if you package up all the ingredients for them and include a short recipe. :) Here are some ideas:
+ Get a cute mug, and fill it with the ingredients for Microwave Chocolate Cake. Attach a little hand-written card listing the steps in how to make it!
+ Package together a gourmet hot chocolate mix, complete with an adorable cup and plenty of mini marshmellows
+ Fill a mason jar in layers with the ingredients for a yummy cookie (sugars, flours, chocolate chips, extras) and affix the recipe to the side. Try this adorable recipe from Bakerella!
4. A Token of Your Talents
What’s something you’re really good at? Don’t say you’re not good at anything. I know you are. Why not use that special talent to create something special for everyone on your list?
If you’re an artist (even an amateur!), draw/paint/sketch/pastel/sculpt.
If you enjoy taking pictures, see #1.
If you’re a writer, dream up a short story (or a long one), get it printed (try here) and gift it.
If you like to knit, create some fluffy mittens or a scarf.
If you’re a musician, record some holiday music on your computer or online!
..You get the point, right? The point is: no matter what you’re good at, and no matter what you think of the finished product or its caliber, the receiver of these gifts will be astonished. They will cherish them forever, because they came straight from the heart, wrapped up in love. :)
5. Bath Products
Again, don’t freak out about how DIY this sounds. It doesn’t have to be super complicated or stressful! Here are a few recipes to make some delectable lotions and potions for everyone on your list:
Bath bombs (so expensive at Lush, so cheap DIY – I read that citric acid = lemon juice for our purposes)
Bath salts (mmm, I want to add peppermint oil to mine!)
Check out tons more great ideas for slightly more complicated recipes here :)
And you’re done!
See! That wasn’t too scary, now was it? Just think how nice it would feel to gift something straight from your heart, made with your own two hands. I’d say that’d be living the true spirit of the holidays. :) Hope you were inspired!
Any other ideas for DIY gifts? I’d love to hear them!