Archive for the ‘ Sundry ’ Category

What makes your pulse race?

So that’s me…at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival (!) with friends.  I returned yesterday and I’m slowly trying to integrate back into reality. It was everything that I had hoped it would be and more! Fabulous films (The Music Never Stopped, Miss Representation, Higher Ground, etc), celebrity run-ins (Liv Tyler, Adrian Grenier, Morgan Spurlock, etc.), and THE best time hanging out with friends old & new. This trip was conceived many, many years ago with my friend Lesley, and a few years ago we got serious saving and planning to go this year. For weeks, I was was like a little kid, getting more excited every day until finally we left. Honestly, it was one of the best times of my life and it was great fun to check it off my “list”.

I’ve got to go on record stating that I think everyone should have a list of things they want to accomplish in their lives. 2 sites –2dobeforeidie & 43things are great places to record your list and  Lifehack & Squidoo both help you get started. It can really be anything – but I’m a true convert that if you “list” it, it can happen.

The Gift of Organization

Today’s post is totally shameless and self promoting but practical. A friend asked over the weekend if her mom could get her a gift certificate from Life Simplified to help her clean and organize her office. “Of course” was my enthusiastic response because unlike others, I have a unusual enjoyment of assisting and guiding others through the clutter and disorganization in their lives.

Take a moment to check out the services section on the Life Simplified site and you’ll find additional information regarding:

  • Tailored Gift Shopping
  • Media/Photo Projects
  • Home & Business Organization
  • Small Business Support
  • Research

I’ll be happy to do a gift certificate for any of these services for you or someone on your holiday list. Ho! Ho! Ho!

3 months or 3000 miles

Do you have trouble remembering to change the oil in your car or do other regularly scheduled maintenance? Driverside.com is a new free site that will automatically remind you, plus ballpark the repair costs for your vehicle. I first heard about this new site from Clark Howard on HLN who provides great tips on how to “save more, spend less & avoid getting ripped off”.

After a simple registration process of adding my vehicle, it provided detailed information regarding what would be upcoming in regards to “scheduled maintenance” and also provided information about any safety recalls.  While I’d like to trust my local garage to have my best interest at heart, it’s nice to have a back-up to double check their recommendations and “ballpark” out potential repairs.  There’s an especially great section that I have yet to tap into called “Ask Our Auto Mechanics – We pay for their advice so you don’t have to”.

For someone like me who abhors dealing with any car issues, this allows me to feel a little more in control.

I know I put it right here!

Big thanks to my sister, Ashley, for turning me onto I Can’t Find My Phone.  No frills, no surfing through pages or ads, simply type in the phone number of the cell phone or home handset that you have lost track of and they will ring it for you. I just tried it and it’s brilliant. With so many people giving up landlines for cellular service only, it’s hard to call yourself when you’ve misplaced your phone. Now if they could just manage to help me find my keys!

Tested Time Savers

I don’t think anyone will argue that our time is getting more valuable and I’ll admit to saying NO a lot more this year if something doesn’t align with my priorities. (Thanks 168 Hours!) Needless to say I’m always trying to find more time in my day and these 2 FREE services have helped me tremendously.

1) Running errands – a necessary evil for me and a lot of times my kids. Route4me.com is the best route planner I’ve found! You enter up to 10 stops (or less) and it will route out the most efficient way to go. You can pay to add more stops but c’mon you don’t need to do more than 10 errands in one day! This has been a saving grace for a geographically challenged person such as myself who seems to backtrack a lot.

2) HATE to be put on HOLD? lucyphone.com users can hang up, and are then called back when a customer service representative finally picks up. On the free service’s Web site,  users type in a customer service number (or click on one of many stored on the site), and when a human being finally answers the site will ring you at your given number. After multiple occasions of screaming into my phone ( see AGENT!!! post ), this allows me to quite possibly change the world while “lucy” waits on hold.

You’ve got mail!

Real mail, in your mailbox, not a bill – when was the last time this happened to you? My new favorite site for fun (and learning ) is Postcrossing! The goal of the Postcrossing project is to allow people to receive postcards from all over the world, for free. Well almost, you still need to pay for postage ($0.89 stamp). Anyway, the main idea is this: if you send a postcard, you will receive at least one back from a random Postcrosser from somewhere in the world.

Why? Because, like most folks, there are lots of people who like to receive real mail. The element of surprise of receiving postcards from different places in the world can turn your mailbox into a box of surprises – and who wouldn’t like that?

I sent my first postcard a  few weeks ago as a test to Kate in Russia. This week I got one back from Adnila in the Netherlands! Too fun and the kids thought it was great. I signed them up each individually (or you can do it as a family) and off went their first postcards to Poland & Kazakhstan. Let me know when you’ve sent your first postcard and we’ll do a drawing for a 30 pack of postcards from artist Charley Harper.  Happy Posting!

Hold on, let me get you my card.

Never has their been so many choices for business or calling cards. If you are in the market for new or upgraded cards, check out one (or all) of these life2great sites. Vistaprint has been a leader in the field for the past few years due to their constant marketing of 250 FREE custom business cards.  They do offer hundreds of designs and the availability to upload your own photos but adding a printed backside or heavier card stock can start to add up. I’ve also noticed that they will give you a coupon as soon as you complete your order so sometimes ordering 1/2 of a set on one order and then the other 1/2 on a second order can save you money.

Zip on over to zazzle where you can browse hundreds of templates or design your own business cards. Zazzle also offers cards in three sizes; Chubby, business & skinny which can add to the individuality of your cards. This along with their entire line of other marketing items such as apparel, mugs and postage stamps can make them your one stop shop. Also, sign up for their street_sign_business_business_card-p240690611207123544tdcc_380mailing list as last weekend they had a 4 hour 50% off Happy Hour sale on Friday and 20% off the rest of the weekend.

MOO is a newer site but one of the coolest as it uses ‘Printfinity’. This is MOO’s unique printing technology which allows you to print a different image on every card in a pack. An inspiration gallery and expert tips makes this site on of the must unique and modern of all the sites.

A recent article in Woman’s Day has a great piece on business cards that provided expert tips on design, wording and presentation so you can network like a pro, check it out!

AGENT!!!

That’s me screaming into the phone when trying to connect to a live person while making some recent travel plans. A few days later while calling a major airline carrier, I was told by a recording that they were too busy to take my call and to try again another time. No pretending or giving me an estimated 5 minute wait time status update – nope, too busy, try again later. This, it seems,  is what it has come to…and it makes my blood pressure rise just thinking about calling any 1-800 number.

get humanHowever, I’ve just discovered Gethuman.com. Gethuman.com  is a great starting place before you “let your fingers do the walking”. It’s the ultimate consumer tool with phone numbers, shortcuts, reviews, tips, and more for many companies worldwide. It’s great at bypassing the voicemail systems and connecting you to a live human in record time – especially helpful if you have a specific question or if you have an issue that you need handled.

It came in extremely handy for me after staying at a hotel that had multiple issues from the moment I arrived. The on-site staff seemed unconcerned about the quality of my stay; but I called their main company line and after speaking to a customer service rep, I was credited 1/2 of my stay back onto my credit card. I presented the facts is a neutral tone, expressed my disappointment in this particular chain, and said that their service would affect my future choices in hotels. Their positive response was exactly what I had hoped for – and made possible by 2 live humans talking it out.

168 Hours Challenge

clockIf you’ve ever muttered the phrase, “I wish I had time to do that” or find yourself at the end of a weekend wondering where your time went, join author Laura Vanderkam, me and many others as we take the 168 Hours Challenge. Based on the book, 168 HOURS: You Have More Time Than You Think, it’s a week long challenge to take a close look at one week of our lives (168 hours!) and learn where the time really goes!

You can join the event on facebook, share your feedback directly on the 168 Hours site, blog on your own site or even email Laura directly at lvanderkam@yahoo.com. It starts Monday, September 13th but feel free to jump in anytime during the week as a little challenge is better than none at all.

All you need to do is download a time sheet from her website, http://www.my168hours.com/time-management-spreadsheet.html, and start recording your time.  Laura will be giving away a book a day Read the rest of this entry

Give Thanks

thank you noteI was brought up under the strict rule of thank-you note writing and it carries with me until this day. I believe in good, old fashioned notes that are hand written, require a stamp and are sent in a timely fashion. Saying this, I still haven’t written ones for my birthday (from May) or to the wonderful friends and family who hosted us while we were road tripping this summer. I used to be SO much better, actually a little obsessed my husband might say, as I made us do all our thank-you notes for our wedding gifts on the plane ride to our honeymoon destination?!

So it was with mixed emotion that I read about Thanks for Everything on the site DailyCandy Kids. In three easy steps, your thank you notes are done – by someone else!

  1. Answer a few simple questions about the occasion, then select your stationary.
  2. List the “gifts” you received and who to thank.
  3. Place your order.

Granted it seems to be mostly geared toward baby shower/birth gifts as well as wedding gifts but I could dream, for a moment, of a “personal assistant” handling one of my most procrastinated tasks.  They are not actually handwritten but use “sophisticated handwriting fonts that could fool all but the most suspicious forensic graphologist”. And I have to love a site that refuses to do notes for kid’s birthday or bar/bat mitzvah gifts stating that kids need to learn and master the rules of writing thank-you notes…before they can break them.