Archive | February, 2014

Fun, Inspirational, Quirky and FREE Desktop Wallpapers

26 Feb

In my recent BuzzFeed Community post, 15 Totally Useful Ways to Waste Time at Work, I offered the idea to change your desktop wallpaper. A new and interesting wallpaper could change your attitude while you’re busy on your computer getting things done. Something funny could brighten up your morning while an inspirational background could be the kick in the butt you need to start a new project. Basically, if you have the classic Microsoft background or the cloudy sky wallpaper, you’re doing it wrong.

I scoured the internet for unconventional wallpapers. You’d be surprised what’s out there! And for free! Here’s a list of my favorites:

hermanmiller

thefoxisblack

briannarose

^my current background^

thesweetescape

briannarose

twotwentyone

thefoxisblack

designerdaily

designlovefest

pinterest user

thedesignwork

What did you think? Where do you get your desktop wallpapers from? Do you design your own wallpapers? Send some to me! I change mine weekly 🙂

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Romantic Gift Idea for Him – On a Budget

16 Feb

If you’re looking to get your guy something thoughtful and romantic without breaking the bank, try this budget-friendly and personal gift idea for him!

 Here’s how everything turned out:

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This picture, personally designed by me, lists the latitude and longitude coordinates of where we first met along with the title of our song. It is both easy and romantic without being too sappy.  Get your personalized printable!

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I used two mason jars we had laying around and Valentine’s Day themed ziploc bags from Dollar Tree for a quick and easy DIY Valentine’s Day gift. I bought the white frame from Target‘s Room Essentials collection for $13.99. The matted frame makes it look more elegant.

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Cupcake holders make for an easy and inexpensive decoration for the mason jar lids.

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I had a personalized engraved keychain made by JewelryEveryday on Etsy. She had excellent customer service and it was delivered very quickly if you’re on a time crunch.

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For a small fee, I was able to get both sides engraved.  With shipping, the keychain totaled $25.95.

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Here’s how the frame looks with our yellow and grey bedroom theme. With a little more wall decor and perhaps a headboard, it will look much better.

Another Millennial Wants More – But Its Not What You Think

12 Feb

Hundreds, if not thousands, of arguments exist out there that millennials are spoiled, egocentric and lazy. We want too much, expect too much and ultimately get too much. Blah. Blah. Blah. Well you know what, world? I want more and I’m not sorry for it.

Is it more money? No. More time off? I’ll pass. More work-life balance? What life…

What I want – brace yourselves – is something more. Something more than earning a degree and getting a job. Something more than a paycheck. Something more than a nice desk. Something more than my boss’s acceptance. And I’m not alone. 

The problem is that our society isn’t built to support these kinds of “outlandish” dreams all in one lifetime. Seriously, how many 20-somethings can start an awesome company, travel to India, meet Bono and get invited to the Oscars all in one lifetime? Probably about seven. While some lucky folks get the opportunity to fulfill these desires, most do not. Unless your dad’s coworker’s aunt’s daughter’s best friend’s sister-in-law is planning to open a start-up company, you’re pretty much bound to societal expectations: get a degree, get a job, and shut up! There’s intimidating competition, limited time, and yes, inadequate amounts of money. I know, “GREAT! Another millennial complaining about money.”  Well you ain’t about this life so please continue reading. 

With that being said, you should know that I did graduate college, I did move away from home, I did get a job in the field I wish to pursue, and I do plan on being successful. And maybe I am the typical millennial but it is just not enough. While sitting at my desk all day, every day, I can’t help but dream about who I want to be. The torturous question, “Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?” haunts me because the answer is nowhere to be found. Besides becoming Beyonce’s personal assistant, obviously. If only!

This is an honest confession, if you will, where I admit that I want more but I don’t know where to start and doubt my desires. Ultimately, I struggle with who I am and where I’m going. But I’ve learned that that’s okay! So, here’s a [working] list of the dreams I have and the doubts that come along with them. I welcome your feedback! Please, feel free to offer suggestions, rebuttals, comments and the like. Here goes nothing…

 I want to:

♦Start a business, but what business?

Make a difference in someone’s life, but in what way? 

Advocate for change, but what’s a good, trustworthy cause?

Organize and host a 5K run/walk, but for what and who?

Learn accounting and bookkeeping, but where to find the time? 

Meet inspiring, educated people, but how and where?

Design a mass-produced invitation, ad, or brochure, but for who? 

Become popular on Twitter, but for what?

Play a significant role on a team, but what team? Athletic? Work-related? Volunteer?

Teach someone something meaningful, but I’m no teacher or expert, am I?

Donate a gift to my alma mater, but what would actually make a difference?

Create a useful, life-changing mobile app, but do I have any good ideas?

Be a role model, but for doing what and for who?

These are silly dreams, maybe. Attainable dreams, probably. Some of you might encourage me to just go for it! But like a true millennial, I want it all…and fast. However, I shouldn’t be sorry for wanting success, service, and education. Either way, the road is not yet paved and it should be an interesting journey.

Creating the Guest Experience: One Tablecloth Away from A Successful Event

11 Feb

During an office meeting the other day, our team of 8 discussed the nitty gritty details of an upcoming event. We spent nearly two hours discussing stage design, venue logistics, delivery of programs, and much more. I’m sure you’re thinking “TWO HOURS?! How could it possibly take that long to discuss putting a couple flowers on a stage?”

Yes, it could…and it should! All too often planners get lost in the execution of an event that they forget about the details. They worry if they’re on time, if the caterers have arrived, when the programs will be delivered. Know this: the details are what matter the most. Have you ever heard, “it’s the thought that counts!”? In this case, “the thought” is the consideration for details. Details showcase to an attendee that you’ve taken the time and put in the effort to design an entire experience for him/her, one that is positively meaningful and memorable.

For example, at that meeting we counted how many rental tables we’d need and for what purpose. After discussing all other locations, we decided to host eight tables where guests would be checking in for their big day. Typically, at any event that isn’t a backyard barbecue complete with cornhole and a cooler full of Miller Lite, rental tables require table skirts. In our situation, this meant more set-up time, more break-down time, and more costs.

“Do we really need table skirts?” one team member groaned.

Another chimed in, “Absolutely! How would you feel if you went to pick up your name tag off a dirty old wooden table?”

Perhaps some guests wouldn’t mind a dirty old wooden table. After all, it isn’t the main part of the event. On the other hand, it is certainly part of the experience. Think about it. When hosting an event, there is a difference between a beat up wooden table and a clothed and skirted table. A wooden table might say, “Grab your name tags and keep going,” while a skirted table invites guests and says, “There’s something important over here, come check it out.”

A tablecloth is a small detail, a sometimes costly but purposeful gesture to show guests that they are welcome, appreciated and special. It is a small way to add a note of elegance to the event. It also reflects tremendously on the host. 

Creating the guest experience is simply that: the experience. What feelings should guests experience when at the event: surprise, romance, elegance, thrill, adrenaline, honor, etc.? Now think about how these feelings can be achieved! For guests, this can be the difference between being at an event and BEING at an event. Were they simply in attendance or were they engaged? Did they go through the motions like everyone else or did they interact? 

Ultimately, guests will complain about everything that went wrong before they compliment an event. Instead of raving about the delicious buffet, they might grumble about the empty stage (no good photo ops!).

So, consider the experience: not what happened – checked in, ate some food, got some awards – but what was experienced – took some great photos with my coworkers, got a cool name tag I’m totally keeping, felt super classy. And remember, it’s all in the details.

Parents: Make Them Suffer! How to Raise a Mature Kid

10 Feb

I could spend time thanking my parents for buying my first car, assisting in my college education, or taking me to Six Flags hundreds of times. That would be perfectly acceptable. Those things were awesome.

On the other hand, I could also spend time thanking my parents for things that totally sucked. I imagine it isn’t easy for parents to make these tough decisions and put their kids through what they’ll act like is a living hell. I imagine those years of complaining, retaliation and complete stress make parents wonder is it worth it? Is it worth the constant battle? The tears? The sleepless nights?

To that I ask, is it worth creating a successful, functioning adult? Is it worth hearing, “you must have done something right!” from your peers? Is it worth an honest “thank you?” from your child? I’m no parent, or even close to it, but I’d say its worth it. They’ll fight you, kicking and screaming, but in the end, its worth it.

Here’s a round of applause for my amazing parents who made everyday decisions that made me who I am today.

1. Forcing Me to do the “Boy” Chores, too

My brother and I had the same chores. No girl is too good to take out the trash or cut the grass. Get a little dirty! It’s fun. Fun tip: Google “kids doing chores” and see what you find! Hint: boys are washing cars and girls are doing dishes. Surprise, surprise!

2. Making Me Clean My Own Room

The mess didn’t make itself! If you’re capable of wrecking it, you’re capable of cleaning it. This taught me responsibility, pride in my own things, and most of all, accountability. After all, what kind of pride could I take in my things if I couldn’t even find them half the time?

3. Not Letting Me Wear Makeup Until I was 15

What did I need make-up for? It seems some young teenage girls feel insecure without make-up and that’s just sad. We need to teach out preteens and teens that inner beauty comes first.

4. Teaching Me How to Cook

You’d be surprised how many adults struggle to boil hot dogs. You’d think cooking is rocket science to some people. Instead, they’d rather spend money on eating out than open a cookbook or have to deal with the dishes afterward. Eating out regularly is a total bank buster and skipping out on cooking because of dishes is just lazy. Cooking can be adventurous and therapeutic at the same time!

5. Saying “Because I said so”

I’m all for reasoning with kids. After all, they need to learn the reasons why things are done certain ways. Sometimes however, there is no specific answer and that is just fine. Answering “because I said so” may be a little authoritarian but it worked and I respected it. I still do. “Because I said so” meant end of discussion. Period.

6. Making Me Listen to Your Music

It may have been torture but now when I talk to fellow coworkers or people of different backgrounds, I can relate and I feel more aware. Equally, it helped me realize that the world didn’t revolve around me. Sometimes I got what I wanted. Sometimes you got what you wanted. And that was okay. I understood you had interests, too!

7. Giving Me a Curfew

Life is all about time management. Get to work on time. Get back from your lunch break on time. Make sure you eat dinner before How I Met Your Mother comes on. A curfew reinforced the importance of time. Not to mention, kept me in check!

Bacon-Wrapped Sausage with Brown Sugar Dijon Glaze

4 Feb

This easy recipe was a huge hit at my super bowl party after a friend and I played around with a few different recipes and eventually made this up on our own. They went FAST so I’m definitely making this again!

My recipe was inspired by one from Tina’s Delicious Dishes

Bacon-Wrapped Sausage with Brown Sugar Dijon Glaze

Prep: 10-15 minutes     Cook: 35 minutes     Total: 45-50 minutes

Tools you’ll need:

  • Toothpicks
  • Cookie sheet
  • Aluminum foil or parchment paper
  • Small stovetop pot
  • Glazing brush

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Eckrich or Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage (near Kielbasa)
  • 1 jar (12 oz.) of dijon mustard
  • 1 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1 package of bacon – maple bacon for a more sugary flavor, hardwood smoked for smokey flavor

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Slice sausages to desired thickness (remember you’ll be wrapping the bacon) – set aside
  3. Cut slices of bacon into thirds.
  4. Wrap pieces of bacon around pieces of sausage and secure with toothpicks and place on foil-lined sheet pan. Set aside.
  5. Mix mustard, brown sugar and maple syrup over low heat until sugar is dissolved and the sauce has thickened.
  6. Brush the glaze over the bacon-wrapped sausages, almost drenching them. It’ll give the bacon a crispy, candied finish. Leave some glaze for after the sausage is cooked to pour over or for dipping.
  7. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until they start to crisp.
  8. Place cooked sausages on serving platter and use a spoon to drizzle the sausage with the remainder of the glaze.

Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures as I was going along because I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but I’ll add photos the next time! I’d like to thank Meghan C. for her help in developing this simple recipe.

Questions? Suggestions? Let me know! I’d love to hear your take on this recipe!

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