Thrift Store Haul and Fabulous Finds!

Today my mom and I went crazy.

We went to literally every second-hand shop in town (minus Goodwill, because we went there yesterday, lol.)

We bought a few things at a few places but I’ll just mention the highlights.

There is one second hand store that I often have mixed feelings about.  This place is not in the best shape.  It has the ambiance of a neglected garage.  But my mom sometimes finds things there that she can use to make jewelry, so we decided to go.

And today, we found some of the best stuff ever!  On a table outside, was this snowman cookie jar.  Now, my mom has a snowman collection and every Christmas our house is just filled with them.  And I am normally not one to encourage her to buy anymore.  BUT!  I literally think that this snowman is the cutest thing I have ever seen.

LOOK HOW HAPPY HE IS.

But we were torn as to whether or not we should get him.  So I was like, “Let’s go inside and see how much it is, and then we’ll decide.”  So guess how much it cost?

$1.

Can you believe it?!  Total steal.  Then we went inside and picked up a few more things, including:

A 1.5 inch curling iron.  I wanted 2″ so as to make those really big, sexy, loose curls.  But I figure 1.5 will do just fine!  (I had been looking for awhile on eBay and they cost upwards of $10.)

Next is this (new with tags!  retails for $36!) button down shirt that I got for my friend Heath.  It didn’t come across in the photo but the color is really pretty and I think it will look great on him.

Also for Heath was this bluetooth keyboard with iPad stand.  This cost me a whopping $1 as well!  We later looked it up on eBay and including shipping it would cost $67!  Best deal ever!

(The blue thing behind it is the foldable case which turns into the stand to prop up the iPad!  (And yes, it works!)

Then for me I bought this floral print table cloth, but it’s huge and so my mom came up with the idea that I could cut it down the center and make two window curtain panels!  Yes!  (It matches my green/tree themed decor!)

And lastly I bought these bright emerald green skinny jeans (brighter and greener than they look in the picture.)  I haven’t tried them on yet but if they don’t fit I’ll just sell them on eBay because they look pretty new!

While I was in this store and finding all this great stuff, I had the thought “I am so lucky today!” which is funny because the name of the store is My Lucky Day.  Hahaha.

This was by far the most successful shopping day I have ever had.  So pleased.  So, so pleased.

Grand total for the things mentioned above: $8.

So is that snowman the cutest thing you have ever seen or what? 😉

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Tim Ferriss and my depleted ego

My friend Heath shared this Tim Ferris blog post with me the other day, called Understanding the Dangers of “Ego-Depletion”.  Its actually a guest post written by Dan Ariely, who is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics.

Ariely presents the idea that, basically, we can only make good decisions so many times, before we are too mentally exhausted to continue.  These “good decisions” are things that require will power, like skipping dessert or working on a less-than-exciting project.  Each decision requires a certain amount of effort, and when our lives are such that we are constantly making these often challenging or personally limiting decisions, after awhile our ego just gets depleted, and we fall flat on our face.

“Here’s the reason we make bad decisions: we use our self-control every time we force ourselves to make the good, reasonable decision, and that self-control, like other human capacities, is limited.”

Consider the typical dieter: He might make some rules for himself (or maybe his doctor made them) such as no sugar, no carbs, etc.  So for each meal of the day, he has to consciously try and make a good decision about what to eat.  Depending on how stressful his day was, he might be running on empty by dinner time and end up making a bad decision.  Or, maybe he’s done well for a week but is starting to lose momentum.  Consider Ariely’s question:

“From your own experience, are you more likely to finish half a pizza by yourself on a) Friday night after a long work week or b) Sunday evening after a restful weekend? The answer that most people will give, of course, is “a”. And in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s on stressful days that many of us give in to temptation and choose unhealthy options. The connection between exhaustion and the consumption of junk food is not just a figment of your imagination.”

Ariely then gives 6 easy rules to avoid caving under pressure (as well as a pretty realistic mock internal debate about food that I’m sure we’ve all had!)  He also sites some interesting studies that demonstrate participants’ wilting ability to focus, remember, and succeed at given tasks as their stress or distraction escalates.

Reading this article made me consider the things I do, and whether or not they are due to ego depletion.  I make a number of “bad decisions” on a daily basis (eating junk food, staying up late, procrastinating, etc), but I do these things so often that I have to wonder if they’re due the ego depletion or just a lack of motivation.  But then, what’s causing my lack of motivation?  Chances are, its ego depletion.  My day-to-day life isn’t particularly stressful – in fact, its pretty cushy – but I have underlying stresses that are with me at all times (student loans, getting a job, deciding if I want to move) which definitely put a tinted shade on the rest of my life.  Perhaps if I didn’t have those stresses, I would choose to eat salads more often, or get back into a routine of working out every day?  Ariely acknowledges that one can’t completely avoid stress and potential ego depletion, but calls upon the common saying “knowing is half the battle”.  And I for one am glad to have this new perspective on what might be causing the lack of motivation I’ve settled quite [un]comfortably into for the last few years.

Do you suffer from ego depletion?  Have you found ways to overcome it?

Those darned epiphanies…

I read a really interesting blog post this week, by Peter Shallard, “The Shrink of Entrepreneurs”.  This guy has some really neat stuff on starting a business and the psychology of those who try.  This week’s post was about why epiphanies will destroy your business.  (Not starting a business?  Don’t worry, this article will apply to you, too.)

 

Peter Shallard opens by presenting the familiar picture of one who is waiting for the next big realization:

“You’re just one big aha moment away from figuring it out. Right?

Isn’t everyone.

They spend their lives having one epiphany after another, always telling themselves that they’ve finally figured out what’s holding them back. An epiphany strikes and they think they’re finally going to be productive and creative.

At last, they’re going to turn their life and business around!

Except they don’t.”

Why?  Because epiphanies don’t work, according to Shallard.  Firstly, they tend to happen quickly – not a good sign.  Most entrepreneurs, he says, have reached success through a slower process.

And here’s an idea I especially like:  Shallard points out that what happens during an epiphany is that we tell ourselves a myth; we trick ourselves into believing something.  “A big epiphany gives you cause to believe you’ve broken through and that things are about to change. You pat yourself on the back and promptly do nothing.”

I can personally attest this.  I’ll have some big realization that life should be lived a certain way, or that money doesn’t matter, or one of those other bright ideas that most people will stumble upon at some point in their life, before ultimately rejecting it.  Or, to relate it to business and entrepreneurship: I have had a few ideas in recent years for genius business plans and super lucrative start-ups that I might buy a domain name for, and then proceed to leave untouched until the domain expires.

So I guess Shallard is right – when you have some big epiphany or the universe magically sends you an ingenious idea – its good to be aware that it might not work out.  Similarly, my business ideas and life philosophies that have actually developed a bit more were the ones that came not by epiphany but by a more careful thought process.

Shallard continues his post to relate epiphany-tripped entrepreneurs to schizophrenics: its when they appear most out of it that they actually experience the greatest sensation of clarity.  And that’s pretty much how my epiphanies go:  I may think that hipsterbible.com is a great idea, but I am in actuality going through a moment of insanity mistaken.

Shallard concludes his argument by foreseeing the negative outcome of having (and taking seriously) an epiphany, which is that we’ll stop growing.  I’ve got it all figured out now, so why waste time thinking?  I know how the world works, so I’ll stop listening to others.  I have a new and better business idea, so I should scrap my other projects for this one.

Check out his post to learn which positive qualities to look for in the opposite of an epiphany.  And tell me what you think of his post!

How has your luck been with epiphanies? 

11 things everyone should learn how to do (before heading off to college)

You’re about to meet people from all different walks of life.

You’re about to see people doing things you do not approve of.

You’re about to do things your parents do not approve of.

And you’ll probably wear some awful outfits and take fewer showers than you should.

This.  Is college.

(The following are the things I learned/wish I learned while in college.  They might not all be relevant for freshmen but you should definitely know them after a few years.  I have broken them down into 4 categories: living on your own, finances, life decisions, and learning/studying.)

 

Living On Your Own:

You’re moving out of your parents’ house.  Scary.  Exciting.  Now you’re about to live with a bunch of strangers.  Chances are you’ll have more than one roommate throughout your college career.  Whether its in the dorms or in an apartment, these are the things you’ll be glad you know when you find yourself living away from home in a new city.

Cook something healthy.  If you’re a freshman, you might just eat at the campus dining hall all the time.  You might have a kitchen in your dorm room, or you might just have a microwave.  But if you’re lucky enough to have a kitchen, take advantage of it!  Learn to cook yourself some basic entrees.  Vegetables, pasta, and if you’re really daring, chicken or something else substantial.  This is a great thing to learn before you move out of your parents’ house.  Its also a great way to bond with your mom in the last few months you live with her.

Clean up after yourself.  Now that you’ve made yourself a fabulous dinner, please don’t leave the dirty pots and pans in the sink.  I got into so many squabbles with my roommate because I never cleaned up after myself.  Be smarter than I was.  A great way to solve this problem before you have it is to come up with a cleaning schedule with your roommates and assign tasks for yourself.  Just make sure everyone respects this agreement and actually follows through with their commitments.  Even if you live on your own, you’ll feel  a lot better without junk all over the place.  College can be chaotic enough without living in chaos, too.

Tolerate other people, be willing to compromise.  You might find that you and your roommate like to live pretty different lives.  One of you wakes up early, the other stays up late; one of you likes the place clean and the other couldn’t care less.  Be prepared to sacrifice a little – afterall, you’re sharing a small space with this person for a year: its best to be friendly with one another.  Your first or second day moving in together is the perfect time to fill each other in on your likes, dislikes, and pet peeves.  Work something out together so you can both be happy and both do well in school.  Be supportive of one another, and respect any agreements you establish together.

Get yourself up reliably.  You wont succeed in school if you sleep through your finals.  (Yes, this happened to me.  Luckily (?) it was a small school and my teacher called me and woke me up and asked if I was planning to come in that day.  Oy.)

Navigate your city via the bus system.  You’ll probably want to go explore your city without getting lost.  And when you have an apartment off campus, it will be good to know how to get to your classes, and how to get to them on time.  Buses are often late, so look at the schedule and see if you’ll need to get on the earlier one just to be safe.  Navigating bus systems is a great skill to have outside of college, too.  After living in LA and getting around there, I feel confident that I could go to any major city and figure out how their bus system works, even if it varies from LA’s.  (P.S. If you live in a big city, there’s probably an online schedule of all the bus routes, and maybe even a handy-dandy trip planner.  Check it out!)

 

Finances:

Finances don’t have to be scary.  And chances are, you have your parents to fall back on during the next couple of years anyway.  Take this time to try and be financially independent and learn some things about money before you really have to be financially independent.

Pay your bills.  If you’re living in a dorm, you might not get any bills (unless you pay your own cell phone bill or something, but if that’s the case, you’re probably used to doing that back home anyway.)  Once you get an apartment, you will have utility bills and probably a credit card to pay.  You’ll need to keep your desk organized so you don’t misplace or forget these.  Online bill paying is an easy solution to this.  Also, you should know how to do some simple math so that you can divide your utilities by 2 or 3 if you split them with your roommates.  General financial awareness is a good practice to get into.  I love using Mint.com to manage my money.  It keeps me from overdrawing my account and also provides some organizational tips like creating a budget and saving up for future goals!  (And its free to use and safe.)

Understand student loans.  This is a big one.  I am now out of college and I still don’t completely understand them.  But let me tell you what I do know: college is expensive – very expensive.  And if you are between the ages of 18-21, chances are you do not have much money.  Because I got loans and didn’t have to pay anything out of pocket while in college, I was sort of in a comfortable state of denial that I would ever have to pay for my education.  Living ‘without paying rent’ was fabulous.  Getting ‘free’ meals on campus was fabulous.  Finishing school and getting a huge bill was not fabulous.  Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.  I don’t in any way mean to discourage you from going to college.  I’m saying to go to college – just make sure you’re informed.  Take a minute and think about the reality of paying tens of thousands of dollars in a few years.  Will you have a job by then?  Maybe.

(I don’t mean to be a downer but ask anyone between the ages of 21-30 who has been to college, what they think of student loans.  Chances are they’ll have some stress associated with it.)

 

Life Decisions:

College is often thought of as a time to ‘find yourself’.  But its also a time to party like crazy and get into some situations that you can look back on and laugh about when you’re 40.  While I encourage you to have fun, I also encourage you to take a real look at yourself and what your goals are for college, and where you hope to end up after these 4 years.

Think really hard about what you want to do with your life, and the value of college.  Now that you’re possibly questioning whether or not you want to pay for college, I will advise you to think long and hard about it.  What do you want to get out of college?  Do you expect to learn a ton of stuff and become super smart and prepared to be an adult?  Will you finally feel ready to be on your own once you get that degree?  Will it change everything?  Will it give you confidence?  Will it guarantee you some jobs offers after graduation?  Be careful.  I had a totally inaccurate expectation that college would teach me everything I needed to know and that I’d step out a mature, responsible, and prepared member of society.  Then, before I knew it, I was about to graduate and felt as though I had learned nothing, wasn’t at all prepared to get a job (emotionally nor in terms of skills/ability), and felt only marginally more mature that I did in high school.  Needless to say, I had gotten myself into a situation where I owed a bunch of money on student loans, and didn’t have much to show for it.  Again, I don’t want to encourage you not to go to college.  In fact, I strongly encourage you to go to college.  But meet with your advisor and think about what you’re getting out of school.  Maybe you should change your major?  Maybe after a year or two, you’ve gotten all you can out of college and its just time to leave?  The mistake I made wasn’t going to college – it was staying in college for longer than I should, because getting a degree was “the thing to do”.  If it stops working for you, its no longer the thing to do. Be honest and keep checking in with yourself to see that you’re on the right track.  For you.

Stand up for yourself, don’t put up with BS.  Throughout your college experience you will undoubtedly encounter some difficult people and difficult situations.  Its important to realize that its all BS and that you don’t have to put up with it.  Colleges have a ton of students to keep track of, so cut them some slack if they mess up your room assignment or class schedule.  Just not too much slack.  If your college does something to screw you over – may it be difficult teachers, outdated requirements, inefficient departments and staff, etc – do stand up for yourself and try and fix your situation.  Be polite, but firm.  At the end of the day, you’re the one paying for your education, and thus they work for you.  (Again, be polite.)

 

Learning, Studying:

I’ll assume that you know some basic general study skills by now, such as keeping yourself and your papers organized, having a system to remember deadlines, etc.  (If not, there are plenty of tips online.)  Here are some study tips more unique to college:

Be resourceful, internet-savvy.  Know where your campus library is.  Know how to do basic google searches to find information.  Understand that Wikipedia is generally not an accepted resource for research papers.  You might want to check into the MLA standards (how to properly/legally cite your sources for academic papers).  And feel free to go to said campus library and ask the librarian for help.  Or your teacher.

Have good study habits, be able to self-teach.  I was surprised when I got to college to find that I was expected to read the textbooks in order to learn the material that was on the tests.  Very different from high school.  Honestly, in some of my classes, the teacher didn’t even seem necessary.  She would give a lecture that was like a general overview on a few chapters – only the basics.  I thought, “wow, this test is going to be easy”.  But no – the test wasn’t on any of the basic stuff.  It was all from the textbook.

Note: Beware though, because for some classes, you will not need the book at all.  I spent so much money buying books that I literally didn’t open once.  Also, and this is key: do not open (unseal) your textbooks until you get to class.  I’ve had classes where we get to the class on the first day and the teacher says to disregard what the website said, we don’t actually use the book, go ahead and return it.  (The students who already took off the plastic wrap just lost out on like $50.)  If there is any way you can find out from previous students in that class if you’ll actually need the book, that’d be great.  Also, you could try not even buying any books until after the first day of each class, where they’ll probably go over what you’ll need.  Just make sure there will be enough books left by then or you’ll be out of luck.

And actually, I need to make point number 12.  Buy your textbooks used as much as possible.  Often, the school bookstore sells them both new and used, but they’re still ridiculously expensive.  Try half.com for great deals.  Or Amazon.  Or just Google Shopping results.  See if you can buy a previous edition, too.  99% of the information will be the same, so it should work.  Only downside is some of the exercise problems at the end of chapters might be different, so your homework might end up being different from everyone else’s and you could lose points.  So this will work better for certain kinds of textbooks than others.

I hope you found this post useful and have a fabulous time at college.  Good luck!

And for those of you who have already been to college – did I miss anything?

5 Self Love Affirmations

I was reading Flamidwyfe’s Blog and was inspired by her post on 5 affirmations.  So, I took to Pinterest and found 5 affirmations I liked best from my “Truth” board, and thought I’d share them.

The things I post on my Truth board are things that I think are very true ways of looking at life – but they are often the things I most easily forget.  The ones below especially inspire me to live my life the way I want to.  Maybe they’ll inspire you, too?

If you make a post of 5 affirmations, let me know!

Thoughts on life and death

There might be two opposing views of life:

You’re born.  And then as soon as you’re born, you’re dying.  You’re dying and you’re dying, for the rest of your life, all the way up until you don’t die anymore, because you’re dead.

Or, you’re born.  And you’re born and you’re born and you’re reborn.  And you keep being born until you aren’t born anymore, because you’re dead.

Which view is yours?

The Kahn Game (Pretty Little Liars recap)

Such a good episode!

Note: If you are not caught up with the latest episodes of Pretty Little Liars, you might want to bookmark this post for later.

This week’s episode was The Kahn Game. And it was packedwith new info!  Here’s what we learned:

  • Maya’s site had a picture of her wrist with the stamp (the one that Holden had, that Emily also saw on the night she was drugged).  Thus, Maya did attend “the party”.
  • Ashley (Hanna’s mom) is helping Hanna via getting Veronica (Spencer’s mom, the lawyer) on board with the mandatory blood testing sitch.
  • Caleb knows that there’s still an ‘A’ out there and tricks Hanna into meeting up with him, via sending her a text “from A”.  She fills him in on a bit of the drama.  Kissing ensues.  (Are they back together then?  What about her kissing Wren?)
  • Ezra has a brother, Wes.  We don’t know much about him other than that he’s probably either sketchy, or just plain rude like their mom.  More money/family issues for Ezra.
  • The Liars clue Emily in to the website.  She checks it out, cries, and gets comforted by Paige.
  • Spencer wants to get into UPenn so new girl CeCe takes her and Aria to a party, where she connects her to an old friend, Steven, the UPenn admissions guy (supposedly).
  • Turns out the party 1) is at Noel Kahn’s cabin, and 2) is “the party” – so the girls get their very own stamped wrists.  So we know that Maya was at one of Noel’s cabin parties at least once before she died.
  • At the party, Aria and Noel battle it out via an intensely fast-paced and intensely honest game of Truth or Dare (minus the Dare).  We find out that on the night that Ali’s grave was dug up, Jenna picked Noel up and they went out.  Then he asked about Ezra and Aria freaked out and left.
  • Next, Spencer takes on Jenna.  We learn that Jenna and Noel picked up Emily at the diner (so perhaps the wrist she remembers seeing was Noel’s?)  Jenna lied about this before because she was “trying to protect someone”.   She then asks Spencer where “the video” is.  (Which video?  Are we supposed to remember this?  I have a vague recollection that they have a video of Jenna in her room saying weird things about her love for Toby or something, but maybe I’m making that up.)
  • Aria calls Ezra to pick her up, but talks to his brother instead, who picks her up and spills that Ezra got a girl, Maggie, pregnant back in high school.
  • Ashley has a cute dinner date with Pastor Ted.  (They’re way cuter together than he would be with Ella.)
  • Aria confronts Ezra about Maggie.  He tells her his mom paid her off to leave (with the baby?) and never speak to Ezra again.  (Does he have some kid somewhere?)
  • Spencer receives an email from UPenn admissions saying they received her application.
  • Last scene is ‘A’ getting the keys to apartment A from a woman who loves cats.

What I think:

I loved the Truth game scenes.   So fast-paced!  So good!  I especially loved Jenna’s line, “Isn’t that why you lied about your parents’ lake house?  (laughs) Don’t worry, that was rhetorical.  This isn’t: where is the video?”

SO GOOD!  Way to go Tammin.

I don’t like the stuff we’re finding out about Ezra.  Makes him feel kind of distant, like there’s so much we don’t know about him.  And now he might have a kid?  And he didn’t tell Aria?  Um…

Love Ashley and Ted.  I hope they get married.  He would be a good stepdad for Hanna.

Love Hanna and Caleb!  Ever since that first scene in the shower. ❤

Emily was hardly in this episode.  Eh.

What did you think of this week’s episode?  What do you think happened after Noel and Jenna picked Emily up at the diner?