Blogging, Clearance sales, favorite things, Habits, shopping

Getting the best deal, one of my favorite things

I have done a few posts in the past highlighting some of my favorite things. From wine, to make up, clearance tags and most recently podcasts, I’ve shared a variety of things that strike my fancy. I’ve decided to follow this theme more often. So, you can look forward to frequent lists, reviews and suggestions of goods and services I encounter in my daily life.

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One of my favorite past times is shopping. Awhile back I wrote of my love for a good deal, including a handful of tips for shopping clearance items. (Check out “My Favorite Things — Clearance Tags”) I recognize value and I’m willing to pay for quality, but most times I’m able to find what I’m looking for on sale.

The mission to find the best deal is a bit like a treasure hunt. There’s something about the satisfaction of finding an item marked down 50% or more. And, when you find such deals, it’s not something you can keep to yourself. Returning home from a sale shopping adventure, I can’t wait to bust open the bags and show off the amazing deals I landed.

Finding incredible deals has become a point of pride. So much so that when I receive a complement on something I’ve purchased, I’m quick to point out the sale price. People typically respond in disbelief and a desire to go shopping to get such a deal, too.

My most recent purchase pride point came in the renovation of the kitchen at our cottage. We committed to a strict budget for the project, which prompted me to be on high alert for the very best prices. My husband was impressed in the purchasing of new appliances.

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I went to our local Sear’s Appliance Store on my quest to buy a new dishwasher, oven/stove and microwave. I am proud to report spending a total of $1,209.85. All three items were on sale, of course. The best deals to be had were on the microwave – $159.93 and dishwasher – $399.93. These prices were offered on display models. Upon inspection both were in perfect condition and being cleared out for new models. Selecting both was an easy decision. The oven/stove was an in-stock item, also on sale at 35% off  the regular price at $649.99. There were cheaper models, but based on ratings and reviews, Samsung was the best choice.

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Blogging, Habits, Personal growth, Podcasts

My top 3 favorite podcasts. What’s in your ears?

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I am a big fan of podcasts. Some might say I’m obsessed. On headphones or on my handy little portable speaker, a podcast is almost always playing. Someone talking in my ears has replaced the sound of music.

I could blame my oldest daughter for my latest obsession. A few years back when picking her up from law school for a holiday visit, she introduced me to “Serial”. The NPR podcast series was red-hot at the time. After consuming a few consecutive episodes,  I was hooked.

The attraction to podcasts can probably be traced back further. As a child, we all loved to have a story read to us. Podcasting is storytelling at its best. I have a renewed love of a story and appreciation for how many stories there are to be told.

Podcasts are not new. They started as an outgrowth of Apple’s iPod. It was an effort to bring original programming to MP3 devices. Back then, getting access to most podcast shows was a pain, not nearly as easy as it is today. Listening to your favorite shows no longer requires the laborious steps of downloading to your computer, plugging in your iPod and then transferring.

Smartphones have made it easy to access podcasts and has grown the audience by leaps and bounds. New apps allow the opportunity to listen to shows directly. Cars equipped with Bluetooth connections play audio from smartphones through car speakers without plugging in.

The popularity of podcasts is definitely growing. Edison Research says podcast consumption is surging. People listening to podcasts every week listened to an average of five programs per week. I count myself in on these stats. 

Certainly, room to grow the audience. Asking my journalism students, who has listened to a podcast recently … or ever, only a few hands raised in response. Forcing them to choose a show to give a listen, I heard lots of positive comments about talk versus music in their ears. Perhaps the audience of podcast listeners has grown, just a bit.

The library of podcasts on my phone continues to grow. Here are a few of my top three  current favorites. I highly recommend adding each to your library and giving talk versus music a try. I’m eager to hear what you think. If you’re a podcast listener, I’d love to hear what’s playing in your ears.

#1 Reveal – 

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As stated on its website — “The Center for Investigative Reporting’s award-winning journalists hold the powerful accountable and reveal government fraud and waste of taxpayer funds, human rights violations, environmental degradation and threats to public safety. We consistently shine a bright light on injustice and protect the most vulnerable in our society.”

Their mission is noble — “We engage and empower the public through investigative journalism and groundbreaking storytelling to spark action, improve lives and protect our democracy.”

Launched in 1977, the organization has been serving as a watchdog for more than 40 years. Voice of REVEAL’s podcast, Host Al Letson takes his job seriously and it shows in every broadcast.

Favorite episodes: 

Where criminals get their guns

This episode: “Across the country, criminals are arming themselves in unexpected ways. In Florida, they’re stealing guns from unlocked cars and gun stores. In other places, they’re getting them from the police themselves, as cash-strapped departments sell their used weapons to buy new ones. On this episode of Reveal, we learn where criminals get their guns and what cars can teach us about gun safety.” – REVEAL

Rise of a movement

This episode:  “While covering Sunday’s “Rally Against Hate” in Berkeley, California, today, Reveal host Al Letson witnessed a man being attacked by a group of protesters. The man was balled up on the ground, fending off blows from several people. Al jumped in front of the batterers, protecting the man from further injury. On this special episode of Reveal, Al talks about what happened and how the battles between right- and left-wing protesters are playing out.” REVEAL

#2 – How I Built This with Guy Raz

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Guy’s voice alone will reel you into this podcast. His interviewing style and genuine curiosity about everyone’s success story is infectious.

As described on website: Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world’s best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.

Favorite episodes: 

Starbucks: Howard Schultz

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Five Guys: Jerry Murrell

“Jerry Murrell’s mother used to tell him, you can always make money if you know how to make a good burger. In 1986 — after failing at a number of business ideas — Murrell opened a tiny burger joint in Northern Virginia with his four sons. Five Guys now has more than 1,400 locations worldwide and is one of the fastest growing restaurant chains in America.”

Rent The Runway: Jenn Hyman

Jenn Hyman got the idea for Rent the Runway in 2008, after she watched her sister overspend on a new dress rather than wear an old one to a party. Jenn and her business partner built a web site where women could rent designer dresses for a fraction of the retail price. As the company grew, they dealt with problems that many female entrepreneurs face, including patronizing investors and sexual harassment. Despite these challenges, Rent The Runway now rents dresses to nearly six million women and has an annual revenue of $100 million.

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#3 The Daily

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This daily rundown of current news is a great way to stay informed on the latest happenings. Part of the New York Times news network, The Daily is hosted by seasoned journalist Michael Barbaro. The 20-minute podcast focuses on a top story of the day, bringing in the reporter who covered the story for an insider view. This leaves the audience knowing a bit more than most people. Each episode ends with a brief rundown of other news you need to know. Worth 20 minutes of your day.

Serial – best of the best

If you haven’t listened to a podcast yet, best place to start … Serial – season 1. There are 12 episodes. Trust me you’ll want more when done.

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Blogging, Habits, happiness, learning, Personal growth, Resolutions

5 habits for personal happiness every day

With all of content related to being happy hitting my radar lately, I’m feeling prompted to write about happiness. I’ve come across a few bloggers who’ve selected a “word for the year.” Perhaps happiness should be mine.

I shared a post on my Facebook page recently — 7 Habits of Incredibly Happy People — and it caused me to consider my happiness habits. Looking at the list, I’m not in bad shape. Admittedly, I need to work on a few listed such as no. 4 exercise and no. 7 ignoring my itches. I tend to be a half-full person, and I’m told it’s contagious. I’ve learned you need to guard your happiness and never allow it to be determined by external sources. So, I guess I’m good on no. 3 .

The next article to hit my news feed was this one  from Fast Company6 Simple Habits to Keep You Consistently Happy Every day. While I am an optimist, being consistently happy every day isn’t always the case. However, I like the sound of it. In reviewing writer and founder/CEO of Buffer Joel Gascoigne‘s list of habits, I related to some and came to the conclusion that maybe daily happiness is possible.

Happy habits

In order for me to experience happiness everyday, I decided I ought make my own list of habits to help me get there. Here’s my personal list of happiness habits. It may not be possible to do each of these on a daily basis, but I’m confident practicing a few of them every day can make for more happiness.

  • Share yourself. I learned a number of years ago that my skills are gifts, and these gifts were given for a purpose. Sharing what I know and have learned over the years to help others grow their business or navigate life is the right thing to do. And when you’re doing the right thing, that makes you happy. At times I even get goose bumps, which confirms that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and doing what I’m supposed to be doing. That always makes me smile.
  • Smile. Smiling represents happiness and smiles are contagious. Flash a smile at someone and you’re sure to get one in return. And once you’ve received a smile from someone else, just try to not smile back. I wrote a post about smiling a few years back and just like Buddy the Elf, smiling is still my favorite.

Happy people

  • Surround yourself with happy people. I believe “you are the people you surround yourself with.” Like it or not we are influenced by the company we keep. Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. So choose carefully. And be willing to weed out the Debbie Downers in your life. Kicking off this year I shared a post vowing to surround myself with more creative people in 2014. Happy to report I’ve been making strides on this New Year’s goal. Creative people are also happy people!

“Your mind may be the closest thing to the Holy Grail of longevity and happiness. Education has been widely documented by researchers as the single variable tied most directly to improved health and longevity. And when people are intensely engaged in doing and learning new things, their well-being and happiness can blossom.”

  • Learn something new. Your mind is the Holy Grail of longevity and happiness, according to the U.S. News ebook, How to Live to 100, “When people are intensely engaged in doing and learning new things, their well-being and happiness can blossom.”  I find I’m in a happy place when I’m engrossed in learning, which of course doesn’t just happen in classroom these days rather online, in a book, an article or best… in a conversation.
  • Pray. Forgetting to practice all of the above can potentially impact the happiness of a day. Neglecting this one is guaranteed to diminish the possibility of any true happiness. I try to start every day by handing the reins over to the one who’s truly in charge. I tend to encounter the greatest challenges when I try to takeover the reins. Keeping myself clearly focused on my “true north” leads to happiness. It’s not always the path I’d planned, but it gets me there if I continue to follow.

Do you have habits that lead to your happiness every day? I’d love to hear them and possibly add them to my list.

happy people shine