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homemade chai tea recipe

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homemade chai tea recipe

After making homemade chai tea, I was obsessed. The spices and flavors are addicting.  I like to make this on cold rainy days.  

Chai tea recipe:

4 cinnamon sticks, 4 black tea bags, 8 whole cloves, 12 cardamom pods, 2 star anise, 8 whole black peppercorns, 4 cups water, 4" sliced piece of ginger, 1 vanilla pod, 1/8 tsp nutmeg.

Bring all to boil for 10 min. add almond milk and honey to taste. Makes 4 cups.

 

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how to NOT have a to do list

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how to NOT have a to do list

"TO-DO" lists used to haunt my dreams.  I would always feel this constant nagging to cross just one more thing off my list in the hopes that I would reach a place of calm, serene, satisfying accomplishment.  

It. never. happened.

I now use a few different tools that not only replace this old archaic system, but makes me more efficient and proactive.  I learned most of these practices through an online course that I took on UDEMY called "The art of less doing," taught by Ari Meisel.  

The basic concept is to eliminate your "TO-DO" list entirely by using your email inbox as a daily guide for reminders and actions. By using this system, I now have a clear understanding of what I need to do each day. Better yet, I don't feel pulled in a million directions. Trying to prioritize what to do next, when you are already overwhelmed with a million tasks, is not a good strategy. 

There are a few things you have to do in order to start using this process. (OK, I am lying....it is a little more than a few things...)  It will take you some time to set up, but in the long run, it is worth it!

STEP 1: EMAIL OVERHAUL

  • Make sure you have separate e-mailboxes for work, personal and subscriptions 

    • Note - a separate e-mailboxes for subscriptions saves time by allowing you to control distractions ( i.e. spam and shoe shopping ) from clogging up your personal and work e-mailboxes. You can comfortably navigate through your day, not checking your subscription inbox, unless you have time. I use my subscription email to sign up for blogs, newsletters, e-commerce stores etc. -- Anything that is not specifically personal or work related.

    • Sometimes, signing up for specific newsletters or websites is impossible to avoid.  It's even harder to avoid distraction by these emails during your work day.  In this case, set up a smart mailbox through MacMail (directions here) that filters out anything with the word  "unsubscribe." Or, use the new feature on google mail that sorts your emails by PRIMARY, PROMOTIONS AND UPDATES - (directions here)

  • Unsubscribe from anything you don't read, don't want or don't care about etc.

    • Use a tool like Unroll.me that helps make the process of unsubscribing easier and more efficient. This tool can even combine certain subscriptions into one email summary. 

STEP 2: SET UP FOLLOWUPTHEN.COM

  • followupthen.com is a free email reminder tool that I didn't even realize I needed until I started using it. You can use it to send yourself reminders, follow up with someone and -- most importantly-- schedule your "TO-DO" items. 

    • by scheduling your "TO-DO" items, you are forced to prioritize when a new task is added to your list. It allows you to effectively separate urgent, non-urgent and important reminders effectively.  A calendar-based scheduling system, does not work nearly as well because you end up wasting time re-scheduling the task on the calendar -- or worse -- missing it entirely. With followupthen.com if you don't have time to complete the task on that day, you can hit one of the convenient "snooze buttons" in the reminder email.

    • Once your email(s) address is registered with followupthen.com, you schedule your emails by sending it to "(day)@followupthen.com"  For example, if I have a task that I need to finish on Friday, I would email Friday@followupthen.com and I would get an email Friday. You can set up times, dates and even recurring reminders.  You can find a detailed list of how to use this service here

    • Some of the ways I use followupthen include:

      • sending myself boarding passes or flight info a few hours before my flight

      • setting up monthly recurring reminders to stay on top of financial work

      • BCCing followupthen when I am emailing a lead and want to make sure I email them again in a month. 

      • automatically resending an email to someone (or myself!) if they don't respond within a few days

STEP 3: ADOPT NEW EMAIL HABITS

  • Your inbox should ONLY contain actionable emails in it that you can respond to or do within that day

    • hen you get a new email, it needs to be deleted, archived/filed, scheduled for the appropriate day (through a tool like followupthen) or kept in your inbox to complete THAT DAY.

    • Adopting this practice allows your inbox to stay focused on your daily priorities.

STEP 4: IDONETHIS.COM (optional, but recommended) 

  • If you are like me, crossing something off your "TO-DO" list is rewarding, even if only for a few seconds. (remember, it is the small joys in life that count here, people!) By adopting this new system, you won't have a list to cross off, however you can still get the same joy by using a tool called idonethis.com. This is also a free tool that tracks your "DONE" list instead of your "TO-DO" list.  

  • Every day, you'll get an email asking you what you did that day, along with a list of the previous days accomplishments.  It takes about 30 seconds to complete this email, over time you'll get to see how much you are accomplishing. The tasks are searchable if you ever need to lookup when you did a particular task.

SIDE NOTE: Given all of the above, sometimes there is a need for a list.  Grocery shopping or short-term reminders don't need a complicated system. I call these types of lists "temporary lists." For this, I use wunderlist, a cloud-based application you can install on mobile and desktop devices. The beauty of using a separate application for temporary lists, is that they can be accessed easily and live independently of your other notes and files.  Wunderlist can also be shared easily with friends and family.

I hope this system improves your daily routine as much as it has improved mine. Looking forward to hearing any feedback.

-brunchpants

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grapes arrangement for centerpieces

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grapes arrangement for centerpieces

This arrangement will show you how to make a flower centerpiece using grapes.   (I recently posted a similar flower arrangement for small tables, which can be used together) 

In this post, I used champagne grapes and small half cup size glass dishes. I suggest using small shorter bowls or cups so the flowers in the centerpiece don't get too high, making it difficult to see over them.  

Note: use different color grapes & flowers depending on the event and the season

Materials:

  • 3 small clear glass cups - 1/3 filled with water

  • scissors

  • large bunch of grapes

  • 8 - 9 flowers with the stems cut down

  • 4 green leaves ( I used asplenium crispy wave leaves )

  • extra greenery as needed - I used some ferns and leaves that I found outside 

brunchpants_grapescenterpiece_1.jpg

Materials

brunchpants_grapescenterpiece_2.jpg

asplenium crispy wave leaves

place the outside leaves first, making sure the leaves are not angled out too wide on your table

place the outside leaves first, making sure the leaves are not angled out too wide on your table

fill the cups half full with water

fill the cups half full with water

drape the grapes over the glass dishes, letting some of the branches fall outside 

drape the grapes over the glass dishes, letting some of the branches fall outside 

keep draping until you have covered most of the dishes and a "cage" is in place to start placing flowers

keep draping until you have covered most of the dishes and a "cage" is in place to start placing flowers

place the main white flowers into the grapes, making sure they stay in place where you want them

place the main white flowers into the grapes, making sure they stay in place where you want them

brunchpants_grapescenterpiece_8.jpg
after the main flowers are in place, fill in with smaller flowers and green accents 

after the main flowers are in place, fill in with smaller flowers and green accents 

finish

finish

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make custom greeting cards with artifact uprising

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make custom greeting cards with artifact uprising

brunchpants_artifactuprising_cards

Check out the print service through the artifact uprising mobile app.  They offer a square print set that lets you print straight from your instagram account or camera roll.  The 5" x 5" prints have a white border and a textured matte finish which I paired with 5.5" envelopes from paper presentation that fit the cards perfectly.  I plan on using these cards for birthday and thanks you cards. I am looking forward to creating a second set, customizing them with photos of friends and family.  natural kraft square envelope 5.5" x 5.5" - 25 pk

brunchpants_artifactuprising_card

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grapes arrangement

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grapes arrangement

This is a very simple arrangement using grapes to hold the flowers in place.  I used champagne grapes and a drinking glass.  If you are going to use this arrangement on a table, I suggest using a small glass so the flowers don't get too high, making it difficult to see over them.  

Materials:

  • drinking glass 1/3 filled with water
  • scissors
  • small bunch of grapes
  • 3 - 4 flowers with stems cut down
  • 2 green leaves ( I used asplenium crispy wave leaves )
  • extra greenery as needed - I used some ferns and leaves that I found outside 
IMG_1404.JPG

Start with your drinking glass and add water enough water to fill it 1/3 of the way

IMG_1403.JPG

Lay the first bunch of grapes across the length of the glass. It is easier to balance if you use a a section of the bunch that has grapes on both sides as shown above in the picture.

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Add another bunch of grapes, crossing in the opposite direction.  Continue laying the grapes in opposite directions until the majority of the top of the glass is covered.

IMG_1401.JPG

Add your flowers to the arrangement and start with the biggest blooms first so you can place them accordingly.

IMG_1398.JPG

Finish by adding the smaller flowers and the the greens leaves to balance out the arrangement. 

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