Category: how to

4 Little Ways To Show People You Love ‘Em

Do you want to be better about showing people you love them? Do you want better friendships and stronger relationships? Click through for 4 sweet ideas!

Sometimes, when I think about my friends I get a little verklempt.  And by “a little verklempt” I mean “at least twice in the last year I’ve cried about how great my friends are” (?!)

When things are bad, they send me flowers, bring me magazines and hash browns, call me from New Zealand, and get just as upset as I am.  When things are good, they shriek with joy, give me high fives, and tell me they’re proud of me.  We speak in a series of inside jokes and talk each other out of questionable boots/haircuts/sweaters.

Just like a good romantic relationship, I never worry if they’re ‘into me.’  I don’t have to worry, because I know we’re all totally, totally in L-O-V-E with each other.

4 little ways to show people you love them

1.  Post a funny photo or video on their Facebook page for their birthday

I mean, I would hope that you’re also going to call them/give them a gift/go to their party.  But you know what’s better than a Facebook post that says “Hope it’s a good one!”?  A hilarious video or photo pertinent to your friend’s interests.  You know, like these corgis singing happy birthday or Ryan Gosling inviting her to “blow out her candles.”

2. Send them an email with a memory about them

If you’ve fallen out of touch with someone, drop them an email about something awesome you did together.

Like that time you and Kathryn took the train to Taoyen, convinced you’d be able to find that basement hip hop club you went to one time and instead just ended up wandering around for two hours, drinking Red Bull and asking every 7-11 employee for directions in broken Chinese.  You know.

It’s a great way to reopen communication, remind someone you still think of them, and just be awesome.

3. Tell their partner what they’d like for Christmas/their birthday

One of the tricks of good gift giving is to ask your partner’s BFF what they’d like.  However.  Not everyone is aware of this trick or feels comfortable admitting they don’t know what their lover wants.
You can help by sending an email along the lines of this one:”I’m sure you’ve already got something super awesome in mind for BFF’s birthday present, but if you find yourself stuck, I’ve seen her checking out these earrings, like, five times. :)”

4. Remember the anniversary of tough stuff

A friend who lost her mom at age 20 once shared a fantastic insight with me.  She said that when you lose someone in your life or something really hard happens, people are really supportive for about a month.
But then they move on and you’re still sad – for a long time.  She said that it really helped her (and made her feel loved and supported) when people remembered the anniversary of her mom’s death and checked in with her around that time of year.

So if your friend goes through something really tough – the loss of a family member or partner, a divorce, a miscarriage – mark that date on your calendar and in the coming years, make a point to email or text them on that date.  Even if it’s just to say “I’m keeping you in my thoughts today.”

How do you show the people in your life that you love them?  How do they show you?

P.S. 15 ways to catch up with friends that aren’t coffee or a cocktail

Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash

How To Give A Great Compliment

A really great, day-making compliment is more than "your hair looks great!" Click through for a surefire formula for making someone feel special + amazing
This guest post comes to us via Erin at  She drinks too much coffee, runs for fun and watches nerdy space dramas with her pile of furry animals while dual wielding delicious burritos.

I was out with some friends to celebrate a birthday. I wore a new dress that I’d picked up at H + M a few days earlier. I thought I looked a little gangly and I’d done something new with my hair that I wasn’t super happy about. I was standing around awkwardly, feeling very self-conscious and wishing I’d thrown on jeans and a t-shirt instead.

Just then a group of three women walked by, arms linked, chattering happily. As they passed us, one of them veered towards me, grabbing me by the elbow and with sincere enthusiasm said, “Your figure is uh-mazing!” I blurted out a surprised “Thank you!” as she and her girlfriends continued on their merry way.

Made. My. Night.

Now that’s a lady who knows how to cheer someone up. With one compliment she managed to assuage my insecurity and left me feeling pretty damn fabulous. Wouldn’t we all like to do that for someone? Yes, I think we would.

There are lots of reasons to compliment someone. You admire something about them. You’d like to brighten their day. You don’t know them very well and you’d like to connect in a way that says, “I like you! Let’s be friends!” Those are all great reasons.

We suck at giving compliments. We don’t give nearly enough of them, and when we do it can easily go all wrong. The truth is, paying someone a good compliment is not always simple if you’re not accustomed to doing it.

We may think that we sound insincere, accidentally say something that sounds vaguely insulting (“Your hair looks so much better that way!”) or chicken out completely for fear of sounding silly.

But practice makes perfect. The best way to get better at giving great compliments is to practice by giving lots of compliments.

What? No, I’m not suggesting you give an insincere compliment just for practice. What I am suggesting is that everyone (yes, everyone) has some positive traits that are compliment-worthy. Figure out what they are and tell them about it!

Dishing out awesome compliments does not come naturally to me, but I want to be better at it, and so I’ve started using this simple formula that makes it easy to flatter someone without sounding like an ass.

Here’s how to give a great compliment:
[how you feel about the thing] + [what the thing is] + [a reason why it’s great]

For example:
[I really love] + [your style of painting.] + [The colors you choose are so emotive!]

Of course, there are lots of other ways to phrase a great compliment, but this formula is a great start when you’re working towards being a first-class complimenter.

“You look fantastic in that dress. That color palette is so flattering on you.”

“I am so impressed with the party that you put together. The food was amazing and we had a really great time.”

“You did really great work on this project. It’s obvious that you put a lot of time and effort into it.”

Lastly, make sure your compliments are really compliments.

If you’re complimenting someone on something they’ve changed, be sure that you’re not poo-pooing their previous efforts. A compliment that makes someone feel bad is not a compliment at all.

“Your hair looks so much better that way!” is not a compliment, because it implies that you thought their last haircut sucked. A better option might be “That haircut looks great on you. Those bangs really make your eyes pop!”

Likewise, instead of saying “Your artwork has really improved.” you might say, “I love the style you’re painting in these days!” Isn’t that so much nicer?

So there you have it, friends. Go forth, start dishing out some awesome compliments and enjoy the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from making someone’s day.

Are you good at giving out compliments?  What’s the best one you’ve ever received?  Once, someone said “Sarah, it would never occur to you to be anyone other than yourself, would it?”  Annnnd, I chose to take that as a compliment.

P.S. 14 ways to show your friends you love them.

Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash

How To Walk In High Heels

This guest post comes to us via the sexy, talented, professional high heel-wearer Freya West.  Pop round her blog for bite-sized bits of fiction and more great how-tos!
Tips for walking in high heels
One of the most basic and most powerful moves you can do in burlesque or in the dating game is have a sexy, confident walk in high heels.
I never used to wear high heels in college except for special occasion outings, when I would totter around very unsteadily. Simply put, it was neither sexy nor confident. So in 2008 I declared it to be the year of the high heel for me. (more…)

How To Buy Your First Home Without Getting Totally Overwhelmed

Are you try to figure out how to buy your first house? It can feel totally overwhelming! Click through for tips that will get you on the right track!Are you try to figure out how to buy your first house? It can feel totally overwhelming! Mortgage rates and closing costs and inspectors, oh my!

Thankfully, smarty pants and home-owner Liz Giorgi is here to help us out!

We’ve all watched the home shows, which make buying a home look like choosing a pair of jeans: you try on a bunch and one will be “just the right fit” for you.
It’s not a huge surprise that TV oversimplifies the process, but it also gives you false expectations. When you’re buying a house, these are the questions to ask yourself to find a home you love. (Even if it’s not love at first sight.)

How to buy your first house without getting totally overwhelmed

The first question to seriously ask yourself is: why do I want to buy a house?

At first, I really wanted to have complete control over my place. I felt I was old enough to make decisions about paint and shelves and art. My landlords were always nice, but every single one had their own quirks and working through them felt laborious to me.I also wanted to be able to control my living costs. My favorite apartment ever was located near the river in Minneapolis, but the rent went up by at least $100 every year. After a few years, it was getting unaffordable and unsustainable. These days, I know my monthly mortgage payment is always going to be the same.

The second big question: how long do I want to live here?

If you’re looking for a place to hunker down for the rest of your life, then you want to have your changing lifestyle in mind. The things you want and need in a place at 25 are probably going to be drastically different from what you need at 45.

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, because I currently live in a townhouse and while I loved not having to mow a lawn for the first four years, these days all I can think about is a hammock and a yard.

Now, you need to start thinking about the money.

Before taking the step of choosing a realtor and meeting with a finance expert, take a hard look at whether you are ready for the financial commitment of owning a home. When you own a home, you also own its problems.

I still love the freedom of making choices about my home, but a lot of home ownership isn’t about choices – it’s “that’s broken and needs fixing.” A broken washing machine is my problem and there isn’t a landlord I can call to fix it.

When it comes to the money, here are some things to just accept and move on with:

  • You can afford what you can afford.
  • You don’t want to be house poor.
  • You can save money to change paint, flooring and light fixtures in time. You don’t have to do it all right away.
  • The housing crash taught a lot of Americans a really tough lesson, but it’s worth repeating: you shouldn’t buy a house to make money.  

    Instead, buy it because you want something to call your own, to put a roof over your head and make a warm nest for yourself and the people you love. In the end, you’ll never regret having a place to watch movies with your favorite people.

Start by making a list of MUST-HAVES that CAN’T BE CHANGED.

What should be on this list? You can always buy new carpet or get stainless steel appliances – don’t put these items on the list. You can’t, however, magically create a larger backyard or move a house from one neighborhood to another – these items should be on the list.

This list should guide your decision making.Be warned: It can be really easy to fall in love with a house 30 miles from your office because your money goes a lot further towards the kitchen of your dreams when you’re further from the city.

Trouble is, you’ll be kicking yourself when you’re sitting in traffic five days a week completely unable to enjoy that kitchen. Trust me, follow your list!

Next, make a list of deal-breakers. 

Here’s what my deal-breakers were when I started looking for a place:
I won’t live in a really old, inefficient home.
I can’t live in a home smaller than 1000 square feet.
It would be impractical to have a home without a garage.

Pretty simple, right? You wouldn’t think this would narrow down your search that much, but it really, really does.

Now, you might be saying: “but stainless steel is a MUST HAVE and if a house doesn’t have it, it will be a deal breaker for me.” That’s fine, but if you are buying your first home and you live in a major metropolitan area, you WILL pay a premium for things like that. Oftentimes, that premium isn’t worth it.

Now, start looking at houses!

When walking through homes, I tried to think about how the life I live everyday would look in this place. I tried to imagine myself watching HBO in the basement and what it would be like to type up blog posts in the office. The more you can envision yourself in a place – the more likely you’ll start to love it.

Eventually, it should come down to a combination of things: the home you choose should include your MUST HAVES – PLUS you should feel at least a little excited about living there. I found a townhouse that made the cut and I know I made the right choice, because I’m still excited to come home every day.

Share your house-buying tips on the comments!

P.S. 11 ways to make your home feel happier + more like you

Photo by Redd Angelo on Unsplash

How To Pare Down Your Closet Without Losing Your Mind

Want to pare down your closet but not sure where to start? Are you painfully aware that you don't wear 70% of what you own?  Click through for one stylist's tips for decluttering your closet!
Want to pare down your closet but not sure where to start? Are you painfully aware that you don’t wear 70% of what you own? You are not alone, my friend! Thankfully, Sally McGraw is here to help us clear out our closets

Even if you love to purge your closet, chances are – you also hate it.

Clothing is imbued with emotion, steeped in memory, and parting with it can be downright painful. As rewarding as it feels to jettison long-languishing items, it can be stressful to part with pants that will never fit again, gifts from long-lost loves, expensive duds you never wore.

I’m not gonna tell you to invite your girlfriends over, open a bottle of wine, and make a party of it. You certainly can, but for many women, closet purges are extremely personal and most effective when undertaken alone.

Regardless of whether you tackle the task on your own or with help, promise me you’ll make time for it. Real time. Do not purge your closet in between other tasks over the course of a month. Set aside a full weekend day, hire a sitter, banish everyone. It sounds like overkill, but you will not regret carving out the space and time for this task. Promise.

How To Pare Down Your Closet Without Losing Your Mind

Start with your neglected, underutilized, languishing items

Try them on. Yes, all of them. Including shoes and accessories. Yes, I know it’s going to take ages. Remember, you’ve got all day. Try them on in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror.

If an item never fit in the first place, donate it

You should begin dressing for your Today Body as soon as possible. Clothing that never worked with your figure damages your body image. Donate it to a worthy cause.

If an item shames you for your body shape or shopping habits, sell it

If an item has negative associations, recouping your losses can soften the parting blow. Consign, sell on eBay, or find some other way to make a few of your bucks back.

If an item’s value is emotional, store it or document it

You can keep the shredded jeans from your carefree days in high school, but you don’t need to store them in your active closet. If you can’t bear to part with them, find an obliging corner of your basement. If you don’t have much storage space, photograph or journal about the item before you send it along to a new home.

If it is damaged, repair it 

Some items are neglected because they’re broken. Replace buttons, have shoes resoled, take ill-fitting items to the tailor.

If you love it but don’t know how to wear it, display it prominently

Many items remain neglected simply because they’re hidden from view. Move challenging items to the front of the closet so you can see them.

Don’t feel obliged to jettison everything that is currently too big or small for you

Bodies fluctuate. Many women’s bodies fluctuate on a monthly basis and having some size options on hand can be incredibly helpful.

But consider these two important things before deciding to hang onto any article of clothing that doesn’t fit your Today Body:

Are you being honest?

It makes sense to hang on to jeans a size or two away from your current size in case of weight changes. But beyond that may be pushing reason. While you may return to a previous size someday, remember that you can replace virtually all clothing. You should donate items that are far smaller or larger than you are now. Letting them go can help you accept your body and move toward loving it.

Are you hurt by their presence?

Memories of other body shapes and sizes can be painful for a multitude of reasons. Any items of clothing that prompt feelings of disappointment, shame, or self-loathing don’t belong in your closet, or in your house. Find them new homes for those pieces and focus on the clothing that inspires, beautifies, and energizes you.

Now that you’ve sussed out your least-worn items, let’s move on to your most-worn pieces. Try them on. Yes, all of them. Now ask yourself:

What is their relationship to your current style?

Some frequently worn items may fit into your current style but feel stale or tired. Consider jettisoning those or placing them into storage until you’ve made more decisions about where your style is headed. Keep anything that feels classic or quintessentially “you.”

Do they make you look good and feel good?

Ideal garments will work with your body. That means they’ll highlight your favorite attributes without causing you acute discomfort. Items that feel great but look awful should be reserved for sick days. Items that look great but feel awful should be ejected from your closet.

Some garments will fall more on the “look good” or “feel good” side of the fence, of course, and that’s fine. But always consider your compromises. Carefully.

If they’re keepers, do they need repair or replacement?

Wardrobe staples are among the items most likely to show wear and tear. How are yours holding up? If they are items that you know will endure beyond any style revisions, make sure they’re in good shape.

That probably took a while. If you were as thorough as you should’ve been, you’ve just tried on and evaluated everything in your closet. If you’re on the brink of exhaustion, call it a day. If you’ve got any energy left, take a moment to evaluate your closet itself, including organization and storage.
Your wardrobe should be clean and organized. No piles on the floor, no wads in the corner. Do what you can to keep everything tidy, as it will keep your clothes in wearable shape for longer.
Make sure your clothing, shoes, and accessories are visible and safely stored. Again, you won’t wear what you can’t see. Do your best to create a wardrobe space with few hidden corners.
Eyeball your available storage for future purchases. You will, eventually, go shopping. Do you have room for any new items? If not, can you reconfigure your current storage?
Now feel free to collapse into an exhausted heap. You’ve earned it.
Do you actively purge your closet or wardrobe? Any tips to share?
P.S. 9 ways to avoid buyer’s remorse so you don’t have to do another closet purge in a year!
Photo by Alexandru Acea on Unsplash

How To Travel With Someone And Not Kill Them

How to travel with someone and not want to kill them
So you want to see the world and you’re determined that the best person to see it with you in your BFF.  Or co-worker.  Or college roommate.  Here’s how to travel with someone and still actually like them once the trip is over! Travel buddies can be a positive experience!

How to Get Along with your Travel Buddy

Schedule independent time away from your travel buddies

Spending 24 hours a day with someone (anyone!) isn’t easy.  Make sure that you have a bit of time to yourself every day. Peruse the market, go check your email, read a book in a cafe. Having time alone will keep you sane and make you appreciate your travel buddy all the more.Be super honest from the beginning
Just say it. Just say “What are we going to do when we start to get sick of each other?” Most things are less terrifying once you say them out loud and push them into the light. You should both acknowledge that getting annoyed with each other is a possibility think about how you want to deal with it. Besides, they might have some great ideas that you’ve never thought of!

Deal with issues when they start to arise. Don’t let them fester between you and your travel companion!

When your travel buddy’s drinking habits, snide comments or refusal to try new things starts to wear on you – for the love of Pete, say something! Allowing things to build up will only make them worse and you’re much more likely to blow up and say things you don’t mean. Talk about it now, before you get all wound up and yucky about it.

Suggested script: “Travel buddy, lately I’ve been having a tough time with your __________. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d rather address it now than sitting and sulking about it. Can we talk about this?

Make other friends than your travel buddy

If you’re staying in hostels or backpacker guest houses it will be nearly impossible not to make friends. It would literally require an act of committed grouchery to avoid befriending new people. Eating dinner, going on day trips and navigating border crossings is much less stressful (and more fun) with groups. Making other friends also takes the pressure of each of you to constantly entertain each other and keep up the conversation.

Learn how to be quiet around your travel companions

If you’re someone who enjoys her peace and quiet, it can be tough to travel with a Chatty Cathy and if you don’t know your travel partner super well, extended silences can also be awkward. Learn how to cultivate the comfortable silence.

If your partner isn’t good at silence, make sure you take some time for yourself each day to be (quietly) by yourself. If all else fails – put in your headphones! It’s up to you whether you actually turn on your Ipod or not.

Take day-trips without your travel buddy

If you’re traveling with a friend for months at a time, there will inevitably be activities that interest you and bore your buddy. Not everybody is into touring underground catacombs stacked full of skeletons! At least every few weeks, take a break from your buddy and go on a day trip by yourself. It’s easy to sign up for an eight-hour stint with a travel agency who will coordinate all your transportation and entrance fees. You’ll meet other travelers, see something that interests you and give both you and your travel partner a bit of much needed space.

Work with your strengths

Before you commit to seeing the world with someone, you should have a pretty good idea of their travel strengths. Maybe they’re great at haggling or they can read maps like a master or they’re Captain Charmy McFriendlypants. You should both have a good idea of where you excel and use your powers for good! (Not evil!) If your buddy’s great at haggling – she’s officially in charge of all price negotiations. If you’re a type-A Virgo, maybe you can do all the ticket/permit/transportation coordination.

Don’t depend too heavily on your travel buddy

Now, I know I just told you embrace your travel buddy’s strengths but it’s important not to lean too heavily on any one person you’re traveling with. I once traveled with a super-organized, Spanish-speaking boyfriend through South America and about a month into the trip I realized that my contributions to the trip had been a) looking cute in sundresses b) guarding the bags while he bought tickets. Poor form, me!

Nobody likes to feel unappreciated or taken advantage of, so make sure you’re pulling your weight and make sure your buddy is pulling theirs. When in doubt, delegate! Like this:

“Okay, I’m going to go organize our tickets to La Paz. Will you be in charge of checking out of the hotel and making sure we didn’t leave anything in the room?”


“I’ll see if I can find us a taxi and get them down to 200 rupees. Will you go get some takeaway from that street vendor we like? I want two aloo tikis.”

Because travel partner team work = awesome.

Do you travel with friends?  What are your tricks to staying happy together?

image by elitatt, creative commons liscense