Strawberry Lemonade

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Photo courtesy of http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/

The snow’s melting. The birds are chirping. The slush will soon melt away and summer time will (hopefully) be here to stay.

In celebration of today’s gorgeous weather, I wanted to share a summery sweet drink recipe!

Strawberry Lemonade
Serving size: 1.5L

Ingredients:
6 ripe lemons
6-8 medium strawberries
1-2 cups of Sprite or 7UP
Sugar
Ice cubes
Cold water

Slice lemons in half. Squeeze juice into pitcher, with your hands or one of these. (I prefer the hand method, only because they end up smelling lemon-y clean.) You can use a strainer to eliminate the pulp and seeds, but really – I’m not that picky.

Cut off the tops of your strawberries and slice them up, to whatever size looks pretty (for presentation’s sake). Alternatively, you can puree the strawberries and mix them in with your lemon juice.

Toss your one or two cups of Sprite/7UP into the mix, add the ice cubes, and fill the pitcher with cold water. Stir.

Add sugar to taste. I learned not to use honey (the hard way – it solidified and sank to the bottom of the pitcher).

And voila! There you have it, a refreshing batch of ice cold strawberry lemonade. Enjoy! *clink*

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LOCAL SHOP: ForSpaceSake

As students and recent graduates, it’s very unlikely we’ll be moving into our dream homes anytime soon. Once we’ve paid our dues, our four-storey mansions may be on the horizon – but in the meantime, we’ll have to make due with smaller spaces.

Check out this local shop for some space-saving furniture!

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Multi-tasking decreases productivity?

I vividly remember working my first job as a server. It was my initial taste of multi-tasking in a high-pressure environment. Is it time to refill waters at table nine? Table six is giving me the stink eye, I should really check up on them. But maybe I should wipe down all those empty tables first. Hold on a second, where is that peach bellini I punched in five minutes ago?

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Multi-tasking applies to all realms of work – not just the restaurant industry. Learning how to successfully juggle all aspects of whatever field you’re in (or life in general) can be a huge challenge – in fact, it’s nearly impossible.

Did you know only 2% of people can actually multitask successfully?

You seem surprised. According to recent statistics (take these numbers with a grain of salt), this small percentage of our population can actually multitask while increasing the productivity. The other 98%? Well, trying to take on too many things at once can actually do more harm than good. Check out this infographic – it tells you all about the detrimental effects of multi-tasking, including lowering your IQ level.

10_56_18_287_fileSource: http://mashable.com/2012/08/13/multitasking-infographic/
Related article: http://profitablespa.com/startling-statistics-on-the-negative-effects-of-multitasking/

How do you manage your workload if multi-tasking is less help and more harm? There are only so many hours in the day, with way too many things docked on our to-do list.

Have no fear – a list of suggestions is here!

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Build a solid to-do list.
Staying organized is key in making sure everything gets done without feeling overwhelmed. Mapping out a to-do list allows you to allocate specific times in your schedule for certain activities, instead of worry about juggling multiple tasks at once. The best thing about a to-do list? Feeling accomplished once every item has a nice big fat check mark beside it.

There’s an app for that.
Have a hard time bringing a pen and paper around? Well, that’s no excuse. There’s an app for that! If you find yourself having a hard time bringing your to-do list around with you, there are plenty of choices in the computer application market to fulfill your organizational needs. Some apps also have the ability to sync with your smartphone or through an online cloud service, literally allowing you to access it anywhere, anytime.

Prioritize.
Your to-do list tally is adding up, and you feel like you’re getting no where. There is a constant looming presence, but you’re finding it impossible to invest yourself in an important project because you’re overwhelmed with everything else you have to do. The simple answer to this dilemma is prioritize. You’ll never feel at peace until you’ve wrapped up that super important assignment for school or work. Just get it over and done with, and the weight will surely be lifted off your shoulders. Once your big projects are finished, you can pummel through the less significant tasks (that are still equally important to complete!).

Set realistic deadlines.
Be honest. You need to set realistic deadlines not only for yourself, but for whoever you’re completing work for. Yes, it’s sometimes tempting to try to impress an employer by promising to finish a report in two weeks – but maybe you actually need an extra week or two on top of that to trim the roughness around the edges. Give yourself ample time to complete things to your personal standards.

Learn how to say no.
Us ambitious types love to get our feet wet in new ventures. But sometimes, we find ourselves involved in too many things at once. Oops? Although I’m the number one promoter of positivity, you need to know your limits. It’s okay to say no! It’s not fair to yourself and the other party if you don’t have the time to do a good job on something. Know what your mental and physical capacities are, and give yourself some ample buffer room.

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Turn off the technology.
Take a break from reddit. Disconnecting yourself (temporarily) from your smartphone, television and the internet will provide a significant boost in productivity (as proven by the infographic research above). It’s way too easy to give yourself an occasional break to check your phone for a new message or missed call. But simply putting the phone back in your hands leads to a number of tantalizing temptations. Do yourself a favour and turn off your tech when you’re working on a project with a tight deadline. On the bright side? Tuning back into the digital world once you’re finished will be a real treat.

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Have healthy and filling snacks on hand.
You are what you eat. When you eat crap, you’ll feel like crap. You lose focus, can’t sit still and will have a hard time investing yourself into one thing, if any at all. Make sure you have healthy snacks on hand when you’re up late working on something that will eat up a lot of time (no pun intended).

Schedule some time to R&R.
Save some time for yourself. No matter how crazy your days get, it’s important to block off a portion of your day to clear your mind. It can be something as simple as reading a book, watching a movie, or getting a massage. Just make sure this time is uninterrupted, and all about you.

Come on, get happy.

It’s been a good week. Correction, a great week.

I’m a brand new homeowner, I’ve been presented with a very exciting professional opportunity, and I’m wearing a fairly sizeable rock on my left hand.

Like I said, this week has been quite a whirlwind of excitement. I feel like a million and one dollars! And here I am asking myself, “Does it ever get any better than this?”

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In an article published by Psychology Today, Robert Firestore (psychologist, theorist, and author) defined an “emotionally healthy individual.” Of course, these findings were withdrawn from personal opinion and experience, but I think he had a pretty darned decent idea about the subject at hand.

“First of all, it depends a lot on their own motivation and their particular goals for themselves. But in general, the kind of person I would like to see them be is one who had a strong sense of themselves: a person who could deal with feelings; a person who was non-defensive; a person who had a strong sense of values; a person whose values were inner directed, rather than outer directed; a person who was neither defiant nor submissive, but independent.”

Yes, I am currently floating on cloud nine (and will be for the next little while). But this article also clarified that happiness is a result of good character and habits, and a solid sense of self. My happiness is drawn from circumstance and also from the person I’ve shaped myself to be. And you wonder why I always have a goofy grin on my face!

After digesting Robert Firestore’s theory, I’ve come up with my own list of tips to add a little pep to your daily step.

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1. Start your day off right.
Munch down on big bowl of your favourite cereal. Send out an uplifting tweet. Whip your hair around to some upbeat music (to the tune of Willow Smith or otherwise). The simple step of starting off your morning with something you enjoy sets the tone for the rest of your day.

2. Tell someone you love them.
Turn to your left, or turn to your right. Are you facing a loved one (significant other, family member, friend, pet, beloved inanimate object)? If so, give them a tight squeeze and tell them how much you love them. It will make both of you feel trusted and valued.

3. Reconnect with an old friend.
“Hey, it’s been a while!” As insincere and awkward as it can sounds, it’s important to reconnect with people you haven’t talked to in a while. Maintaining meaningful relationships and staying in the loop with your circle of friends makes you a mentally healthier person and means you’ll never be lonely.

4. Be happy for those around you.
Don’t let life get you down. Instead of dwelling on missed opportunities, use your friends and family to leverage your pep-o-metre. New job? New home? New relationship? First thing: AWESOME. Second thing: I’m excited for you!

5. Surprise someone.
Surprises are hiding around every corner. And isn’t it awesome when someone surprises you with a sweet (and not necessarily extravagant) gesture? Turn the table around and surprise someone you know with a small treat they adore or a gift related to a TV show, movie or band they love. Showing someone you care is the ultimate high. There’s just nothing quite like it.

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6. T’work it out.
The correlation between feeling great and exercising is no coincidence. Take note of this HowStuffWorks article, highlighting a few positive byproducts of exercise. Not only does it make you feel great about yourself, but helps normalize sleeping patterns, lowers anxiety, increases antibody production, and releases feel-good endorphins.

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7. Don’t be ashamed. Treat yourself!
This may sound a little contradictory to the previous step, but it’s key to treat yourself – in moderation. Dieters often find themselves plunging off the deep end because they deprive themselves of all delicious delicacies. Treat yourself with something tasty when you’re feeling accomplished. If you’re worried about the calorie count, healthy snacks count too! Greek yogurt, granola, fresh fruit and agave nectar is my favourite guilt-free dessert.

8. Don’t beat yourself up.
It’s way too easy to feel guilty for making mistakes. But hey, we’re only human. If you remind yourself you’re just like everyone else and that no one’s perfect (surprise!), you’ll learn to use your missed opportunities as learning experiences. As cheesy as it sounds, it works. There’s no way but up from here!

9. Stay humble.
Oh shucks. Staying humble and grounded will help keep your values in perspective. Remember where you came from while still keeping your eye on what you’re working towards. Gracefully accept praise, just try not to bask in it for too long.

10. Save some time for yourself.
Let’s face it, we all lead busy lives. Between classes, work, medical appointments, parties, homework, and spending time with your loved ones, we find little time left to ourselves. Save some time each week for you. Read a great book, watch one of your favourite TV shows, or schedule an appointment with your massage therapist. Allocating this much needed time will help you relax and let go of any not-so-feel-good vibes.

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It’s just that easy. Come on and get happy!