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Sites to See (87 posts)
The single woman's guide to celebrating Thanksgiving.
Sandwiches that go way beyond PBJ.
You've heard of slow food, but what about slow music? The world's longest concert turns 10.
Scientist develop the lightest material ever, and then take the most amazing photograph of it.
The Life-Lifter: Three years after a horrifying chimp attack, this woman has a face—and the hopes for a normal life—again.
The cutest way to inspire yourself: a kitten every 100 words.
Treat everyone on Earth like you're staying in their home. Especially if you're actually staying in someone's home.
Might as well admit it, the holidays are upon us. Celebrate with a sweet version of a classic song.
The Life-Lifter: Cookies, balloons, and butterflies: How one family memorializes their mother by sharing small, kind gestures with the world.
Those hearts you make in my latte foam? I know it's a little thing, but getting lattes is an extra-special-only-sometimes treat for me, and those wispy hearts really make it even nicer. I know you are on your feet all day, I know you go home reeking of coffee so much that you probably don't even like it anymore, and I know people get crabby with you and snap when you mess up an order. And I know that you are a kind soul, and most importantly of all, you are YOU, the only you there is, and that means something, even though I totally don't know your name.
The Girl in the Corner With the Laptop
This is my contribution to The World Needs More Love Letters, the endearing ongoing project of Hannah Brencher, who started writing love letters to strangers on her morning commute to work, when she looked around the train she was riding and realized she wasn't the only one who could use a boost. Since then she's written over 400 love letters, leaving them scattered around for people to find, and invited many others to join her in various good-will-spreading projects across the world. This month, the focus is those wonderful people who make our lattes, sling our coffees, warn us about how hot the tea water is: baristas.
I've been a barista, and ever since a lady yelled "You ruined my family's Christmas!" at me (the cafe had run out of her favorite cookies), I've made an effort to be nice to people working behind counters. Especially around the holidays, when everyone's on edge, orders are a little more complicated, people a little more unhinged. Personally, I just like the idea that by such a small, simple act, I could brighten someone's day. Particularly my latte lady, since she so often brightens mine.
Everyone is invited to leave love letters for their own baristas, or to send them to the More Love Letters PO Box, from whence they will be dispatched to various cafes. Visit the More Love Letters site to see the love letter map, read testimonials by people who have found letters, and find out how you can participate.
More small, good things:
4 secret acts of generosity to try today
Start a kindness chain
Good thing it's the inaugural Picture Book Month for a few more weeks yet. Started by a group of authors, storytellers, and illustrators, Picture Book Month works to remind us of the value of actual, paper picture books, and how key they are in children's lives. Every day the site features a different children's book writer or illustrator, talking about why these books are so important. Some highlights:
Jane Yolen, author of more than 300 picture books: "I have always believed that literature begins in the cradle— the poems we say to the babies, the stories we tell them—prepare them to become part of the great human storytelling community."
Librarian and folklorist Margaret Read MacDonald: "This sense of owning a book—of having a book belong to them—sets the path to a love of books and learning."
Illustrator Elizabeth O. Dulemba: "People need three things to survive—food, shelter, and wonder."
The official Picture Book Month site has lots of ideas for ways to celebrate (even if you don't have a kid to read to), as well as information on the benefits of picture books. Personally, this is shaping up to be my favorite thing to celebrate this month. Let's see, I don't have to cook or clean or buy anything. All I have to do is pick a favorite picture book —I think we'll start with Oh What a Busy Day, or wait no, Knuffle Bunny, or wait no, Henry In Love—snuggle up next to my daughter, and read.
More about books:
Picture books for grownups
A book for strong girls
Make reading fun for kids
Ha! Boy, am I kidding. Unless pasty flesh, chronically unbrushed hair, and 2-kids-no-sleep-eye-bags have suddenly come into fashion, being just too beautiful is a problem I can only imagine. And let's be honest, it's a problem I'd be willing to deal with.
So why this topic for a photo essay, and why is it so fascinating? For one thing, hello, these images are just fun to look at. And as the site explains, one of reasons why they share these stories in the first place is "to help people understand what it’s like to be someone else. Day-to-day, the reality, not the fantasy. When you’re good-looking, any stranger can tell that you’ve been fortunate. What rarely comes up — for reasons of intimidation, jealousy, or just the fact that it’s not easy for people to talk about being beautiful — are the complications of that good fortune."
No surprise that many of the beautiful people interviewed admit that their looks have opened doors for them. But what I found most affecting were the many young women who said that people assumed they were stupid or unfriendly because of their looks. I mean, I assumed they were stupid and unfriendly even as their quotes were urging me not to. And here's the line that really got me: "So much of my personal value has been placed on what I look like. It’s sad. Looks don’t last. So as I age, will I lose my value?”
It would be strange, actually, now that I think of it, to be a young person just finding her way in the world, and to not have to figure out her place the way the rest of us do. Not only is she beautiful but she's a model, so her beauty is her profession, and not one likely to thrive as she ages. If she's not careful, she may well find herself at 50 or so with few marketable skills, her main "talent," in the eyes of many, faded away. Put that way, it does seem a bit dismal. Thank goodness for my baby weight and mismanaged eyebrows! Perhaps they played a more important part than I thought in helping me to find my way in the world.
Oprah and Cybill Sheperd talk honestly about beauty and aging.
How different cultures define beauty.
Flavorpill's list of fictional places you can actually visit in real life covers locations that have been created for the movie version of the novel, or because they've actually existed all along. The photo of Ashdown Forest in Sussex, England, is reason enough to visit (it's where Pooh perfected Pooh-sticks with Piglet and the rest of the gang), but what we love best about the list is the joy in learning that such iconic places do not just live in our heads. It's similar to the feeling of watching a movie based on a book you loved without the inevitable let-down. Because seeing those hobbit holes in person (which you'll be able to do starting next year) is actually pretty amazing.
When I awoke in the morning—hey, what do you know, we all slept after all—I knew I needed what my sassy 6th-grade algebra teacher Mrs. Viska used to call an Attitude Adjustment. And then I turned on my computer and there it was: a call to action. The blogger Teacher Goes Back to School had written about how her local yoga studio posted to its Facebook page the following message: "For the month of November, we’re launching an Attitude of Gratitude campaign. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, you’re invited to dedicate one Facebook update per week to write what you’re thankful for." Awesomely, Teacher misread the post and started coming up with something she was thankful for every single day instead. A glut of gratitude!
So far, the yogis are thankful for "the beautiful ginkgo trees in front of the studio whose butterfly leaves will turn their signature golden yellow in just a couple of weeks." The blogger is thankful for "sleeping baby and the quiet time before she wakes up." (Wow, can I relate.) Personally, the first thing I'm thankful for is finding this post, encouraging each of us to embark on a month-long mission of gratefulness. And the second thing I'm thankful for is this big, steaming cup of coffee.
What are you thankful for today? This week? This month? What what it do to your life if you made a point to remember all you have to be grateful for? Join the Attitude of Gratitude campaign, or tell us in the comments!
A weekly list of things we're grateful for
How "thank you power" can change your life
That's why I love Robin Farr's post "Kiss Your Life" on the Just Be Enough blog. She writes, "Everyone bemoans Pinterest as the latest, greatest time suck...I do have a few boards that are my go-to happy places though, and they’re always good for a smile or some much-needed perspective." She explains how pictures of boats have always made her happy, how images infused with whimsy can brighten a bad day, and the quotation about living life deliberately that gets her through the hard times.
As Farr writes, "We all have a life we want to live – the life we think we should be living – and yet how many of us can say we’re actually living that life?... Figure out what’s missing in your life. Chase it. Catch it. Even if, for now, it’s just a picture to represent something you need more of."
We know the problems with our fast-paced, social-media-obsessed, txt-msg-wrld; there's always that suspicion that stepping away from all the flashing screens is the way to recharge. But sometimes the happy-place we need turns out to be what was right in front of us the whole time.
More moments of happiness:
Take a minute to be still
Love your life in 30 seconds
Smiles in unexpected places
Let me see if I have this right: You start thinking about dinner every morning at 8 am. You decide upon a healthful, tasty meal your whole family loves. After work, you sashay into your local grocers' for fresh ingredients, chatting with the butcher about the right cut of meat, exchanging quips with the green grocer about the kale. Or wait, no—you bike home with a perfect baguette jutting out of your basket. Then follow happy hours of graceful food preparation, glass of wine in hand, and some relaxed dining. Bon appetit!
No? You say that it's more like microwaving chicken nuggets for the kids and then eating their cold leftovers? I can't even imagine. But if I too were a time-crunched cooker who saw food preparation as just another in a long line of household chores, I think I would take heart in Saveur's psyche-saving Recipe Comix.
Every week an artist draws a recipe for the site, and the results are funny, sad, beautiful, and delicious. Cartoonist Laura Park contributes a hilarious comic entitled "Let's Slap in a Pan;" Malaka Gharib's Egyptian breakfast looks bright, cheery, and way better than cereal. There's some great cooking advice here, from the right way to hard-boil an egg to dinner party tips (from woodland creatures, but still). Most of all, though, I appreciated the surge of joy that came from reading through the comics. Oh, right! Cooking can be fun and creative! I'd almost forgotten! This might be just what I needed to escape the chicken nugget rut and get cooking.
Click through all the Recipe Comix at Saveur.
More foodie inspirations:
O's top ten recipes
How to host a poetry dinner party
Eat like an orange-clog-wearing Italian chef
While it's easy to blame your junior colleague and her emoticon riddled meeting reminders or your boss whose nickname might as well be "Looping in an innocent bystander," we might have more control over the problem than we think. That's because, as entrepreneur and TED curator Chris Anderson argues in this insightful Washington Post op ed, "to fix a communal problem, a community needs to come together and agree to new rules." So he, along with his colleague Jane Wulf, opened the question up to the commons and created this amazing email charter with their help.
Full of gems like "respect recipients' time" and "ending a note with 'No need to respond' or NNTR is a wonderful act of generosity,'" their 10 commandments of email are actionable steps anyone can take to make her inbox—and the inbox of anyone else around her—more manageable.
"How to stop email overload? Think before you hit send" (Washington Post)
To: Oprah.com readers, Subject: Email etiquette
How to send a smarter message
The 30 day email detox