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Not to mention my favorite: Listen to your mother!
Luckily, I stumbled onto something that combines all those life lessons into one fun, good-for-the-soul project. This month, the website thredUP kicks off its Summer Book Swap. Here's how it works: Parents and kids pack up boxes of unwanted children's books (clean up your room!). They exchange the boxes with other families online (recycle!). The kids read their new used books at home (turn off that computer/iPad/video game/phone!), and the whole family receives coupons and free credit at websites like BookSwim, Chronicle Books and eBookFling (share!)
Just so you know, those coupons and free credits can be used to buy, swap or rent the new summer novels you've been dying to read perhaps on the beach, under an umbrella, alone for a few hundred juicy pages...
Check out these other ways to get cheap—and even free—grown-up books online!
Imagine that you're a 2011 graduate of Hampshire College, a school popular with intellectual do-gooders. On May 21, the only things standing between you and your upcoming Peace Corps mission were a few commencement speeches that—you were willing to bet your Mexican raffia tote on this—were going to tell you to "dream big," embrace challenge" and "not be afraid of failure." You barely caught the introduction of the staff speaker, Roberta Tudryn, the beloved cashier who's worked in the school dining commons for 30 years. Then you tuned in to her words:
And that's when you thought about all those times that you chatted with Roberta in the dining hall, and you hoped that you never said anything rude or jerky, and then you remembered your grandmother, who couldn't make it to today's commencement but sent you a card so sweet it made your throat burn, and you forgot about saving the world (for now), and you forgot about that night's parties, and you jumped up and whooped for this hardworking woman who had often brightened your day and who just spent five minutes thanking you for making her job worthwhile.
Fancy headgear isn't just reserved for the royal wedding, Oprah's garden party, the Kentucky Derby or mornings when tackling bedhead is just more trouble than it's worth—today is Hat Day in the Sun. And while wearing broad-spectrum SPF daily is a necessary part of avoiding a burn (and preventing skin cancer), it's just one aspect of the equation, as Steven Q. Wang, MD, director of dermatologic surgery and dermatology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, reminded me earlier this week. The Headwear Association—founded in 1908 by 34 hat salesmen at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City (one imagines 34 people in top hats drinking Manhattans)—will be passing out free sun protection hats in various locations across the United States. Check out their website or follow them on Twitter to find out where you can score a freebie near you.
[Up next, three things that make it a sun-safe hat]
To learn what they are, I talked to Jason Wulf, co-owner of Lake Effect Ice Cream in Buffalo, New York. His shop serves specialty sundaes like the Morning Commute (mocha cappuccino ice cream, chunks of doughnut bites, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and chopped nuts) and the Chocolate Smore-cupine (frozen hot-chocolate ice cream, toasted mini marshmallows, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and honey graham crackers that are baked in stick shapes).
Wulf says a good sundae has four crucial elements: ice cream, a liquid topping (such as hot fudge, hot caramel or maple syrup), whipped cream and something sprinkled or crunchy on top. Although a cherry is optional, it's good to have them handy. "For some people, it just isn't an ice cream sundae without that topper," Wulf says.
Next: Wulf's version of sundae school
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* Public Service Announcement: Father's Day is this Sunday. Whether he's a sucker for gadgets or a lover of jazz, we've got 27 unique ways (in every price range) to say, "Thanks, Dad."
* "If you're a man who abhors sexism, take up the spatula.... The only way to erase [stereotypes] from our unconscious minds is to provide our minds, and the minds of our children, with images that counter the stereotypes."—Washington Post reporter Shankar Vedantam in Man with a Pan: Culinary Adventures of Fathers Who Cook for Their Families (Algonquin Books, $15.95)
* Meet Craig Dietz, who was born without limbs, and yet swam in a 4.4 mile race earlier this week. (The Stir)
* Adorable dads pose with their equally adorable children for The Sartorialist. (Racked)
* Last we checked, thoughtful relationship advice wasn't a qualification to become People's Sexiest Man Alive, but it turns out it doesn't hurt. "Relationships ending move you from who you were to who you are at a much more accelerated rate than almost anything else on earth."—Ryan Reynolds (Details)
[Next, photos of potatoes that have ...antlers?.]
Mixon, whose family started a barbecue take-out business in Georgia, is a competitive pit master who proudly wears a massive ring commemorating his third barbecue world championship win. He competes in many events, from Whole Hog to Pork Shoulder, and knows just what the judges are looking for. When it comes to chicken, they want thighs—and they want them all the same size. Chicken thighs can vary, of course, though most are square-shaped. So Mixon found that by using poultry shears to trim them to three or four inches wide, he could fit a square piece of meat into a round hole—the muffin tin—and they'd all be the same dimension.
[After the jump, what exactly cupcake chicken looks like...]
The Undie Awards were announced this week. (Yes, there really is such a thing!). Over 40,000 women and men voted for their favorites—from bras to boxers...and categories you may not have even considered, like man thongs. Check out whether one of your go-to styles made the list, or amp up your underwear drawer and try one of the award winners at 15 percent off.
All of this talk about unmentionables, however, got us thinking about how important it is to find a strapless bra that doesn't slip (or give you back cleavage), panties that don't bunch and a support system you can count on no matter what your cup size.
Next: Our pros reveal a few of their top picks...