When I first saw this fun solution for parking woes, I thought it was pretty cool. It’s such a simple idea and striking because of how simple and effective it can be. From my office, we’re able to look down and see how painful it is for cars to find a parking spot in a busy open lot. A whole lot of time is wasted circling around trying to find an open space, not knowing there’s one just two aisles over. A bird’s eye view look allows us to see all this happening, but there’s nothing we can do. It reminded me of this parking balloon solution I’d seen awhile back. Take a look at the video! It’s certainly not perfect and has its weaknesses, but I think it starts to think about an issue in a creative way that can lead to great results.
I’m nothing if not stubborn. A year ago, I promised myself I would do this 365great project daily for the next 365 days. And so I’ve kept my eye on the goal, pushing through until now. It’s been quite an experience, constantly looking at the world around me and thinking of what I could highlight. There were days where I couldn’t find a good picture of what I wanted so I pushed it back or skipped it altogether, opting for something else that I could post a picture of. There were days where I had been so busy I barely had time at the end of the day, but I got a post together anyway. It was definitely challenging, but I’m happy to say I completed my project, not a day missing. Of course it wasn’t perfect and sometimes I was *technically* a little bit into the next day, but I always got one done for each day, no matter what was going on. Perseverance is a useful trait that can get you through all kinds of situations and you’ll come out proud of what you accomplished. It’s a great skill to practice, but boy am I glad it’s over.
Now I can soak in the glory of a year’s worth of greatness recognized. I still plan on putting out 365greats, but only periodically as things come up. After all, I think it’s a fabulous way to highlight what I find great. I still have a ton of things I’d like to mention anyway, so I’ll slowly get around to sharing them. Might as well spread the love!
I’m the type of person who needs help with organization. Usually my work and personal spaces accumulates stuff until I can barely put anything down. The clutter builds until I either do a massive overhaul or find myself surrounded by mountains of things balancing precariously on top of each other. I guess it doesn’t help that I’m a packrat, so rarely do things get thrown away…
Well, lately I’ve really been getting into cute little containers to help with the issue! It started back during the holiday season, when I saw a set of fun little tray-like paper baskets at the dollar store. My nightstand was brimming with personal care items like lotions, lip balms, hair clips & brushes, and a bunch of snacks. The drawers beneath were pretty full themselves, and I liked to have these common items readily available so there they were, all squashed onto the little surface area I had by the bed. Once I got the baskets, I was able to save on so much surface area! It was pretty amazing, so I then opted for some larger ones to use on my “desk” (the ironing board) and things have been fabulous ever since. I’m still a packrat with way too much stuff there, but at least all that stuff is more condensed and only taking up about half as much space as before. This easy way to de-clutter and organize is what makes baskets great!
Whether working, studying, or just plain living abroad, it’s the type of experience I think everyone should try at least once. I’ve done them all, like visiting family in China for summer break (and going to school for that year when I was 9), doing an exchange program in England, and working overseas in Singapore. This was from my last night in Singapore, as I packed up my desk and bid farewell to my coworkers. It had been quite an immersion into their culture, completely unlike anything I was used to yet familiar in many areas. It’s amazing what you learn in a few weeks of entering a different society. It’s easy to stay closed-mind in a bubble if you never leave your home country, but normal travel doesn’t quite change you the way living abroad does (even if it’s only for a few months). I really value all of my time abroad in the various capacities that I was there for. Spending extended time in any other country opens your eyes to other ways to view the world and it’s a great learning opportunity for all.
It feels great when you can get a product or service for a steal. My mom has always gotten a certain rush from buying items at steep discounts and I’ve learned a little along the way. While I don’t like to negotiate prices, I can certainly do it and generally get a good deal. At markets where bargaining is expected, you can get huge price differentials, but even in some stores where negotiating isn’t the norm, you can get a bargain. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking what promotions and deals they’re offering. Sometimes sales associates do have a little leeway in discounts they can offer, like when you’re vying for home appliances. At the least, most retailers offer price match guarantees, so you can find the best price and combine that with other offers (like 0% financing, bonus gift cards, etc.) to get a better deal. Oh, and don’t forget coupons for more common household items. Or maybe you just love to haggle for a good price at a market or bazaar, like my mom. Whatever the case, it feels great to get a bargain on something!
Every time I see one of my cousins, she knows exactly what to get me: freshly roasted chestnuts. She’ll stop by a street vendor roasting by the side of the road and buy me a bag or two of the treats. They come out so perfectly that way – a cut in the skin allows me to easily peel it and eat the chestnut whole. The exterior layer of the meat is a little glossy, providing sort of a glazed feel. The rest of it is just the kind of mealiness that I like and a nice sweetness that isn’t overwhelming. When I was young, I remember going to pick chestnuts with my parents – I was amazed by the spiky green ball that they grow in, which we had to step on with our feet to break. We then carefully pried them open to pick out the chestnuts inside. They’re one of my favorite foods and I never really considered them a nut. I guess I do like nuts after all! At least I think chestnuts taste great.
Walking through an open-air market with stalls and stalls of farmers selling their produce is a refreshing experience. Back in the day, it used to be the norm to go grocery shopping multiple times a week to get the fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. that you needed to cook with. Since many of those things wouldn’t keep, it was a constant cycle of getting food to cook it within a few days. Nowadays with all sorts of foods with preservatives and fridges and freezers to keep them suspended in time for a bit longer, the experience is totally different. But even just going to a supermarket and getting produce from their aisles is far more refreshing than grabbing a box of something pre-made. I like connecting with my food in its original form and have been buying more produce lately. Taking a bite of a fruit or vegetable in its actual form is pretty great.
There’s something fun about cooking food right at the table and eating it fresh like that. Hot pot offers a variety of broths, sauces, meats, and vegetables in whatever combinations you like. Sometimes you can cook in a giant pot as a table and sometimes you can cook in your own individual pot like this one. You can eat at your own pace and not worry about your food getting cold. It gives you control over the flavors, portions, and timing of your meal. I also like how it’s nice and toasty so I never get cold. It’s quite entertaining to go fishing for your food among all the things tumbling around and the whole experience is sort of an adventure. You can explore all sorts of cooking strategies and mix and match that with the seasonings to go on a culinary exploration. Eating hot pot is a great experience!
After a long day out, my weary legs were so happy to arrive at the hotel. A nice hotel is wonderful to stay in, with comfy beds, lush towels, and all sorts of amenities. Hotels generally mean you’ve been traveling, so a hot shower and clean sheets are probably the best thing to happen for you at the end of the day. I enjoy staying at hotels because I don’t have to worry about cleaning and I get to stay in a city I normally wouldn’t. If I have more time, I like to make use of their pool, spa, or other amenities. Why not take advantage of all those features, right? It’s certainly a welcome reprieve from a tiring day out, where I can get a little peace and rest up. Waking up the next day feeling refreshed can’t be beat! Hotels are a great place to stay away from home.
One of the most useful items of clothing I own are jackets. I have light ones, heavy ones, thin ones, thick ones, loose ones, tight ones, cotton ones, faux leather ones, long ones, short ones, and just about everything in between. I find they are immensely useful for layering so I’m never too cold (and I get cold easily). Depending on the style, I can go super casual or dressy with them, for any situation and occasion. In the winter, I always wear at least two of them so I can bundle up against the cold as needed. In China, I’ve noticed a much more uniform look in terms of outerwear, which might be because they actually have to spend time walking in the cold. In the US you can get away with a lot more variety since you generally just need to get from your car into a building and vice versa. Or maybe there are just fewer styles available in China. I like to wear a nice pea coat on the outside, which looks professional, is long enough to keep my backside warm without riding up, and offers flexibility in how fitting or loose I want it. They’re great for warding off the cold!