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Holiday Recipes Open Thread

Holiday Recipes for Working WomenWith the holidays almost upon us, I thought we’d have a holiday recipe open thread — what are your favorite things to make for family and friends? Have you gravitated towards certain recipes as a working woman (simple ingredients/short steps for easy weeknight dinners, slow cooker recipes you can start before work, etc.)?  For holiday recipes, do you like these recipes because they transport well, because they’re treats or more work than you’re usually willing to spend on food, because they’re best made in large batches, or for other reasons? (Does anyone have any great vegetarian recipes, or healthy fruit-related dessert recipes? Trying to add some of those to my wheelhouse.)

For my $.02 — yes to all of the above for why we choose what holiday recipes to make for family and friends!  I also try to make something healthy for larger gatherings, particularly veggies that I’m happy to fill my plate with.  For Thanksgiving in a few days, we’re planning to make a salad that we always call “Siggy’s salad,” after a restaurant that used to be down the street from our apartment but then sadly changed locations, moving farther away. I never seem to get to the actual restaurant in its new location, so we’ve duplicated the recipe as best we can — it can be a bit of work, so we primarily make it for larger gatherings. (The picture at top is from the restaurant’s website.)

Our recipe isn’t so much a “recipe” as “an approximation of the salad we remember” — the way it’s served at the restaurant the salad greens are about 50% of the plate, possibly even 40% — so the quinoa, olives, avocado, feta, and cucumbers all play pretty big roles in about equal percentages.

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Closet Organization Hacks for Sweaters, Jewelry, Shoes, Bags, and More

Closet Organization HacksFor some reason I’ve been in a big mood to organize our closets, so I thought we’d discuss — what are your biggest pain points when it comes to closet organization? What solutions have you found that you love? What are your best closet organization hacks?

Pictured, clockwise: hanging necklace organizer / sweater bins / modular bag organizer / anti-tarnish zip bag for silver jewelry

 

Closet Organization Hacks That Are Working For Me:

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The Best Spotify Playlists to Help You Focus

Spotify Playlists for WorkWhile some of us need absolute quiet to be productive at work; others prefer some background noise, whether it’s classical music, indie rock, or something else entirely. Earlier this year, Kat talked about her favorite music for different moods and situations (and readers discussed theirs in the comments), and in the past we’ve discussed wearing headphones at the office and how to be productive when you work in an open office. Today we’ll round up some Spotify playlists that are perfect for the workday. Here are five that can help you get your work done:

Productive Morning:
Description:
“Get into a morning flow with this focus playlist.”
Length: 39 songs; 3 hours 11 minutes
This playlist is filled with slow, mellow music, mostly without vocals/lyrics (which is helpful if words make music too distracting for you to work to — that seems to be the case with a lot of people). Listening to this might even calm you down if you’re feeling stressed about work or personal stuff — but I won’t promise anything. Two sample tracks are “Hibernation” by Random Forest and “Breathturn” by Hammock.

Deep Focus:
Description:
“Keep calm and focus. This playlist has some great, atmospheric rock to help you relax and concentrate.”
Length:
112 songs; 8 hours 29 minutes
Here’s some more slow and relaxing music for your workday, again without vocals. Your brain will likely be able to keep these sounds in the background and help you focus on the task at hand, while the song and band names will either seem poetic or laughable, depending on your tastes and mood. (Examples: “Gusts of Wind Blowing in Different Directions” and “In Collusion with the Waves.”) Two sample tracks are “Passage” by Lowercase Noises and “Petrichor” by At the End of Times, Nothing. (Speaking of poetic, here’s a fun fact: “petrichor” names the smell of dry, dusty ground when rain falls.)

Intense Studying
Description:
“Music to help you concentrate and stay focused during your most intense studying sessions.”
Length: 100 songs; 13 hours 15 minutes
This playlist is the only one of the five listed here that contains classical music, and it has a lot of it: 13 hours’ worth. The composers include Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Vivaldi, Beethoven, and Chopin, and you’ll find some more recent music as well — pieces by Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, Terry Riley, and Steve Reich. I don’t think this one needs “sample tracks” provided — you get the picture. (To counteract that huge list of male composers, here is another Spotify playlist for your workday: Women of Classical, at 50 songs, 7 hours 36 minutes.)

electroNOW:
Description:
“Banging tracks with Ravitez and Afrojack, b2b!” 
Length: 56 songs; 3 hours 25 minutes
As you can tell from Spotify’s description, this playlist is a little different from the three above. It’s full of electronic music, originals and remixes from artists like Calvin Harris and DJ Snake (don’t worry if those names don’t mean anything to you) with energetic beats to keep you motivated and repetition to help you focus. Two sample tracks are “Tell Me Why” by Sagan and “Everything Changed” by DBSTF.

Brain Food:  
Description: “Feed your brain with hypnotic electronic”  
Length: 140 songs; 9 hours 49 minutes
Like the last playlist I mentioned, this one gives you lots of electronic music — but these tracks have less of a club/party feel and more of a chillout atmosphere (probably self-explanatory, but here’s a link anyway), so in other words, it probably won’t inspire you to get up and dance at your desk. You’ll find dubstep, electropop, and general dance/electronic music on this playlist; two sample tracks are “Creep” by deadmau5 and “Mimosa” by Psychedelic Stereo.

What’s your favorite kind of music to listen to while you’re working? Do you have a subscription to Spotify (and if so, what’s your favorite Spotify playlist?), do you use Pandora, or do you just listen to your own music? Or, do you prefer not to listen to anything while you’re at the office?

Pictured: Pixabay. 

The Best Spotify Playlists to Help with Focus

How to Focus on Work (When Other Things are Going On)

How to Focus on Work (When Other Things are Going On)So: it’s been almost a week since the U.S. election. Like many of you, I’m finding it hard to focus on work in the wake of the election results, and I thought it might make a great open thread today. (As I noted earlier, politically I’m left of center, but all of my friends, on both the right and the left, seem to be having these problems focusing.) How DO you focus when you’ve got heavy things on your mind? We’ve talked before in general about ways to improve your focus and how to deal with heavy personal things like post-interview anxiety, as well as miscarriage and infertility — but this feels different to me. So — if you’re feeling less than laser-focused these days, what are you doing to focus on work? Some thoughts:

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The Best Online Glasses Stores for Women

online-eyeglass-shops-for-womenA reader wrote in the other day asking me to update our post on how to buy eyeglasses online — I’m still buying them (a pair or three every two years, approximately), so I thought we’d talk about the best online glasses stores for women because finding cute eyeglasses for women — online — can be difficult. As a reminder, these extremely affordable options can be great if you’re the kind of person who likes to change eyeglasses frequently like other accessories, if you’re looking for a back-up set to keep at your office, or if you’ve got a situation where someone keeps losing them, destroying them, or more. (I started buying online after my first son destroyed two pairs of eyeglasses…) Note also that if you have flexible spending dollars to spend before the end of the year, many of these will qualify, so now is a great time to buy.

I’ve bought from GlassesUSA most recently, but there are a lot of other great places to try out…

Some general tips for buying women’s eyeglasses online:

  • If you have a pair of old eyeglasses you love, measure the frames, nosebridge, and more — and take a picture of your eyeglasses (and you in them) so you can save it in your files. I regularly compare the measurements of old eyeglasses to new ones I’m considering.
  • I find it easiest to winnow down the selection if I’m looking for one particular color, so I almost always sort by blue — for you that may be clear, tortoise, or something else.
  • When in doubt, pay for a thinner lens.
  • Unfortunately, most prescription sunglasses can’t get a really dark tint — I still love them. I started buying them back in my contact days so I could go for a run in the morning without putting my contacts in before my shower; now that I wear eyeglasses 90% of the time, I’m thankful to have more stylish sunglasses that I can also see out of.
  • I tend to save any relevant pictures and measurements into one folder on my desktop– if I take pictures of home try-on glasses, if I save the “virtual try-on picture,” etc — and then I can flip through all of them at once on my computer.
  • Note the return policy carefully – most stores have really excellent return policies, just check before you buy.
  • Consider recycling your old eyeglasses when you’re happy with your new ones.

Some of the companies we covered in our first round-up are still around, and we won’t go into them too much today:

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Tales from the Wallet: How to React to a Stock Market Drop

How to React to a Stock Market DropDo you know what to do with your investments when the stock market takes a dive — how to react to a stock market drop? Were you worried about what would happen with the markets today? Late last night, as Donald Trump was getting close to winning the presidential election, the headlines began to announce dire predictions: “Trump’s win turns stock market into shock market,” from CBS News. “Be very scared for your 401(k) right now,” from Mother Jones. “Stock Futures Plunge as Donald Trump Posts Surprising Win,” from the Wall Street Journal.

Not everything about such a situation is bad, as Shannon McLay, founder and president of The Financial Gym, told us this morning before the markets opened:

I think that today will be a gift to investors as the stock market will likely drop on the uncertainty of a Trump presidency, but what that means for investors is that they have the opportunity to buy stocks, ETF’s, mutual funds, etc., on sale. Who doesn’t love a sale? If you have cash in your investment accounts, you should consider investing in the uncertainty, especially if you are investing for the long run.

Now that it’s late morning, we know that things aren’t as bad as expected. Under the headline, “Markets meltdown fails to materialise,” the BBC reported,”The S&P 500, Dow Jones, and Nasdaq stock indexes were little changed after the first hour of trading.” The Chicago Tribune reported that the “conciliatory comments” in Trump’s victory speech “helped global stock markets recover a large chunk of their earlier losses Wednesday.”

If there had been a big drop in the stock market, what would you have done? Do you know what the best things to do are? These are some of the experts’ tips:

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