Thursday, July 31, 2014

How To Do 10 Things (At Least Slightly) Better

how to do things better


We're knee-deep into summer and I'm going to take the smallest of breathers. I've got two weeks of travel coming up, along with my birthday, and launching a big 'ol offering. I'm going to go to the lake, eat one metric ton of raspberries, and remember what the stars look like outside the reach of street lights.

We'll be back to business as usual with Web Time Wasters on Sunday and there's some exciting stuff coming in August. Till then, I dug through my archives and found some of my best how-tos and tutorials. Have a dig through 'em and I'll see you next week!

Looking through these, it's painfully obvious how much I like lists and parenthesis, isn't it?

If you have any how-to requests, leave 'em in the comments!

photo by Magdalena Roeseler // cc

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

8 links for bloggers + small businesses that are helpful like WHOA

It's the end of the month! I'm celebrating by rounding up some insanely helpful links about social media, creativity, and self-employment over on my small business blog

New Thing: Pay For A Stranger's Meal

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try. Then I do them and write about them. You can read about previous shenanigans here

If, for some unknown reason, you've been paying undue and devoted attention to the 'New Things' I plan to do (they're over there in the sidebar) you might have noticed that 'Pay for a stranger's meal' has been lurking there - unchecked off - for the last two or three years.

In addition to being heartwarming, this endeavor has the potential to be incredibly awkward. How do you decide who you're going to buy a meal for? What if they find out you bought it and then try to thank you? What if they're offended? What if the waitress tells them what's happening and they look up all confused and weirded out?

I mulled over this for quite a while. You can't really look at someone in a restaurant and deduce the contents of their bank account and I assume people ordering the dinner special generally possess the means to pay for it themselves. But after talking to friends who have multiple young kiddos (and coming to understand the financial realities that accompany that) I decided that just about any parent accompanied by more than one child might appreciate a free meal.

And where should I go? I needed to go somewhere I could buy a meal for myself and 3-5 other people without going totally bankrupt. And I didn't want to go to my usual place because I'm already on an awkwardly first-name basis with the waitresses and I didn't want them mentioning my stranger-meal-buying every time I was there, stuffing my face with rice noodles.

Bangkok Thai Deli was the answer. Cheap. Delicious. Waitresses I didn't know.

I enlisted my friend Meredith's moral support and arrived at the restaurant completely wound up and riddled with nerves. Without exaggeration, I was more nervous about buying someone else's meal than I was about drinking flaming sake made from fish fins.

Like, heart pumping, jittery eyed nervous.

Mere and I hunkered down and scoped out the restaurant. Lots of middle-aged couples and friend dates. I ordered a meal that was essentially fried tofu drenched in spicy peanut butter (amazing, obviously) and waited for a young family.

And then, ambling across the parking lot, came a young mom and dad, the cutest, most round-headed toddler, a sulky tween and a tiny little grandma.

Yes. Perfect.

We dawdled over our food for a bit longer (one can't rush fried peanut butter tofu) and when our waitress brought over our check, I told her I'd also like to pay the check for the table with the cute baby.

"Do you know them?"
"Ummm, no."
"Why do you want to pay for their meal?"
"I just think their baby is really cute?"
"And it would be a nice thing to do? And also it's a secret. Please don't tell them."

Our waitress was 70% confused, 30% nonplussed, but eventually brought over their check and I paid it...and then practically ran out of the restaurant in a panic that they'd figure out what had happened and try to talk to us. I was so flustered I tried to unlock the wrong red hatchback in the parking lot!

Was it fun and rewarding and oddly nerve wracking? Yes.
Would I do it again? Prooooooobably not. If you're someone who abides by a value set of 'the greatest good for the greatest number' you can probably help a lot more people for the same amount of money by giving food gift cards to people who are homeless or you know to be struggling.

But as a one-time adventure? Absolutely.  Even if the whole thing is so scary you try to get into the wrong car.

Have you ever bought a meal for a stranger? Or has a stranger ever bought yours? 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Your new favorite hipster French song (and August ad space)

Isn't this the coolest, most painfully hip thing you ever did see? As my friend Rolf pointed out, if this doesn't end up in a Wes Anderson movie sometime soon, there's something wrong with this world.

Now that we're all cooler for having witnessed that, can we talk about ad space?  I've got some - you might want it?

Who advertises here?  Life coaches. Etsy shops. Indie fashion labels. Travel websites.  Artists.  Designers of all types.  Who reads Yes and Yes?  Smart, funny, awesome women.  Mostly 18-35 English speakers - though there are plenty of teenagers and above-35s who stop by as well. 

Sidebar ad space is available in one, two and three month packages with pricing discounts at two and three months. All 220 x 100 sponsors will be included in the mid-month sponsor introduction post and three month sponsors have the option of a giveaway (of an item/service valued at a minimum of $100) if they're interested.


$80 and $200 sponsors also have the option of offering discount codes to Yes and Yes newsletter subscribers (3,950+ people!) at no additional charge.

Some facts about Yes and Yes?
Daily unique visitors: 3,200 - 3,500 a day
Page views: 240,000+ per month
Facebook fans: 4,130+
Blogspot followers: 3,260+
Google Page Rank: 4
RSS feed subscribers (between Feedburner, Bloglovin', Feedly) 10,000+
Newsletter subscribers: 3,950+

Some of the nice things that previous sponsors have said about Yes and Yes?

I've sponsored with Sarah a few times, and each experience has been amazing! The day my sponsored post went up I got five times my usual traffic! Not only is she a breeze to work with and prompt with communication, but she is also genuine and really does want to support other bloggers. So many times, advertising on another blog is a one-way street, but when I sponsor Sarah I feel like we're supporting each other. It's wonderful to have someone like her in the blogosphere! - Stephanie, The Loudmouth Lifestyle

Sponsoring Yes and Yes was the best $200 I've spent on business marketing.In one day, my total number of website hits went up 1200%! We are only three weeks into this year and already, I'm already over a quarter of the TOTAL hits to my website last year. Being featured on Yes and Yes has a TON to do with that. Thank you for the exposure! And as an added bonus, the sales I made on the day of the RSS post more than paid for my cost of sponsorship. I added ten new people to my email list, approx 20 new Facebook likes, and a approx ten new Twitter followers. Melissa Camilleri Magliola, Compliment Jewelry + Stationery

Interested? Drop me a line at sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org and we'll get started!

Real Life Style Icon: Ria Michelle

This is one of many Real Life Style Icon interviews in which we talk to clever, interesting people and then totally 'borrow' their shoes when they're not looking

Name: Ria Michelle
Age: 27
Location: Miami, FL
Online haunts: blog // twitter // instagram // tumblr

Three reasons that you're awesome:
I keep it real, I'm funny, and a little strange.

What are you wearing right now, as you type this?
A Unif muscle tee, and my boyfriend's giant hoodie.

What is the last item of clothing you bought?

Alexander Wang Fishline Suspension Shorts

What is the item of clothing you most covet at the moment? Splurge: The Row Leather Backpack a little more down to earth: Manolo Blahnik Chaos Sandal

Tell us about a favorite childhood memory about your clothes.
Definitely leaving the house and changing into my goth clothes before I got on the bus to go to school. I would change back before my mom got home because she hated the style. One day she was home early so I totally got busted, but it was nice dressing true to myself, in clothes I saved the money to buy myself.

Is there anything you absolutely WON'T wear? 
You will not find me in Peplum...I just do not get it. I'll see something cute and my eyes travel down and find peplum and just be completely turned off. 

What's your go-to outfit for a date? For a job interview?
I love a little mini dress for a date. I'm a big fan of loose fitting, comfortable garments. Job interview...I work at home for myself haha but I guess if I had to go to one, it's be a cute two piece suit. I like a nice tailored pant with a silk blouse and a matching blazer. 

Is there anything you'd like to see come back into style?
I kind of don't want sneaker wedges to go away...only because I haven't copped the Isabel Marant ones yet and I still kind of want to even though they're definitely on their way out if not out. The various "inspired by" and other sneaker wedges can keep going though. Not interested lol.

Thanks for sharing, Ria!

Love this? Want more? Get my free ebook BE YOUR OWN STYLE ICON by signing up below!

Monday, July 28, 2014

True Story: My Sister Is An Addict

This is one of many True Story interviews in which we talk to people who have experienced interesting/challenging/amazing things. This is the story of 'Caroline', her sister, and her sister's addiction.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm a university student from Sydney, Australia. I work part time as a LGBTIQ youth support worker, and for fun I like to read and ride my bike.

When you were kids, what was your sister like? 
My older sister, Clare, is six years older than me, whereas there is only two years between myself and my younger sister, Molly, so Molly and I were always the closest. I actually don’t have many memories of Clare when we were kids, but from what I do remember, she was always quite aggressive and strong-willed. She never did anything she didn’t want to do, and often butted heads with my parents because of that.

When did she first start to struggle?
Her issues actually started around food, when she developed an eating disorder at age 14 (I was 8). For most of her teen years, she was in and out of treatment with anorexia, bulimia and depression. At that point, she was also drinking quite heavily.

The whole way through this, my parents have been amazingly supportive. As my mother works in mental health, she had a whole host of resources and knowledge to help manage. They supported her by finding (and funding) therapists, nutritionists, doctors, psychiatrists and in-patient treatment programs.

As Molly and I were both quite young when Clare’s issues started, my parents tried to shield us from it to some extent, but they weren’t always successful. As anyone with a troubled sibling can attest to, it changes the family dynamic irreversibly.

What are the different things that your sister has been addicted to? 
In terms of substances, she was addicted to alcohol and cocaine all throughout her twenties. As far as I know, she started using coke when she was working at nightclubs, and started dating a man who was a serious addict. In the last few years, she became addicted to ice (crystal meth), when she was no longer able to afford cocaine. I would also classify some her food and exercise issues as ‘addictions’, in the sense that she had no control over her compulsions to exercise and calorie restrict.

Clare has never really tried to treat her addictions by going into a long-term program and addressing the mental health problems which I think are the root cause of her substance abuse. As a result, she has been unable to hold down a job for very long, so my parents supported her financially. However when they found out she was using their money to buy drugs, they cut that off.

My parents have tried very hard to help her beat her addictions and get well. Sometimes I wonder whether they have been too giving. Recently, she got fired from a casual job because she was stealing money. Her boss rang my dad and wanted to avoid getting the police involved. My dad paid the money back, so she wouldn’t have a criminal record. I understand why he did that, but I also wonder whether she needs ‘tough love’ to face the consequences of her actions.

How do you feel about your sister and her addictions? How do you navigate your relationship with her?
I have a very difficult relationship with my sister. For a long time, she blamed me for her struggles, because she was only child until I was born. I think she was always really angry with me and she definitely took that out on me growing up.

As an adult, I keep a very strict distance. I know that sounds very harsh, but like most addicts, Clare is impossible to trust. She lies constantly. I can’t fathom having a relationship with her at the moment, because I barely know who she is anymore. That makes me quite sad, because I never really got to experience having an older sister. Maybe in the future things will change, but when someone is in the throws of addiction, you’re not actually dealing with them as a person. You’re dealing with the addiction, and you simply can’t change them until they’re ready.

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Caroline. Do any of you have challenging siblings? How do you deal with them? 

P.S. Potentially helpful: What to do when people disappoint you (or act like a-holes or dillwads)

photo by nathan jongewaard // cc

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Web Time Wasters!

How was your week, guys? I had The Most Fun catching up with friends from New Zealand and introducing them to the wonders of Minnesota. This weekend, I'm in Wisconsin meeting up with a friend who moved to Chicago. When I found out that Wisconsin has a desert (!!!) I decided we obviously needed to see this place that also happened to be half way between our cities.

Enough about me. What about you, internet? 

I've got space for three month hook-up requests in August's Network of Nice. What do you need help with that's not Google-able?

I am so insanely jealous of Kyla's new pet.

A little story about maintaining a friendship across time zones and international borders.

Yes! 5 epics ways to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

Cute! A DIY glitter mason jar.

Jordan relocated for the summer, away from her home and all her 'stuff' and is finding it surprisingly easy. I loved this post:
It feels good, and I didn’t expect it to. Kendrick turned to me in bed last night and said, “It’s weird; you seem so relaxed out here and I was expecting you to be so panicked.” I am. And it’s not because we’re “settled in”; I feel more relaxed than I did even before I found out we were moving. At home, it seems like my days so often get tangled up in a haze of plans and rushing and things I have to do and people I have to see and stuff.

Here, all we have to do is be with each other, eat when we’re hungry and swim when we’re hot, work when it’s daytime and sleep when it’s night. There are no throw pillows on the bed, so it takes only moments to make in the morning. There are no plants that need watering, or pipes that need fixing, or rooms that need decorating. I don’t have different-sized bowls or specialty knives or a cheese grater, and so I make whatever food I can, and it’s easy and tastes pretty good and that’s all that any of us cares about. 

Aren't these time machine care packages a great idea? Such a good gift for a friend celebrating a big birthday.

Isn't this clock adorable?

Carly's been teaching at a school for special needs kids for five years and now she's helping them raise money to buy a bus. By doing silly things on camera!

I can't believe someone thought of this cookbook before I did.

Are these pants worth $168?

Is something more important because it can be measured?

YES. What I Instagrammed vs. What Is Really Happening.

Related: are we friends on Instagram?

Things to eat/bake/cook: frozen desserts, frozen raspberry champagne, braised radishes, fire shots.

I loved this story about people actually talking to strangers and how if affected their day.
Dr. Epley and Ms. Schroeder found that when one person took the initiative to speak to another in a waiting room, both people reported having a more positive experience. Far from annoying people by violating their personal bubbles, reaching out to strangers may improve their day, too.

I've heard such good things about this app - pity it's Iphone only!

What do you think of these temporary tattoos

I need this print for this winter. And a cheeky photo for any of your friends who are moving away.

Such a cute phone case!

Nobody says, "Everybody has a pleasant laugh." Nobody says, "Everyone is athletic to somebody." Nobody says, "You are an amazing writer, whether you know it or not."
Beauty is the only trait that everyone gets free access to. Why?
Because we have created a culture that values beauty above all other innate traits... for women, at least. Men are more often valued by their success, which is seen as a result of talent and hard work, despite how much it depends on luck and knowing the right people.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pantry staples that will save your a$$ + Hurting less + An amazing free planner

It's Saturday! Which means that some of this month's sponsors have been kind enough to share their best stuff with us so we can avoid Target on the weekend or all those chores we should do.

Let's be friends!

Let's be friends!

Let's be friends!

Let's be friends!

Let's be friends!
Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest

Want to see your stuff here? In front of 11,000+ people? It's cheaper than you think. Check out my traffic and ad rates here or drop me a line at sarah (at) yesandyes (dot) org to get started.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Thing: Play 9 Holes of Golf

Each year I make a list of new things I want to try - some of them are super difficult others are so boring you'll reconsider my success as an adult. You can read about previous adventures here.

In case you were wondering what to wear when one goes golfing, my answer is:
I don't know, dude. I wore a striped skirt from Target, ballet flats, and a giant leather belt I bought for $2 at Salvation Army. 

This probably wouldn't fly at Pebble Beach, but I wasn't particularly interested in experiencing golf for the first time amidst snootiness and plaid - which is why I convinced my guy and two exceptionally patient friends to accompany me to Minneapolis's wonderfully affordable and laid back par three public golf course at Theo Wirth park. $11 to golf? $6 for a zoomy little cart? $3 for a Bud Lite Lime? DON'TMINDIFIDO.

For a long time I've relegated golf to the list of sports That Are Not For Me.*
It's expensive.
It takes a long time.
It's generally played by rich, middle aged, white dudes who spend their golf games making business and political alliances that affect The Rest Of Us.

And while all that might be true, it's also pretty fun.

Some things I discovered:

* You'll be waaaaay better at golf if you, you know, pay attention. If you happen to do surprisingly well the first few holes that doesn't mean you're actually good or that you should stop aiming for the hole. 

*  'Par' means how many times a good golfer would hit the ball to get it into the hole. So if a hole is 'Par 3' a good golfer could get from tee to hole in three strokes. My personal best for this Very First Game was four strokes. Worst? Ohheyletsstopcounting.

*  Uh, did you know that some golf courses have separate tee areas for women?! That are easier?! RUDE. 

* Golf carts are the most fun to drive. Particularly if you yell "Zeeeeewwwwm!" while doing so.

* These games are loooooong, dudes. Like, nine holes took us 3.5 hours. Granted, there were four of us and I spent a lot of time chopping my ball out of the weeds, but it was quite the time commitment. 

Have you ever played golf? And if you have, how do I become less awful? 

P.S. That time I went to a batting cage and That time I ran a 5k

*it's a really long list. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

8 Things You Can (and should!) do when business is slow

Has your business ever gone through a slow spot? Of course! It's happened to all of us! And it frequently happens mid-Summer (when everyone's on vacation) or in January (when everyone's spent all their money.) On my small business blog I'm sharing some tips to deal with it.