Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Here are some thoughtful gift ideas you may not of have considered before:
A chest freezer may not be romantic but it can save busy moms and dads a lot of time and money. They can simply repackage the bargain-sized packages into single meal sized packages using a vacuum-sealing machine. The savings are huge especially when purchasing meat. And when your busy mom or dad cooks, it’s just as easy to make two dinners and freeze one for later. Another great help would be a Slow Cooker and Slow Cooker Cookbook.
Create a voucher for a cooking club made of four friends with similar family size and tastes. Once every three months, each person shops for enough groceries to make a favorite dinner recipe – one to keep and three to share – totaling 4 dinners apiece. Meet at a designated kitchen to assemble dinners together and share in the clean up. Not only is it a fun afternoon of friends being together, but it also creates four easy, diverse dinners for each person to take home, plus a collection of new recipes.
Custom create a gourmet gift of the month club. Choose from wine, beer, chocolate, fruit, flowers, and so much more.
What about new technology that will make life easier for a busy parent?
- A great gadget for accurate note taking is the Livescribe Smartpen and Dot Paper. It records what you hear as you take notes and synchronizes the two. Simply touch the pen to a word in your notes and it will play back the recording at that point.
- With the impressive amount of Apps available, you’ll find one just right for busy moms and dads. Here’s one for those who struggle with carpooling schedules. On the go people will appreciate Dragon Dictation that converts speech into an email, reminder or text message hands free.
- Noise Canceling Headphones like the ones from Bose cut down on distractions so the busy mom or dad can concentrate on 100 Greatest Classics preloaded on MP3 player.
Monday, December 10, 2012
What can you give to your single friends that they’ll like? You don’t want to give the same old boring gifts that just lie in the closet. A truly thoughtful gift takes into consideration the activities and lifestyle of your friends.
Here are some ideas that will make life simpler for your single friends:
Gift certificates or cards are always in style. It could be to their favorite bookstore, coffee shop, nail salon or spa treatment. Even some year-round farmer’s markets, (Ecology Center Farmers' Market is one example), have gift certificates, which is very welcome to friends who enjoy eating and cooking the freshest foods.
Another idea is to give new phone apps. (iPhone, iPad, and iPod are easy. Blackberry and Android take a little more effort.)
Tickets to their favorite events would be welcome, too. Whether they love sports, music, or the arts we have them all here in California. (If you don’t want the hassle of coordinating this, Simplify’s concierge service can arrange it for you.)
Are your single friends trying to eat healthier? Why not gift them a fruit-of-the-month club. Goldenstatefruit.com, Thefruitcompany.com. Cherrymoonfarms.com and Harryanddavid.com are some here on the west coast you can check out.
Have you noticed their refrigerator is usually bare? A gift certificate to a grocery shopping service or to a meal delivery service would guarantee that they eat well.
A case of their favorite beverage would go over big. Whether they love wine, beer, or specialty teas, this is a gift they’ll use and enjoy.
Make a voucher for something you can do together. Leave it open as to their choice, but you could suggest a visit to a spa, a class, a book club or new-recipe club to join, etc. This will be especially appreciated if your friend is newly single.
An invitation to join your family may be the best gift of all, especially if they’ll be alone this holiday season. Including them as ‘part of the family’ will go over big.
When you’ve visited their home, have you noticed that there’s some household chore that they hate to do? Why not give them a gift certificate to a home concierge service? That way they can use it for whatever task they desire. If they live in the Silicon Valley, contact us at Simplify for a truly unique gift!
Monday, December 3, 2012
Grandparents deserve to receive thoughtful gifts from the family. Of course, anything that the grandchildren make for them is a sure hit. But what are some gifts you can give that will make their lives simpler?
Photo gifts are always a big hit, especially if grandparents can get them out of boxes and easily see them. If you’ve already given them a digital photo frame with memory cards, why not make a bookstore-quality photo book they can display on their coffee table. You can do-it-yourself online at Blurb, Shutterfly, and Snapfish, or have Walmart, Costco, or Walgreen’s do it.
If your grandparents have lost mobility, a trigger-action long-reach gripper/grabber is a great gift so they don’t have to painfully bend over. And it keeps them off the stepladder when reaching items on the top shelf. Find a sturdy one that will last.
TV Ears, a wireless listening device, is a great solution that lets one person have increased volume without deafening everyone else.
A gift certificate to a food delivery service or online groceries deliveries would ensure that your grandparents don’t have to run to the store and that they’re eating well.
End the frustration of daily searches for lost TV remotes, wallets, keys or cell phones. Get a wireless remote control locator that has 1 transmitter and multiple receivers.
Help grandparents stay in touch with friends and family by teaching them how to use Skype. They’ll love seeing the person they’re talking with. And don’t forget that a cell phone with larger buttons that they can see and push easily would be handy.
Does getting out of the car trouble them? Check out a Swivel Seat and the Standers Handybar. It fits into the door latch and supports them as they boost themselves out.
For gardening grandparents a foldable garden kneeler/seat plus a caddy of ergonomic gardening tools would be a great gift. The kneeler/seat is also helpful in the house for easily cleaning lower cabinets or spills on the floor. You can find them online or local gardening centers.
Help your grandparents open that horrible plastic packaging without frustration and slit fingers with a Zipit Electric Pack and Clamshell Package Opener. And throw in enough take-apart, dishwasher-safe kitchen scissors so there’s one for every room.
Of course, the best gift is a visit from you and your family. If you’re having trouble coming up with a perfect gift for your grandparents, perhaps it’s time to visit them and ask them what they’d like done but can’t do for themselves anymore. If they live in the Silicon Valley, you can give them a gift certificate to our home concierge services. It’s a gift that they can really use and will make their lives simpler.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Sometimes during the holiday season it can feel like there’s too much family time! The kids are home from school, your parents are in your guest room and your husband is in the living room watching football – again! Maybe you feel like you need some space. But can you imagine what life would be like without them? It would leave a gigantic hole in your life wouldn’t it?
Yet the simple fact that we have our family with us day after day can lead us to take them for granted or even worse, get irritated and take it out on them in a way that we would never treat our workmates or neighbors. To counteract this, why not take a moment and create a thank you list for each family member.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
To my parents:
Thank you for your patience, kindness, family standards that you held me to, and love.
Thank you for teaching me to love traveling, exotic foods, all sorts of music…
Thank you for giving me the confidence to believe that I can do anything.
Thank you for the years of caring for my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs.
Thank you for gently giving me my wings to grow and support when I needed it.
Thank you for teaching me not to take myself too seriously.
To my spouse:
Thank you for seeing the positive when things get messed up.
Thank you for pitching in when I’m tired and can’t take another step.
Thank you for really listening when I’m down.
Thank you for saying, “I’m sorry.”
Thank you for the hugs, kisses and pats on the back for the kids and me.
Thank you for always being my biggest fan and supporting me.
To my children:
Thank you for being the lovable you.
Thank you for all the sweet hugs, kisses, and cuddles even as you get older.
Thank you for trying so hard to do well in school.
Thank you for picking up your toys without being asked.
Thank you for being so kind and polite and for saying, “Thank you and please.”
Thank you for the beautiful pictures you draw for me.
Now, add yourself to the list and thank yourself for all the good things you’ve done and the good qualities you have. And then treat yourself to a little relaxation by having one of our professionals do something that’s been on you to-do list too long.
Or better yet, schedule a family dinner party during the holiday season and let us help you with ideas of how to make it simple and successful. Contact us at Simplify for a free consultation if you live in the Silicon Valley area.
Monday, November 26, 2012
“Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions.” – Anonymous
Throughout our lives there are people that we have a special fondness for because they taught us something that changed our lives. Perhaps it was the third grade teacher that opened up the world of music to you, or a high school coach that pushed you and showed you how far you really could go.
“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth’.” - Newsman, Dan Rather
Our greatest teachers more often than not are our relatives or parents. Their lessons have made us who we are. They patiently taught us to walk, talk, learn, love, and live as good citizens. Of course, none of us have the fairytale, happy-ever-after childhood, but even in difficult situations we probably learned something we can use.
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” – Henry Adams
Sometimes it’s the tough, unexpected circumstance in life that teaches us the most about who we really are. Not until we’ve come face to face with tragedy, loss, or adversity do we see our own strengths and depth of our own character.
The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.” – John E. Southard
We should be thankful and show appreciation for the teachers in our lives. It would be terrible to forget what they’ve done, but instead we can pass onto others the treasures they’ve given to us. And they’d appreciate hearing us express how much they mean to us.
“The task of the excellent teacher is to stimulate ‘apparently ordinary’ people to unusual effort. The tough problem is not in identifying winners: it is in making winners out of ordinary people.” – K. Patricia Cross
Our children have been back to school now for a few months. And while Teacher Appreciation Week is observed in the United States the first full week in May (May 7 – 11, 2013), as parents we can show appreciation for all of the hard work the teachers have been doing. We can build a relationship with them and support their efforts to teach our children. We can be involved in classroom projects as much as our schedules allow.