Monday, November 30, 2009

Take a Mental Picture and Enjoy the Moment

We've all been there. The light is perfect, the scene is beautiful, you reach for your camera left it at home. The battery is dead. Memory card is full. The camera won't focus in time to capture that perfect moment. Instead of enjoying the amazing sunset you find yourself getting frustrated and paying more attention to your camera. I love taking and having great pictures, but occasionally in my hurry to "get that shot" I lose focus (no pun intended) of enjoying the moment. Left is a pcture of that very thing happening. I was in this beautiful old building in London with a dear friend and my camera wouldn't work. After a minute of pouting about it I put it away and enjoyed my surroundings. (photo credit- Jennifer Ball)
The next time your camera acts up, instead of getting frustrated, take a mental picture and soak up the moment. Even if you do have a fully functioning camera, once you have taken a few shots, put your camera away and don't review the pictures until later. Just enjoy being where you are. No matter how great your photo turns out, it won't beat the memory and mental picture of being in that moment.

And that's your daily good thing!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Live in Color

Our world is full of color, beautiful vibrant color. If you think about it, it is pretty amazing. Appreciate a blue sky, a pink sunset, a red wagon, a purple petunia. Live in color.

" Color is one of the great things in the world that makes life worth living" -Georiga O'Keefe
Red Amaryllis by Georgia O'Keefe. (Image provided by
Maui Sunset
La Perouse Bay

Black and Purple Petunias by Georgia O'Keefe (image provided by

And that's your daily good thing!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Have Faith in Mankind

Sometimes it seems like the world is a dark place. That there are more "bad" people than "good" people. And while horrible things do happen, I like to think that for every cruel or selfish act, there are at least ten times as many kind and selfless acts. It can be hard to believe this with all of the scary news we are constantly bombarded with. Which is why news specials like "CNN Heroes-Ordinary People, Extraordinary Impact" reinforce that there are good people in our world, and to have faith in mankind. Watch or read the stories of these "Heroes" and know that they are only a fraction of the amazing people in this world and the good that they do. Go to CNN Heroes to read more.

Having faith in mankind will lift your spirits and inspire you to be a better person. You don't need to be nominated as a CNN Hero to have a positive impact. Whether you volunteer your time or teach your children to be good people, or simply hold the door open for someone with a heavy load, you are making a difference.

"Our planet is filled with heroes, young and old, rich and poor, man, woman of different colors, shapes and sizes. We are one great tapestry. Each person has a hidden hero within, you just have to look inside you and search it in your heart, and be the hero to the next one in need," Efren
PeƱaflorida, CNN 2009 Hero of the Year. (Photo courtesy of

And that's your daily good thing.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Be Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving! Take a moment to appreciate the good things in life. I know what I am most thankful for is the wonderful people in my life. Thanksgiving is a wonderful reminder to give thanks and enjoy good food with family and friends, but you don't need a national holiday to be thankful. Sometimes if I am having a rough day I will sit down and make a "thankful list" and list all of the things I am thankful for. I list the silly stuff (my favorite pair of jeans) to the important stuff (my friends and family) and by the time I am done I can't help but feel better.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love the sentiment behind it, and I feel like out of all the holidays it is the least commercial. And I love, love, LOVE the smells (and tastes) of Thanksgiving. The turkey in the oven, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, seasonal vegetables. Yum.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
My mom, grandma, little sister and me in our aprons ready to cook a Thanksgiving Feast
yum. I especially love the sweet potatoes with marshmallows (also pictured top left)Grandparents and siblings at the table
Thanksgiving in Hong Kong with my BMC sisters. 2007

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Make Footprints

Make footprints. Both literally and figuratively. I love walking on the beach and feeling my toes sink in the sand. We make footprints in the lives of those around us and in our world. Leave your mark. Make footprints.
"Take only pictures and leave only footprints"
And that's your daily good thing.
(pictured- Makena Beach, Mauii)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bargain Bookstores

Find a bargain bookstore! Not only are the books usually less expensive at secondhand bookstores, they usually have a lot more character than chains. That isn't to say you can't find a great bargain at big bookstores (Books A Million for example has excellent deals on its website, sometimes up to 80% off) but you can't beat a small bookshop for charm. I personally love secondhand bookstores because I feel a connection to whoever bought the book before me...I especially love when a person has written in the margins, it almost feels like peeking in their diary. As an avid reader and book lover I will get books anywhere I can find them, but secondhand bookstores are my personal favorite. I do occasionally splurge on a new book. This usually happens if I have been waiting for a book to be released and just can't wait for it to get to a secondhand store, or if I just want to smell that new book smell. Whether it is online, at a second hand bookstore, or in a street market, good bargains on books are to be found all around you, if you just know where to look.
A charming little bookshop in Hawaii. Who wouldn't want to spend a few hours here?

Best Places for Bargain Books-
Online...if you must. It just doesn't compare to browsing around in a bookshop.
BooksAMillion Bargains
-Amazing Amazon Deals
-Border Bargains

Worth Going To...
-Half Price Books.
While they have a wonderful website, I highly reccomend going to the store itself. Mostly because they are constantly getting new (secondhand) books so you might find a great book on the shelf that won't be listed online. My favorite branch is in Berkeley on Shattuck Ave.
-The Strand Bookstore in New York City. The tag line says it all "Home of 18 Miles of New, Used, Rare, and Out of Print Books" (pictured right is my much loved STRAND book bag).
-The bookstall in Covent Garden, London. I don't know what the name of it is but there is a bookstall in Covent Garden that has a pretty good collection of books and quite a few first editions.
-Whale of A Tale Children's Bookstore. A charming children's bookstore that is fun for all ages.
-Any bookshop that looks interesting. It probably is.

And that's your daily good thing!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lip Balm

If you are having an especially hectic or busy day, give yourself just a minute to catch your breath, and put on some lip balm. Sounds silly but it can be very soothing to take a moment to relax and enjoy the sensation putting on chap stick. Find a flavor that you like (I especially like mint or cherry) and you might be pleasantly surprised by how a familiar lip balm not only soothes chapped lips but how the smell can have a calming effect.
A good lip balm might seem frivolous, but it is necessary in extreme temperatures. Make sure to get one with SPF. I try to always have a good lip balm in my bag or in my pocket. Try different flavors and brands to find the one that suits you, or have a few on hand so you can choose depending on your mood.

And that's your daily good thing!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Late Night Dining- 24 Hour Diners

24 hour diners are one of my favorite things. 24 Hour Diners are atmospheric, fun, and most importantly open all day and all night. The menu usually ranges from breakfast food to burgers and I have never been to a diner that didn't have a great milkshake. They are ideal for a late night dinner after going to a concert or the theater. 24 hour diners make a great pit stop during a night out on the town. And sometimes you might just get a craving for pancakes at 3 AM. Or perhaps you and a friend feel like going on a drive and get hungry, where better to refuel than at a 24 hour diner? Some of my favorite high school and college memories are at 24 hour diners. Here are a few of my favorites.
Harbor House Cafe in Orange County, California. There are a few located along PCH. In highschool my friends and I used to love to take drives along PCH and end up at Harbor House.
Denny's! Another high school favorite. This one definitely didn't make the list for the quality of the food, more for the memories. After a school dance, football game, or spirit night event Denny's was the go-to place. You can find one in almost any town. Landmark Diner in Atlanta, Georiga. I have actually never been here but I have heard it is amazing so I can't wait to try it out. Jerry's Famous Deli. Not an actual diner, but as a delicious 24 hour deli it merits a place on this list. Great food in a great location. I especially recommend the matzo ball soup.
The Flying Pan in Hong Kong (also pictured top left). Great for brunch or for a midnight snack. While living in Hong Kong I held an extra special place in my heart for the Flying Pan because I knew I could get an American style breakfast at any time. My favorite thing to order though was the Breakfast Burrito, with breakfast potatos added inside of it. Out of my group of friends from all over the world, everyone loved the Flying Pan and we ended many nights there. As one good friend once put it "The Flying Pan- where the good nights end!" Two of my best friends getting ready to order.

So the next time you are craving a midnight snack don't just go to a late night drive through window, make it an experience and go to a 24 hour diner.

And that's your daily good thing!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Laundry Day

Catch up on laundry! I know that sounds incredibly boring (and I especially despise doing laundry) but it is so worth it to have nice, clean, lovely smelling clothes. I am one of those people who gets behind on my laundry, to the point where I have an overwhelming mountain of dirty clothes. And then, once I finally convince myself that I can't keep on wearing the same pair of sweats day after day and I put in a load of laundry...I have to fold it! Which can be an even more daunting task. But I know from experience that if I don't fold my clean clothes will get mixed up with my dirty clothes and I did laundry for nothing. The next time you have a free afternoon, put on fun music and do your laundry!

And that's your daily good thing!

Clothes drying over a canal in Venice, Italy.
Children playing with a buffalo while their clothes dry on a fence behind them. Village outside of Luang Prabang, Laos. Photo by Jennifer BallLaundry hanging in a courtyard in Cuzco, Peru.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nifty Thrifty

Spend an afternoon treasure hunting in a vintage or thrift store! You'll find unique pieces at great prices. Plus, because the clothes are so inexpensive you can be a little more adventurous in what you buy. Maybe your closet is full of practical "staple" pieces in neutral colors. Thrift store shopping gives you the opportunity to buy something you never would have otherwise, and you can indulge in trying out new styles and colors. It can take a little time to go through the clothes, but that is part of the fun! I recently went thrifting and found five dresses, two shirts, and a pair of heels for under $50. Here are some of my favorite finds. *Photos by Sydney Roberts, thrift store photo by Jennifer Ball
Bright Pink Sundress- $4.99
I love the color and design of this dress. I wouldn't spend a lot of money on a dress this color because it is not something I will wear very often so I was thrilled to find it while thrift shopping. It is perfect for the beach or the pool or even just to brighten up a dreary day.

Ivory "Hippie Style" Dress- $6.99
I wear a lot of white so this was a really good find for me. I have always wanted a dress in this style but any that I found in boutiques were way out of my price range. I might even cut the sleeves off of this to make it more versatile, I haven't decided. That is one of the other great things about going thrift shopping, because you don't spend as much on the clothes you won't feel guilty cutting here or adding there. It is a really fun way to make your clothes one of a kind.
Purple Peasant Dress $8.99
This purple dress is a great "Holiday Season" dress, especially paired with boots and tights. I love the color purple so I saw this dress right away. And it has pockets, which I love in dresses.

Admiring my new shoes!
Black fitted "Barbie" Cocktail Dress- $4.99
Black Open Toe Steve Madden Heels- $11.99
This was my favorite find of the day. It is such a fun, flirty, girly dress and I love the fit of it. Again, this isn't a dress I would want to spend a lot of money on, but at $4.99 it was too good to pass up. I would have even spent...5 times as much for it. With black heels (also a steal) and big hair I feel like Barbie ready for a night out on the town.

The next time you want to find cute clothes at a good price, instead of heading to your nearest Forever 21 try a thrift store. You'll spend less money and won't be wearing the same thing as all the other girls in your neighborhood. Thrifting is frugal and fun.

And that's your daily good thing!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Believe in (or just read) Fairy Tales

Revisit childhood by reading a beloved fairy tale. Or even better, try reading the original version of a classic fairy tale. Most are definitely not for kids. My university even offered a course on fairy tales. These stories have been around for a long time, and with good reason. A good fairy tale is captivating, filled with danger, beauty, and adventure. Everyone knows the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, who are wonderful story tellers, but don't forget lesser known but equally talented Charles Perrault, who gave us gems such as Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Puss in Boots.

Reading fairy tales will spark your imagination, perhaps even inspire creativity, and of course entertain you. And they don't take too long to read, which is a bonus in the fast paced world we live in today.

Here are a few of my favorites. Some are household names thanks to Disney, and others are a little more obscure. All are told with vivid detail and are fantastically transportive. For brevity's sake I am sticking to Western fairy tales, I'll save some of my favorite Chinese and African fairy tales for another post.Take an afternoon and fall into a fairy tale.
The Little Mermaid- Hans Christian Anderson
Wild Swans- Hans Christian Anderson
Cinderella-Charles Perrault
The Frog Prince- The Brothers Grimm
(I am really excited for the Disney version of this!)
The Twelve Dancing Princesses- The Brothers Grimm
The Steadfast Tin Soldier- Hans Christian Anderson
The Selfish Giant- Oscar Wilde
Beauty and the Beast- Jeanne- Marie Leprince de Beaumont

And that's your daily good thing!
Lost in a Grimm Brothers Fairy Tale
(also known as the Appalachian Trail)

Once upon a time...
Castle in Germany)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Discover New Music

I love the feeling of hearing a new song and instantly loving it. Or giving a song I wasn't sure about a second chance and changing my mind about it. There are lots of ways to discover new music. One of my favorite ways is with If you haven't used this awesome website, I highly reccomend it. You type in a song or artist you like, and it generates music that sounds similar to it. Occasionally it is a little hit or miss, but I have found lots of great music that way that I might not have ever found.

Another great way to find new music...ask your friends! We all have those really cool friends who seem to have been born with a 6th sense for knowing good music. Ask them to burn you a CD, or give you a list of their favorite songs. Until one of my best friends in high school burned me a CD I pretty much listened exclusively to the Top 40. The radio is a fun way to hear new songs too, but it was so exciting to have my mind (and ears) opened to music I had never heard before.

Don't forget to give lots of different music genres a try. Revisit the classics and rediscover old favorites.

And of course listen to music from around the world. It is a fantastic way to expand your music taste, and is wonderfully transportive. Just because you can't understand the lyrics doesn't mean you can't enjoy it. After all isn't music the international language?

And that's your daily good thing!

Rediscovering one of the greats
At the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where The Beatles got their start.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Stop and Smell the Roses

Take some time to appreciate the beauty around you. Beauty can be found in the most unexpected places. I recently did a "flower safari" around my neighborhood and discovered flowers I had never seen before. Even if you live in an urban environment, I bet you can find nature, whether it is plants coming up between the cracks in a sidewalk or in a city park. Keep an eye out for the little things whether it is a small flower hidden in a bush, an interesting rock or stone, or an intricate design on the bark of a tree trunk.
Here are some pictures of the beautiful flowers I found when I took the time to look. Enjoy

And that's your daily good thing!

I especially like this last one. The rain drops made a really beautiful pattern on the petals. The title of this photo is "Fairy Flowers"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Indulge in a Guilty Pleasure- DVD Marathons!

When you aren't feeling well or are just feeling lazy, nothing beats watching hours of newly discovered or long time favorite tv shows. I have been sick for the past few days (apologies for not posting) and I have had some quality time with my DVD player. This isn't a guilty pleasure I would recommend you indulge in every day, but every once in a while it feels great to sit back and have a marathon of your favorite show. Here are a few of my favorite shows that I can watch for hours....

FRIENDS- a classic that can always cheer me up. Some of my favorite memories from college are of me and my roommates all piled in one bed laughing together while we watched episode after episode of FRIENDS.

Sex and the City- Another great one to watch with girlfriends. The witty dialogue combined with the great characters make guarantee hours of entertainment.

Planet Earth- Discover how amazing our world really is. Travel the globe and see some of the most incredible sights in nature without ever leaving your living room. This is a wonderful one to watch with family, friends, or on your own.

The Big Bang Theory- Quirky and entertaining. Worth watching just for the character Sheldon. He is a physics genius with no social skills, and he makes me laugh till tears run down my cheeks. I love to watch this with my little brother because of all the video game references.

Gilmore Girls- Clever and touching, a definite "feel good" show. Sometimes I find Lorelai a little annoying, but mostly I am charmed by Rory, Luke, and the rest of Stars Hallow.

Enjoy being a couch potato every once in a while.

And that's your daily good thing!