Archive for the ‘Living’ Category
Whether you’re thanking family friends for their hospitality at their lake home one weekend, or simply thanking Grandma for a birthday present, writing a thank-you note is an important and polite gesture. Unfortunately, those fill-in-the-blank cards are only appropriate until about age seven, and technological advances have lead us to believe that shooting a quick email will suffice. Writing a genuine thank-you note is still in vogue and much more respectful than a call or email. Follow our easy steps to write a genuine thank-you.
- Send notes in a timely manner. Various occasions have differing guidelines, but the best bet is to send a thank-you card as soon as you have time to sit down and write one.
- Use appropriate stationary. You don’t have to buy any fancy or expensive note cards, but ripping a piece of paper out of your notebook is unacceptable. Simply designed cards are perfect and allow you to set your own tone through wording. We love this simple and sophisticated folded card from Paper Source: http://www.paper-source.com/cgi-bin/paper/item/Iron-Fence-A2-Embossed-Stationery/3902.020/4661007371.html
- Greet the gift-giver. The beginning of your thank you note should be addressed to the individual(s) who signed the card. Elders should be referred to by their formal titles (e.g. Mr. and Mrs. Jones), unless they have previously given you permission to call them otherwise.
- Express your gratitude. Simply thank the individual for his or her gift, and be sure to express this gratitude in the politest way possible. Don’t directly mention money, but rather thank the individual for his or her generosity. You can also give an example of how you plan to use the item or cash to your advantage (again, discretion and overall courtesy is key!).
- Show interest in the individual. Don’t write a novel about your relationship with the individual, but politely mention how great it was to see them recently or how you hope to cross paths soon.
Here’s a quick example of a thank-you note one may send after receiving money for graduation:
Dear Aunt Michelle,
Thank you very much for your generous gift! Your kindness is certainly appreciated, and will surely be a huge help when I purchase a bedspread for my new dorm room. It was fantastic seeing you at Lauren’s birthday party last weekend, and I hope to see you when I am home for Thanksgiving break. I hope things are well; you are in my thoughts! Thanks again for your gift.
Thank-you notes don’t need to be lengthy, but simply show appreciation and thanks for someone’s kindness.
Of course you remembered your clothes, a desk lamp, (extra-long) sheets, and all the other dorm room essentials that you use every day. However, there are some necessary and easily forgotten items that you should be sure find a place in your dorm to make a comfortable transition from home to campus.
Sleep Essentials: You may be used to your quiet bedroom and hours of luxurious and uninterrupted sleep. Cut to the dorm room, where not only do you share the room with another person, but you share the building with hundreds of other students.
- If your noisy neighbors keep you from getting a restful night of sleep, purchase a sleeping mask and earplugs.
H20 Essentials: I remember chatting with fellow out-of-state student at orientation who asked if I had tasted the tap water in our college town. Confused, I of course went home and tried the tap water…and it tasted like dirt! A water filter can clean any questionable contaminants and tastes out of tap water.
- A Brita filter is inexpensive and can be easily found at Target or Wal-Mart. Pour your filtered water into a reusable water bottle and you can save tons of cash instead of buying water bottles.
Rain Essentials: One item I completely forgot to pack when I went off to college was my favorite pair of rain boots! On that first rainy day I was one of the only students running to class in my flip-flops and t-shirt, drenched head to toe. With few exceptions, no matter where you go to school you’re going to run into a rainy day.
- Be sure to pack rain boots, an umbrella, and a rain jacket to keep dry!
Laundry Essentials: It’s easy to remember detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets. However, if you plan on using the washing machines in the dorms, you’ll need a few rolls of quarters to put those other laundry necessities to use!
While we suggest making some extra room for these items, it’s important to remember that college dorm rooms are very tiny. A few things to leave a home when you’re packing for college:
High School T-shirts: You’ll receive an absurd amount of free t-shirts in college, and your “Class of 2011” senior shirt will end up getting stuffed in the back of your drawer.
- Leave the old t-shirts at home, or send them to a company that specializes in making t-shirt quilts that you can use on your bed.
Extra Pillows: After pledging a sorority, purchasing a koala Pillow Pet I just had to have, and the Peep pillow my grandma insisted on sending to me for Easter, I had trouble finding a place to sleep amongst the unnecessary pillows all over my bed.
- Although adorable, leave the decorative pillows at home; these pillows will end up taking up what little floor space you have left.
Fancy Formals: Sports teams, clubs, sororities, and fraternities often throw date nights and formals.
- However, long Prom dresses aren’t college-appropriate and you’ll be more apt to wear short cocktail dresses to these types of events.
One of my favorite restaurants suggests in bold letters at the bottom of their menu “18% gratuity is appropriate and recommended.” With restaurants suggesting how much to tip before you even place an order, appropriate tipping etiquette may be confusing. When do you leave a generous tip? Is it ever acceptable to leave no tip at all? We’ve created a little cheat sheet of the modern guidelines when it comes to gratuities and tipping etiquette.
Restaurant Dining: Tipping used to show an individual’s appreciation for exceptional service. Restaurants now factor in tips as a way to lower wages, and therefore it is customary to leave:
- 15% gratuity for average service.
- 20% is recommended for exceptional service.
- 10% gratuity is appropriate for less-than-mediocre service.
It is never appropriate to leave a nickel or dime out of spite, and the manager should be confronted privately if the service does not deserve even 10% gratuity.
Tip Jars: Many small establishments, such as coffee bars and ice cream shops, have a tip jar next to the register. Because these tips are shared between all employees, it is not necessary or expected to leave a tip.
- Frequent patrons should drop in a few bucks from time to time.
- This guideline can be applied to bar service as well.
Private Parties: It is not recommended to tip servers or bartenders at private parties, unless the server has provided extraordinary service.
- Etiquette experts suggest a small tip of appreciation in special circumstances, such as help when you spill on your shirtfront.
There are a few other situations when it is customary to leave a small tip:
- Valet parker: $2-$5
- Doorman: $5 for hailing a cab (more generous tips are recommended around the holidays for doormen you encounter regularly)
- Coat check clerk: $1-$2
- Hairdressers, barbers, manicurists, etc.: 10% of total bill (more is recommended during the holiday season)
- Taxi driver: 15% of total bill
- Skycaps at airport: $1-$2 per bag
- Grocery loaders: $1-$3 depending on the number of grocery bags
Sources: How to be a Gentleman, John Bridges
Essential Manners, Peter Post
If you have ever spilled on your favorite shirt, you know the disappointment that ensues when you take the shirt out of the washing machine and a huge stain still remains. However, there are steps you can take to treat a stain before washing to aid the removal and make certain that you will wear your favorite shirt once again!
- Treat stains as soon as possible! The longer a stain sets, the harder the stain will be to remove.
- Don’t immediately run to the bathroom and start scrubbing with a bar of soap; basic soap and rubbing will only drive the stain further into the fabric.
- If you are rinsing a stain, stick to cold water since warm water can also make certain stains permanent.
- Gently blot with a sponge when treating stains since scrubbing or vigorously rubbing could also set the stain.
- Check all garment instructions and tags before you bleach, launder, or treat any article of clothing.
- Keep a Tide-To-Go pen in your purse or car to pretreat any stains that might occur when you are out and about.
Here are a few remedies for common stains:
Berries/grape juice: Mix liquid detergent and 5% diluted ammonia and apply to the stain.
Blood (dry): Mix liquid detergent and 5% diluted ammonia and apply to the stain.
Butter: Butter is a protein so try using acetone on the stained item. Do not use warm water on these stains, and check the laundered item before throwing it into the dryer; you may need to treat the stain again, and heat from the dryer may set the stain permanently.
Coffee: Mix liquid detergent and white vinegar and apply to the stain.
Grass: Pretreat the stained area with detergent, and then bleach the stain. BE SURE to read garment instructions fully to be sure the item can be bleached.
Ink: Try acetone then detergent on ink stains. If the ink is stubborn, you can also try paint remover.
Wine: Mix liquid detergent and 5% diluted ammonia and apply to the stain.
Here at Real Life 101, we’re absolutely addicted to our iPhones. But with so many apps out there, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. We’ve complied a list of some of our favorite, and most useful, iPhone apps for college students.
PosiMotion’s G-Park: If you brought your car to school, you may have already spent an afternoon wandering through parking lots trying to remember where you parked. With this $0.99 app, you can park anywhere, click the “Park Me!” button, and later hit the “Where Did I Park?” button to find your car! An excellent buy for students on large campuses.
Pandora: A classic favorite, this app provides free streaming music. Pick just about any genre or artist, and Pandora creates a specialized station just for you! The classical station is excellent for those nights in the library, and Top Hits is our choice for those long treks across campus. Pandora is available for Blackberry and Android too!
Pizza Finder: Pizza is the perfect meal for just about any occasion: a long all-nighter in the library, getting ready for a night on the town, or late night munchies after a night on the town. This FREE app uses your location to provide a list of restaurants and phone numbers to access that cheesy pizza you’ve been craving, instantly!
MyFitnessPal: If you’re worried about the Freshman 15, never fear with this FREE app. MyFitnessPal gives you the option to set a goal weight, and record your caloric intake and exercise habits. The app lists thousands of food options, and you’ll be able to find nutrition facts for just about any meal (we just looked up the calories in a Chik-fil-A chicken sandwich… Yikes). This app will be available soon for Blackberry too.
Fandango: This convenient, FREE app uses your location to list theatres and movie times in your area. An easy way to plan the perfect date night! Fandango can be used with Blackberry and Android.
Kik: If you or a friend is planning to study abroad, you might want to consider downloading this FREE app. Using text messaging when you’re out of the country can be very expensive, but if you are dying to tell your best friend about that crazy night in Barcelona, consider sending them a message using Kik! Kik uses your data plan to send messages rather than your texting plan, so messages can be cheaper, or even free, to send from anywhere! Kik is also available for Android.
HeyTell: iPhones give you access to connect with your friends in a wide variety of mediums: texting, calling, even FaceTime! And now, this FREE app allows you to use your phone like a walkie-talkie to send instant voice messages to your pals. An easy and time-effective way to plan a time to meet your friend down the hall for dinner, or drop a quick hello to a friend from home! HeyTell can also be used with Android phones.