Friday, March 28, 2014

Can I get you a drink?

Let’s face it, sometimes we single guys meet single ladies. And sometimes, that leads back to our place. And sometimes we get caught without our basic hospitality skills in place because, frankly, we’re single and there isn’t much reason to stay stocked up.

Except now there is, because she’s right there, and you have one thing in your fridge to offer her. If she’s not down with a glass of questionable milk, a protein shake, or tap water, you’re screwed.

I’ll get into more details in future posts on how to prep the rest of your place. But for now, put this into action ASAP.

1. Get a case of Perrier. They’ve just put out a new product, a 10 pack of 250 ml cans, which is pretty inexpensive and compact. Keep this in the fridge for the eventuality. If she chooses water, serve this in a cocktail glass over ice with a slice of lemon or lime (oh, keep some lemons and limes handy too!).

2. A case of ginger ale. It’s not a traditional cola, but as clear soft drinks go it’s also not as Kindergarten sweet as Sprite or 7-Up and still looks awesome served in a champagne flute. Keep a few cans in the fridge instead of a bottle that could go flat before your next encounter.

3. Always have wine on hand. For a prelude to more intimate moments to come, few women can resist a good red wine. My preference for summer, however, is a more refreshing, sweeter white wine that’s been chilled. Remember, this is wine for the sake of drinking wine, not for pairing up with a meal, so you can just go with something you like. I know some people who split the difference with a rose, and that’s totally acceptable (but NOTHING beats a warm fire and a rich glass of red).

Keep these three choices on hand at all times, and your next potential encounter will be a least in terms of your drink menu. We'll talk about that shirt you're wearing later.

The Coconut Oil Shave Experiment #1

In my never ending quest to find better, healthier, and cheaper ways to do things, I've come across a ton of websites (so many I'm not even going to list them) discussing the many MANY merits of coconut oil.

I've switched to coconut oil for about 90% of my regular cooking (organic butter and olive oil round out the list of course). It's fantastic with beef, chicken, fish, you name it. But aside from its uses in the kitchen, I decided to explore some of the other recommended shaving.

Now, don't get me wrong. I appreciate a well-established shaving ritual. I have one myself. But I'm open to change when something has the potential to be better. As many of the store-bought grooming products contain factors that can both dry your skin (requiring an aftershave moisturizer of some kind) and contain chemical ingredients that actually have an estrogenic effect when absorbed by the skin (always bad news for dudes), I thought I'd give this a shot.

Experiment #1 took place this morning, and consisted of the simplest form possible: a shave with only coconut oil.

Now, the key here is that it has to be liquid, which happens above a certain temperature. If you're going to do this, make sure you warm the oil first.

I got out of the shower, toweled off, and proceeded as normal; about a minute with a hot, damp cloth on my face to soften the beard (do this regardless of your usual works wonders).

I then scooped out about a teaspoon of coconut oil (you may try it with less, but more is definitely not necessary). Applied this to my face and went to work.

First reaction: Holy shit this is smooth!! No kidding...the blade was gliding like a figure skater. Better than any commercial shave oil product I've used to date. I rinsed that off, applied oil again, and went at the detail shave. Again, it was amazing!

Note: some of you may freak at the idea of a "second shave." I've seen more than enough videos of professional barbers to know this is not only standard, but necessary for the closest shave. Just make sure your blade is good and you'll be fine.

So, what's the takeaway from this experiment?


  • an unbelievably smooth shave that's closer than I think I've ever experienced;
  • zero toxic additives;
  • environmentally friendly, sustainable product;
  • cheaper by volume than 100% of the other shaving products out there;
  • the oil actually coats the razor blade as well, which actually reduces oxidation (rust) and retains a sharper edge for longer (I was using a 2-blade disposable, and it was still the best shave ever);
  • absolutely NO moisturizer needed...the product is the moisturizer!


  • because it's oil, the whiskers stick to everything...water alone wont rinse it out of the sink either;
  • you're left with a faint aura of coconut scent following you around.

Now, that's a pretty short list of negatives. I'm told by friends in the know that there are ways around these though:

For the first, use the coconut oil as a base shave oil (as you normally would) under a foam. The foam catches the whiskers for easier rinsing. A natural glycerin soap with tea tree oil was recommended for the shaving soap. I've been using a green tea soap. This will be experiment #2.

For the second, a dedicated jar of coconut oil scented with essential oils was recommended. Peppermint, sandalwood, and eucalyptus were suggested (as three separate scents, although I imagine you could mix and match...I'm not an aromatherapy expert by any means, but I know what I like!). This will be experiment #3.

Experiment #4 will combine these two solutions.

So that's it. Straight coconut oil on skin is a winner in my books. If you don't mind a very tiny bit of cleanup and the scent of coconut, go for it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The surprise setting on your phone that increases productivity

Most people these days, including myself are glued to their smartphones. For the most part this can be explained away by the usefulness of the things: they keep us connected, bringing and sending information and ideas with an unprecedented efficiency.
But they're also notorious time wasters. If you catch yourself checking email or Facebook first thing in the morning and delaying your morning prep as you get sucked into another buzzfeed link vortex, try this trick:
Set your phone to airplane mode before bedtime, and do not switch it back until you've completed your morning action items.
Airplane mode (or flight mode) cancels all incoming and outgoing signals from your phone. The apps still work, so you can still track your checklist or run a workout timer, but there's less distraction from online apps and email.

Bonus: if like me you use your phone as your alarm clock, it still works this way as well, but without the annoying flashing light of an incoming email. Make use of this mode in meetings too for the same reason. You still have your note pad handy, but can get by without the constant notifications.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Word of the Week: Hospitality

Every week I try to get my daughter focused on a new “value” that will help to engender respect and courtesy, and make her the kind of person other people want to be around. And because of that, you get to work on that word too :)
This week’s word is “hospitality.” offers the following definition:
1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.
2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.

These are traits I consider absolutely imperative. When you have someone in your home, it’s important to be hospitable. That means treating them in a warm, friendly, and generous way.

Growing up, my relatives were always hospitable. You couldn’t go to my Croatian aunt’s house, for instance, without having a full meal spread out before you (regardless of the time of day!). She somehow magically manifested this bounty of food out of nowhere, and when it was time to go there was always a container of leftovers to take with you.

I’ve caught myself a few times having to say, “sorry, I don’t have anything to offer you right now.” But that’s not the truth at all. Really, it takes only a few minutes to whip something up. And since I don’t drink pop myself, there’s no reason I can’t keep a case in the storage room just in case someone shows up!

Being hospitable also means sharing what you have when you’re out. When my daughter celebrated her birthday party, I made sure she knew that the party was her opportunity to show her friends how much she appreciates them. This is why we have cake and goodie bags and go bowling. It’s not to celebrate our own success at achieving a certain age. It’s to show our friends how much we appreciate having them in our lives, and how much we appreciate them being there for us during the previous year.

That one little shift in mindset--from focusing on ourselves as the centre of attention to focusing on others as the source of our gratittude--makes all the difference in the world when it comes to seeing our lives as abundant. And of course, the reflection of this action comes back on us as others view us as open and generous. This is where leadership comes from, and it’s where your attitude of gratitude will start to lead to bigger things in your life.

Remember: hospitality. Next time, pick up the the check!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Crisis Aversion: Take action NOW

When faced with an immediate crisis, many people (I'd say most) go into a panic and start worrying about the worst that could happen.

Instead, take action on the one solution you KNOW will work. It might cost money up front. It might take a bit of time. But what you gain is respite from the crisis itself, and a chance to gain a little altitude on the situation. This way, you can seek out a more ideal (i.e., cheaper, less time-consuming, more convenient) long-term solution without the threat of whatever impending doom the crisis brought on in the first place.

My mom once asked how I'm able to stay level-headed when things are about to implode; and I've had plenty of implosions in the last few years, believe me! I explained that my first step is to roll through my mental list of people who might have a solution right now. If that doesn't work, I hit Google and start looking at options.

The thing to remember is that an immediate, actionable solution might sting right this second, but the purpose is to remove the crisis and turn it into a lower-priority problem that needs a better solution but isn't going to ruin your life this week.

If you can do that, you'll remove a ton of stress from problems that, at first glance, seem insurmountable.

Remember: There's ALWAYS a solution that will give you the result you ultimately want.