Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Let's Go To The Beach

I am a city girl. There is no doubt about it! I have never gone "down the shore" overnight to vacation, but I tried something new this summer. My friend Kevin from crew invited me to spend a couple of nights at his home in Chadwick, NJ and I had a great time!

The beach was certainly beautiful, but I can't say that I'm a fan of getting sand in every crevice of everything! We went swimming and I lasted longer than I thought I would. Kevin was a total pro of dealing with the huge waves.

We went to the boardwalk in Seaside in the evening and got to go on so many fun rides! I especially loved the music express; it spun us around so fast that I fear I completely crushed Kevin #oops.

Tennis was first on the agenda the next day. I haven't played in an extremely long time but we still got some good rallies in. More swimming followed and then we visited the bay before going to the surprise that Kevin had been promising he had up his sleeve.

The surprise was an ice cream parlor where the waiters and waitresses performed musical numbers! I absolutely LOVE ice cream and musicals; what could be better than sitting in the 50s style parlor singing along and eating a sundae? Nothing.

After bidding farewell to Kevin, I went to another beach nearby to have a day of fun in the sun with the staff of CAs (community advisors, commonly called RAs) I will be working with this coming school year. It was nice to re-meet everyone in a fun setting.

Trying something completely different was great and I now see why so many people rave about going to the beach!

Are you a fan of the beach? Where do you like to vacation?

All photos credit of Alyssa J Freitas

Monday, July 21, 2014

Work On Yourself

We all have those times when we have put so much focus on others and have neglected ourselves. It may be emotionally or physically or mentally, but we know that we haven't give ourselves what we are due.

image source; modified by Alyssa J Freitas
Recently I have made allowances for other's behavior and have let it affect me emotionally. Although it is difficult I've realized that I have to acknowledge how I am feeling and make an effort to address it. My personal philosophy is usually to grin and bare it and just let everything roll off my back (you get very good doing that as a coxswain when your coach is yelling at you and your boat is unhappy and it seems as though practice will never end, but I digress). Sometimes this ideology does not work, particularly when it requires that you suppress what you're feeling.

So what can you do when you find yourself in a situation where you need you?
  • Identify the issue. What/who is bothering you? Is it your relationship with someone? Is it dissatisfaction with where you're going?
  • Accept it. Instead of making excuses or projecting that things are going to change, accept that this is the way things currently are.
  • Change it. Try and figure out ways that you can improve the problem. Whether that means making peace in your mind or taking action to make a change just coming to a decision can be helpful!
My goal this week is to put my mind to rest with the situation that has been bothering me. Having a plan of action makes me feel so much better and I know that it's just what I need. I'm so happy that Melyssa from The Nectar Collective hosts a weekly linkup (Weekly Wishes) for bloggers to share goals and support one another.

The Nectar Collective

I appreciate any words of encouragement and let me know if you need any extra support with anything! I'm here to help :)

-Keep It Simple
Alyssa J Freitas 

How To Find Your Mood Booster

There is no doubt that having something or someone you can turn to when you need to lift your mood can be infinitely valuable. Whether it's a book, music, friend, movie, parent, etc we all have something that will add happiness to our lives when we need it most. But how do we identify what that "thing" is?

image source; modified by Alyssa J Freitas
  • When have you let the world slip away? Think back to a time when your mind was completely removed from the world. Were you focused on playing an instrument? Were you enthralled with an interesting documentary? Were you walking in gardens
  • When did you feel unabashed happiness? A time when you couldn't wipe the smile off your face (and frankly didn't want to). When you felt your heart soar or were bubbling with excitement. 
While trying to come up with a few examples that fit this criteria, remember that we're searching for something that can easily be experienced in your everyday life. I, for one, feel great happiness when walking into a Disney park, however that is a rather expensive and impractical mood booster! Rather, think of a favorite novel that you could read a chapter of when feeling down or an album you adore that you could listen to a few songs from. Perhaps if nothing else speaks to you in quite the same way (sort of like me with Disney) you can keep photographs handy to remind you of the great time you had and recall that feeling. 

My no fail mood booster is watching nearly anything Bollywood. All I have to do is look at a favorite music video and I start dancing in my seat and feeling supremely happy! For me, there is nothing like dancing around my room to my favorite Bollywood songs to instantly make me ready to take on the world. 

What is your mood booster? Are you lucky enough to have more than one?

-Keep It Simple
Alyssa J Freitas

Friday, July 18, 2014

Back In Time: Ford's Mansion, Morristown

Other than John Adams, George Washington is one of my favorite founding fathers. Not only is his leadership beyond exemplary, he also understood the importance of being understated and allowing his actions to speak for themselves.

I visited Ford's Mansion in Morristown, NJ which Washington used as his headquarters during the winter of 1779-1780.

The home was built in the early 1770's for Jacob Ford, Jr. and his family. Ford was a colonel in the Morris County Militia during the Revolution and was also an iron manufacturer. 

The family lived in the home until the 1870's when four New Jersey men bought it and created the Washington Association of New Jersey, making it one of the earliest house museums in the country! 

My whole family loved the house and museum on the property. So wishing I could live there...#ifonly.

This is the Museum Building which was designed by John Russell Pope, who also was the architect responsible for the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D. C., inspired by Mount Vernon (Washington's home in Virginia). 

My favorite part of the museum was this comparison of Revolutionary pamphlets to modern day blogs! It really made me want to write something political and revolutionary on Keep It Simple but I'm not sure if this is really the right place for me to share my radical views ;)

I also visited the historic cemetery of The Presbyterian Church in Morristown. It was both eerie and peaceful which I loved.

This is a statue of George Washington over the Marquis de Lafayette's shoulder on the Green in front of the church.

The Morristown Green is a Historic Site and has been used for quite a few activities. It was Washington's first encampment in the winter of 1777. The Green was also the site of the Morris County Courthouse and jail and was the public executions ground until 1833! 

What do you think of this snippet of Morristown's history? Have you ever visited?

-Keep It Simple
Alyssa J Freitas

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Coming Advances

I am subscriber to weekly letters from Mauldin Economics and was quite taken with a recent letter entitled "The Age of Transformation" (you can sign up for free to receive John Mauldin's letters. I am mainly a fan of Thoughts from the Frontline and Patrick Cox's Tech Digest). I thought it would be good to share some of my main takeaways and highly encourage you to sign up for the publications on Mauldin's website. Even simply scanning them, as I have a tendency to do, can be beneficial.

image source unknown; modified by Alyssa J Freitas
In "The Age of Transformation" he points out that although recently it seems as though the economy is getting better, what with the shrinking of government spending and the US deficit, this is not actually the case. In fact, the overly optimistic opinion that we will be able to grow our way out of debt fails to take into account that our debt is compounding and that 'real' growth is needed to accomplish this.

Mauldin does however discuss the exciting exponential nature of technological and economic advancement (which was much more fun to read. After all, who wouldn't want to hear about an optimistic forecast for the future?). As technology and industry continue to advance at previously unheard of rates, there will be both great expansion in certain fields and even more destruction in others. Mauldin tells his readers that the solar industry is growing at 30% a year; this means that solar could soon be cost competitive with fossil fuels making no industry truly safe.

The takeaways for me (from what I summarized and other parts of the letter) are:
  • be prepared for rapid changes and try to see in what industries these changes are going to occur, specifically so your investments can reflect it
  • don't be fooled into believing that the government will make good on its promises 
  • even if you are not dependent on the government, when those who are realize they will not be getting what they expected it will affect all of society 
For more details and all new letters every week, be sure to sign up!

Have you read any interesting predictions of the future? Please, please, please share them with me in the comments! I am always looking for new perspectives.

-Keep It Simple
Alyssa J Freitas

P.S. This is in no way, shape or form a sponsored post. I just love to share things that make me think and Mauldin's letters happen to be one!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Begin Again

I went to see Begin Again a while back and have had it on the brain since I've recently been enjoying the music. It is the story of Greta (Keira Knightly), a woman who loses her love (Adam Levine) to his newfound fame in the music industry and consequently discovers her own talent. Dan (Mark Ruffalo) is a record label executive who has a different expectation for the future of music than his counterparts. When he sees Greta perform he feels that this is the person he is looking for to make his vision a reality. The two go on to create an album with the sounds of summer in New York City as its soundtrack.

It's a funny, entertaining and inspiring film with amazing music to boot! I recommend you go and check it out.

Have you seen Begin Again?

-Keep It Simple
Alyssa J Freitas

Monday, July 14, 2014

Just Start

Do you ever look back and wish that you had just seized an opportunity? Have you done something amazing and wondered 'Why didn't I do that earlier?!?' These thoughts and regrets can be avoided by making the choice to just start.

image credit; modified by Alyssa J Freitas
But first...
  • Have a clear goal. When you have something to work towards, and truly want to accomplish, then you can better understand how to start going for it.
  • Have support. If you have a support system of people who will listen to you when you get stressed and will be willing to lend a hand then you will be much more likely to have success.  
  • Have an idea of the potential problems. You need to be sure and prepared for the roadblocks you will encounter with any project or commitment that you take on. 
Once you have check all of that off, you can jump in with both feet! I get a lot of joy and feeling of accomplishment from writing Keep It Simple. I wish that I had stuck with it back in February of 2013 and regret not beginning when I first considered it many months before. Now when I have an idea I pause to consider it and then am much more likely to just start! And you can too so long as you keep it simple.

These suggestions apply to basically all of your goals and so I thought I'd include it in Melyssa's from The Nectar Collective Weekly Wishes series. I want to work on utilizing this advice this week to just let go and start!

The Nectar Collective

-Keep It Simple
Alyssa J Freitas

Friday, July 11, 2014

Back In Time: Kip's Castle

Here's yet another Back In Time post (check out the Charles Shultz House and the Van Vleck House and Gardens)! I went to walk around the grounds of Kip's Castle in Essex County and take in the 1905 home of Fredrick Ellsworth Kip. He was an industrialist, textile inventor and author of United States tariff law books. Here are the few pictures I took of the beautiful Castle.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Check out another Essex County gem here!

-Keep It Simple
Alyssa J Freitas

Credit for all photos: Alyssa J Freitas

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Etiquette: Tipping Edition

Tipping is so important! If you are afforded great service it is only right for you to show your appreciation and the best way to do that is through a tip. Here are some guidelines for tipping.

Image source; modified by Alyssa J Freitas
  • In a restaurant the general rule is to give 15-20% of the bill. I usually give 15% for good service and 20% for great service.
  • When you have food delivered the tip should be more along the lines of 10-15% of the bill. Also, when having pizza delivered $2-5 is the usual range.
  • A restroom attendant should be tipped any where from $0.50 to $3. Make sure to bring your purse with you to the restroom so you can tip. I have forgotten to do this a few times and have to run back to the table for money (insert face palm here).
  • At the salon 15-20% of the total should be split among those who have provided a service for you.
  • A service person who comes to your home, whether that be an exterminator or maintenance person, usually gets $10-15. If you have a weekly worker be sure to tip around the holidays. For example, $10-20 per lawn care worker. 
  •  For a valet a $2-5 tip is best.
  • When a doorman assists you beyond opening the door a tip is in order. If your luggage is carried $1-4 and if a cab is hailed $1-2.
  • Housekeepers generally should be tipped $2-5 a day, depending on the quality of work, and a simple note should be left with the tip to indicate that housekeeping is the intended recipient. 
  • A bellhop should receive $2 for the first bag and $1 for each additional bag.
  • If a concierge gets standard tickets or reservations he or she should be tipped $5-10 and $15 for hard to get tickets or reservations. 
  • Taxi drivers should be tipped 15-20% of the fare with a minimum of $1. They should also be tipped if they help with bags at the same rate as a bellhop. 
Sales tax should be disregarded when calculating tips. Also, be sure to look for a gratuity charge on the bill because there is no need to tip twice!  

-Keep It Simple
Alyssa J Freitas

Note: Most of the information here was sourced from The Emily Post Institute

Monday, July 7, 2014

Photo Book

Summertime is when I really have the chance to get myself in order. From organizing my photos to computer, this is my prime opportunity to do an overhaul. 

I was so excited to receive an offer from Shutterfly for a free photo book. I decided to make one of my freshman year of college and thought I'd share it with you.

Now I can check organizing photos off my list!

What do you think of the book? Have you ever made a photo book?

-Keep It Simple
Alyssa J Freitas