Posts filed under 'brain breaks'

The Mid-Week Party: 5 Ideas to Help You Perk Up a Wednesday Night

Are your weeks feeling a little… flat? Nothing soothes the pain of the third consecutive hour of Chem lab or that monotonous summer job like the promise of something better waiting around the bend, so why not get your favorite people together and start a mid-week (or mid-month) tradition?

Here are a few ideas to get you started!


There’s not much reason to try new foods or cook a big meal when you’re dining solo, so talk your favorite people into doing a little weekly (or monthly, if you’re nervous chefs) dinner party. You can each bring something yummy, take turns cooking for each other, or make it a group activity where you all mess up the kitchen together.

Lucky for you, I’ve got some great ideas about starting a dinner club (and ideas to spice it up!).

…and a Movie

If dinner’s not your thing, why not start up a weekly movie night? It’s a great low-key activity, so you can invite anyone (handy if you’re looking for a reason to sit cozily next to your crush without being too obvious!) and you can take turns choosing the week’s film so you get a good taste of new genres, or stick to a theme like classic black and whites, the “Brat Pack” 80’s movies, or a marathon of James Bonds.

The NY Times list of the Best 1,000 Movies can help you start your list!

Be Bookish

Love books but hate textbooks? Starting up a casual book club is a fun way to make sure you fit some non-required reading into your schedule, and its kind of nice to share your opinion–good or bad–without being graded on it. Just be sure there are some comfy chairs and snacks involved.

Share your favorites and your to-read list on Goodreads and find something you can all get into!

Tube Time

Need something even easier to plan? Just get together to watch your favorite show. Pop some popcorn, secure the remote from your roomie, and enjoy the latest episode of The Voice.

Don’t worry if you missed last week’s episode, Television Without Pity can catch you up with funny, snarky reviews.

Get Creative

Still looking for more? Catch up on my previous suggestions for fun & easy get-togethers (for guys and girls), or come up with something on your own. Your mini-party can be anything from building a (legal!!) bonfire to working out en masse–just make it social, and make it fun!


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Add comment May 16th, 2011

5 Super Useful Websites for the College Years

Have you ever been pinned by a relative, interrogated about your major, and then been slammed with the ever-dreaded question, “What are you going to do with that?” Or maybe you’ve wished you could rant (or rave!) about the social scene on your campus so the future freshmen know what they’re in for?

Me too.

That’s why I’ve thrown together a list of 5 great college-centered sites, perfect for passing a little time and preparing for the future during your college years.

1. CollegeMajors101
Don’t panic about what you’re going to do post-grad: College Majors 101 has the inside scoop on what fields are relevant to your major, so you can start exploring career options related to your real passions. (And even if you can’t decide, it can at least help you make up an answer for all those adults who want to talk about college and careers over summer break.)

2. Unigo
Wish you could have warned yourself about how tough your “party” school’s academic regimen would be? Or looking to transfer to a new school but not sure if you’ll like what you get? Unigo has insider info from students like you about real life on campus–and you can share your own tips and thoughts as well. Plus it has forums and Facebook integration for optimal social networkability, which never hurts! 😉

3. RateMyProfessors
An oldie but a goodie, RateMyProfessors has been around forever but still offers great insider tips about who to pick and who to skip when it comes time to sign up for classes. Get (or share) comments and scores on your prof or potential prof’s clarity, helpfulness, course difficulty, and overall quality. (And bonus, lots of them have a hotness rating, too–eye candy can help you stay awake in class… sometimes.)

4. DormDelicious
If you’re looking for tips about how to decorate, accessorize, and, well, live in the dorms, Dorm Delicious is a great place to start. With tips on everything from dorm-revolutionizing tech gadgets to a loft-bed how-to and thoughts about what items to split with your roomie – it is a great resource for starting (or continuing) life in your little cinderblock slice of heaven.

5. BrokeGradStudent
Ramen noodles are great and all, but they’re not the only way to make it through college without breaking the bank. Started by a grad trying to repay $20,000 in student loan debt, Broke Grad Student is a finance blog with a college twist, including tips on everything from making some extra cash to finding weird scholarships, and also includes info about living a comfortable but frugal lifestyle in between. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re planning to give away a shiny new iPod pretty soon–worth a look!

Got any go-to websites that you couldn’t get by without? Share ’em and enlighten me!


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2 comments August 30th, 2010

Brain Break: How to Put a Stapler in Jello

We’re big Office fans at my place, which of course meant we were pretty excited about the premiere episode in September. To celebrate, I surprised my sweetie with the smashing dessert you see above–office supplies (including a small stapler because my big one wouldn’t fit in the bowl) suspended in Jello.

And because you’re in college and need to know this kind of thing, I thought I would pass the how-to on to you.

So without further adieu…

How to Suspend a Stapler (and other things) in Jello

(Please forgive the bad lighting in my pics–this was my first try and I should have used a lighter Jello flavor!)

1. Gather Your Supplies.

You will need:

  • 5 packages of light colored Jello (or only 2 packs if you are doing a small bowl with small objects.)
  • Large bowl
  • Floss
  • Tape (the stronger the better… I only had invisible tape and it wasn’t so great)
  • Things to suspend (I used paper clips and a stapler)

2. Begin prepping Jello by boiling water.

Follow the directions on the package… I don’t think you need a picture of this.

3. While water boils, suspend your items in the glass bowl.

To do this, tape down one side of a string of floss to the outside of the bowl. Thread it through some portion of your object. Adjust the tension of the floss so the item is floating somewhere around the middle, then tape down the other side. Keep in mind that heavy objects sometimes take a couple pieces of floss.

4. When water has boiled, stir in Jello powder.

Like so.

5. Pour hot Jello mixture gently into your bowl, then add cool water according to package directions.

Be careful not to just dump the liquid in as it can mess up your floating-office-supply placement. Also, fill it as close to the brim of the bowl as you can!

6. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

You don’t have to put yours next to the yogurt like I did.

7. Remove floss.

When the Jello has… uh… jelled… take the tape off the floss. Slowly slide the floss out of the Jello, pulling gently from one side so it will slip out like a thread through a needle. Don’t pull directly up, or you’ll get lines where the floss was and you could mess up your object placement.

8. Remove Jello from bowl…

This part is a little tricky, so take your time. You’re going to want to fill a larger bowl, or the sink, with warm water. Hold the Jello bowl in the water (without letting water spill over the brim!) for about a minute to help loosen the Jello mold. Remove from water.

Terrible picture of my jello masterpiece, but can you see the stapler?!

Now put a plate on top of your bowl, and while holding the plate in place, flip the whole thing over. Just lift the top off (you may have to wiggle it just a little) and your Jello mold is complete!


* I suggest using yellow Jello, because you can see things better through it. I chose Strawberry because it’s my favorite flavor, but as you have noticed, it is harder to admire the stapler and paper clips.

* Do NOT put your roommate’s iPod in Jello. Or anything else you can’t afford to have replaced or repaired. 😉

* For more details, and a huge collection of photos of things in Jello, check out

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2 comments November 6th, 2009

Brain Break: Create a “Listography”

I’ve kept a journal in some form (pen and paper, blog, etc.) off and on since I was probably about nine years old, but I’ve never been much good at keeping it going. I’ve noticed that, especially when I’m just writing for myself, I tend to feel kind of silly notating my day-to-day activities and feelings–and I feel even sillier when I read all the drama back to myself later.

On the flip side, there are things I really enjoy reading for the nostalgia factor. I love checking out old emails to friends to see who had crushes, what classes we were taking, shows we were watching, music was on the radio.

The “List-ography”

Which is why I absolutely love the idea of a “listography”–a sort of autobiography in simple lists; it gets you to write down the good stuff without having to trudge through the drama that is sure to embarrass you later.

Where to Write

If you’re more of a pen-and-paper kind of person, stop by the bookstore and pick up a blank journal, or if you prefer the web, check out (homepage of the listography creator) where you can sign up for a free account and start listing.

What to Write

Obviously, it is your list, so you can write whatever you want. Start with some of the ideas I’ve listed below, or surf around to see what other people are writing their lists about.

  • Your life as a playlist
  • Your best friends from birth to present
  • Movies that make you cry
  • People you would love to trade lives with
  • Possible career paths
  • Your worst/best habits/traits
  • Your $10,000,000 wishlist
  • Today’s to-do list
  • All the shows on your DVR
  • 10 things you do every single day
  • Every book you’ve ever read
  • Best things about being a kid

Really the possibilities are endless.

To make it more interactive, you could even get a friend or sweetheart involved. Choose a list topic, write them down, then swap and discuss each other’s. It’s like an updated non-cliche version of the “5 People You’d Like to Have Dinner With” conversation. 😉

Photo: office tools 2 by lusi

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2 comments August 6th, 2009

Thoughts On Video Games from a Future Doctor ;)

As I was brainstorming post ideas for you guys the other night, my hubs started shooting ideas at me. One he felt particularly passionate about was sharing some of his own thoughts on video games and college.

Since he got into med school, and therefore I’d consider him pretty successful as far as college went, I figured you might like to hear what he had to say. After all, video games might actually be great prep for future surgeons. So you could even consider this med school prep. 😉

Budget Your Money

Like most college students, the mister spent most of college being pretty broke. He footed his own bill with jobs, grants, and some student loans. And because of this limited income (which, with med school coming, we still have) he had to learn to budget, even with video games.

So his first bit of advice to you is this: Pick one game to splurge on, and make it a good one. Make it a game you can play a lot (he’s a fan of multi-player online games like Call of Duty because they offer a lot of social time along with the game play). Make it a relatively difficult game–something that will take you a while to beat. Talk to your friends and see what they’re into, and what is coming out soon (you don’t want to get COD 4 right now if you’d rather get the new Modern Warfare in a few months).

So basically, remember your budget, and make your game purchase a good one.

He also suggests you shop clearance for your easier-to-beat games. Best Buy usually has a big, eBay has Daily Deals that sometimes include games, and Target usually has a little stash at the end of a game row with good clearance items (he found Mirror’s Edge there for $10). I’m sure you guys have some other good spots to share.

And of course, you can swap video games at Cool. Or just swap with your friends.

Budget Your Time

Once upon a time, back in freshman year, my sweetie was very into a certain Nintendo game. He spent hours upon hours playing it, and as a reward for finishing up his midterms, he allowed himself another good several-hour marathon of game play.

A few hours into it, he looked at the clock. There was this nagging feeling hovering in the back of his mind. Was he supposed to be somewhere? Wasn’t there something he had to do?

Minutes later he was sprinting across campus to a classroom where his real last midterm–the one he had forgotten while playing that wonderful game–was already finished. Long story short: he had to drop the class and retake it the next term.

So, his second piece of advice: Set a maximum time allotment for video game playing (or whatever your other addiction is–TV watching, Facebooking, etc.) and stick to it. Then use the rest of your time to live your life: hang with friends, do some homework, and, uh, show up for your midterms.

Please Share…

I am not an expert. Though I am part owner of a 360 (a Christmas gift), I myself mostly play games like Viva Pinata and the old Gamecube Mario Kart–when I play at all. (Mostly our xBox is a DVD player to me…) So clearly, I can’t offer you more advice on my own. But, if you have tips to share, please feel free to do so in the comments! 🙂

Happy gaming, my friends.

photo by scorpiusNL

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5 comments June 4th, 2009

Brain Break: Two Ways to Have Almost-Free Fun With Books

Does anybody remember what it was like to read a book that WASN’T assigned reading? Once an avid book-reader, I personally felt that forming a love-hate relationship with books was one of the tougher parts of college. How could I want to read for fun after I’d just spend three hours reading by assignment about ribosomes and Pavlovian responses?

Well my friends, I am happy to say that there are still ways to enjoy books (and take a study break), and I’m going to share two of my favs with you.

GoodReads (

I can’t remember how I found out about GoodReads, but it is currently one of my favorite websites. A site for book-lovers (or at least book-readers), it lets you:

  • Create lists of books you’ve read,
  • Rate each book 1-5 stars,
  • Write reviews,
  • And, of course, much more.

You can also create a to-read list, so you can keep track of all those best-sellers and indie reads you keep forgetting to pick up at the library. Best of all, when you add “friends” you can see what your roommate has been reading lately, or even check out the book lists of one of the many authors who are part of the community. And, of course, you can integrate it into your blog or Facebook. Plus, you may as well feel accomplished for all those books you have to read for school. I love seeing the tally of how many books I’ve read next to my username! (Sorry, is that terribly geeky?!?)


PaperBack Swap (

I’ve written before about PaperBack Swap, but that was before I’d even tried it out. Now that I’ve used it (I just picked up a new book today!), I’m an even bigger fan! If you missed out on that other post, the basic concept is as follows:

  1. You list all the books you have but don’t want anymore. They don’t have to be only paperbacks; you can list hardcovers and audiobooks, too.
  2. When someone requests your book, you mail it out, paying only for media mail postage (cheap!). When they receive the book, you get swap credits.
  3. You use your credits to pick out books other people have that you want, and they send it to you. This time you pay NO shipping costs. Yay!

You can also make a “Wish List” of books you want to read that may not be available yet. When another user lists one of those books, you’ll get an email offering you the option to request it.

I LOVE this service for several reasons. First, I love getting good, non-bill parcels in the mail. Second, I love a good deal. (If you like this concept, check out my previous post to find out other sites to swap DVDs, books, and CDs). And third, I love the satisfaction of scrolling through my To-Read list on Goodreads and being able to pick up a copy of one of those books without even heading to the bookstore!

Tip: You can sometimes find textbooks, too! Imagine getting a $100+ textbook for just the price of shipping! Sweet!

photo by lusi

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4 comments April 25th, 2009

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