easy upgrades

Don’t dump your fancy beverage bottles. Strip the labels and turn them into a striking bud-vase display like this one. And/or keep your eyes open at flea markets and garage sales…heck! even the dollar store…for cute bottles you can use as bud vases. So help me God, if you ever pay bud-vase prices to get this bud-vase look, I’ll come looking for you. There’s just no reason to, even if you’re sitting on a pile of money. Which you’re not. -ts

1. Challenge yourself by doing things that hurt, on purpose. Have a willpower practice, such as very hard exercise, meditation, endurance, or cold showers. Choose something that makes your brain scream with how hard it is, and try to tolerate it. The goal isn’t just to get used to it. It’s to understand that pain is something you can survive.

2. Remember things that are easy to forget. Upgrade your current relationships. Create un-birthdays for your friends and stick to them. Go through old text messages to rekindle dormant friendships. It can be awkward, but that’s the point. You will make an impact by choosing to do what makes others nervous.

3. Read more. Not just current blog posts and tweets and Facebook updates online, but other sources that take more consideration than blog posts or news. Find thorough and in-depth analyses of subjects you find interesting, or irreverent stuff that makes you feel alive. Read things you disagree with. Read things that are too difficult for you to understand, and then overcome your discomfort by pushing yourself to understand them.

4. Get some scars by working with your hands. Try to understand how things in your world work, like your car, your stereo system, or even your kitchen. Have a garden or a dog to help you stay grounded in the real world.

5. Turn your mobile phone off for a few hours each day. Having nothing to do while you’re waiting for a bus can be boring, but it’s only when you’re bored that the scary thoughts come to the surface. Use a dumb phone on the weekends to prevent yourself from checking your messages.

6. Find new friends who make you feel uncomfortable, either because they have done more than you or because they have done nothing that you have. Meet tattoo artists or homeless people, millionaires or best-selling authors. Host dinner parties for them. Serve them bizarre food. Why the hell not?

7. Renegotiate your work. If you achieve X, then will your employer do Y? Ask beforehand and deliver, or if you can’t get permission, go for it anyway and ask for forgiveness. Create a new job title for yourself; then carve out the job.

8. Start dressing as if you had a very important job or meeting, or as if you were twenty years old again and thought you were the coolest person on Earth. What would you do differently? How would people treat you once you did?

9. Imagine that you have to leave a legacy, and everyone in the world will see the work you’ve done. Volunteer. Create something that lasts and that can exist outside of you, something that makes people wonder and gasp. Build a support structure for others. Devote some of your time or money to it.

10. Make something amazing, something that’s terrifying to you. Stay uncomfortable.

Fight the flinch wherever you see it. Leave no stone unturned
—  Julien Smith, from Flinch - read it for free here
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So where are we with mason jars? Are we over it yet?

I thought I was (over it) but this is a clever and easy way to put the things to use that isn’t a chandelier (eyeroll). As a fun little wall organizer in the bathroom, this upgrade is a great way to keep small things from cluttering the bath vanity counter. Meanwhile, mounting in the kitchen lifts your herb garden off the window sill. See the full how-to here via The DIY Playbook. -ts

Recipe of the Day: Seriously Good Queso Dip
A melty, amazing queso dip is one recipe that every cook should have in his or her back pocket. This one reaches ooey-gooey goodness in the slow cooker — and it doesn’t even call for processed cheese. It’s ultra-simple, and easy to upgrade with toppings.

@cravingsinamsterdam / cravingsinamsterdam.com

Brunch Upgrade: Called “avocado roses,” these plate embellishments are exactly what they sound like: avocado slices prettily arranged in the shape of a flower. While these look tricky to make—and are sure blow the minds of your friends and followers—they’re much easier to create than it seems.