Tuesday, April 23, 2013

35 Day Project: Oakmont Bakery

I love the Oakmont Bakery.  I was a little late to the party, for sure, having just visited it for the first time last year, but none the less, I fell in love.  I like just going in there and looking at all the goodies, it is so fun.  Sadly, I can no longer partake of their delicious treats, due to gluten intolerance, but I can still show them plenty of love.


Which is exactly what I did on Friday, by voting for them as America's Best Bakery. I would love to see this local bakery win this contest, they certainly deserve it!

35 Day Project: Support Local Tech

It comes as no surprise that I am a techie person.  I like gadgets, and apps, and innovation in general.  And I love Pittsburgh with all my heart.  So, Pittsburgh based technological innovation?  Well that just about makes me swoon.


So, when I learned that the Pittsburgh Tech Council was accepting votes for their 2013 Data Awards, I KNEW this was a perfect chance to show some love and kindness to some great organizations and businesses in the burgh.

I used this as my kindness act for last Thursday, and took the time to cast votes in every category.

Sometimes, it just feels good to show the burgh some love.

35 Day Project: All the small things

On Wednesday of last week, I found myself presented with opportunities to do a lot of small acts of kindness.

I had gone to breakfast with my friend and her son.  As we left the restaurant, I help the door open for an older couple who were walking in.  Their entire faces lit up, just because I held the door.

While driving, I took a moment to let someone out ahead of me.

At an appointment, the receptionist was looking up my information, and her phone kept ringing.  She was clearly getting flustered, and felt bad for making me wait.  I simply smiled, and told her to take her time.

In the afternoon, I took a walk in my community.  A man was out with his dog.  I stopped and chatted with him about how adorable the dog was.


Sometimes, the little things all add up to make a big difference.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

35 Day Project: Love to Boston

Like the rest of America, and perhaps even the world, I am completely heart sick over what happened during yesterday's Boston Marathon.  I cannot comprehend it; it simply makes no sense to me why this would happen.  Why someone would do such a senseless, reprehensible act.  At some point, I had to walk away from social media, and mainstream media, before I lost all home in human kind.

All day long, I wondered how I could use this project to try to be a tiny light in this situation.  Me, little old me, with my silly little birthday kindness project.  Would it really matter?  Would it make a difference?  With just a few days left in the project, I could not turn back now, nor could I turn my back on such a huge wound in the heart and mind of our country.

So, after a lot of thought, I did some research, and found out about The ALLY Foundation.  This is one of the charitable organizations who had a team running in the Boston Marathon yesterday.  The father in law of one of the runners is in critical condition as a result of the bombing.  They need love, and prayer, which I freely and willingly give.  The ALLY Foundation is dedicated to "ending sexual violence through science and innovation."  Since April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, this seemed like the perfect organization for me to use for today's act.


So, I made a small charitable donation to The ALLY Foundation.  And I offer them, as well as all those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing, my love and support.  This particular act of kindness is as much for myself as it is for them.  I need to remind myself that goodness still exists.  I need to be the change.

We love you Boston, and we stand with you.

35 Day Project: Orphans of the Storm

I am an animal lover, as one can tell by the excessive number of pet photos I post on Instagram.  I am one of those people who would, if possible, adopt every animal at the local shelter.  So, when I first had the idea of doing 35 acts of kindness for my birthday, I knew at least one would benefit our local animal shelter.

We live just a few minutes from our local shelter, Orphans of the Storm.  This is a no-kill shelter, and as a result, they often have long term animal residents, or animals in need of some pretty serious medical care.  As a non-profit organization, they can always use help.  So, yesterday, I gathered a donation of some dog food, cat litter, cleaning supplies, treats and even a few toys, and carted them off to the shelter.


The shelter was closed, but I had checked with them a few days prior and they told me I could leave a donation at the door.  I was happy to see that I was not the only one who had done so.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

35 Day Project: Spring Fun

We live on a really nice street in town.  The people are all really nice, there is minimal traffic, and everyone really gets along.  I am pretty lucky.  We live next to a family that has two little boys, and the boys are so sweet.  They love seeing our dogs outside, and we love hearing the laughter as the boys play.  I especially love going out to see their sidewalk chalk masterpieces.


So, today, I decided to make up a small basket to give to the boys.  It contained just a few small things that they could use to play outside (chalk, bubbles, small toys, etc.).  I slipped a note in it and the left the basket on the neighbor's porch.  I am so glad we have such great neighbors!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

35 Day Project: Adopt a Room

I first learned of the Light of Life Rescue Mission a few months ago, when the Pittsburgh Bloggers banded together for the Giving Skivvies campaign.  This campaign helped raise money for new socks and underwear that the Mission would hand out to the homeless.  Since then, I have followed them on Facebook, and always look for ways that I can help them.


A few days ago, I saw that April was "Adopt a Room" month at Light of Life.  They were accepting donations of paint and home decor items to help decorate the rooms, making them warm and comfortable for the people who would stay there.  I knew that this was something I could help with.  When we did the great living room change earlier this year, all my old home decor from our yellow and burgundy color scheme no longer would work.  I decided to hold on to it, for some reason, and now I knew why.  I was going to donate it to Light of Life.  So this morning, I boxed up several items and shipped them off.  Sadly, I did not get to send as much as I wanted, because I could not find a box that was the correct size and shape to accommodate some of the larger pictures.  Still, I hope that my donation helps in some small way.

35 Day Project: Breakfast in Bed

Although he pretends to be some cranky old curmudgeon, the truth of the matter is, Hubby is a giant teddy bear, at least when it comes to me and our pets.  Sure, he may crank about politics, professional sports, and bad drivers, but who among us doesn't.  In all actuality, I think my Hubby is pretty awesome, even on his worst days.

But lately, he has been all extra kinds of awesome.  He continues to be the most caring, patient, and understanding man I have ever met in my life.  I thank God daily that he pushed through 2 1/2 years in the friendzone until I was ready to realize how much I loved him and actually date him.  The story of our romance is pretty incredible.

I try, on a daily basis, to tell Hubby thank you for the things he does, even something as small as refilling my water bottle.  But I wanted to do something extra special for him during this project, to make it very clear how much I appreciate him.  So, yesterday morning, I woke up super early, snuck out of the house in the pouring rain, and went to get Hubby's favorite breakfast sandwich, and a cup of hot cocoa.  I then snuck back into the house (no small feat with two dachshunds who think they are guard dogs), all before he woke up for work.  I then crept up the stairs, and got to wake Hubby up with breakfast in bed.


I loved seeing the look on his still sleepy face when he realized why I woke him up.

Thanks Hubby, for everything.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

35 Day Project: Library Books

Since I am a book reviewer, I get a ton of books.  The pile up pretty quickly, and I am quickly running out of room.  Sometimes I get advanced reader copies, or ARCs, which I cannot sell, or donate, but I can give to other people.  But sometimes, just sometimes, I get finished, final copies of books, and those certainly can be donated.

I know that many local libraries have had their budgets cut.  This means they cannot get as many books, or they have to supplement their budgets with fundraisers, like book sales.  So, donating books can help libraries.  For a while now, I have been collecting my books for donation.


Today, I dropped that donation off to the library, for them to either put into circulation, or sell.  I hope it helps!

35 Day Project: Clipping Coupons

I never, ever clip coupons.  Mostly because I rarely buy the things my local coupons are for; I tend to stick to fresh fruits, veggies, and meats these days (I wish there were coupons for those things!).  But every week, we get a circular full of coupons.  Since I do not use them, they tend to annoy me, a waste of paper cluttering up my house.

Wednesday, instead of pitching all the coupons like I normally do, I clipped a bunch of them, attached them to index cards, and headed to the store.


I placed the coupons throughout the store, next to the corresponding items.  Hopefully someone else was able to use them!


35 Day Project: Dunkin Donuts

On Tuesday, I was finally feeling a lot better, and decided to do one of the acts I had been planning for a very long time.  Some time ago, I had gotten coupons from the local Dunkin Donuts for free treats, including a donut, a coffee, and a latte.  Since I am eating a gluten free diet now and have reduced my caffeine, I cannot use these coupons, but I know other people would love them.


So, I took a coupon, attached it to an index card, and wrote a little note telling the person to enjoy a treat on me.  I did this for all three coupons.  Then, I went to a busy shopping plaza, found three cars, and left a card on each car.  I hope this really "sweetened" someone's day!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

35 Day Project: Noteworthy

Sometimes, the thing you need most in the world is a word of encouragement.  And while encouragement is free to give, it can be difficult to ask for.  I know that first hand!  So, on Monday, I decided to freely give some words of encouragement to people who hopefully needed it.


I had to make a stop at a local drug store.  I got to thinking; a lot of times, people who are at the drug store are there because they do not feel well, or are taking care of someone else, or are making a quick stop during their busy day.  All of those people could use encouragement.  So, I grabbed some post it notes, and wrote a few encouraging notes.  Then I scattered them throughout the store.


My hope is that these notes helped brighten a few people's day.

35 Day Project: Lottery

I was stuck at home Saturday due to not feeling well, so when we went out on Sunday, we had to do a double act.  Rather than try to do two separate acts, we did one act with two recipients.  While out and about, Hubby had to stop and get gas.  We decided that we would purchase some instant lottery tickets and give them to strangers.

We got two $1 scratch off tickets.  We gave one to a clerk in the gas station, and another to a random customer.  I really hope at least one of them was a winner, and they got to win a little extra cash.  I know I like scratch off tickets every once in awhile, just for fun.  Hopefully the people who got these ones had a little bit of fun as well!

35 Day Project: I Voted

I have been a little under the weather, so I am behind on updating you on my recent acts for the 35 Day Project, but I have still been doing the acts.  Today I catch up on the posts :)

Photo Source: LWVC

I really adore the Pittsburgh Blogging community.  I have met some amazing people, learned about great causes, and made some pretty meaningful connections.  But my favorite thing about Pittsburgh bloggers, by and far, is how much we all support each other in our various endeavors.  Which is why, on Friday, my act was to support  fellow blogger.

Sue Kerr is well known in Pittsburgh social media circles for her passionate activism.  Currently, Sue is entered in a scholarship contest to win a scholarship to attend a conference focused on political activism.  The top 5 applicants with the most votes win the scholarships.  I gave Sue my vote.  It really was a no brainer.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

35 Day Project: A Cup of Joe

I like coffee.  Ok, I love coffee.  I cannot drink it all that often, and I am constantly trying to reduce the amount of caffeine in my diet, but the fact remains that I really do love coffee.  When the weather is cold, or it has been a bad day, there is something truly comforting about a warm cup of coffee in my hands.

Vanilla biscotti coffee?? Yes please!

Now, imagine that you are far from home.  You have a really, *really* stressful job, are under constant physical demands, you are sleeping in a bed that is not at all comfortable, you have not seen your family for months, and you could use a little bit of creature comforts.  A nice hot cup of coffee.  Java.  Joe.  Sounds great right?  Right.  That is why, for today's act, I purchased a cup of coffee for a serviceman or servicewoman through the Cup of Joe for a Joe program.  It was super simple to do online, and cost less than had I gone to a coffee shop and bought a coffee for myself.  Plus, it is a small way for me to say thank you to the brave men and women who serve our country in the military.

I hope that the person who gets my cup of joe knows how much they are loved and appreciated.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tiffany Trivia: Closed Captioning Quirk

Everyone has their weird little quirks, things most people probably do not do.  Things that other people probably find weird.  We all have them.  I have many.  But one of my most unusual quirks is that I watch television and movies with the closed captioning or subtitles on.  I *always* watch with the subtitles on.


This quirk started back when I was in high school.  I had a television in my bedroom, and a father who worked rotating shifts.  My bedroom was just down the hall from my parents' room, so when my dad was sleeping, I could not have my television very loud, as it would wake him.  My solution to this was to turn on the closed captioning.  It became such a habit that to not have it on was weird.  It was a habit I carried with me as I grew up, and moved into my own place.  When I met Hubby, I explained my quirk to him, and he quickly adapted.  Now, whenever we watch anything at home, it is automatic that we turn the subtitles or closed captioning on.  It has become second nature.

The ability to watch television and read the captions has become ingrained.  We often catch mistakes in the captions, when what is written does not match what is being spoken.  And this ability to read and watch at the same time has served me well.  In my college French classes, we watched a lot of foreign films, and the subtitles never bothered me a bit.  As a result, I really really love foreign cinema.  Also, going to the opera, and reading the translation while watching the show is a total piece of cake for me.

On the flip side, there are times when my quirk can be problematic.  It is difficult for me to pay attention to movies in the theater, because there are no subtitles.  And last week, I went to a friend's house to watch a movie with her, and I asked her to turn the subtitles on.  I am sure she thought it was a little, well, odd.

Oh well.  We all have our quirks.

35 Day Project: Planet Aid

We all have things in our closet that we no longer wear.  Either the size, or style, is wrong, or it is a little too worn.  Or you simply may have tired of it.  So, you purge your wardrobe, even just a little.  You put the clothes in bags.  Now what?  There are a multitude of worthwhile next steps.  Salvation Army.  St. Vincent DePaul.  Local thrift or consignment shops.  A friend in need.   So many options.

As you may be able to tell, my act for today was in the form of a clothing donation.  Over the past months I have been slowly trying to reduce the amount of stuff we own.  It is difficult, believe me.  Sometimes I have strong nostalgic connection to clothing, even when I no longer wear it.  But I feel a little guilty, holding on to something I do not use, knowing someone else would gladly use it.  I have been working on a bag for a while, and today I finished it up and took it to donate.


I donated it at a Planet Aid box in our town.  You have probably seen these yellow boxes scattered about.  The accept donations of clothing and shoes, to eventually be resold both domestically and internationally.  I think there is something kind of cool about the idea that a sweater I no longer wear could be helping someone on the other side of the world.

35 Day Project: Movie Love

First-nighters posing for the camera outside the Warners' Theater before the premiere of "Don Juan" with John Barrymore, Washington DC, 08/06/1926.
Photo Credit: U.S. National Archives
Who does not love a good movie?  I know that I certainly do.  I fancy myself a bit of a movie buff, but in no way am I at the level of an actual movie aficionado.  I really enjoy a wide variety of films, even foreign films.  I took a few film classes in college, and really have great appreciation for the art of film making.  Script writing, acting, lighting, set direction.  All aspects of movies kind of fascinate me.  I love going to visit filming locations, and I love that several big picture films have been made, not just in Pittsburgh, but our little town of Kittanning as well.

Not only do I love big Hollywood films, I also enjoy small independent films.  When I was living in Pittsburgh, I met a guy who was a local film maker at a screening of one of his short films, and I was really impressed.  He is still making films, and for today's act, I decided to show one of his short films some online love.  It is listed on the IMDB site, so I signed up for an account over there specifically to give his film a well deserved good rating.  Such a simple act, supporting someone who is doing what he loves, but it does make a small difference.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

35 Day Project: Love for a friend

Girls skipping at an athletics carnival
Photo Credit: Powerhouse Museum Collection
 Yesterday I was not feeling so hot.  I was having kind of a blah day, probably a holiday hangover from eating food my body was not used to.  We all have days like this, days where we are not on top of our game, or feeling a bit glum.  And when we feel that way, sometimes it helps to have a loving word from someone who knows us well, and cares about us unconditionally.

So, it seemed fitting that my act of kindness for yesterday would be to provide that message of love for someone else.  I decided that I would reach out to someone who has been a wonderful friend to me for almost ten years.  She lives quite far away from me, and we both have our own busy lives, but whenever we do get a chance to talk, we pick up right where we left off, as if no time or space has ever separated us.  She was there for me through some pretty crappy points in my life, supporting me, and giving me a tough love kick in the pants when I needed it.  So, I decided I was going to remind her what a fabulous person I think she is, and how much I love her, even if we do not get to talk or visit as much as we would like.  I hope she keeps that message tucked away for a day when she needs it the most.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Fools! Guest post by Will Reynolds Young

Happy April Fools!  My April Fool’s Day post comes from Will Reynolds Young, and is part of a special day of shenanigans in the form of April Fools Guest Blogs from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see MY post over on Ya Jagoff!, where I talk about a bothersome resident of Lawrenceville.  A special thank you to Alex for organizing this fun blogging event!

In today’s age we all understand that Social Media is becoming more and more a part of everyday lives. Social Media is often looked at an excellent opportunity for business and personal branding experts to spread their knowledge. However, over the last few months I have had the pleasure of  Social Media being put towards plenty of Social Good.

Over the last few months I have had the opportunity to engage in many campaigns for social good that create social change and awareness. I have seen some incredible showings of support for organizations in need. One of my favorites goes back to September for Light of Life.

This fundraising effort started by Jessie of Light of Life posting in the Pittsburgh Bloggers group sharing the need of socks and underwear.

From this post came an outpouring of support from the community lead by Lindsey from I Heart Pgh who created a Crowdrise campaign. Eric Williams imagined the hash tag #givingskivvies and from there it spread like wildfire through local social media channels. A simple Google search of the hash tag #givingskivvies yields over 500 results. So many people contributed to this campaign through tweets, Facebook and blogs posts. However, it was a simple organizations needs and the love of community that helped Light of Life reach 140% of the Crowdrise Goal!

Another incredible example and showing of support comes from Facebook with the Western PA Humane Society. The Western PA Humane Society has a very active page and one day they posted a need for Iam’s Dog Food. There supplies of dog food were dwindling down and they were in need of more. With-in hours they had an out pouring of support, shares, comments and people looking for a number of ways they could help.

Often times Social Media is regarded as a fun or business platform but it truly can be used for incredible amounts of social good. This kind of social giving came simply from the needs of a charitable organization providing for the community. When the community saw the organization in need people stepped up to help and provide how they could. At the end of the day this is what society is all about, helping folks when they are down and the same should apply to the organizations that play such a vital role in our society.

will Will Reynolds Young is a Social Media Freelancer and Chief Digital Officer of Climb On! Products, Inc. In his spare time he is a social media fiend, co-organizer of PghTweetup and a internet and music addict.