• Working in Pajamas Isn’t as Great as It Sounds and Other Life Lessons from 2013

    These life lessons can help you to create a goal list, or just give you a little bit of inspiration. Learn why working in pajamas isn’t as great as it sounds and how Pinterest can turn you into a regular Martha Stewart!

    Barranco, Lima, Peru | The Postman's Knock{Hernán and I enjoying the nice weather in Barranco}

    Happy 2014! I know I’m two weeks late, but I hope the year is going well and you celebrated in style. My blogging lapse is due to our Christmas/New Years annual trip to Perú to visit Hernán’s family in Lima. I promise to be better!

    Have you made your 2014 goal list yet? Me neither. But when I do, I’ll be sure and share it with you for accountability! If travel is on your goal list this year and you’re thinking of going to Lima, I’ve got some input. If you follow my blog, I’m guessing you’ve at least got an interest in creativity/art. Dually, go to Barranco. Barranco is a district in Lima with a distinct Bohemian vibe that I’d give just about anything to live in … old, colorful stucco buildings; a front-row seat to the Pacific; and a mix of eateries ranging from traditional Peruvian places to Starbucks. I’ve heard reports that the bars are vibrant and fun, though since we stay in Los Olivos {a considerable distance away}, we usually make Barranco a day trip.

    Barranco, Lima, Peru Art Shop {Dédalo} | The Postman's Knock

    When you go to Barranco, don’t skip Dédalo. Have you seen Life of Pi? Well, Dédalo is a big artisan shop that looks like it could have been a filming location to supplement the surreal beauty of the movie. You move through room after room of artisan goods {clothes, art, knick-knacks} until you reach a large courtyard in the back. Placed in this courtyard are mismatched wooden tables and chairs framed by creeping vines that thrive in the shade provided by the building’s shadow. The courtyard features a little coffee shop that’s so adorable you want to put it in your pocket and bring it home with you. The photo above doesn’t do it justice … go to Dédalo and spend your day sitting in one of the chairs with a coffee and a sandwich. Oh, and {as depicted in the photo} feel free to make your partner stand in line to obtain a Dédalo gift bag so you can make an envelope out of it á la my Magnolia Bakery creation.

    Now that I’ve given you my spiel on considering Lima as your 2014 goal list travel destination, I’d like to offer the “anti-goal list” … basically, the life lessons that I have learned in 2013 while fulfilling my goals. I’d like to apply these life lessons to 2014’s goal list, and maybe I can help you garner some inspiration, too.

    The first thing I have learned is:

    You Don't Need Classes to Learn a New Skill | The Postman's Knock{You don’t need classes to learn a new skill.}

    I graduated from college in May of 2011. Maybe because of that I was stuck in a “Well, if I want to learn about X, I need to take a class” rut. At the end of 2012, Hernán {who is a graduate student} came home and told me his advisor — a practical German man with considerable achievements on top of a PhD in Aerospace Engineering — had said something significant that day: “Classes are useless. There’s so much information out there that you can teach yourself anything you want with the internet or books.”

    This struck a chord with me, and I decided to put this assertion to the test. The main thing I wanted — needed — to learn in 2013 was how to speak Spanish. I knew that being conversational could help my relationship with my in-laws and maximize my experience in Perú. So, I signed up for Duolingo, a free program that seemed too good to be true, but I decided to give it a go anyway. I used the program a little bit every day — and it would send me a reminder email if I forgot. I was astounded at my progress, but more than that, my in-laws were amazed. I’m certainly not reading Garcia Marquez at this point, but I am more than conversational. At this point, I speak more Spanish than I do French, and I studied French for four years in college. SO — if you are looking to learn Portuguese, French, Italian, German … or if you are reading this blog in another language and want to learn English, I strongly recommend that you give Duolingo a go!

    On that note …

    Experiences are Worth More Than Objects | The Postman's Knock{Experiences are worth more than objects.}

    By this, I mean I learned this year that I’d rather spend $500 on a great trip than putting that money toward, say, a great piece of clothing. I’m the kind of person who will balk at spending $100.00 on running shoes, but if that money will go toward eating at a great restaurant, hey, count me in!

    We traveled to Washington DC, New York City, and Philadelphia this year. We learned so much and, though we were exhausted by the time we got home, we had a blast. The Holocaust Museum was amazing and emotional. Chinatown? What an experience. Brooklyn ranks right up there with Barranco in my book, and eating a Philly cheese steak in Philly was great. The trip lent us insight into what we’ll want out of whatever community we decide to settle in when Hernán is done with grad school; it allowed us to try new things {Magnolia Bakery banana pudding and dirt-cheap Chinese dumplings}; and we had a celebrity sighting {Michael Shannon, a.k.a. General Zod}. These memories mean much more to me than any object I could have purchased.

    Speaking of money:

    Working in Pajamas Isn't as Great as It Sounds | The Postman's Knock{Working in pajamas isn’t as great as it sounds.}

    I mean this literally: working in pajamas isn’t as great as it sounds. Working from home — especially at your own business — is the best. thing. ever. {Well, as far as I’m concerned: but I’m also very hobbit-like, minus the vertically-challenged aspect}. However, if you’re going to work from home, you’ve got to set some ground rules with yourself. I started The Postman’s Knock in September of 2012 … and it began with a lot of pajama-wearing.

    There’s nothing wrong with working in your pajamas if you can get things done; but for me, pajama-wearing somehow made me lazy and gross. If we’re being honest, I could go three or four days without changing my clothes from day to night. If I needed to leave the house, I’d put on Ugg boots over my plaid PJ pants. Eventually, I realized I was letting myself go, so I now wear what I call a “grocery store uniform”. It’s not what it sounds like {if you’re visualizing me in an apron with a misspelled “Lindsay” name tag}. It’s basically an outfit ensemble that is super-comfortable yet presentable. In other words, I could go to the grocery store at the drop of a pin. So, while my yoga pants, fleece boots, and men’s sweater aren’t quite office appropriate, they do make me feel more productive.

    Pinterest Can Infinitely Improve Your Cooking Skills | The Postman's Knock{Pinterest can infinitely improve your cooking skills.}

    While I am in my “grocery store uniform”, I make it a point to make a meal plan and go to the store. Pinterest has proven a real blessing in my meal planning endeavors, and I know that along with my Spanish, my cooking skills have improved this year. Hernán probably thinks he has died and gone to heaven — we have homemade brioche hamburger buns, Chinatown-esque wontons with spicy sauce, utterly delicious chicken makhani, and black bean brownies that compete with any non-bean dessert. I found all these recipes on Pinterest, and reading the blog posts that accompany them helped me learn about new cooking techniques, ways to use ingredients, and how to use kitchen tools I always had but never knew *how* to use.

    I take a lot of pride in my Pinterest organization — check out my Dinnertime Faves board to see the recipes I love and my comments and suggestions on making these recipes. I think Pinterest may have helped me to turn into even more of a foodie … I’m trying to decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing!

    Facebook Can Infinitely Waste Your Time | The Postman's Knock{Facebook can infinitely waste your time.}

    While I can write off my time on Pinterest {well, for the most part} as “personal development”, I learned this year that Facebook can be a big waste of time. While I need to use it more for business purposes — showing which projects I am working on and what goodies I have found on the internet — sometimes on my personal Facebook account that newsfeed sucks you in, and before you know it you’re reading Buzzfeed lists until 2:00 AM. Lesson learned: this year, I’ve been better about making sure Facebook isn’t a tab that is constantly open in my browser.

    Snail Mail is the Best Way to Keep in Touch with Old Friends | The Postman's Knock{Snail mail is the best way to keep in touch with old friends.}

    Facebook does have a good side: it’s a nice way to keep in touch with friends. Or, arguably, monitor their every move without having to go to the effort of saying, “Hey, what have you been up to?” For this reason, it’s not my preferred method of keeping up strong relationships. As I explained to you in “The Art of Snail Mail“, there’s less pressure with snail mail, which makes it a great way to keep in touch. It’s a non-invasive way to check in and say you’re thinking about someone.

    I have maintained relationships with four of my friends from college in this manner; one flew in to visit me this year in CO, and we flew to visit another friend in NYC. The fact that my friends and I write letters to each other monthly or once every two months kept the trips from having a “I-really-don’t-know-you-anymore-so-this-is-kind-of-weird” vibe. Letters get the point across; letters give you vital information {new boyfriend/girlfriend, new apartment, etc.}. And, letters are wonderful because there’s no pressure to write back immediately. When you send a letter to someone, you are essentially saying just by your method of communication, “Hey, I want to keep in touch with you, but you don’t have to write me back immediately.” Facebook messages and email warrant a more immediate message, and often it’s not clear on when the message volley should stop.

    Planning {Way} in Advance for the Holidays is Never a Bad Idea | The Postman's Knock{Planning way in advance for the holidays is never a bad idea.}

    Finally, while we’re on the topic of friendship and keeping in touch, this year I learned that it’s best to buy gifts throughout the year in order to look like a superstar during the holiday season. We have a designated “gift closet” in our apartment … this is where I collect gifts as the year goes on. That’s not to say that we won’t have a panicked gift rush at the end of the year; but the craziness certainly lessens. When I buy things throughout the year, I notice that I am able to find the perfect gift more often because I’m not specifically looking for a holiday gift for a specific person — rather, the perfect gift finds me. And to think … I used to wonder if my grandma was crazy for starting her Christmas shopping in January. Now I get it!

    Stay tuned for 2014 goal list goodies and, of course, Valentine’s Day printables! Thanks for stopping by; as always, I absolutely adore that you are here!

    XO, Lindsey | The Postman's Knock