Friday, October 29, 2010


It’s Halloween. And many people have a lot of the same problems after the holiday. From too much leftover candy; to kids fighting over their favorites after they come home and not knowing what to do with those cotton spider web decorations you really can’t keep and re-use… what do you do?


There is a solution to every issue and Halloween is no exception.

Let’s start with the most dramatic of all the problems: kids fighting over candy. Some families make their kids dump all their candy into one big bowl. While others have each child only dig into the stash they collected while trick-or-treating. No matter what you do, kids are curious ‘diggers’ and when it comes to candy, they KNOW what they like. Sometimes this causes a big problem if everyone likes the same kind of candy and there is not enough of ‘the favorite’ to go around.

Parents – you can be rational and give out proper portions to your kids. This is the first step in setting boundaries in making sure they don’t hoard it and make themselves sick by eating too much.

But what if everyone likes chocolate candy and there isn’t enough to go around because fruit/jelly candies, gum and taffies dominate?

Take the chocolate candy bars and chop them up into small pieces and crumble them over ice cream for everyone. You can also toss these into a plain cookie batter and let everyone enjoy a batch of cookies together. This is the perfect solution so that everyone gets to enjoy the chocolate candy and the sweet treats get spread around evenly.

So what do you do if you have too much leftover candy and you don’t want your kids to eat it all and you don’t want to blow your diet? Or what if you have too much leftover candy and you don’t even have kids?

There are many solutions to this problem. You can take the extra candy into work, where it will be gobbled up by all your co-workers. If everyone happens to have the same idea, you can also make goodie bags and give it to your local Boys & Girls Club or some other children’s organization. They’ll appreciate the thought and you’ll have done something great to bring smiles to other kids.

The cleanup from all your Halloween decorating begins the day after Halloween. Most of the paper decorations you can save. But when it comes to the pumpkins – don’t you dare throw them away! There are so many things you can do with them including putting them into your compost pile to add vital nutrients to your garden. This is the best thing to do with them if you carved your pumpkins really early and have had them sitting around for awhile.

If you carved them just a day or two before, once Halloween is over, simply cut away the outer rind and take the meaty flesh cut into small chunks. Simmer in a bit of water and cook until soft. You can also steam it if you want or roast it.

You can then puree the cooked pumpkin and make any kind of yummy baked good you wish – from pumpkin cookies, cake or bread or even other pumpkin desserts like cheesecake or pie. You can even use the puree as baby food or use it as a thickener for a stew.

When it comes to the cotton spider webs you string across your windows, it’s very difficult to save these. But this does not mean you have to throw them away!

Now is a great time to make fun ornaments for Christmas! The very same cotton you’ve used for spider webs make cute snowmen or Santa’s beard or can be used for a snow scene.

If you don’t celebrate Christmas, you can take the cotton and make cute little pin-cushion pillows. You can also sew doll pillows or make a fun pet toy by stuffing the cotton inside organic, durable fabric or use the cotton to line the inside of a jewelry gift box for someone’s birthday. The cotton also makes for great packing material for shipping small items and can also replace the stuffing of an over-loved teddy bear!

Halloween dilemmas don’t have to be scary!

There’s always a solution for making the most of the holiday and the day after.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010
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It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone has to deal with customer service at some point. Whether you are dealing with customer service on the phone, dealing with tech support or the bank or if you are in front of a counter at a retail store or if you are seated at a restaurant… customer service is something that can either brighten your day or ruin it, if you let it.

It all begins and ends with communication. There is no excuse for poor customer service other than individual employee attitude or upper management’s lack of morale building. And while it’s true that everyone should leave their personal problems at the door before they begin work, sometimes people just cannot do this before taking on their day’s work.

The same can be said for customers, too.

But what do you do if the customer service person gets irritated and is rude with you, and you are dependent upon them to give you the answers and solutions you need to solve your problem? Isn’t it like they are holding your solution hostage? Where is customer service now?


Sometimes it’s how you approach the person serving you. If they are getting angry at you for no reason (be honest with yourself – think about your tone of conversation, body language or if you are kind and thoughtful with your words), most of the time it has more to do with frustration. Maybe the customer service person is frustrated because they want to help you, but they cannot. Sometimes their hands are tied because their company limits them on how they can serve you. This is not your fault. And it is not theirs either. Sometimes you do need to take note of that.
While it is easy to get angry with them because you become frustrated at the fact they are customer service and are not really providing customer service, it is up to YOU the customer to be open to options in solving the problem.

If you know what you want, be upfront and say what you want….

“I want a refund.”
“I want to exchange something.”
“I want my food served hot.”
“I want a cable plan that doesn’t keep changing every month.”

Say it. Keep in mind most of the stuff you are having a problem with doesn’t really have anything in relation to any wrong doing by the customer service person for what they have done to you personally. It is the situation. This issue is not personal. There is no reason for things to get heated other than pure frustration which yes, can be solved!

Ask the customer service person what they CAN DO. Ask the customer service person if there is something they are WILLING TO DO to help you. If they hate their job and it is obvious and they are just lazy or lack interest in actually being of service to you…. Ask to speak to a manager.

If talking to the manager gets you nowhere, sometimes you have to go higher up and talk to the corporate office.
Keep in mind, your unhappiness is up to you. There are some things which are so small and petty, it’s just better to blow it off and not waste your time and chalk it up to everyone having a bad day.

However, if this is a big deal or is in relation to a customer service issue which affects your finances, your personal property or your health, this is something worth fighting for and it is a bigger issue.

Courtesy and respect work both ways. If you know you’ve done everything you can possibly do to be courteous, nice, understanding and open to solutions (or heck, even suggested them) – then you need to identify how to inch your way to the ultimate solution you seek.

Sometimes trying to go from POINT A – POINT Z just won’t work. Start with the biggest part of the problem. Then start to chip away at the next. Don’t blurt out all 100 problems in one go. This won’t do you or the customer service person trying to help you any good.

• Be calm.

• Make sure you accurately state the situation. (i.e. “The flight was overbooked and we waited four hours and got
bumped again….”)

• Do mention to the person if you have made other attempts to try to solve the problem (i.e. “I’ve called customer
service before for help, but my computer still has the same problem.”)

• Look at other options you’ll be happy with (i.e. a store credit, a discount, an upgrade).

• If anyone in some other area of service tried to help you or be helpful – be sure you state this upfront (i.e.”The
hostess who seated us let us know the restaurant was busy tonight. But waiting an hour to get our salad is not
what we thought would happen.”) This shows you are ‘aware’ and are a reasonable customer.

You may have to realize you will not always succeed in getting a customer service person to be the ultimate friendly person to help you, but you can indeed try to get to a happy place in stating your case – what you need and what solution you are looking for. At this point, you’ll be enabling anyone who wants to be of service to be giving you service and treating you like the good customer you are

If you succeed, fantastic! Pat yourself on the back and do be sure to thank anyone who is coming to your aid and helping you out.

If someone goes out of their way to be the ‘hero of the day’ to solve your problem, so take note so that those who understand what customer service really means, get proper recognition from management and are not brought down with the rest of the unhelpful pack.

If you still do not get what you want, don’t underestimate the power of a good letter to the appropriate people in charge.

At the end of the day, customer service is something we have to encounter on a daily basis. If we approach the situation realistically and optimistically with persistence, we can and will get the kind of service we seek and deserve.