Life Hacks With Alex Hazard: Puffy eyes & chilled wine

Life can be tough!  

Throughout the years, folks have shared hacks with me that make my day to day a little easier…so, I thought it’s my turn to share them with you! It’s like the old saying, “it’s the small things in life”. I truly believe that small changes, or in this case; small hacks, can make a big impact. I hope these Life Hacks can take your life from good to great!  

All my best, 
Alex Hazard


Puffy Eyes 

Do you ever wake up in the morning and have those puffy bags under your eyes? Mine can be so big that I could use them as reusable grocery bags at Target! Here are some hacks: Keep some spoons in the freezer! When you wake up, after you get out of the shower; simply place the spoons over your eyes. The cold is going to lift the collagen to the surface and fill those bags with some nice fatty groceries, making your eyes smile and your day brighter (especially when you look in the mirror!). 

Another Hack for puffy eyes is to place some cucumber over the eyes, just like they do at the spa! To be honest, I’m not really sure why this works, but it does! Maybe it is just one of those mind-over-matter things? I find that this hack works better in the middle of the day if you notice that the bags are starting to develop. Plus, if you’re hungry… now you have a snack… Two birds, One cucumber!  

 

Chilled Wine 

There are few things in the world worse than warm wine.. except for no wine at all, of course! My hack here is so simple. Always keep a glass dish of grapes in the freezer. The grapes work like ice cubes for your wine, without watering them down as ice cubes would.  They also could impress your friends at a party as a “fancy” garnish, depending on how easily impressed your friends are.  Plus, keeping them frozen keeps your grapes fresh longer, too!  

Smelly Shoes

There are few things that are more repulsive than the scent of a smelly foot. While an uncomfortable topic of conversation, this is something that so many people struggle with… including myself! The hacks to solve this problem are simple! 

First, keep crumbled up newspaper in your shoes when they’re stored away. The newspaper will absorb the moisture and odor in the shoe. 

If you’re like me and that might just not be enough, try this homemade foot and shoe powder! Made with just three ingredients, this could be the answer to all ten of your smelly toe problems. Take all your little piggies to the market and pick-up some corn-starch, baking powder, and essential oils. Mix a little of each together in a bowl, sprinkle in your shoe, or lather your foot. This will keep your shoes and feet smelling great and avoid an embarrassing problem that is easily solved. 

Bug Repellent 

Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, Apple Picking, Hot Cider, and my personal favorite; bonfires on a cool night! Fall is here. As a summer lover, I have a hard time admitting how much I actually love the fall. But let’s just face it, Fall is the perfect season. Except. One. Thing…. you’re sitting around your perfect fall fire, hot cider in hand, and the bugs are eating you alive! Here are some Life Hacks to help with that! 

Garlic. Turns out that bugs and vampires have something in common! They both HATE the smell of garlic. Eat it, keep it around, roast it, throw it in the coals around the fire… whatever you have to do! 

However, if your Fall fire is supposed to be a little more romantic, garlic might not be your best option! Let’s get a little sweeter! Vanilla is another smell that is a good bug repellent.  Just drip a few drops in some water and wear it like cologne. Not only will you smell great, but you’ll also repel bugs as well! 

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What Is The North Country?

Neal Burdick

So where’s the North Country?” It’s a question I get a lot, when I’m trying (usually with only limited success) to tell someone from somewhere else where I live. There might be more answers than there are flakes in a lake-effect snow squall, so I never know what to say. Besides, I’ve always thought a more interesting question would be, “What’s the North Country?” Here are a few responses; no doubt you have your own. 

    The North Country is contrasts. 

    We are among the leading agricultural regions in the state, a key part of New York’s national ranking as a leader in dairy, maple and apple products, but ironically we are also classified as a “food desert” because so many of us lack easy access to good nutrition. 

    We boast about our healthy environment while bemoaning our shortage of doctors. 

    We don’t much like government, but we expect it to give us jobs and fill in all those potholes immediately while not raising our taxes. 

    We have a symphony orchestra in a rural corner of the world that’s demeaned as a cultural vacuum. 

    One of the best illustrations of our epic contrasts struck me as my wife and I emerged from a concert by that aforementioned orchestra, the Orchestra of Northern New York, in Potsdam a few years ago. We had heard a wonderful program of Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Berlioz, the genre of music you’d normally have to navigate a big city and pay a lot of money to hear, and when we came out we were engulfed by the distinctive redolence of manure, because across the road from the symphony hall’s (free) parking lot was an active cow pasture. I don’t know what’s across from Lincoln Center in New York City, but it’s not that. Where else can one listen to live classical music and exit to a parking lot perfumed with organic fertilizer? 

    The North Country is water. Let’s not argue about its boundaries here, because if we do we’ll never get back to our topic, so we’ll simply note that the region is surrounded by Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, Lake Champlain and the Mohawk River. That’s one Great Lake, through which twenty percent of the world’s fresh water passes; the world’s second biggest river by volume (because that same liquid twenty percent flows through it, too); the largest freshwater lake in America aside from the Great Lakes; and the river that’s responsible for the easiest route through the Appalachians, which is one big reason why New York earned the moniker “The Empire State.” Add to that the galaxy of lakes, ponds and rivers that drain the uplands and nourish the ring of farmlands around them, and it’s plain why we are the envy of more arid places. 

    The North Country is dark skies. Thanks to light pollution, fewer and fewer are the places where one can see the Northern Lights, the Big Dipper, Venus and Mars and Jupiter. To some, car dealerships and shopping malls awash in artificial light are a sign of progress. They also announce that we are steadily separating ourselves from our roots, from the mysteries of the universe that help define us, that remind us of our place in the grand scheme. Look up into a cloudless North Country sky on a clear night, especially in winter, and you will gain a new appreciation for darkness. 

    The North Country is centrally isolated. That’s because centrality and isolation have meaning only in relation to where we are and where we want to go. We’re accused of not being near any big cities (sorry, Syracuse, but you are not big), but from vantage points in the northeastern Adirondacks one can, under the right conditions, see the skyline of Montreal. Let’s stop letting the international boundary be such a psychological barrier. I’ve been to Barrow, Alaska, on the shore of the Arctic Ocean, where icebergs floated in the sea in July and the nearest full-service hospital was six hundred miles away, with no road – trust me, compared to a lot of spots on the globe, the North Country is not isolated. 

    The North Country is despair. This region has been plagued for decades by poor employment outlooks, even with oases like Massena’s plants and Watertown’s Fort Drum; as history proves (witness GM in Massena and Plattsburgh Air Force Base), these can display dramatic exits. It’s been plagued by poverty and its side-effects; when we think of rural depression we picture a hollow in Appalachia, but too many pockets in the North Country are no different. In some communities, meth labs have replaced shuttered factories as the primary manufacturing facilities. For all we spend on law enforcement, public service ads, economic development blueprints and so on, none of this seems poised to change anytime soon. 

    The North Country is wacky weather. How can we forget this one? The saying “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes” is not, as some people seem to think, unique to the North Country, but it certainly applies. Our temperatures can range from the minus-thirties in winter to the mid-nineties in summer, one of the more radical spans on the continent. A blizzard can rage in one spot while the sun shines five miles away. We long for summer days during cold spells, for winter (OK, fall) days during hot spells. We are rarely completely satisfied, proof that the weather never stays the same for very long. 

    There’s plenty more. We could say the North Country is friendly, strong, helpful people, but that’s a cliché – it’s what every place says about itself. Besides, not everybody’s friendly or strong or helpful. We could say it’s open spaces with wonderful panoramas of farm, field and forest, but some might argue that that means it’s under-populated. It’s a region of beauty and ugliness, of optimism and pessimism, of tragedy and hope. It is a smorgasbord of contradictions. 

Make Work Great Again

Michelle Graham

We spend a great deal of our time at work. According to a recent Gallup Poll the average American spends almost 47 hours a week at work and salaried employees even more. Is your work environment a happy place or a dreaded place? Is your work like heaven or do you find yourself in hell most days? Perhaps you cannot change where you work but you can change your attitude, your mindset and your outlook. What each one of us brings to the table every day matters, in fact it matters a great deal. The question is how do we make the most of our time at work, how can we lift staff up instead of tear them down? 

    Whether your role where you work is big or small, the employer or the employee there are a few very simple things we can all do to make our work environment amazing and wonderful. 

    It goes without saying that praise and recognition are extremely important. Everyone wants to know that they matter, they are valued, and they are appreciated. A warm friendly greeting, a simple “thank you”, “we appreciate you” all have a monumental impact. Employees who are given praise and recognition are most likely to be loyal, long-term and reliable staff. Never underestimate the value of simply being kind to your employees and, in turn, employees being kind to their employer. The circle of impact has great rewards. In short, we reap what we sow; when you give away goodness it all comes back, and the reverse is also true. The moral of the story is be kind, be compassionate and be considerate always! 

    Come to work ready to always do your best. No matter the task, bring your best efforts to the table. Be your best self, dress your best and have your best attitude. A great attitude is contagious, a smile is contagious and positive outlook is contagious. Be the person everyone wants to be around. In our work environment we all have this great ability to impact those around us. Embrace the qualities that set you apart from others in the BEST way possible. 

    Build trust among your team. Prove that you are someone that the team can count on. That means be on time, follow through on tasks, be accountable, say what you mean, mean what you say, be honest, be hardworking, go the extra mile and most important be organized and responsible! Everyone wants to be trusted, trust your insight, trust that your staff team has your back, trust that they will make good decisions. Allow your staff to grow, learn and sometimes make mistakes, Don’t Micro-Manage. 

    Thread wellness and healthy living into your workplace. Show the team that you truly care about their health and well-being. Implement work-site wellness, have mini worksite wellness challenges to improve healthy living, do health focused lunch and learns, do monthly potluck gatherings that focus on healthy choices. Make your workplace a healthy place. Have healthy snacks and healthy drinks in your vending machines. Be the motivator, the role model, the cheerleader for good health. Perhaps having a wellness team can have great rewards for not only your company’s bottom line, but the team as well. 

    Be engaged, pay attention and interact with staff. Say hello, smile, make staff feel important each day. The little things, I am convinced, mean the most in the work place. Go out of your way to do something nice, a coffee, a small snack or a special note really matters. Be “That” person that lifts others up. It is through these small acts that our working environment and attitude change. Just a little shift in mindset can change the course of someone’s entire day. 

    I am absolutely convinced that attitude is a small thing that can make a BIG difference.  

    What can you do to make your workplace more enjoyable, happier? Praise your staff make them feel important. Do your level best each day, always putting your best foot forward. Trust each other, trust the team. Build trust through good leadership and a supportive work environment. Incorporate health into the workplace, your bottom line and staff will be grateful. Engage with staff, lift them up, smile and make them feel supported. At the end of the day a happy workplace can have profound impact. This season be “That” person everyone wants to be around. Be KIND always. Happy Fall. I hope this season of change motivates you to spread joy at your workplace and beyond! 

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