Week 53: Regifting Was Never so Charitable

Bonus Deed!

This year there are 53 Sundays/Mondays so here is deed #53.

Please visit Gift Card Giver To learn how you can donate gift cards.

They will take either new cards or cards you have used that have a small balance left over.  They pool these cards together and give them to families and organizations across the country who need them.  Sorted by store type and locations they will get the cards to people who can get to these stores that need help – in ways you might not even imagine.

While Target and Wal-Mart cards go fastest any card will do.  Women’s shelters need clothing and makeup store cards to get women ready for job interviews.  Youth groups need cards for toys and sporting goods.  Homeless shelters need clothing, bedding and food.  Even if there is no “practical” use for the card they can be offered in gift baskets at fundraisers for the organizations.

Click the link above to learn how they can use any gift card you send them.  There are other organizations that collect and redistribute gift cards but this one does not take a portion for themselves, they are pure donations.

For my last martini if the year I’m having a Raspberry Kiss.  Shake together (gently):

  • 1 Part  Champagne
  • 1 Part Raspberry Vodka

Pour into your glass and sink a drop of Chambord in the bottom.

This can be super sweet – almost jammy.  If you would like less sweet use a dry champagne or up the vodka a splash.  Sparkling, sweet and easy this is a perfect New Year’s cocktail.  This even works as a punch by adding a touch of soda water or ginger-ale to cut it a bit.

Have a wonderful New Year’s and embark on a one year project of your own in 2013!  Stay tuned for details on my project for next year and how you can help.

What did you do this week?


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Week 52:Toys For Tots and Basil For Martinis

This year Toys R Us is expanding their association with Toys for Tots to help out in areas hit by Hurricane Sandy.  Even better, if you’re not in that area, you can donate online through www.toysrus.com.

No shipping fees, super quick and you can really make some kid happy. The child would never assume that a stranger in Cleveland, Chicago, Richmond or Atlanta would give them a teddy bear.  It’s this unexpected gift that changes everything.

Simple and unexpected can be amazing.

Simple and unexpected like fresh basil in a martini?

For one of my last martinis of the year Nici made a Mango Basil.

First Muddle together:

  • Agave Syrup
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Lemon Wedge
  • Fresh Basil
  • Tiny Splash of Soda Water

Shake this mixture with:

  • 2 Shots Mango Vodka
  • Splash of Ginger-ale
  • Splash of Dry Vermouth
  • Touch of Simple Syrup

This crisp cooler is light and clean.  The agave and syrup sweeten the bite out of the mango vodka leaving a subtle fruity flavor.  The vermouth and soda even out the sugar so it’s not too sweet.  Last the basil freshens everything.  None of the flavors are very strong so this subtly sweet and clean martini is an unexpected surprise.

I probably would not have ordered this since I’m not a huge fan of mango but I will certainly ask for this again.

Unexpected toys, unexpected basil and unexpected weeks!  There’s 53 this year – Stay tuned for the final deed and the final martini of the year!!!

What did you do this week?



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Week 51:Snow is for Gingerbread Houses

We had our first real snow the other day.  A good one too.  Wind. Ice. Snow. It was the Friday before Christmas so basically we were all leaving as we wrapped up our projects for the day.

The required conversation about snow was wrapping up.

  • It’s really coming down out there
  • Welcome to Cleveland!
  • Oh, it looks like Christmas!
  • I don’t have a snowbrush
  • I bet it’s icy out there – is it icy out there?

I’m not a fan of having the same pointless conversation repeatedly so I was packing up and getting ready to go.  One of the comments got through though.

Normally I would have admonished the 48 year old native Clevelander for not having a snow brush (come on – you’ve done this 48 times!) but she had a good excuse.  Her car was new and she left her old one in her old car.

Since I left before her I brushed her car off.  Chiseled away the ice, cleaned off the mirrors, cleaned under the wipers.  Yep – I’m a snow ninja.

Since it’s super cold out and it is that time of year, Nici made a Gingerbread Martini by shaking together:

  • 1.5 Shots Vanilla Stoli
  • 2 Shots Gingerbread Syrup
  • 2 Shots Bailey’s

Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a shake of cinnamon.  Bonus points for a gingerbread cookie! Super sweet but nicely spiced. This is certainly a party ready drink!  If you’ve been out in the snow all day a few of these will warm your cheeks.

What did you do this week?


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Week 50: Now I Can Pay For Cake!

Ah, the art of being reimbursed. It’s tricky.  Fine Print. If/Then statements. Percentages of percentages.

Mail in Rebates

Commission Statements

Store Deals

Pick your poison, get out your legal dictionary and bring a calculator.

In the end I sat with two different people and helped them secure over $2000 combined.  That’s money that was owed to them or was promised for participation in programs or through special purchases. I can’t stress the importance of reading the rules and keeping documentation,

With all that extra cash, one of them bought me an Angel Food Cake Martini!  Shake together:

  • 2 Shots Cake Vodka
  • 3/4 Shot Amaretto
  • Splash of Lemonade
  • Splash of Cranberry

Surprisingly light – I was prepared for a sugar bomb but not this time.  Like the light sponge cake, the amaretto adds a twist and depth of flavor.  Simple and clean – I’m for it.

Now go mail in that rebate!!!

What did you do this week?




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Week 49: Canned Goods, S’mores and Shelter

This week The Cashmere Cricket held a fundraiser for The Battered Women’s Shelter on West Market Street in Akron. Through collections of food for the pantries and cash donations they were able to raise $1800 in cash and a huge SUV full of groceries!

Matt and I helped with cash, canned food, macaroni, potatoes, cookies, cereal, fruit snacks and more.

The original plan was to adopt one family seeking help from the shelter but because of the huge support they were able to help more.

If you or anyone you know is in an abusive relationship please know there is help out there. Shelters collect cell phones for women to call for help, food and toys for their kids and help abused women break free from the toxic relationships.

Since the fundraiser was such a great success, I had a Campfire Martini. Shake together:

  • 1.5 Shots S’mores Vodka
  • 2.5 Shots Godiva

Here’s where we get silly – Rim the glass with crushed graham crackers, drizzle the glass with chocolate. Then, of course, float a marshmallow on top.

No bonus points on this one – we’re already pretty crazy.  Rich and chocolatey the S’mores vodka adds a touch of vanilla and deepens the chocolate flavor.  If you dip a graham cracker in instead of rimming the glass I wouldn’t think any less of you, as long as you pass me the grahams when you’re done.

Share a martini with a woman you care about, or a s’more with her kids too.

What did you do this week?


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Week 48: A Backup Martini

Last week I helped a co-worker by leading her forward and helping her step up.  This week helped from the other side.

A co-worker had a lot to do to get ready for a presentation.  She was gathering information for solutions, reorganizing the support team and collecting documentation.  She needed help – not with the heavy lifting but with the support stuff.  She was very capable and an excellent project manager but someone needed to be there for the little stuff.

While she was checking with the systems team I was formatting a report for her.

While she was meeting with the audit team I was picking up lunch.

While she was getting nervous about the project and organizing the teams I was listening and offering solutions.

While she was wrapping up the presentation I was updating her director with notes on how well she did.

Backing her up let her focus on the big picture planning necessary for  this week.

This week’s martini came from Cilantro where I had a Thai Pear Martini.  Shake together:

  • 1 Part Absolute Pear Vodka
  • 1 Part Hana Lychee Sake
  • Splash Apple Juice

This pear martini is a lot sweeter than expected.  Not quite a pear drink the lychee is very syrupy, much like a peeled white grape.  This refreshing cooler would be great on a hot summer day.

What did you do this week?


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Week 47: Presentations, Pie Charts and Bananas?

Presentations for clients can be stressful for most business professionals. This, however was the black hole of scary presentations.

  1. The presenter had never used the presentation software before.
  2. The client was known for being difficult and demanding.
  3. It was Thursday afternoon and her flight left Sunday.

I couldn’t let her fail.

We worked together Thursday and Friday to pull data for statistic reports, product information for solutions to the pain points and graphics to help explain concepts for future projects.  I showed her some outlines for organization and tools available in the software.  She worked Friday evening on pulling everything together and came to my shop Saturday for final editing.  I smoothed out a few rough edges and helped her practice the delivery.

Those few days were presentation bootcamp for her but in the end we put together a good presentation and she delivered it with confidence. The client is still difficult but my co-worker has built credibility and now knows how to pull together a solid account review!

She said my next good deed martini will be her treat but she had a flight to catch!  Since my co-worker was busy visiting the client, Jeff made me a Chocolate Covered Banana!  For this Martini shake together:

  • 1.5 parts 99 Bananas
  • 1 part Licor 43
  • 1 part Vanilla Vodka
  • 2 Parts White Creme de Cacao
  • 1.5 parts Godiva

It’s hard to balance flavors with chocolate and this works!  Bonus points for a super chilled glass and if you keep your vodka in the freezer.  When super cold this tastes like the frozen bananas you get on the boardwalk on a hot summer day.  The Licor 43 and Vanilla Vodka cut the alcohol bite of the 99 Bananas and the vanilla sweetens the fruit.  A fun idea would be to float a frozen chocolate covered banana  slice for presentation.

The lesson here?  Don’t let your work drive you bananas!!!


Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

What did you do this week?


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Week 46: She Called Me a LifeSaver!

I don’t know about life saver but…

The truth is I am part of a tight knit small business community in the Akron area.  We stick together and help each other. A friend of mine and I were discussing the new terms at a wholesaler we have in common and I provided her with some startling news about the ownership of a local business.

We discussed the impact to her and her business.  As it turns out this news would have been the difference in an large investment for her and the planning for the next year of her business.  My loyalty in  our friendship (even though she is technically a competitor) made a difference for her.

The funny part is that she knows that I am working on this one year project of good deeds and charitable acts and insisted that helping her out like this was not only worth a martini but that it be a lifesaver martini!

So for you CP, Nici made me a Cherry LifeSaver.  Shake together:

  • 2 Shots Cherry Vodka
  • 1 Ounce Cherry Juice
  • Splash of Triple Sec
  • Splash of Sprite

Like a liquid cherry hard candy!  Perfect cherry punch and candy red color.  I love it when the drink matches the deed…  CP, this one’s for you!

What did you do this week?


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Week 45: With a Little Help From My Friends, and Licorice

There are some challenges you need to face on your own and some you need support from those around you.  One of my friends was saying that she was having a hard time staying motivated to loose weight.  She knew what she had to do but had a hard time staying on track.

Let’s do it together!  I know that with support and accountability to someone else she would do great.  I organized some weekly trackers and recruited a few others to join us.  My scale is now sitting in my office and each Friday we have a standing appointment to weigh in.

Each day we ask each other what we ate, how we worked out and if there were any challenges.  We also stop to celebrate the victories together.  She has already lost 8 lbs and said that she couldn’t do it without the care and support.

One of the things I do to keep on track is make sure that my indulgences are worth it.  If you are going to treat yourself, make sure it satisfies that craving or else you’ll just keep trying to fill the void and do even more damage.

Jeff is always good for a rich tasting martini and this time he comes through with Black Licorice.  Shake  together:

  • 1.5 oz Cherry Vodka
  • 1 oz Absinthe Vodka (flavored vodka, not actual Absinthe)
  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz Cranberry Juice

The Absinthe vodka is critical, if you use real absinthe this will taste AWFUL and have, well absinthe side effects.  The strong absinthe flavor is dark and spicy, this mixed with the tart/sweet cherry and fruit is just like a spicy dark piece of licorice.  If you like Good and Plenty candy – this is spot on.

What did you do this week?


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Week 44: Kohl’s and Candy Corn

Matt and I were looking for a casual jacket for him to wear to work and we didn’t want to spend a lot.  We stopped in our local Kohl’s store and actually found a coat, a pair of jeans and a few shirts for work!   For those of you unfamiliar, Kohl’s will give you a $10 gift certificate for every $50 you spend during certain sales.  We spent enough for $30 in certificates.

On our next rip back to use the certificates we didn’t have as much luck and had a hard time spending it.  I did find a little purse I liked for $25 but couldn’t find anything I wanted for the other $5.

Matt had a great idea “Why don’t you give someone the other $5?”.

The funny part was that the first two ladies I tried to give it to refused to take it.

I found a lady who said that it would really help her out!


Halloween Good Deed Done!!! Time for a Candy Corn Martini!  Shake together:

  • 1.5 Counts Vanilla Vodka
  • 1 Count Orange Vodka
  • 3/4 Count Cream de Cacao
  • Splash of Orange Juice

Ah – wait for it… Pour this mixture into a martini glass. Sink 3/4 Count of Butterscotch Liquor, then sink a Splash of Grenadine. Ta Da!! You now have a three layered candy corn presentation.  Ok the top layer tastes very tart and citrusy so after I admired the cool layering trick I swirled the layers together.  Very nice.  The Orange mixed with the Butterscotch is a winner!  Like an oatmeal cookie with orange zest – perfect for Autumn.

What did you do this week?



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