Tag Archives: tips

Today:1,000 pieces in 800 square feet.

Puzzles were made for people with a lot of patience and ideally, a spare kitchen table.  I have neither.  I have, however, formed a recent obsession with puzzles.  It started the day after my sister’s wedding, when my family got together for lunch at the cottage my brother rented for the week.  I was immediately drawn to the nearly complete puzzle laid out on their dining room table.

I try to practice what I preach (namely saying no more often, so I can say yes to the things that matter), but I’m still left feeling a bit burned out lately.  I love being busy and interacting with people, but as an introvert, I end up completely zapped if I don’t carve out enough quiet time for myself.  And not just quiet time (hey, scrolling through baby Frenchie photos on Instagram for hours is quiet!), but quality quiet time.

At the risk of sounding like the lady that sells crystals near the T stop, putting puzzle pieces together feels very restorative for me.  It’s logical and there’s a right answer: a piece either fits or it doesn’t.  And at some point you’re done.  In other words: it’s the opposite of work.  I am incredibly lucky to have a career that I love, but the work is never done and it’s often complicated (and um… puzzling).

Hippy talk aside, when we got back to Boston, I hit up Target for my own puzzle.  500 pieces? 300 pieces? I figured, go big or go home…. and then I actually, well… got home.

I soon learned that 1,000 piece puzzles were not designed for small, city condos.  They are much better suited for dining room tables at the Cape.  I was faced with three options:

Option 1: Make a mess.

Option 2: Complete the puzzle in one sitting.

Option 3: Get things under control.

If you’re comfortable with Option 1, more power to you.  If Option 2 is your M.O., welp… I commend you.  After losing several pieces under the sofa (don’t ask), scattering several hundred pieces across any and all workable surfaces, and essentially holding our condo hostage with a nowhere-near-complete Italian seaside vista, I knew I needed to get things under control.  Thank goodness for washi tape.  And the 600 mason jars I seem to have hoarded since my sister’s shower.

How to put together a 1,000 piece puzzle in an 800 square foot condo

  1. Sort through each piece (if you have fellow puzzlers, recruit them to help here) in the box and remove all outer edge pieces.
  2. Connect your outer edges (this step alone may take 6-7 years).
  3. Review the puzzle box and determine which major categories pieces will fall into, for example: buildings, boats, dark water, light water, sky, trees.
  4. Label your mason jars (or other suitable containers with lids) with each of your categories and get to sorting.
  5. Tackle one jar (and effectively, one area of the puzzle) at a time.  You can keep the other jars tucked away while you focus on the “dark water” jar.  Or whatever.
  6. Pay someone to finish the puzzle when you get bored and/or distracted by something shiny.  Like, say, a different puzzle.
  7. Once all of your jars are empty, you should have completed the puzzle.  Unless something bad happened…

Wondering what to do once you’re done?  Consider donating your puzzle to one of the following places:

  • Hope Lodge – There are currently 31 locations in the U.S., all which offer free lodging in a warm environment to cancer patients, and their families, while they receive treatment.  
  • Your local library (many have puzzles available for loan)
  • V.A. Hospitals and Clinics – Puzzles are a great way for patients and their families to pass the time in waiting rooms.  Check with your local V.A. Hospital to learn more about making a donation.
  • Senior Centers and assisted living facilities – Our senior friends were alive before Angry Birds.  They know how to complete puzzles, which can be great tools for socialization and work on motor skills and concentration.

…just please be sure there are no missing pieces before you drop off a box or two. 😉

Also On Tap for Today:

  • 3rd CrossFit workout of the week (I am making good on my intention to show up more)
  • Happy National Running Day!
  • Making a summer bucket list

What’s your favorite way to restore yourself?

Today: National Osteoporosis Month, Adora and The Bar Method.

I updated the four-month planning calendar white board thing in my office this week and seeing September up there?  Good Lord.  It’s somehow the last day of May– which happens to be National Osteoporosis Month– and I’ve got some important information to impart to you and your bones.

I joined the lovely folks from Adora at Bar Method Boston this week for a serious workout and conversation about osteoporosis prevention.  I used to think of osteoporosis as an old lady issue.  Rude, I know.  Turns out, how we treat our bodies now (regardless of age) matters a great deal.  Before sweating through a Bar Method class, we met with a Registered Dietitian and licensed nutritionist who gave us the run down on osteoporosis prevention.  She echoed much of the information shared by the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Listen up, ladies… and the gentlemen who love them.

  • An estimated 10 million Americans have osteoporosis.  8 million of these people (or 80%, mathletes) are women.
  • Approximately 1 in 2 women over the age of 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis.
  • A woman’s risk of breaking her hip is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.
  • People often do not know they have osteoporosis until they are treated for a fractured wrist, hip, spine, etc.

Why are women more likely to get osteoporosis then men?  

  1. Our bones tend to be smaller and thinner and cuter.
  2. Estrogen (which protects our bones) decreases significantly during menopause, which can contribute to bone loss.

That’s the bad news.  The good news?

We are never too young or too old experienced to take care of our bones and overall health.

How to protect your bones and build or maintain bone density:

  • Get enough calcium (1200 mg a day is recommended) and vitamin D3… and get as much of it as possible from real food (click through for a list of calcium rich foods
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Engaging in regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise will help increase bone density
  • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol and soda intake

If you’re like me (i.e. impossibly cool, sophisticated, and a bit mysterious) and your diet is less than perfect, supplements can certainly help,  but they should be just that: supplements to a healthy diet.  Not replacements for kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts.  In other words, you shouldn’t take 1200 mg worth of calcium supplements each day.  I just gave myself a stomach ache typing that.

I’ve been taking Adora calcium supplements for a few years now and sort of felt like the teacher’s pet for admitting so.  I keep a bag in my desk drawer and grab one with lunch most afternoons.

What I, um… adore about Adora:

  • It’s chocolate.  I could stop there.
  • Both milk chocolate and dark chocolate varieties are gluten free.
  • The dark chocolate, which is definitely my jam, is dairy free (but dairy is present in the production facility).
  • Each disc contains 500 mg of calcium, plus magnesium and D3 to aid in absorption, and contains only 30 calories.

Is this the longest post in the history of the Internet?  Because I haven’t gotten to the part where I tried to be a graceful swan, but likely looked more like a trembling, sickly pigeon.

After learning about the importance of calcium and osteoporosis prevention, we were treated to a 45 minute class taught by McKenzie Howart, owner and instructor at The Bar Method Boston.  As class began, I was all… Whatever.  I work out.  This will be a breeze.  Ten minutes in to the class, I was more… Why are my legs shaking like this?  I have completely lost control of my body!  

What felt akin to gentle torture in the moment was actually kind of fun.  I can see why people get hooked.  I especially liked stretching at the ballet barre.  The studio itself is bright and airy, and McKenzie was warm, compassionate and very helpful.  Every time I heard her call my name I inwardly cringed, but she was quick with a helpful tip or correction.  It’s clear they pay great attention to form, which I am sure greatly benefits their students.  Usual classes at The Bar Method (there are locations in most major cities) are an hour long and features a series of movements (high reps, very focused range of motion) to both engage and stretch muscles in the arms, back, legs, butt, and core.

It was really great to try something new and challenging.  I am sure my bones are grateful.  My still-shaking legs?  Maybe less so.

The usual disclaimer: I attended this event as a guest of Adora.  I was not compensated for this post, and my opinions are mine alone.  Obvi.  (I hope.)

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Breakfast with my 7th grade pen pal 🙂
  • Looking to cool off?  A few beach suggestions.
  • Trying not to melt

Tried anything new lately?

Today: Easy, up-cycled vases and The Compliment Depot.

Why simply recycle… when you can up-cycle?  And by up-cycle, I mean slap some metallic paint on a few jars destined for the recycling bin.  Easy as that.

My sister’s bridal shower provided the perfect opportunity to dump glitter all over my condo, cut up a bunch of ribbon, and smear paint all over the place.  I love a good craft project.  These vases, which I filled with silk peonies (my sister will have the real deal in her bouquet this weekend), took all of five minutes to make, plus an overnight to dry and cost less than six bucks.

Easy, up-cycled vases

What you’ll need:

  • Several clean, dry glass jars (I used a couple pasta sauce jars and a few Bonne Maman jam jars)
  • Metallic paint (I used this paint in Vintage Gold Satin, but you could use any color or finish… neon perhaps?)
  • An old mixing bowl or similar, deep container that you don’t mind ruining covering in paint (I used a Ziplock container that was missing its lid)
  • Newspaper or cardboard for drying

Super obvious, likely unnecessary step-by-step:

  1. Wash and dry all glass jars and prep am area where you can allow painted jars to dry overnight (I used several old cardboard boxes and bribed Clark to stay away from them).
  2. Work with one jar at a time.  Pour a small amount of paint into your mixing bowl, dip your first jar and tip over to dry, allowing the paint to drip down the sides.  Use as much or as little paint as you like.
  3. Repeat step two until all jars have been dipped.
  4. Allow paint to dry over night before tipping them upright.
  5. Do not use these vases for food or drink.  I am certain neither Martha Stewart nor I want anyone to get poisoned.

These vases would also make great pen and pencil holders for your desk, or cute storage for jewelry and makeup brushes.

Semi-related: Is it just me, or does everyone think The Home Depot be renamed The Compliment Depot?  I dropped in there before work last week and got an unexpected early morning ego boost.  I love places that open early (mostly because I get a run in my nylons nearly every morning and don’t always have an extra pair or nine on hand).  Anyway, I was there to buy a convertible hand cart (my life is truly glamorous, in case that wasn’t abundantly obvious) and walked up and down every aisle twice.  Including the toilet one.  With no luck.

After waiting in line for a few minutes at customer service, I learned the carts are located in the garden department.  The gentleman who pointed me in the right direction remarked on how patient I was (not true, but okay…).  When I estimated that I would need to move more than 150 pounds, but fewer than 800 pounds, the person helping me said I was very smart for knowing that (um… that’s a range of 650 pounds, and I only know that because I used the calculator app on my iPhone).  When I refused an offer of assistance and carried the monstrosity of a cart out on my own, I got a whoa, you’re strong (this person clearly did not see me nearly fall under my own car while trying to lift the cart into the trunk).  I was also complimented on my pretty dress and great smile (I think it was actually a grimace, since I was in the aforementioned toilet aisle).

I’ll be back there soon for more compliments, and more metallic paint.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite place to shop for creative projects?


Today: Top tips for aging pets. {A guest post from Kristi}

I met Kristi at the 2011 Healthy Living Summit in Philadelphia.  I was still new to the whole “meeting people from the Internet” thing, but she was like a little ray of Arizona sunshine.  I’m so glad we’ve kept in touch and am excited to share the following guest post with you.

Hi guys! My name is Kristi and I’m a veterinarian, healthy living enthusiast and chocoholic. I blog over at Lifesprinkles where I share my daily tips for staying active and finding balance with a busy life as well as the crazy antics of my three dogs Alan, Eddy and Jelly Bean.

Me & JB

I’m so excited for the opportunity to guest post for On Tap for Today! I love reading about Elizabeth’s musings on life and curious contemplation of Clark’s moods. (Don’t we all wish we knew what our dogs were thinking sometimes?)

In honor of Clark’s recent birthday, I thought I’d share some of my top tips for aging pets. As a veterinarian, I see many pets who advance into their golden years with ease and plenty who, well, don’t. If you want to ensure your dog ages a little more like an Olsen twin and less like a Rolling Stones band member then you’ve come to the right place! Here are my best tips for helping your pet age gracefully. (A quick clarification before we get started: as our dogs tend to age faster than we humans do, for the purpose of this post I’m considering any dog over the age of 3-4 as “middle-aged.” Don’t worry, Clark, you’re still a spring chicken.)

Start your supplements. Have a middle-aged pet? Now is the perfect time to start thinking about supplements. As a health conscious person, you take your vitamins right? Well, when it comes to our pets, it’s very much the same; it’s all about preventative care. My top two supplements by far for middle-aged pets are fish oils and glucosamine. Fish oils are great for so many reasons – they help support skin and coat health (especially important for pets who suffer from allergies), promote overall heart health and have general anti-inflammatory effects beneficial for immune support. Did you know that most dogs will develop arthritis at some point in their life? Larger breeds like Labradors and Great Danes tend to suffer from hip issues, and smaller dogs such as terriers are more prone to luxating patellas, which can lead to the development of arthritis in their knees. By the time most pets start showing symptoms of arthritis, a lot of damage to the joint has already been done. So, why not get a jump start on preserving cartilage now? It just makes good sense. As a general rule, large breed dogs can take around 1000 mg of glucosamine daily while smaller dogs require 500 mg or less. Be sure to check with your vet for your dog’s specific requirements.

Eddy channeling his best MJ circa 2010

Clean those teeth. For pets around the age of 3-4, now is the perfect time to start thinking about preserving those chompers. If your pet hasn’t had a good dental cleaning by this age, chances are he or she could benefit from one. Can you imagine if you didn’t brush your teeth or have them cleaned for four whole years? (Aside from the health issues, you’d probably have a lot fewer friends). It’s true, dental cleanings are expensive but definitely worth the investment in terms of your dog’s long-term health. If a dental cleaning just isn’t in the cards for your pup right now, sticking primarily to dry food, dental prescription diets, brushing (yes, brushing!) and various dental products (chews etc.) on the market can all be helpful. As for pets above the age of 7-8, I often have the discussion with owners who question, “Isn’t my dog too old for anesthesia?” No! In fact, it’s quite the contrary. As long as your pet is healthy and has normal blood work, it’s the perfect time to schedule a cleaning. The older your dog gets, the greater the chance to develop more problems that will lead to him or her being a less than ideal candidate for anesthetic procedures.

My sweet old lady

Perform a gut check. No, I’m not talking about intuition here. If your pet is overweight, now is the time to nip it in the bud. I typically gauge pets on a scale of 1-5, where 1 = extremely thin/underweight and 5 = way too many milk bones before bedtime. Ideally, you want your dog’s body condition score right around a 2.5 (where you can feel but not see his or her ribs, with a slight taper at the waist when looking down from above and a good tummy tuck from the side). Just as in humans, obesity can contribute to a host of other health problems for your pup – arthritis (more weight = more stress on the joints), skin and allergy issues, organ disease. My favorite tip for pets needing to scale back in the weight department is to replace about 1/4 cup of dry food with an equal amount of green beans (canned pumpkin is also great if seasonally available – about 1 Tbsp for large breeds and a couple tsp for smaller dogs). The added fiber found in green beans helps keep pets feeling full without missing the calories you’re sneakily deleting from their diet. And be sure to watch those treats! If your pet is looking a little rounded at the edges try replacing half of his or her treats with baby carrots. Just like with us, small changes add up!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips. (Thanks again, Elizabeth!) If you’d like to read more, feel free to pop on over to my blog anytime. I love visitors!

Also On Tap for Today:

Got a pet?  Share your best tip for keeping them happy and healthy.


Today: Be a better listener.

I pride myself on being a good listener.  Sometimes I think people on public transportation can sense that about me.  Oh, and the RMV.  People always think I am a good listener at the RMV.  That’s how I end up on the wrong end of a monologue about that time Linda’s cat’s paw got stuck in the mailbox.  I try to look really mean, but people who love to talk always manage to look past that.

Every once in a while, whether with loved ones or complete sketch balls strangers, I catch myself nodding and making agreement noises without having any real sense of what the other person is saying.  And I start to panic, wondering how much of the conversation I missed, distracted by a shiny object on the horizon or a daydream about inventing a Chuck E. Cheese for adults and their brindle French bulldogs.

Does this ever happen to you?  (The zoning out part, not the Chuck E. Cheese part.)  I happened upon this article from Experience Life magazine (a favorite of mine), and found the section with tips on how to be a better listener especially helpful:

Business consultant Ori Brafman and psychologist Rom Brafman are interested in what allows people to truly bond. In their book, Click: The Magic of Instant Connections (Broadway Books, 2010), they explain how to be fully present during conversations. This involves careful listening, of course, but that’s only the beginning. Here are four of the Brafmans’ suggestions for listening to, and becoming genuinely engaged in, what the other person is saying.

Be intentional. Before engaging in a conversation, consciously decide to be present and open for it. This can be as simple as taking a deep breath before opening the coffee-shop door and turning off your phone before sitting down.

Be attentive. Ask for elaboration. Share your reactions honestly. Demonstrate to the other person that you are actively participating in the conversation.

Be an equal. Avoid giving advice or assuming a one-up or one-down position. Do your best to listen without a plan or an agenda.

Be your own person. Instead of getting preoccupied with how you should respond, be authentic with your emotional reactions to what the other person is saying. Get in touch with how you’re really feeling, and your conversational partner will understand you, too.

I am guessing these tips are most useful when you’re a willing participant in a two-way conversation, but I suppose the orange line or the RMV would be good places to practice becoming a better listener.  Or whatever.

Also On Tap for Today:

Are you a good listener?  Huh?  Whadya say? 

Today: The weekend according to Instagram V.

I’m hitting that stretch of the year when I am in full on workbernation mode.  It’s sort of like hibernation, minus the sleeping and being a bear parts.  I spent most of Saturday at work and the better part of Sunday obsessively checking my  work email.  It will be much of the same most nights and weekends until July.  I am, like, the least cool cell phone plan ever.  Get it?  Nights and weekends?  Right.

I’m focusing on being as present as possible when I am home (that means putting limits on the ol’ email checking compulsion) and simplifying where ever and whenever possible.  For example:

  • I am making Nick do all the chores.  Just kidding.  Or am I?
  • I’m wearing nothing but black until further notice.  Depressing, yes.  But everything matches.
  • I’m waking up even earlier (even if this requires going to bed the second I get home, which it might).
  • I am devoting time this week to eliminating as much visual clutter as possible.  It helps my brain feel more organized.

While I workbernate, please enjoy another installment of The weekend according to Instagram.

The weekend according to Instagram V

the weekend according to instagram

  1. One of my favorite views in the condo: Clark and I love watching Nick make grocery lists.  And not just because it means he’s going grocery shopping.  That’s an added plus.
  2. Thanks to the magic of Twitter, I learned that Saturday was National Banana Bread Day.  Not wanting to be unpatriotic, I broke out my gluten free flour and a few overripe bananas and got to work.
  3. While waiting for the over to preheat, I channeled my inner botanist and put together a little terrarium-esque centerpiece.  Despite spilling half a bag of potting mix on our cream colored rug, I was quite pleased with my work.  The flowers in the tall vase were an early birthday treat from Nick.  Both vases were steals from Homegoods.  That is to say, they were very inexpensive.  I promise I didn’t steal them.
  4. Gluten-free cinnamon banana oat muffins.  Need I say more?
  5. I got a gel manicure this weekend, effectively saving myself the usual 45 minutes I spend each week painting and repainting my nails and ensuring I don’t look like a (cinnamon banana oat) ragamuffin at work events for the next few weeks.  I talk with my hands.  A lot.  So this is sort of important.  There.  I think I have sufficiently rationalized treating myself. [Side note: did you know ragamuffin is a type of cat?  Totally Googled the word to make sure I spelled it correctly (I am bad at the Internet) and the search yielded lots of scary cat pictures.]  The color is CND Shellac Romantique, the closest possible gel relative to my usual standby, essie Ballet Slippers.
  6. Speaking of treats, I got a lovely package in the mail from Heidi at Intelligent Nutrients, a certified organic health and beauty company.  I’ll give you the full scoop this week on detoxing my locks.
  7. I snuck in a quick Sunday morning workout in my Saucony Virratas.  And then I sat on the floor for an hour with my dog.  Somewhat related: my stitches came out this morning, so I am officially back in action.
  8. Please don’t report me to the MSPCA or Sarah McLachlan (that PSA just kills me).  Don’t let his face fool you, Clark likes wearing origami hats fashioned from magazine subscription tear-outs.
  9. And last, but not least, the perfect daily yoga sequence from Yoga Journal’s 21 day challenge.  I completed this before bed on Sunday, helping to quiet my mind a bit.  I am all about the simple.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Today: Treat yo self.

I’ve recently become addicted to Parks and Recreation.  I think Ron Swanson might be my spirit animal.  I am channeling my inner Donna Meagle after a truly absurd week, though, and treating myself.

Yesterday morning, I treated myself to half an hour of no phone calls and no emails, and a little mind-clearing run and no awkward eye contact (unfortunately, there was an abundance of awkward eye contact – that comes with the territory in small hotel gyms with giant mirrors and only two, side-by-side treadmills). I tried to treat myself to a massage this afternoon, but the massage place had to stay closed today (Rude, Nemo.  Rude.).  Minor setback.  The foam roller will do.  For now.  Back to the treats.

You want some pretty orange-ish tulips?  Treat yo self.  You want a new book (an actual, real book – not an electronic, ebook, digi-book thing)?  Treat yo self.  You want to spend twenty minutes of your life painting and repainting your nails until they are the perfect, smudge-proof shade of Ballet Slipper?  Treat yo self.  You want to take your little dog for an extra long walk slog through the snow?  Treat yo self.  You want to fill up the tub and overflow it with some Mr. Bubble (or maybe something less likely to cause you to break out into hives… like, Aveeno oatmeal bath, perhaps)?  Treat yo self.

Seriously.  Treat yourself.

Also On Tap for Today:

How do you treat your lovely self?


Today: Do your Sunday things on Saturday.

You know all those things you leave for Sunday?  Nine loads of laundry, grocery shopping, meal prep, scrubbing the bathroom floor, your thirteenth nail polish change of the week?  I’m not a scientist (I fainted in 9th grade biology), but I am guessing they only contribute to the Sunday night blues.  Imagine what you could do with your Sundays if most of the unpleasant stuff was done already.  I can’t promise miracles (those just happen on their own), but I bet this scheduling shift might make us all a bit more, welp, pleasant.

Do your Sunday things on Saturday

Why not do your Sunday things on Saturday?  I’m committing to getting the grown-up, boring stuff out of the way early so that I have plenty of time to enjoy my Sunday.

Sunday Saturday To Do List

  • Deep clean the condo (why yes, I do have a playlist designed just for this purpose)
  • Make a thoughtful meal plan and corresponding shopping list
  • Divide up vitamins and supplements for the week (I know.  My life is the pinnacle of glamour.)
  • Assess my schedule and wardrobe for the week (Do I need yet another pair of black tights?  Do suit-like things need to go to the dry cleaners?)
  • Work on condo projects I’ve been putting off (such as using the label maker to label everything in sight, including my dog)
  • Prep my handbag for the week (this mostly involves recycling random receipts and errant paperclips, restocking my stash of quarters for city parking meters, ensuring I have at least 13 chapsticks on hand, and packing snacks to curb low blood sugar induced rages)
  • Laundry to the sixth power
  • Tie up loose ends from the previous week (call the people I forgot to call, email the people I forgot to email, schedule the appointments I forgot to schedule) and prioritize my to do list for the following week

Sunday To Enjoy List

  • Early morning CrossFit workout
  • Mass
  • Long walk with Nick and Clark
  • Grocery shopping and meal prep (oddly enjoyable for me)
  • Sunday night manicure (and a pedicure at Gaelic Day Spa if I am feeling extra generous to myself)

I feel better already.

Also On Tap for Today:

What Sunday things might you move to Saturday?

Today: A few simple steps for a better life.

I had one of those weeks.  The kind where you get to your desk and think… I don’t remember driving to work.  The kind where, at the end of the day, you forget where you parked.  And subsequently, you walk from one parking level to the next, casually pressing the alarm button on your key ring.  The kind where you eat frozen yogurt for dinner.  The kind where you wake up in the morning, feeling like you could use another six hours of sleep (maybe because you ate frozen yogurt for dinner?).  The kind where you wonder if wearing tomorrow’s suit to bed would give you a jump on the morning routine (a bad idea, I assure you).

Not exactly the healthiest week.  But we all have ’em.  And fortunately, it’s a long weekend – perfect for getting a little much needed rest, and getting back on track.  More good news:  some of the best steps we can take for a better life are also the simplest.

A few simple steps for a better life:

1.  Take off your shoes when you walk through the door.

Your shoes pick up all kinds of cooties, germs, and particles throughout the day.  Leaving your shoes at the door will prevent you from tracking those nasty things throughout your house.  Need more convincing?  Here’s 37 reasons to leave your shoes at the door.

Fellow dog owners would do well to wipe their pets’ paws after walks.  Just think (on second thought, maybe don’t) about what those little fellas walk through.

2.  Consider making a switch.

It might be taking the stairs instead of the elevator.  It might be a piece of fruit instead of a cup of juice.  It might be a phone call to a friend instead of a television show.  Small switches can make a big difference, without requiring a lot of added time or effort.

For me, making the switch from dairy milk to almond milk has been an easy and effective way to ensure I get plenty of calcium in my diet, without the unpleasant effects of lactose.  I grew up drinking skim milk with every meal, but when my doctor and RD prescribed all kinds of tests and elimination diets last summer, dairy was at the top of the no-no list.

Single-serve cartons of Silk PureAlmond – I was thrilled to find these minis in the market. They’re much more commuter-friendly than a large, previously-opened carton of non-dairy milk. And yes, I have had one of those tip over and spill in my handbag.

Nick and I were already using almond milk in smoothies, coffee, baking, and protein shakes, so it was not hard to make a total shift.  Cheese was another story.  I came close to weeping before a wedge of brie at our favorite Whole Foods Market.  While I am back to eating dairy in small quantities, we still tend to opt for almond milk over cow’s milk.

There are the obvious benefits (50% more calcium per serving than dairy milk, shelf stable before opening… in your purse or elsewhere), but it’s also a taste thing.  I simply prefer almond milk at this point.  If you’ve made the switch and are looking for a little inspiration, check out these recipes featuring Silk PureAlmond Unsweetened shared by a few fellow bloggers on Silk’s Facebook page (where you’ll also find a $1.00 off coupon to um… sweeten the deal).  New recipes are being added regularly, and they all look fantastic.

3.  Bring home a plant.

Plants help purify the air around us.  They give us something to care for (I think this is important).  They look pretty.  And, apparently, they can make us smarter.

Lacking a green thumb?  Here’s a list of  24 easy to care for house plants.

4.  Give your cell phone some thought.

Every now and then, I use my iPhone for making actual phone calls.  You know when you’ve chatted just a little too long, and suddenly your phone feels like it’s been in the microwave?  That can’t be safe.  When Pong Research sent me a protective case, designed to reduce radiation exposure,  I hesitated to read their materials for fear I’d be convinced to forgo my phone all together.  Then I saw something really cute I wanted to Instagram.  Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it too prevent harmful radiation aaaand over-share on the Internet too.

This is the thing: It’s possible that many of the devices we use daily are harmful.  Maybe a little, maybe a lot.  Spending time worrying and imagining (two favorite past times of mine) accomplishes very little.  Give your cell phone usage, or microwave usage, or super-amazing-hold hair spray some thought.  Research alternatives.  Come up with a plan to limit the harm you may be causing yourselves or others.

5.  Take a walk.

I take what I call a “wellness walk” (nearly) every day.  I usually fold in office errands, like grabbing the mail or making a bank deposit, but I always make sure I have a few minutes to myself to just be.  To say hello to the older people who gather near the playground by my office.  To look at the clouds (another favorite past time, one more productive than worrying).  To stretch my legs a bit.

I always return to my desk feeling refreshed and re-energized.  On days when I am at the office for especially long hours, these walks help break up the day and keep me feeling connected to everything going on beyond my desk.  They give me perspective.  It only takes a few minutes (I am rarely gone more that 10), but it makes a world of difference.

It’s pretty incredible how one simple, smart choice can lead to more simple, smart choices.  And how simple, smart choices lead you to the exact spot where you parked this morning.

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign.  All opinions are my own.

Also On Tap for Today:

What healthy switches or swaps have you made?

Today: The weekend, according to Instagram.

With work being crazy (in a good way), I’ve been making a conscious effort to unplug a bit more during the weekend.  I can’t seem to put my Instagram machine iPhone down, though.  Technically it’s only plugged in when it’s charging, so… I guess that still sort of counts as being unplugged.  Maybe.

The weekend, according to Instagram.

The weekend according to Instagram 1

  1. The Os Gemeos mural in Dewey Square, taken from a stoplight (safety first).
  2. View of Logan from the Seaport – I love living so close to the water.
  3. Spotted this so jelly mug (the reverse side features a pair of jelly fish) at Target while running errands.  And then I had Destiny’s Child stuck in my head for the rest of the day.  I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.
  4. I whipped up a quick and (extremely) easy lemon artichoke pesto on Friday night.  I love throwing together ingredients with neither measuring, counting, nor caring.  Pestos are perfect for that.  I used two small jars of artichoke hearts (drained), added a generous helping of walnuts (~2 cups), a bunch of fresh parsley, a drizzle of olive oil, juice from one lemon, a pinch of nutritional yeast, and little salt and pepper.  You could probably chop up the ingredients and mash together in a bowl, but I went straight for the food processor.  Nice and smooth.
  5. Clark and I enjoyed the spring-like weather this weekend with a few extra-long walks.  I thought this tree was cute.
  6. I slept in on Saturday and missed the early class at CrossFit Southie, so I threw together a little at home WOD, after checking out a few of the workouts on The Traveling WOD.  That site is a great resource for workouts on the go, or at home – with very little, if any equipment required.  After six rounds of my made up workout, I got to work on pull-ups.  Practice makes progress.
  7. After taking some time a few weeks ago to organize my random collection of ribbons, mint and coral colored pens, and washi tape, I’ve been obsessed with little projects like this one: sprucing up my iPhone and iPad chargers with different tapes.  Here are a few more clever uses for washi.
  8. There was a time when I never, ever napped.  That time can be defined as my entire childhood.  Nowadays, if football is on and Clark’s feeling snuggly… the two of us are out like a light.
  9. I am finding my Polar FT4 heart rate monitor from h.h. gregg to be not only informative, but super motivating.  I’ve been wearing it to CrossFit and am amazed at how much harder I push myself at the box, than I do when I workout on my own.

But wait… there’s more.

The weekend according to Instagram 2

  1. Speaking of CrossFit, I left the box on Sunday feeling like a Mighty Endorphin Power Ranger after our rowing/DU WOD.  It didn’t hurt that “Beat it” (rock in peace, MJ) was playing on the radio on the way home.  While I’ve been able to do one or two double-unders here and there over the past few months, I’ve never been able to string them together before.  Usually I would feel or hear the rope pass under my feet for the second time, freak out, and then immediately whip myself in the shins.  I’ve been practicing, checking out YouTube videos, and watching other athletes and somehow… it just clicked during the warm-up.  One double-under turned into two… and then three… and during the workout, twenty!  I must have looked like a total goofball, but I could not stop smiling and Irish-whispering “I am doing it!”  When I went up to the board after class to give our coach my time, I started to say level one (which was scaled to 10 DU attempts), our coach replied… “What you did was not level one.”  Perma-smile.
  2. After class (and various leaps and spin moves about the condo while I described my jump rope glory and push jerk PR to Nick), we headed to Whole Foods River Street to stock up for the week.  Pomegranates: check.
  3. As soon as we got home, I traded my skinny jeans (no one should wear real pants on the weekend) for short shorts and ProCompression socks.  Much better.
  4. Yet another water view from the Seaport.  You will not be shocked to learn I am a Pisces.
  5. This was the mess I made while multi-tasking.  I perused Runners World for a spring half marathon to run, while painting my nails, while watching the Pats (I stayed mostly awake for that game).  I like to pick nail colors based on their names (seen above: essie eternal optimist, beyond cozy and miss fancy pants).  I’ve been reading Apartment Therapy: The Eight Step Home Cure and was reminded about the good having fresh flowers around can do.  Tulips are a favorite of mine.
  6. As of Sunday evening, I have successfully completed 13 out of 13 #fmsphotoaday challenges.  Yesterday’s theme was circle.  This was kind of a stretch, but the BC seal is a circle.  I recently joined a mentoring program at my alma mater and will be paired with an undergraduate student next month.  I think it will be a good way to reconnect with the Heights, especially with my 10 year reunion not so far off.  Yikes.
  7. An impulse purchase from the Whole Body department while grocery shopping: Biggs and Featherbelle Beauty Soak.  I love bath time.
  8. A nerd’s dream: French grammar review books.
  9. Clark and I headed out for another long walk (clearly, I put my pants back on).  It’s January in Boston, yet it was too warm for a jacket and real shoes, so I dug out my Toms.  Al Gore was right, people.

Also On Tap for Today:

Do you unplug on the weekends?