Friday, January 28, 2011

Headed to the NC

I'm escaping the cold for the weekend, flying down to North Carolina for a baby shower (for my soon to be neice!). Hello 55 and sunny.

In the mean time, check out this adorable and creative YouTube pick. Laura Veirs held a music video contest for her song "Don't Lose Yourself", and this was one of the entries. It's so well done, you won't believe it wasn't professionally made. Judging by the comments, they didn't win the contest, but I'm still enjoying the video (and song) on repeat...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

6 Ways to Beat the Winter Chill

It is painfully, perpetually freezing here in New England. In fact, it's a whopping 6 degrees outside as I type (six!). I have never been one for the cold, and the past few weeks of nonstop snow have reaffirmed my dread of wintertime. Since it's going to be cold for months to come, I'm brainstorming up ways to stay warm and sane until we start to thaw out. Here's 6 ways I'll be beating the winter chill...

1. Hot Tea - A steamy mug of tea (or coffee, hot chocolate, chai, insert your favorite boiling brew here) is the perfect way to combat that cold to the bone feeling.

2. Hot Yoga - My local studio offers hot yoga classes where the room is heated to a toasty, but not overwhelming, 95 degrees. Wearing shorts and sweating like mad will make your body forget it's been shivering for days on end.

3. Spicy Feasts - Cooking up some spicy fare is another great way to raise your internal fire. Make it simple by adding some spicy salsa to beans, rice, and sauteed veggies or go all out and whip up a spicy Indian curry or three alarm Thai dish.

4. Drier Power - Nothing beats PJs fresh from the drier. Pop 'em in with a pair of socks for a few minutes on high heat and savor the warmth as you immediately slip them on and make a mad dash for the covers.

5. Light Candles - They may not give off heat like a fireplace, but for those of us without working fireplaces candles can create a similar cozy, warming effect - even if it's more psychological than it is physical. Light a few clusters of candles, maybe some with warming scents like vanilla or cinnamon. All that flattering natural light may even put you in the mood for some other warming activities...

6. Embrace the Cold - Ok, it seems counter intuitive that embracing the cold would be a good way to stay warm, but go ahead, bundle up, and head into the chill. Move, feel the wind on your face, the sensation of the cold air hitting your throat, even that weird feeling you get when you know your boogers have all frozen (oh, I went there). Accept that winter is here, and it's hardly over yet. Then, when you've gotten a full dose of mother nature's wrath, get back inside and repeat methods 1 through 5. Trust me, they'll be all the more effective now that you're properly chilled out.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lazy Sunday: Reading Riot

Reading Riot

I am forever reading too many things at once, and before I've whittled down my bedside book pile to a reasonable height I rarely restrain myself from making more trips to the library or the bookstore to contribute to the madness. Tonight, however, propped against stacks of pillows and fueled by a desire to simplify my literary rotation, I'm determined to finish up several of the half-read books and somewhat-skimmed mags claiming valuable nightstand real estate. Do you read several books at once? Typically I enjoy the variety but I think I've hit a critical mass.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Know Your Adult Education Center (AEC)

A few months ago, longing for the familiar feel of a classroom and the excitement of delving into something new, I decided to take a class. Offerings at the nearby community college proved too costly, but the prices at my local adult education center (AEC) fit nicely in my budget - and the center was in walking distance to boot. Poring over the course listings, I ruled out anything centered on cooking (I almost made my pastry partner cry when I accidentally ruined all 3 of our confections in "Vegan Baking 101"), language (6 years of Spanish and all I can muster is an "hola"), or self improvement ($126 for "Choosing the Right Look for Your Hair"? I hope it comes with a professional foil). Still, I was left with plenty of possibilities - music, dancing, computer skills, writing, theater, and crafts were all up for grabs. In the end, I settled on the 6 week, "Introduction to Graphic Design".

Now I have to admit, as excited as I was, I had some preconceived notions of what the AEC would be like. The building looked cool enough, but I imagined its patrons would be of the silver haired variety, or the younger nerdy lost soul type (not so unlike yours truly). The inside would be a little sterile and depressing, a weird sour smell emanating from the Cheese Making Workshop down the hall, the relative quiet punctuated on occasion by a happy exclamation from "Predicting Your Love and Marriage: Workshop with a Psychic" in room 201. On my first night of graphic design I couldn't help but arrive a little early to scope out the scene.

Before entering the center I could see that I couldn't have been more wrong. The crowd in the demonstration kitchen filled the floor length windows facing the street. With a twist of the door handle came an outpouring of happy chatter and cheers that would rival a taping of Emeril Live. And while I did see a group of cute old ladies exiting one of the computer labs (my guess, "Introduction to Microsoft Word") my class was filled with young professional types looking to add to their skill set. My class was taught by a talented graphic designer with a proclivity for demi gothic typefaces who mainly teaches at the Art Institute. 6 weeks later, I was really happy with my experience and significantly more confident in my ability to make a kick-ass invitation.

If you haven't ventured to your local AEC before, it's absolutely worth checking out. You might surprised by the breadth of course offerings, the affordable rates, and the cool people you'll meet. If you're a commitment-phobe, most centers offer one-time classes or day-long intensives to get you started. Just Google your city + "center for adult education".

And... We're back!

That was quite a hiatus. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming!