On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog


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Today: Flashcards for grown-ups.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I wouldn’t have survived 17 years of schooling had it not been for flashcards.  Lots and lots of flashcards.  While I pride myself on being a good listener, I am most definitely a visual learner.  When it came time to pass my finite math final (a class my mom helped me choose because finite means there’s an end, and I hoped that class would mark the end of a tumultuous streak of, um, not being able to add), I stayed up for nearly 36 hours straight, memorizing formulas.  And hoping I could figure out which variables to replace with which numbers.  Flashcards saved my life.  Or more accurately, my GPA.

They still come in handy, now that I am grown-up.  From putting together a workout, to keeping the condo in relative order, to finding a bit of inspiration, there’s a flashcard for just about everything.  If if there isn’t?  Welp, you can make one.

A few years ago, my brother and sister-in-law gave me a pack of brilliance cards with my Christmas present.  I had no idea things like this existed, but I was instantly hooked.  They’re like fortune cookies without the calories.  And crumbs.

I bet you could make a great set of your own with an old deck of playing cards and your favorite quotes, mantras, inspirational sayings, or photos of my dog.

My collection of grown-up flashcards includes Portuguese words and phrases (made that set myself using some good old fashioned index cards), a yoga deck, Jillian Michael’s Hot Body in a Box, and various others.

In my perpetual quest to stay organized at work and at home, I stumbled upon Buttoned Up and their great line of notepads and other products.  They make a set of grown-up flashcards aimed at building better organization habits.

They’re all great for travel, stashing in your over-sized lady briefcase, or for spreading out across the floor like a stressed out coed during exam week.

Speaking of which, good luck on finals, student friends. 😉

Also On Tap for Today:

What kind of learner are you?  


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Today: Like the hippies do.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I am not especially pleasant when I am hungry.  It’s been a challenge to fill up while on an elimination diet, especially when some of my favorite sources of protein and fiber are off limits.

While whey protein isolate is on the okay, if you must list, the artificial sweeteners and other chemical brothers found in my protein powder of choice are very much on the don’t even think about it list.  My RD recommended hemp or rice protein, but I had no clue where to start.  Thanks to the magic of Twitter, I found myself on Hippie Butter‘s website.  And placed an order.  On 4/20.  (Sheer coincidence.)

After starting the morning like hippies do, I am feeling satisfied, energized, and not the least bit cranky.  Those happy people are on to something.

Vanilla, hemp and cinnamon protein shake

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp hemp seed protein powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp organic cinnamon

(Extremely obvious and likely unnecessary) Directions:

  1. In a large glass or shaker cup, combine hemp protein and almond milk.
  2. Stir until liquid and powder are incorporated.
  3. Add cinnamon, and stir.
  4. Shake can also be served over ice, and makes a great post-workout drink.

While the hemp seed protein powder is dense, it is not at all chalky.  I imagine it would mix well with frozen berries, citrus, and any number of smoothie or shake add-ins, as the powder itself has a very mild taste.  I much prefer it to other flavored powders.

I am looking forward to continuing to experiment with my happy little hemp seeds (I bet Bob Ross would have loved this stuff).  Hippy Butter has a number of other interesting products, too, including hemp coffee and skin care.  Like everything else that is good in this world (namely sparkling wine and stinky cheese), hemp powder should be kept refrigerated.

[Yoga Journal, June 2012]

With a few minutes to spare before the morning craze set in, I continued to embrace my inner hippy with a quick meditation.  One of my favorite aspects of yoga is the emphasis on setting your intention for your practice, or your day.  There’s nothing like a healthy dose of perspective, gratitude, and hope to keep you on track.

Now, if only my peace moccasins matched today’s outfit.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite way to start the day off right?


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Today: A touchy subject.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I am a boundaries person.  I think I always have been.  If I could walk around life with a hula hoop about my body, keeping people out of my personal space bubble without being hauled off to some sort of facility, I would.  Few things make me more uncomfortable than space invasion.  I’m not talking about Martians, I’m talking about the people in line at the bank that inch up so closely behind you that their breath assaults your ear lobes.  Or the people who,  feeling like they’ve seen a glimmer of your soul or something, are compelled to hug you when a simple handshake would suffice.

And speaking of handshakes, space invaders are the ones whose handshakes of peace last longer than the second collection.  Have I ever told you about the woman who works at Target and always reaches over the debit card swiper thing to touch my hand and “bless” me?  I am sure her intentions are good, but I am convinced that people like her were sent to Earth to terrorize people like me.

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Just last week, I was hanging up little arrow signs to direct people to a work event (because I know the directions I wrote out in French were correct, but the ones I wrote out in Spanish…. probablemente no), when someone coming down the hallway complimented me on my coat.  Before I could turn to thank the woman, she was completely up in my grill, touching the collar as if to carefully inspect the stitching.  If she saw the color drain from my face and noticed my hyperventilating, she didn’t let on.  Space invaders rarely pick up on the behavioral cues of the socially awkward.  They just go about their days, confident and comfortable.

[Image source]

Besides my loved ones, obviously, there are a very few people who are allowed in my hula hoop without the threat of being snap kicked.  I just learned about that move today.  Sounds both dangerous and awesome, right?  Very Michael Jackson.  Anyway, I make exceptions for a select few.  Namely: the women at Gaelic Day Spa (there’s nothing Gaelic about it, but they give some of the best pedicures in town), most children (surprise hugs are best, that way I don’t have time to work up a defense strategy), and people who are falling, fainting, or otherwise incapacitated (and therefore, don’t mean to touch me… they sort of can’t help it).

Last night, while enjoying savasana at the end of class, I felt my yoga teacher approach the person next to me.  Not because I peeked, or because I am psychic, but because I have an acute sense of hearing.  Sort of.  Before I knew it, she had moved the blocks at my feet to the side, knelt down, and very gently massaged my feet.  For several seconds, I dwelled in what can only be described as a personal hell.  And then I got a grip.  This is the same woman who helped me to try my first wheel.  If I can trust her to not let me crack a skull, surely I can trust her to not be some sort of weird creeper, right?  Besides, it sort of felt nice.  Like, very nice, actually.  Especially when I started breathing again.

Maybe it’s time I widen the proverbial hula hoop?  Also, for the record, I would never actually snap kick anyone.  I come in peace.

Also On Tap for Today:

Where do you fall on the touchiness spectrum?


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Today: Teach an old dog new tricks.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Who says you can’t teach an ol’ dog new tricks?  Just yesterday, Clark taught himself how to climb up on the window sill, where he tried his best to communicate with the Frenchie that moved in across the way.  She has yet to call back.

Inspired by Clark’s daring acrobatics, I attempted my first ever half-moon and crow, and whipped out one totally awesome wheel at yoga last night.  Though I’ve taken classes here and there (including one especially strange series with my mom, taught by a woman who was at least 500 years old), this is the first time I’ve practiced with enough regularity to actually, well… get better.  That’s one of the great things about trying something new.  Inevitably, you will improve.  I smiled the whole way through class.

Whether you’re almost three (like Clark), newly thirty (like me), or an ancient goddess (like that old yoga instructor)….  we’re never too old to start learning new tricks.

Also On Tap for Today:

What have you learned lately?


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Today: Be healthy, Boston. {Day 2}

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]While I’m usually an early riser, this morning’s 5:40 alarm came all too quickly.  I fought my eyelids to get my contacts in, bashed my elbow on the shower door, and managed to get toothpaste on not one, but two shirts.  Craving a do-over for the day, I contemplated getting back into bed, but Clark was patiently waiting at the door, so out we went.  After watching a beautiful sunrise of Broadway with my dog, I couldn’t help but smile.  I was decidedly not going back to bed.

I grabbed my yoga mat and I made it to the Westin on time for the second day of Be Healthy Boston, which kicked off with a morning stretch and flow led by lululemon ambassador Leslie Salmon Jones.  One of the women I sat next to in one of yesterday’s workshops raved about Leslie and her infectious attitude, and it’s no mystery why.  I left the session feeling energized, warmed up and quite like someone who had not woken up on the wrong side of the bed.

I met up with my new pal Elizabeth for the morning keynote, Organize Your Mind to Organize Your Life, delivered by Margaret Moore, founder of Wellcoaches Corporation and a 17 year veteran of the biotech industry.  Ms. Moore offered several rules of order for the brain, and techniques for improving brain health and function.  She talked about the disadvantages of multitasking, remarks that resonated loudly with me, a person who seems to be perpetually multitasking and often running on empty at the end of a busy workweek.  Ms. Moore shared important connections between negative emotions (including feeling stressed or frenzied) and impaired working memory and overall brain function.

Now I know why I often forget where my car is parked.  Yikes.  Fortunately, Ms. Moore offered several proven steps we can take to improve cognitive health and flexibility… and they’re sort of… no brainers.  Bahahaha.

  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Engage in mindfulness practices
  • Breathe and take breaks from tasks that require sustained focus
To improve working memory, in particular, Ms. Moore encouraged the group to
  • Get enough sleep and rest
  • Exercise (a two minute walk is enough to recharge the brain)
  • Repeat important info to ourselves
  • Handwrite important tasks, and focus on the words

Ms. Moore shared that, generally, people who do not suffer from ADD or ADHD can focus deeply on a task for an hour before needing a break.  Multitasking may seem like a necessary evil in our day-to-day lives (I certainly feel pressure to get six things done at once), we divide our attention when we multitask.  I’ve had a printout on the Pomodoro Technique at my desk for ages.  Perhaps I should give that thing a look on Monday morning.  Though I was never much of a scholar when it came to science, I am a nerd through and through and was fascinated with the research and practical application Ms. Moore offered.  Verrrrrry interesting.

Next up was Live Practically Green: Make healthy green choices for your family, home and workplace with Susan Hunt Stevens, Founder and CEO of Practically Green.  Attendance was a bit down from the day before, and there were only four other people in this session.  Susan had such great information to share, so I wish the room had been full, but it was really nice to be able to ask a lot of questions of such an expert.  I am looking forward to digging into Susan’s site, which features 400 actions you can take to live more greenly.

Susan shared some great advice for making better choices about what we put in, on, and around our bodies. A few of the many, many tips I noted in my little (recycled paper) notebook:

  • In addition to food, drink, water and personal care items, we need to be mindful of packaging and food storage.  Food should not be stored in plastic, and plastic should never go in the microwave.  I shall henceforth be digging into our extensive Pyrex stash.
  • When purchasing cosmetics, lotions, and beauty products, avoid anything containing parabens or fragrance.
  • Most new mattresses are made from petroleum-based foam, which is highly flammable.  As such, mattresses are treated with flame retardant, which is highly toxic.  Like the Britney Spears song, except awful.  Because infants spend 80% of their time in their cribs, it is especially important that they have safe mattresses made from natural materials.  Our Tempurpedic mattress literally changed my life, so this one broke my heart… hard.
  • Wash all new clothing before wearing to limit the risk of dyes and other chemicals.  Susan recommended organic cotton lines from Eileen Fisher and Nike, as well as buying clothing at vintage and secondhand stores.
  • Indoor air is between 5 and 5o times more polluted than outdoor air (this shocked me, to be honest).  Wiping your shoes on a mat and leaving them at the door can reduce up to 80% of toxins you might otherwise track through your house.
  • We can save on energy costs by reducing the amount of meat we ate (I am so ahead of the curve, unintentionally), investing in high efficiency and Energy Star appliances, and getting an energy audit to identify sources of waste in our homes.
  • Only 50% of Americans have access to curb-side recycling.  I am feeling especially fortunate to live directly across the hall from our condo building’s recycling room.  Even though one of our new neighbors apparently missed the “no cardboard boxes in the trash/recycling room” memo and unloaded a full condo’s worth of boxes this morning.

Susan concluded with a great quote, reminding us that everything adds up.

“It’s not that you can make a difference…it’s that everything you do makes a difference.”

–Phillipe Cousteau, CEO of EarthEcho International, and grandson of Jacques Cousteau

I started taking the quiz and building a sustainability plan at Practically Green and continue to soak up even more information from Susan Hunt Stevens.  I highly recommend visiting her site.

Before heading home to tackle a few Sunday errands and chores (hello, Mount Saint Laundry) and get myself on track for the week, I met up with Elizabeth for a Yoga Beats mini-class hosted by Healthworks.  Hitting the mat twice in one morning with a new friend felt like the ultimate luxury, one that I thoroughly enjoyed.  This was a day well worth getting up for, toothpaste on the shirt and all.

Also On Tap for Today:

Have you been to any interesting events or conferences lately?


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Today: The good, the bad, and the sparkly.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Let’s start with the bad.  And end with the sparkly.

After days spent looped out on cold medicine (due to illness, not recreational use… obvi), I am finally feeling back to (mostly) normal.  The fact that my monster cold came to town during two of the busiest weeks of my professional life was unhelpful, to say the least.  I find that getting all dolled up, giving speeches, kicking ass and taking names, and fundraising are most effectively done without a man voice (unless you’re a man), without a fever, and without an endlessly running rose.  With all that behind me, I free to spend an entire Friday evening doing nothing except talking to my dog in made up accents, listening to Duffy and reading magazines.  Oh, and eating.

Despite being under the weather and working 12 hour days, I’ve managed to fit in a few good things this week.  My Monday night soccer team is blazing a path to glory (or whatever), heading into next week’s championship round.  During this week’s game, I didn’t score a single goal (which is better than scoring one goal on your own net… which has happened before… twice), but I was a veritable fortress on defense.  At the risk of being a sexist piglet, I can’t help but squeal with delight when I shut down burly, athletic men as they dribble towards the net with the ball.  Especially when they look surprised.  Even more so when they look angry.

After getting a bit too caught up in the competitive spirit last season, my goal for this season (besides getting goals) was to not swear on the field.  Or succumb to some sort of rage blackout like I did that time someone slide-tackled Nick and nearly ripped off his leg.  So far, so good.  With two games to go, I have been all manners and grace this season.  (While I apologize for sounding like a complete egomaniac at the moment, rest assured that my ego was placed firmly in check earlier this week, as I bounded out of the yoga studio all high on my back bending abilities and promptly fell down a flight of stairs.  Truly, it has been that kind of a week.)

My Thursday night soccer team has also been a source of goodness.  I arrived late to last night’s game, having come directly from my work event, changed from a cocktail dress into my sweet uniform in the car and flew onto the field with a full face of makeup.  Nothing says, “I’m here to play” quite like a winged eye, Nars’ pinkest shade of blush, and some subtly simmering lids.  While I probably should have gone to bed instead, burning off a bit of stress and laughing with my teammates was the perfect way to wind down a crazy day.  I am really thankful for the opportunity to play with such a fun, supportive, goofy group.

When I finally made it home, my brain would not turn off.  I have it on good authority that turning the TV on does not help you wind down.  I can’t help but ignore the research when my DVR has one of my favorite shows of all time ready and waiting, though.

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I can barely make it through the first minute of an episode of An Idiot Abroad without dissolving into a fit of laughter.  I used to listen to The Ricky Gervais Show podcast in the car but got to the point these same laughing fits became an impairment to my driving.  While watching television in the wee hours of the morning is decidedly bad for you, laughter is most certainly good.

Now all that’s left to do is sparkle.

The lovely people at Sparkly Soul recently sent me two of their truly sparkly headbands, and they’ve got a pair tucked away for you, too.  I recently got a shorter and sweeter hairdo (so short and sweet that it barely fits into a ponystub, let alone a ponytail), complete with un-requested side swept bangs.  The haircut is a story for another day, but needless to say, these headbands could not have arrived at a better time.

[Image source]

Not only do Sparkly Soul headbands look adorable, they don’t budge.  Not during yoga inversions, not during flying leaps across the soccer field, not during runs, not turn the most rough and tumble boxing workout and (as I learned last weekend) not during naps or entire days spent in bed.  The soft velvet lining means no headaches, no snarls, and no hair dents.  If you’ve never experienced a hair dent, don’t ask questions.  Just consider yourself one of the few and fortunate.  Given my choice of colors, I opted for silver (to match my engagement ring… just kidding… kind of) and red for an upcoming Valentine’s Day race.  I am tempted to order the rest of the rainbow.  They’re that good.  Let the record reflect that I have no cold medicine to blame for my enthusiasm, just a really great product.

Would you like a Sparkly Soul headband or two for yourself?  The generous people at Sparkly Soul is offering one of their wide headbands and one of their thin headbands (in colors of your choosing) to one lucky reader. Headband Head on over to sparklysoul.com to check out their offerings and leave a comment below with your favorite color(s).  I will announce a winner at the end of the day on Wednesday, February 1st.  Yes, it’s February next week. 

If you’d like to learn more about Sparkly Soul, I recommend connecting with them on Twitter or Facebook.  They also have some pretty great Pinterest boards.  Disclaimer: I received two Sparkly Soul headbands free of charge, but was not compensated for my glowing review, nor for hosting this giveaway.  My opinions are all my own.  Preach it.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Getting excited for Be Healthy Boston 🙂
  • Drinking lots of tea
  • Visting with my parents!  Woooo!

Pick a color.  Any color.  Where do you plan to sparkle this weekend?


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Today: Let it flow.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I had every intention of waking up early this morning and seizing the day, but ten o’clock rolled around and I was still snug in bed.  The shock of single digit temperatures certainly woke me (and my furry sidekick) up in a hurry.

After a very brisk walk with Clark, I headed to Dedham to for my first platelet appointment in over a year.  I used to give every month, but sort of fell out of the habit.  I always get a bit nervous before donating, but once I am all bundled up in my cozy, heated chair all I can think is let it flow.  And by it, I mean my blood.  I’ve got O- blood, which makes me a universal donor, and have never minded needles, so giving blood or platelets seems like an obvious way to help out.  Plus, I am easily persuaded by charts.

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The process is a bit different from donating whole blood.  I usually give platelets using both arms, and today the process took over three hours.  Essentially, blood is drawn from one arm and the cells are separated.  Platelets are removed and collected (in my case, from my left arm), and the remaining blood cells are returned, along with some saline (through an IV my right arm).  The sensation of having the blood returned is a bit strange (I sometimes get a metallic taste in my mouth, and a feeling of fluttering at the vein), but it’s not at all painful.

Check out my sweet bandages... and man-ish thumbs.

Donors are given their choice of movies, plenty of warm blankets, and Tums (I am not sure why… but um, I take all of them.  No questions asked.).   I’ve learned my lesson the hard way (trying not to cry while watching The Blind Side, while attached to a blood sucking machine, while in a room full of strangers… not a good look), and usually watch an old standby.  Today it was The Devil Wears Prada, followed by the end of the Ravens and Texans game.  Feet up, limitless supply of juice.  Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

If you’re considering donating and have questions, let me know.  I’m not a phlebotomist (such a fun word), nor do I play one on TV, but I sort of know what I am talking about.

I got home just in time to let it flow at South Boston Yoga.  I loved my first class there last Sunday and decided to advantage of their new student special ($25 for two weeks of unlimited classes).  I’ve taken classes here and there, and always leave feeling more limber, more balanced and more smiley… but I have never really committed to a regular practice.  Perhaps 2012 will be the year I become a yogi.  Who knows.  I’m already seeing improvements, though.  Last week I stayed in bridge pose, afraid to take on the wheel.  This week: proverbial balls to the wall.  It was, um, wheelie exhilarating.  Bahaha.

It’s past my bedtime.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the highlight of your weekend?