Take Your Creative Side for a Walk

The latimes.com site ran a piece over the weekend calling attention to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, about how people generate more creative ideas when they walk than when they sit.  (See the latimes.com article)

I’m going to take a wild guess that none of those participants in the study were on the phone, or texting or checking emails while they were walking.

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Living in New York, I don’t own a car. I carry a Metro card for rainy and very cold days or when I’m way out of my neighborhood or have shopped too much to carry it all home. I rarely take a cab. This city is made for walking and I do a lot of it. And while I don’t claim it makes me more creative, it does clear and calm my mind, helps me work things out in my head, and generally makes me feel better.

It’s a bright sunny day but it’s supposed to rain for the next three. Getting out now.

Find a pair of comfortable walking shoes.

Revisit a Bed Camp post- Borrow a baby … or a dog

Attention Camera Buffs!

Beautiful sunny days. More outside time. Grab your camera and go! Actually it doesn’t have to be a sunny day. The light is so much softer on a cloudy day and can be absolutely dramatic during a rainstorm. Anyway, a camera is good to have in hand, or in your bag.

photoFor those of you looking for free tips (and an online photography school), visit http://digital-photography-school.com and sign up for their newsletter. You don’t have to buy anything to take advantage of their tips and tutorials. Or, skip the signup and just visit their site when the mood hits. (As an aside, I have taken a few of their online classes.)

If you’re the type that gets overwhelmed at the number of possible subjects around you, look for the site’s shooting suggestions and tips for weekend picture taking. Have something in mind before you leave the house, just don’t close your eyes to surprise possibilities!

One tip from home base – Don’t get so engrossed in the camera and settings and snapping away that you forget to enjoy and appreciate where you are and what you see. Be mindful, take pleasure, enjoy the moment.

Start Marking Your Calendars

Did the weatherman just say “the temperatures will plunge”? Someone get him a calendar. During the glorious weekend we just enjoyed I started my How I Want to Remember Summer 2014 list. I make a list every year and then start getting more serious about putting my social schedule and nurture moments on the calendar. I make note of all walks, bike rides, trips to museums, concerts, beach, meals or just coffee with a good friend, gym, massages and facials, trips and excursions. It can even be as simple a thing as noting when I got those promised hours of sleep. Of course, Bed Camps and tune-ups are included. It’s helpful after a busy week to see I did take some time for myself or, if I didn’t, to try harder the next week. At the end of the summer I can look back and remember good times.

This last winter felt like it took three years to get through. Should have said feels like, since there’s a frost advisory tonight. As long as winter takes to move out, it’s a good bet that Spring and Summer will breeze past us, leaving wonders of where it all went.

Start thinking right now about you want to remember this Spring and Summer and make a plan.

181 Cookbooks on the Shelves

I have 181 cookbooks on the shelves. Bought and received over the years, written by some of the great chefs and cooks of all time… Elizabeth David, Julia Child, Jacque Pepin, Julia and Jack, David Waltuck, Lidia Bastianich, Lee Bailey, the classic Time-Life international classics, James Beard, Ann Willan, Craig Claiborne, Escoffier…..and only a very small handful of ‘today’s network cooks’ and, in most cases, written before the cameras starting rolling on them.

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I do love to browse and look at the pictures, but only a small number are used with any kind of frequency in the kitchen. Some of them have to go. Actually, more than half should go. And now, finally, after a few half-hearted attempts, I think I’ve found a way to sort through and thin out the herd. Every week I’ll take a book off a shelf, spend some time with it, cook something from it and make the stay/donate/sell decision.

Of course, some are untouchables that will immediately get a ‘Save’ sticker. Julia Child’s The Way to Cook tops the list. Could not do without it. It’s the perfect gift for new cooks  and I have given away many copies over the years.

I’ve just pulled Bobby Flay’s first cookbook – Bold American Food – off a shelf and will start with that one. His first restaurant, Mesa Grill, recently closed, so I’m feeling a bit nostalgic.

On a final note….The last book added to the shelves was one I put together myself for a wedding shower gift. I asked friends and family of the bride and groom to send me their favorite family recipes, with pictures and stories, and put them all together. For fun, I added a poll, asking about their favorite kitchen tools, books, magazines and web sites, favorite comfort food and entertaining tips, and included a picture of each person next to their answers. I used Evernote (a free app) to organize the emails and recipes and made the book on blurb.com. Both were easy to use. The couple got a hard cover edition but I also ordered a PDF version and sent one to everyone who contributed. It was a fun project and was well received by everyone. Am looking forward to the opportunity to do another one.

 

A Very Exciting Day for Me

Mid-April. Safe to say spring is here. I’ve planned something very important for today. Something that screams season-changer. Life style change. Happy times ahead.

During the winter, when I needed a push to get to the gym, I bought some new training clothes…consciously avoiding black and other dark colors. Then, instead of folding them and putting them on a shelf in the closet, I hung them from hangers on the back of the bathroom door, so I would be reminded every day. It didn’t work all the time, but I used them more than if they were still in the closet.

In the spring and summer, I use a slightly different approach. Today, my bicycle is coming out of the basement. For the next six months it will sit in front of the fireplace in the dining room, beckoning me to go for a ride. Dinner guests will just have to move around it.

Bringing the bike up changes my life. Having it right in front of me every day reminds me just how good a ride on the river makes me feel. It gets me out of the house earlier, right after breakfast, before it gets too busy on the bike path. It’s going to take a lot not to bring it right outside, jump on it and head west. No, instead, I’m going to wait for tomorrow morning when the path is less crowded and the views are unobstructed for my first ride of the season.

Now, where did I put my helmet?

Do it Because it Feels Better.

A few years ago, on a site I don’t remember, I read an article that said you should walk for about ten minutes before you eat lunch. It said your metabolism would increase and you would burn the calories you ate after faster. Okay, sounded reasonable. I tried it and it felt good to get away from my desk and get some fresh air. And, I thought, it was good for me — the burning more calories after part…which was the original reason for my escapades.

Some months later, I read another article which totally refuted the theory. No medical proof that you would burn more calories faster. Bummer! So, I gave up the walks. Why bother?

After a week, I missed my little escapes. Felt restless. Didn’t enjoy my lunch as much as I did when I took a little respite before. Didn’t have as much energy.

Bottom line, I went back to my little walks. Ten minutes, maybe a few minutes more. Who cares if the calorie burn wasn’t part of the deal? I felt better. If it wasn’t helping my calorie burn, it was helping my spirit, and at the end of the day, that’s more important. It was just ten minutes away from my desk. I wasn’t missed. Life at work went on without me. (Who knew?)