5 ways to stay productive when snowed in

5 ways to stay productive when snowed inDay six. Snow still piled high in streets, on corners and in front of my door. Call it what you will, snowpocalypse, snowmageddon, snowzilla or Jonas*  the blizzard of 2016 has wreaked havoc on the lives of millions hoping to get sh*it done this month. Owning a home-based business I especially understand how real your struggle is, my friends. Let me lend you a hand with 5 ways to stay productive when snowed in.

1. Stick to a Schedule

Hold yourself accountable for how time is spent. You may find that getting things done isn’t quite as hard as you thought.

Getting out of bed at 11 am is perfectly acceptable. You’ll still have time to binge watch Netflix and finish off an entire bag of Cheetos. If you schedule smartly, wine time will come even sooner than you’d hoped.

2. Let Yourself be Creative

Feel like you’re always rushing through the work that needs to be done and just don’t have time for any creative outlets. Use this time to allow some re-connection with your creative side. This sort of cathartic activity can help boost productivity.

Whipping up voodoo dolls in disturbing likenesses to friends who live in Arizona and find it humorous to point out that 71°  is their typical winter day is not only creative but therapeutic. As you stab pins into the little sucker remember that summer is coming to them.

3. Stay on Top of Small Tasks

The volume of laundry that needs to be done when there are 30 inches of snow on the ground can be staggering. Tossing those soggy items into the wash right away will keep them from piling up and sucking valuable time from your day.

Alternately, if they do happen to pile up just toss a clean, dry blanket on top of them. Climb into your Snuggy {we both know you have one, no judgment here} and nap. Repeat items in step one to maximize effectiveness.

4. Exercise

Even a short workout can help you focus, stay on task and get things done. Not to mention it is good for your all total sense of wellbeing when stuck in doors for several days. 

Might I suggest a power walk from the sofa to the fridge and back?

5. Take Time to Organize

Countless studies have proven the beneficial impact that organization can have on your health, productivity and overall happiness. Use some of this time you’ll be stuck at home to organize your work space, clear out your email, cull the clutter and tackle the organizational tasks you just don’t usually have time for.

An organized bar and/or wine cellar will help you ensure that you never find yourself short on stock… you know, in case the blizzard of the freaking century hits!

 

* Seriously National Weather Service if you’re going to bother naming a storm how about not scraping the bottom of the Boy Band barrel, eh? Nothing says, “this is going to be epic…” like a Jonas Brother reference.

 

Requiem The Soundtrack

requiem the soundtrack
photo credit: Julie Cohn of Cork, Fork & Passport

The waning months of 2015 and the beginnings of 2016 were hard on the world of music and arts.  Rare voices and singular talents were lost. Bowie, Frye, Rickman… those were hard losses to take.  Each had a place in the soundtrack of my life, maybe yours too? Requiem The Soundtrack is a bit of a love letter to voices gone but still so much a part of the story.

Did you know Alan Rickman sang?

Okay, so maybe Alan didn’t sing well. He might not even be deserving of inclusion in Requiem The Soundtrack save for the fact that his voice is inextricable from my memories. Truth be told, I could listen to that luxuriously deep voice reciting tax code. You’ll forgive me for subjecting you to Johnny Depp’s screeching in Sweeney Todd… eventually. 

Bowie may have been the biggest loss. It’s a very short list of people that have had such enormous impact on music, art, fashion and culture. Our youngest daughter may have been the biggest Bowie fan I’ve ever met.

In the days following his passing there were lots of tears. Stuck in DC traffic a week after the news, Under Pressure came on the radio. Before I could turn the channel, her brother was misty-eyed. It was his favorite song too. I let them cry it out. For the span of 4:08 minutes they bonded. That was the power of Bowie in our lives.

Before we could recover enough to listen to Space Oddity the news of Glenn Frey’s passing came. This one hit me harder.

Though I’m a kid of the 80’s I’m also the child of a musician. My Dad plays dozens of instruments, shared a stage with Chuck Berry, and knows the girl in Dan Fogelberg’s song Same Old Lang Syne {he and Dan went to school together, my dad played for his dad}.  Music has always been how I connected with him. Songs from The Eagles were the first chords that bonded us, musically.

I can vividly recall sitting outside on cool nights in the California desert town where I grew up, watching him sing to my mom, “I love the way your sparking earrings lay against your skin so brown…”  She was his Witchy Woman, her spell cast from sapphire eyes under dark lashes. Frye’s voice harmonizing  with my dad’s, true magic. 

So many disappeared voices make their way onto my playlist of memory.  The Optimistic Blues of Allen Toussaint. Nobody but Townes Van Zandt should ever sing Poncho and Lefty. Down in the Boondocks they’re missing the dulcet voice of Billy Joe Royal.

As vividly as though it happened yesterday, I can remember driving down a single-lane road headed from Boston to The Cape and hearing that Amy Winehouse had died. We were in two cars and my oldest son called to be sure I didn’t need to pull over and cry. They all know how much music means to me, because it’s the same with them.

Then there are the bands that won’t ever quite be same without members that made the music; Pete de Freitas from Echo & The Bunnymen, the Chilis without Hillel and The Stooges without Dave. There is no INXS without Michael Hutchence – no matter how many reality shows they dream up.

I can think of a song for almost any milestone in my life. When I look back there seem to be a whole lot of holes where amazing talent once lived. Perhaps that’s the inevitability of aging. The beauty in that though is that those songs don’t go away. Technology these days lets us dive into the pool of memory anytime we want.

Not a day goes by where I’m not on Spotify, or offline with my collection of tunes. Music is as much a part of my everyday as it is my memories. We have a playlist for road trips, work days, house cleaning, there is even one a bunch of us put together in morbid homage to my bestie’s thyroid cancer. {for the record, she kicked cancer’s ass}

Any time I need to hear the voices of those gone, I just turn my smartphone and wireless headphones on and they live again. 

 

 

This post was inspired by weekly #VZWbuzz chats that often feature ways that technology impacts our daily lives. As a member of a very cool team of influencers for Verizon Wireless I sometimes receive compensation, cool gadgets to test drive, or get attend special events.   All opinions – and playlists – are entirely my own, based on my experiences, because you deserve nothing less! 

Quotes to Live and Heal by…

MLK quotes to live and heal byEvery morning starts pretty much the same. Coax myself out from under the covers. Do the getting ready thing, then coffee and news. Lately the news makes me want to Irish up that coffee. So much anger, negativity, pain. My new routine has me searching for some kindness, humanity, hope before I can go on with my day.

I’ve found that quotes are sometimes like anchors, pulling you back to light. I collect them and keep them near. They don’t always do the trick, but taking a few minutes to center my thoughts certainly seems better than allowing them to spiral into sadness or despair.

Don’t go thinking that it’s all hearts and flowers, or yoga mantras. I funny or snarky quote can do the trick too. Also, having friends who “get” your sense of humor helps. One of my favorite sanity breaks is pinning to the board of quotes I created for my bestie, Ri ~ Quotes and Inspiration for Bernie

With today being the day we celebrate the greatness, humility and humanity that was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I thought some quotes to live and heal by may be in order. His words never cease to inspire me and restore my faith that humanity can be found if we choose to tap into it, to be champions of doing the right thing, to walk tall and speak of love alongside justice.

I believe there is a teacher, profit, leader in each of us. It starts with the words we choose to allow into our lives. All it takes is to choose those that have meaning to us, accept them and incorporate them into how we live. 

Accept. Take action…. on my second cup now. See, that was easy!

quotes to live and heal by

 

star man, forever in her sky: a 9 year old girl’s love letter to David Bowie

a 9 year old girl's love letter to David BowieShe was seven the first time we watched Labyrinth. I fully expected her favorite thing to be the puppets. As she’s done from the day of conception, Em surprised me. “Oh mommy, I’d go live with Jareth! He could sing me to sleep every night.”  That began our journey of exploration into wonderfully weird world of The Thin White Duke, giving birth to a 9 year old girl’s love letter to David Bowie.

While most girls her age had Bieber Fever she only had eyes for Bowie. I recall – with no small sense of pride– the day my mother-in-law sent her a One Direction t-shirt that she instantly asked to exchange for a vintage Ziggy Stardust. Breaking the news that such shirts didn’t exist in her size was rough. 

Among the most treasured Christmas gifts to this day is her photo  “signed” by him. Her playlists are filled with everything from Star Man to Dancing in the Streets. Walk by the bathroom when she’s in the shower and you’re likely to get serenaded with Fashion. This strange little soul is an old one, and Bowie her muse.

A 9 Year Old Girl’s Love Letter to David Bowie

Your music made me smile and dance, even when I was sad. That made me a better person. You inspired so many people to be their real selves and that made your music no ordinary songs.

So many people found who they really are inside because of who you were. The reason I will always love is because you showed that we can all be many things and have magic in our lives.

You were a beautiful person to see, to hear, to get inspired by. Because you were always something new but yourself. Your songs were stories, like pages in a book. When I hear them it is like I read them over and over again. I love to read, to listen.

I am so sad that I will never get to go to one of your concerts or hear new things you’ve done, but as sad as that makes me I’m even more sad for your family. I hope your children know how amazing you were and how many lives you meant so much to. Even someone young like me.

There is no more music in the world like what you made, but you will always shine like a star in every sky. I will miss you so much.

In her own words, from her heart to his. I’m so proud that she found a true muse at such a young age.

Good Night Sweet Prince

5 global hot cocoa recipes

global hot cocoa recipes

Winter has finally arrived in all it’s teeth-chattering glory here in Maryland. I’ll admit to never being much of a cold-weather gal. One thing I do love about a nip in the air is that it is the perfect excuse for whipping up some hot cocoa. After you try some of these global hot cocoa recipes you’ll never go instant again!

On cold Spanish nights {yes, we had those even though I lived in the south} my favorite treat was wrapping my frozen fingers around a tiny mug of toasty warm coco and dipping crunchy churros into it’s molten yumminess. You’ve never indulged yourself in chocolate decadence until you’ve had Spanish hot cocoa.

Dense, rich and luxuriant, Spanish hot cocoa is more an event than a drink. Yes, there is work involved. This isn’t rip-open-the-packet coca. That said, making it is easier than you may think and certainly well worth the effort.

Spanish Hot Cocoa Recipe

2 cups WHOLE milk {I know, I’m a skim girl too but you really have to have the “real” stuff for this}
1 tsp cornflour
3/4 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup dark chocolate, grated {I suggest at least 75% cacao}
1 tbsp sugar

In a small sauce pot over medium heat make a roux of the flour and cornstarch with about 2 tablespoons of the milk. Allow to cook for about a minute. You don’t want to toast it but you also don’t want that icky flour flavor. Slowly whisk in the remaining milk.  Add grated chocolate and sugar. Continue to whisk until chocolate melts and the milk reduces to a nice, loose, almost pudding-like consistency. 

Three types of milk and cinnamon? I’m in! When I found this recipe for Peruvian hot chocolate over at Provecho Peru, I started praying for winter to arrive. Okay, if we’re being honest I could drink this stuff any time of year. The addition of the cinnamon gives it a warming aroma that is perfectly suited to a cold winter’s day though.

Peruvian Hot Cocoa
Global Hot Cocoa Recipes
photo credit: Provecho Peru – provechoperu.com

 

You’ll find the hot cocoa recipe here but once you’re done with that browse around. This website is packed with all sorts of Peruvian culinary adventures!

Norwegian Hot Cocoa

When you think of a Winter Wonderland there is no doubt Norway has to top that list. So it makes perfect sense that the Norwegians would have some seriously awesome cocoa, right? Right!

This recipe from My Little Norway is super simple. Good quality cocoa powder and vanilla essence set it apart.

Zartbitter Heisse Schokolade – German Dark Chocolate

Just saying, “zartbitter heisse schokolade,” makes me smile. Somewhere Heir Isaacson from 11th grade German class is cringing at my inability to properly pronounce those words, but still it’s fun. Even more fun when you add this delectable drink recipe from The Kitchen Maus. 

global hot cocoa recipes
photo credit: The Kitchen Maus

 

Ghanaian Hot Chocolate

Sometimes the story is even better than the drink. And that’s saying something when the hot cocoa includes spiced rum, people! Chrissy of The Hungry Buddha weaves a tale of West African history while pounding out cacao beans {yes, actually taking a pestle to those puppies}  the result is a recipe fit for even the most discerning travel journal.

Do you have a favorite hot cocoa recipe? I’d love to try it!

 

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