Tabless Thursday

It’s 8:44 AM and I have fourteen tabs and three word docs open on my computer.  I don’t even officially start work for another 16 minutes, and I’m already overwhelmed.

No more.

One of the many perks of my job is being able to work with ridiculously smart people.  One of them shared this video with the NYC office while I was visiting, and I think it might literally change my life.

“Singletasking is the new multitasking” – a video from the Atlantic

The premise – you get more done with better results when you finish one thing at a time, close the door, and then move on to the next thing.  Even just one day a week – Tabless Thursday – can make a difference in changing how you complete projects and how you feel about life.  I personally find a hard time doing this even outside of work – I’d rather leave things open than say “I won’t make it to that party” or “I’m not sure there’s a spark here.” My dream is that trying this for one day to start might give me some peace at work – and then also transfer over into the rest of life.

So if you can’t find me online today, assume that it’s because I’m off doing one thing at a time.  If you try it too, let me know how you do!  One fewer tab at a time, we can break away from the tendency to multitask every minute of our lives.

Your guide to a fun Boston summer

It’s summer in the city – long nights, short dresses, sweet cocktails, and a million reasons to throw caution to the wind and stay out for one more song, one more drink, one last train.

This winter was brutal. Many of us felt like our urban abodes were suddenly stranded in the middle of nowhere, with no chance for socializing or adventure.  Now, my friends and I are more determined than ever to live it up this summer – both to reward ourselves for surviving the cold, and to stock up on warm memories for the inevitable cold ahead (as George R.R. Martin won’t let us forget, winter is always coming.)

Here’s my starter guide to having a stupendous Boston summer – where to go and what to do to ensure that you’re making the most of these next glorious weeks.  I’ll add more items as I hear of them!


Summer Fun 2014

WATCH IT

  • Free films and music at the Boston Harbor Hotel: BHH has an amazing summer series of music and movies that can be enjoyed for free.  Get there early to get a seat at their restaurant, and take in some tunes while watching the sunset over the harbor.
  • Concert series at Post Office Square: Check out free tunes at Post Office Square, a mini oasis in the city.
  • Shakespeare on the Common: Get cultured on the Common with Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and their performance of Twelfth Night.  You can catch my friends and me there on August 5!
  • Free nights at the ICATap into your artsy side with free nights at the ICA – perfect for dates of the romantic or BFF variety!
  • Free Friday Flicks at the Hatch Shell: pack a picnic (or buy one at nearby Whole Foods) and take in a film along with thousands of other Bostonians at the Hatch Shell, right next to the Charles River.

WORK IT

  • Free exercise classes at Post Office Square: Before work, during lunch, after a long day – take a break and work out with one of the free classes in Post Office Square.  I went to their boot camp all last summer and it was incredible – great community and quality classes for free!
  • Get a Sweetgreen passport: check it out to find free exercise classes and events near you.
  • Join the November Project: Check out this fun group and attend one of their high-energy outdoor workouts – rain, shine, show – they never stop!
  • Swim in the sunset at the Rooftop Pool: the Rooftop Pool (RTP) at the Colonnade Hotel lets you swim for free in the evenings – or just dangle your legs in and enjoy a mojito, your call.
  • Run on the Freedom Trail: Sometimes you think you know your neighborhood, but there’s more history than you can imagine, right beneath your feet.  Join a Freedom Trail Run and get an insider’s view of Boston’s rich past, while picking up your heart rate in the process.

 JUST DO IT

  • Explore the Boston Harbor Islands: from forts to fries to glittery beaches of sea glass, the harbor islands are the perfect way to spend a sunny Saturday.  I recommend going out to George’s Island and then stopping at Spectacle on the way back.
  • Cool off at the Boston Public Library: In addition to hosting every book in the world (true story, I checked), the BPL also has a beautiful courtyard, a cafe, and a great array of exhibits and events, not to mention some pretty strong air conditioning.
  • Ride the Swan Boats: Head over while it’s still under $3 and take a ride on Boston iconic swan boats (dare I call them the proto-duck tour?).  The ride is short but sweet, and it will make you appreciate the many flowers in bloom and wildlife in the Public Garden.
  • Seek out the best ice cream in town: It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it – search out some of the best flavors in Boston ice cream, from Toscanini’s in Central Square to Christina’s in Inman to JP Licks… everywhere.  With options like rose, burnt caramel, and coffee oreo to choose from, this challenge has no losers.
  • Enjoy the student-free city: take in the areas that are painful during the school year (Harvard Square, anyone? The entire Green Line?) and enjoy owning a small slice of our city by yourself, rather than always sharing it with a mob.

What else are you loving about Boston this summer?  Post in the comments below!  And have fun out there!

ETA: two new additions!

- Free Fridays at a bunch of museums around the state, including some that are really expensive otherwise (I’m looking at you, Gardner Museum)

- SOWA Sundays - awesome vintage and craft market in the South End, with food trucks galore and tons of delicious things and great gifts to leave your wallet utterly empty.

Boston-versary

This month marks the fifth year since Katie and I signed our first lease in Boston.  And what a five years it has been.  As Katie said, over her birthday breakfast of homemade waffles topped with chocolate and bananas (28 is gonna be GREAT!) – “It used to be that time flew when you were having fun… now it goes by so quickly no matter what!”  And yet, we’ve packed a lot of adventures into those years:

  • Lived in 2 apartments
  • Played on 7 sports teams (still gunning for the championship, though)
  • Had only 2 jobs
  • Tried – and succeeded, and failed at, and had lots of adventures on – 5 different dating websites
  • Still owned ZERO cars (or cats, for that matter, since I typed that accidentally like 5 times)
  • Run hundreds of miles along the Charles, Comm Ave, the bike path, and more
  • Voted in 4+ elections
  • Eaten at restaurants and hunted down top-notch mojitos in all quarters of the city
  • Made dozens of awesome friends
  • Hung out on movie sets, watched plays on the Common, cheered at the Head of the Charles Regatta, gorged myself at chocolate fundraisers, met political celebrities, trampolined until I had a headache, explored abandoned forts and collected seaglass on the Boston Harbor Islands, celebrated marathon runners, sledded at Fenway Park, and more

I don’t know if I’ll still be here in another 5 years – maybe I’ll give into the temptation to live in Europe, full-time.  Maybe I’ll buy a cute house to fix up in New Hampshire or Maine.  Maybe I’ll be prepping to take on the Presidency in DC.  Who knows!  But I do know that there are more adventures to be had in this city, and I plan on living it up, one delicious summer day at a time.  Thanks for everything, Boston – looking forward to round 2!

Marathon Monday – still running, still strong

Right now, runners are lining up on the Boston Common, waiting to get onto buses that will take them to the start line in Hopkinton, MA.  They’re filling the local Dunkin Donuts, snarling morning traffic, and stretching in the sunlight that promises that today will be a great day for running.

It’s hard to imagine that a year ago today, we had just survived one of the weirdest, probably worst weeks in Boston history.  First the bombing at the finish line, then the manhunt that kept us huddled in our houses, trying to leave the streets free for police officers.  And yet, we stayed strong.  We left shoes and roses at the crime scenes.  We paid tribute to the fallen.  And we kept running.

On Saturday, my mom and I ran the first Boston Athletic Association (BAA) event of the year, the BAA 5k.  The race usually has 5,000 people in it – this year it had closer to 10k.  We were still at the start line when they started frantically clearing people out of the way because the winner was about to come in (we left the start 11 minutes after the initial start – he came in at 13:26).  It was a powerful show of the depth and heart of the running community, to have so many people out so early in the morning to jog together.

As we ran down Boylston, I had flashbacks to a place I’d never even been – to what it must have been like for the thousands of people who were on this street last year, leaving their hearts on the pavement and seeing the finish line at the end of the road, only to have their moment of victory shattered.  It was scary to go across the finish line, even on a sunny Saturday.  I can only imagine what it will feel like today.

I am so proud of our city for how we’ve come together in this last year.  So excited for my friends who are finally going to get to finish that final mile.  And so grateful to be a part of a community that isn’t afraid to keep running with our heads held high, no matter what obstacles enter our path.  I’ll be there at Kenmore, cheering you on!

Read my blog post on last year’s Marathon Monday.

Feminism at the movies

I love the Oscars – their glitz, glamour, and short moment in history honoring the movies of the past year.  As always, we’re having our annual Oscar party tonight (with recipes to follow).

In the lead up to this year’s Academy Awards, my office’s chatter has drifted away from recipe puns and toward something with much bigger consequences: the Bechdel test.

From Feminist Frequency, “The Bechdel Test or the Mo Movie Measure is a type of litmus test to assess the presence of women in movies.  It originated from Allison Bechdel’s comic “Dykes to Watch Out For” in 1985.”

There are just three requirements for a film to pass:

1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man
 

Looking at that list of requirements, you’d think that this isn’t a hard thing to accomplish.  Women with names, talking to each other about something other than a man.  Flip it around to be about men and it would describe nearly every blockbuster of the last 50 years.  And yet, some great movies fail.  How do yours stack up?

But let’s let bygones be bygones – surely in 2014, studios are doing better at realizing that women are people – fabulous, talented, multi-dimensional people – right?

Kind of.

Of the nine movies nominated for best picture tonight, here’s how they stack up:

  • “Gravity” — FAIL (though we can give it a little bit of a pass, since there are so few characters to begin with)
  • “Captain Phillips” — FAIL
  • “The Wolf of Wall Street” — FAIL
  •  “12 Years a Slave” — FAIL
  • “Her” — FAIL
  • “American Hustle” — PASS
  • “Philomena” — PASS
  • “Dallas Buyers Club” — PASS
  • “Nebraska” — PASS

Beyond the awards, we’re starting to see a shift – a review of the highest grossing films of 2013 showed that the biggest blockbusters cleared the bar.  Yet the majority of films still fall extremely short.

As movie lovers, let’s support films – and the individuals that make them up – who are committed to showing women as people and not just decoration.  Here’s hoping that by the next Academy Awards, we’ll have made more progress to celebrate together.

Additional reading:

 

Kitchen Adventures, Olympic Edition: Pineapple Upside-down Cake

What better way is there to celebrate the Olympics than by singing to Daft Punk eating the Olympic rings? None.  We adapted a classic pineapple upside-down cake to fit into the Olympic spirit, rainbow rings and all.  Make your own before the games end on February 23, and let me know how it goes!

Olympic Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (adapted from good old Betty Crocker)

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar (slightly less for Olympic version)
  • Red, green, and blue food coloring
  • 1 can sliced pineapple, drained (will only use 5 rings for Olympic version) – save the juice, too!
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  1. Pat dry 5 pineapple rings – they don’t have to be too dry, just enough so that the color won’t run. In 4 separate containers, mix one drop of food color with a splash of pineapple juice, then lay one ring of pineapple in each color (red, blue, green, and one with a tiny bit of each to make black).  Yellow is just the plain pineapple ring.  Don’t flip the rings (since we only want the color on the top), but do move them around the container a bit to get all the dye onto them.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat butter in a 10-inch cake pan.
  3. While the butter is melting, combine flour through egg in a mixer, and beat at low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl occasionally. Then beat at high speed for 3 minutes, scraping bowl as you go.
  4. Arrange pineapple slices color-side-down in the butter, then sprinkle brown sugar in a thin layer over the remaining butter, so there’s either a pineapple or brown sugar coating the entire base of the pan.
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove, and immediately invert over a plate, keeping the pan on top for a few minutes.  Remove and reveal your pineapples, then serve warm.

Enjoy with a mug of hot cocoa while cheering on your favorite Olympians.