If you’re feeling not-quite-at-the-top-of-your-game, researchers at Fordham University (oh hey alma mater!) found that listening to hip hop can boost your spirits, especially if the song contains lyrics you identify with, or that match up with a struggle you’re going through. The March issue of Self magazine reported that this particular style can boost your mood, and help you cope with your personal issues. So next time you feel like you have 99 Problems, crank some Jay Z to help you get through it.
Or, if hip hop isn’t your thing, try putting on that one song that really gets you going. Back in the days before MP3s, I bought a lot of CDs. Most of them had a few good tracks and the rest were garbage. Then I found the one album that I loved every song, and it soon became my go-to morning music. Listening to Aretha Franklin’s Greatest Hits and singing along as I get ready for work is guaranteed to start my day off on the right foot, though it might not win me any bonus points with my neighbors.
Then if you’re still not feeling great try making yourself a get happy mixtape. I am a big playlist person to begin with (see previous comment about most songs on albums sucking), but having one full of upbeat, peppy tunes can distract you from all that bad stuff at least long enough to get through the work day. Here’s an insider tip – it’s pretty hard to stay upset when listening to songs about sunshine and love, and anything mo-town or by Hall and Oates. Here’s what’s on my mix:
- You Make My Dreams Come True: Hall and Oates
- No Rain: Blind Melon
- Only the Good Die Young: Billy Joel
- Dreaming on a World: Tracy Chapman
- Gold to Me: Ben Harper
- Wreckless Love: Alicia Keys
- Banana Pancakes: Jack Johnson
- I Am Not My Hair: India Arie
- Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: Marvin Gaye and Tammi
- Signed, Sealed Delivered: Stevie Wonder
- I Want You Back: Jackson 5
- O-o-h Child: Chi Lites
- Oh Happy Day: Mahalia Jackson
- Fantasy: Mariah Carey
- Suddenly I See: KT Tunstall
- Three Little Birds: Bob Marley
What’s music do you listen to when you’re down in the dumps?
By now, most people have heard of Birchbox, the beauty website that lets you subscribe for a monthly rate, and then receive a mixed package of hand selected samples to try. Some may have heard of Jewelmint, an accessories company founded by Kate Bosworth on a similar concept. Pay a flat rate each month, and select any piece in the collection. Now there is a website in the same lines, but for exercise fashionistas. With Ellie, you first take a style quiz to evaluate your tastes in workout gear, and how you like to exercise.
Then you have the option to become a member or shop on your own from the pieces they select for you. With a $50/month membership fee, you can pick any two clothing items each month to arrive at your door, shipping included. Members also gain preferred access to that month’s picks, and the inventory is constantly changing, so it will always infuse a fresh look into your gym-going attire.
So obviously I will be begging my book club to read it this month. It’s called Manology, and it promises to reveal the secrets of your man’s mind. While I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t fully comment, I will just say this. A book about how to be a hip hop mogul full of inspiring 160 character quotes from Rev, sure. A book about how to look pretty, while crooning to your lady from Tyrese, or even notes on how awesome it was to star in a Fast and the Furious movie, that I would expect. Still, I can’t resist a piece of hot literature from two of my favorite pop culture icons, and will be putting this on my must read list.
If you ever find yourself standing in the liquor store, pondering which bottle of wine to buy, trying to remember what that delicious bottle you had with dinner was called. Well, now there’s an app for that. Vivino lets you scan the labels of wines you like, and keep a log of the grapes that caught your fancy while also viewing your friends tastes. No more having to phone a friend for help. You can rate it from zero to four stars, while it tracks the winery, region, country of origin, and grapes used to make it. The app will even offer up serving temperatures, give you tasting notes, and food pairings. It’s the sommelier best friend you never had. Peruse ratings from other users, and add personal notes to remind yourself of when you drank it. No more losing track of wines you like just because you are a little tipsy at the bottom of the bottle.
Only in New York City, where anything can be trendy and the most mundane thing becomes a designer item, can the humble oat make up the basis of an entire menu. Oatmeals in Greenwich village is dedicated to all things oat, simultaneously reinventing the old favorite, while emphasizing it as a health choice. It offers comfortable favorites like brown sugar cinnamon raisin, or peanut butter and banana. At the same time, it highlights more adventurous offerings.
The savory list boasts variety like The Cheese Plate featuring Manchego cheese, dried figs, honey and walnuts, or the Bacon Pumpkin bowl. There are breakfast oatmeals, salty dinner oatmeals, and dessert oatmeals. If you’re not in the mood for a steaming bowl of the stuff, try their oatmeal cookies, sandwiches on oatmeal bread, or have a macchiato with some oatmeal biscotti.
If you’re not in NYC, you can take the inspiration, and jazz up your oatmeal at home. The February issue of Self magazine recommends adding nonfat plain Greek yougurt, pomegranate seeds, dark chocolate chips, honey and chia seeds.
If tossing out your favorite hand creme without getting every last drop really drives you nuts, the Every Drop Beauty Spatula is bound to be your new best friend. It’s only $5 from The Container Store or Amazon, and it’s tiny little head and angled tip make it more than worth it. It will get the lotion hiding in the farthest corner of the bottle, and save you the frustration if shaking, tapping it on the corner and wishing would just slide to the bottom. You’re welcome.
Genetically modified food (GM) has been a source of controversy in the United States since it began to be sold in 1994, and where manufacturers are not currently required to label GM foods as such. Now new evidence collected by Ashild Krogdahl, Ph.D of the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science has shown that these foods, particularly corn, may contribute to obesity. In a study tracking rats who were fed GM cord over the course of three months, they found that rats eating GM corn ate more, and became fatter than the group of rats eating regular, non-modified corn. Scientists suspect that this is because the body does not recognize the engineered food product, and works harder to digest it than normal. This, in turn, triggers a hunger response to compensate for the extra energy the body spend digesting which raises overall food intake.
If you would like to see manufacturers start labeling GM foods, visit jutslabelit.org, and make your voice heard.