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2016: Year of the Podcasts

It may have taken a while, but podcasts are finally taking off.

Though their roots go back to the 1980s, podcasts got their big debut via Apple in 2004. When Apple started supplying podcasts, many thought that they weren’t for them. Today, they offer something for everyone, with more than 100,000 podcasts being offered in the English language alone. Here are some recommendations for those looking to enter the podcast game:

  • Movie buffs and those simply bored with Hollywood’s recent movie remakes can get their kick by listening to The Blacklist Table Reads. It offers ear movies for some of the best unmade screenplays.
  • Millennial offers tips for managing your 20s and 30s. Everyday problems and doubts, as well as life-changing decisions can be made a bit easier by listening to this advice podcast that navigates the new society that surrounds us all. It can also be helpful for parents with adult children to get a better understanding of the struggles and challenges they face, or parents with younger children that way to get an understanding of what their children might face in the future.
  • To get a peak inside the heads of some of your idols and pop culture icons, The Nerdist is worth a listen. This unscripted ‘cast lets the guest take the lead and talk about their interests. Quentin Tarantino and Paul McCartney have made appearances.
  • If you’re feeling starved for information, IQ2 lets you listen to intelligent people debate a variety of different topics. In turn, it could leave a little smarter and with something more to offer at upcoming dinner parties.
  • Do you have a friend who always shares random facts? Are you the friend always sharing random facts and need more for your inventory? Stuff You Should Know could be your secret weapon. It offers little tidbits of information that are sure to impress.

If these aren’t for you, don’t lose faith! As mentioned above, there are thousands of podcasts on many topics that are being offered: comedy, romance, politics – whatever your interest.

Five Tips for LinkedIn Success

With over 400 million users, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. LinkedIn is primarily used by employers, employees and job-seekers as a business-networking social media platform. LinkedIn connects like-minded professionals all over the world, so whether you’re actively seeking a job or using the site to keep tabs on people in your industry, it’s important to keep your profile in tip-top shape.

Here are five tips for maintaining and enhancing your LinkedIn presence:

  1. Use a professional picture. Having a picture on your profile makes it 14 times more likely to be viewed. Your photograph should be professional, well-lit and you should be wearing what you would typically wear to work.
  2. Customize your URL. Customizing your public profile URL increases your chances of appearing in search results and makes it easy for people to find you.
  3. Write a meaningful summary. The summary section of your profile receives the most prominent spot on the page, and allows you to tell your story and provide context for how you plan to use the site.
  4. Post status updates.  Engage with your network in the form of status updates, which can be a comment or a question followed by a video, interesting article or website. It’s important to remember, though, LinkedIn is for professional use and the content you post should match that tone.
  5. Join relevant groups. LinkedIn Groups provide a way for professionals in the same industry to share content, answers questions and makes contacts. Once you join a group in your industry, start engaging with the group members by sharing relevant content and contributing to the discussion.

What is Cupping?

If, like me, you’ve been keeping a close eye on the Olympics, you might have noticed the dark round spots covering several Olympian’s backs and shoulders. While these marks may look like the sign of some serious skin disease, they’re actually just the result of cupping, a Chinese healing therapy. Michael Phelps has been the biggest name to utilize this practice, and he has everyone wondering: What is this new trend?

As it turns out, it isn’t new at all. Although it’s just now making its mainstream debut at the Olympics, cupping is an ancient Chinese therapy that dates back to around 2,000 years ago. During cupping therapy, a warm oxygen-free glass cup is placed on the patient’s back. The lack of oxygen draws the patient’s skin into the cup. The aim of this therapy is to release tension in sore muscles, and increase blood flow. Although the bruises may appear to tell a different story, cupping is said to be virtually pain-free.

Skeptics of the practice suggest that there are no real health benefits associated with cupping, but that hasn’t stopped household names like Michael Phelps, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston from partaking in the ancient therapy. Have you given it a try? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience!

Staying Hydrated This Summer

As the summer heat intensifies, it’s increasingly important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Whether you’re relaxing on the beach, tending to your summer garden or working away in an office, staying hydrated helps ensure your body can function properly.

Dehydration can cause weakness, fainting and if not dealt with properly, can have some serious health implications. If that’s not reason enough to get your daily dose of H2O, a recent article in NPR references a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine that suggests hydration may play a role in weight management.

Here are some tips and tricks to staying hydrated, and healthy, this summer:

1.       Although there’s no magic number, the Institute of Medicine recommends women drink 2.7 liters. For men, that number is roughly 3.7 liters of fluids a day.

2.       Getting into the habit of carrying a water bottle wherever you go will help you remember to drink water throughout the day. If constantly purchasing plastic water bottles sounds wasteful, consider a reusable, eco-friendly, water bottle.

3.       Set a timer to refill your water bottle. Using a timer as a reminder that your water bottle needs filled will help create a routine, and eventually you won’t need the timer anymore.

4.       Snack on fruits that are high in fluids. Fruits like watermelon, strawberries and grapefruits hydrate you better than others, and they’re perfect snacks to enjoy on a hot summer day.

Five Tips for Dealing with Stress at Work

We all have those days. The stressful ones where we’re sure our job is going to be the death of us (even if we spend most of the day comfortable lounging in a desk chair). So how do you push through it with your sanity intact? Try to remember these five tips:

1.       Don’t procrastinate. Easier said than done, right? Putting a project or assignment off until the last minute will cause you nothing but stress. Instead, try to prioritize everything you have going on, and make sure you always overestimate how much time you think it may take you to accomplish something.

2.       Take a deep breath. Or 10. This sounds simple, but focusing on deep breathing has a calming effect. Breathe in, and sigh all of the air out. Science has shown that a dramatic sigh can release tension, and the extra oxygen can help you focus.

3.       Make a list. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you feel you have a million things to do, and writing it out will help you prioritize. (And it’s always a great feeling when you get to check something off.)

4.       Take a break. When you’re stuck, step away for a second. Go for a quick walk. Eat an ice cream sandwich. Check your Instagram feed. As long as it’s only for a short period of time, focusing on something that isn’t your work can actually help you gain insight.

5.       Ask for help. It’s not a bad thing to admit you don’t know everything. In this Millennial’s world where we Google the answers to our every question, we tend to forget that sometimes the best help is in the office right next to us.

Summer is Here

Warm weather. Long, sunny days. Perfectly temperate water. You know what this means: Summer is here, and it’s time to break out the swimsuit.

This year is different, though. With the movement to create acceptance for women to love their bodies, even if they don’t fit into the media prototype, it has opened many doors for what is trendy this season. It’s no longer all about bikinis.

Recently, high-waist garments have become an item of clothing that many women can’t imagine their closets without. Naturally, they are making their statement in swimwear. If you’re nervous about exposing too much, these suits give you the option to keep the “skin” minimal. It also takes away pressure from new moms who are still adjusting to their bodies.

Another alternative to the traditional bikini is the one-piece. That’s right, it’s back and with a vengeance. No longer only for aquatic athletes, older ladies and young girls, the one-pieces of this season are snatching hearts and dropping jaws. When garments with high waists started coming onto the scene, leotards and body suits started sneaking back into our closets with them. Even long sleeved one-pieces are becoming popular.

This summer’s swimwear trends offer relief to many that have anxiety about being in a swimsuit. These alternatives are still fashion forward, but finally offer something for everyone. It looks like this year’s “beach body,” is every body.

Food Trends of 2016

Keep your eyes peeled and stomachs full! Maybe it was the introduction of Instagram, but suddenly it seems everyone has become a foodie (or, at least, become addicted to taking beautiful pictures of artisan food). Luckily, however, now that folks are more open to expanding their palette, chefs are constantly exposing us to new and exciting food options.

Here are some of the trending foods of 2016. 

1.       Poké

It’s a traditional Hawaiian dish that is making its way into the stomach of many this year. Pronounced “poke-AY,” it is traditionally chunked raw fish marinated in soy and sesame. Often seen over bowls of rice, many restaurants are starting to offer it on anything. From poké tacos to poké sandwich wraps, it is carving out a spot in the culinary world.

 

2.      Seaweed

Say goodbye to your friend, kale, and make room for your new super friend, seaweed. Rich in fiber and vitamins, this new green is on its way to taking over the go-to-green scene. Not only is it super nutritious, it’s also plentiful and environmentally friendly! No rainforests in Brazil need to be destroyed for this crop, as its naturally-occurring all over the world.

 

3.       Jewish Cuisine

If you haven’t had the honor of an authentic Jewish meal, you are in luck! Lox, challah and latkes are taking the stage this year. As chefs dive more into their heritages for culinary inspiration, we get a see a lot of traditional food become more accessible and often even get an artisan twist! Move aside, late-night pizza. Hello, late-night latkes!

 

4.      Artisan Ice Cream

I couldn’t end this hunger-inducing post without desert! Artisan ice cream is making many turn their noses up to the classics. No one wants to be vanilla, so don’t let your ice cream be it! Check out some of the interesting flavors below:

 

·         Pistachio Honey Ricotta from High Road Craft Ice Cream and Sorbet

·         Carrot Habanero Pepper from Steve’s Ice Cream

·         Chorizo Caramel Swirl from Odd Fellows Ice Cream Co.

Gardening with a Brown Thumb

Everyone always has that friend or family member who raves about the benefits of gardening. It could be improving the quality of air in your home or it could provide you with ever-fresh herbs and vegetables.

The only problem with your gardening, however: You can’t seem to be able to keep a plant alive. You are a serial killer of plants.

Unlike the perps on Law & Order: SVU, you can be reformed. Below are a few tricks and tips to help with the transition from plant murdered to plant nurturer. 

·        Not many things like to be pinched, but it turns out your herbs do! If you have decided to grow herbs indoors or out, lightly pinch the tip before the bundle of leaves to promote healthy leaves.

·        For those who want to grow flowers on their balcony, patio or in their yards, be sure to put a coffee filter at the bottom of the pot. This will help soil stay put. Also if it’s a large pot, put packing peanuts at the bottom to minimize how much it weighs. This way if you do let your flowers die, moving the pot won’t make you want to.

·        If you have a four-legged friend that loves to destroy all of the nice leafy things you bring home, simply sprinkle a bit of cayenne pepper on your plants to keep your plant-murdering partner away. (And, FYI, cayenne is harmless to pets.)

·        Set a reminder on your phone to water the plants or move them outside or close to a window. These are the most likely reasons your plants have been having funerals at an alarming rate – water, and sunlight.

If these simple tips don’t help your problem, I have one more suggestion: Get a succulent. They require lots of light and minimal water. I’m sure you can keep cactus and the like alive. If not, your local craft store is bound to have many fake plants to give others the illusion that you are not a plague to plants even though we both know you are.

No More Morning Joe?

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In the United States, about 50 percent of the population (150 million people) drink at least one cup of coffee daily. Many have (much) more than tha
t every morning. In a society where we are always on the run and barely have time to spend with our loved ones, coffee is the fuel that keeps us running. It might not be for long, though.

Brazil is currently the largest producer of coffee, but it has recently experienced a drought causing fields to yield less, combined with a high rate of deforestation. Thankfully for coffee drinkers, Indonesia and Honduras are expected have bountiful crops this year. But this situation may not last long enough for the conditions in Brazil to improve. With more coffee consumers coming out of traditional tea drinking countries, like China, India and the United Kingdom, coffee is projected to skyrocket in price in as little as three years.

Unfortunately, there’s not much any of us can do about the price of our beloved Joe. As for the future of the beans, however, experts believe that coffee varietals will continue to evolve as temperatures change, just as they’ve observed with wine grapes and even bananas. That prediction could be good news for regions not typically known for growing coffee – and is definitely good news for America’s caffeine addicts!

No Dogs Allowed? Alternative Pets

A lot of times people get hung up on the misconception that only cats, dogs  and gerbils can be pets. If you’re looking to go against the status quo, I have some top alternative picks for you!

1.       Fancy rats

Turns out rats aren’t just for causing a ruckus or helping with science experiments! Fancy rats are domesticated brown rats that are super smart and affectionate. Due to its intellect, you can teach this fuzzy friend how to do some pretty cool tricks – like hang out on your shoulder or ride along in your bag!

2.      Hedgehogs

Hedgies are adorable, playful quilled friends. These little guys are known to become very attached to their owners if they are socialized with often. Thought to be quiet creatures, these tiny buddies are known to grunt, snort and purr when exploring their environments.

3.      Skunks

Once their glands are removed, you can stop holding your nose. Be careful, though: A number of states have these fuzzy guys listed as illegal to keep as pets. Contrary to popular belief, skunks require a ton of attention and are likely to turn into “lap skunks” to ensure they are getting the attention they deserve. These highly intelligent creatures can also be potty-trained in multiple ways. You can train them to go outside, use a puppy pad or even a litter box.  

4.      Bearded Dragons

Beardies are great reptiles for beginners. Each one has a unique personality all its own. They typically enjoy being handled; however, if your bearded friend ever starts getting aggressive, be sure to get a pair of garden gloves and continue interacting with it to correct the negative behavior. Once a bond has been formed, they are likely to use their endearing wave to greet you!

5.      Tarantula

I know, I know. Spider. Scary. Biting. But these guys are very cool, unique pets! They are low maintenance, but they do need their cages cleaned occasionally. These fuzzy eight-legged pals are also odorless. Biting is a concern, but most don’t bite and oftentimes medical attention isn’t necessary when bitten. Plus, they can show signs of affection and comfort! When they shoot webs in your presence, which means they are comfortable with you (which, in turn, probably means they won’t bite you).