GIVE YOUR HOME SOME LOVE
You’re making the rest of your life better—doesn’t your house deserve the same treatment?
1. Plant a kitchen herb garden
Brien Darby, a senior horticulturist and manager of Urban Food Programs, has these tips:
Choose herbs you already use. “Focus on annual plants like cilantro, basil, and parsley.”
Choose a pot at least 6 inches deep with good drainage. “Herbs can be grown together in one wide pot or in several pots at least 4 inches across.”
Set them in light. “Indoor herb gardens should get 8–12 hours of light a day; you may need a grow light.”
Make sure the soil is damp and high in organic compounds. “Herbs grown in pots require a fair amount of water. Depending on your home temperature, you may have to water up to three times a week. Soil should be slightly wet to the touch, but never soggy.”
2. Start a proper art collection
“Art offers something other investments don’t,” says Bobbi Walker of Walker Fine Art. “An art collection becomes a documentation of your life’s journey and, with quality art, will be something you love more over time.
Find what you like. “Look at a lot of art. This is the only way you’ll find what styles, mediums, or genres you are drawn to. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone—challenge your eye.”
Research artists you love. “Once you find an artist you like, con- tact their gallerist to see examples of the artist’s work spanning a career. Read critical reviews and compare your impressions. Next, ask to visit the studio or view videos of the artist to gain insight into their intention. Then decide who you want to support.”
Shop your favorite galleries. “Find a gallery whose aesthetic is similar to yours and develop a relationship with the gallerist—that is your best resource for finding art.”
3. Add a wallpaper wall
“Wallpaper in a room is like a cute jacket to finish an outfit,” says Kim Layne of Kim Layne Interiors. “It’s an easy way to add another layer of style that complements and accentuates the rest of the room. We focus on adding layers of color, texture, and shine to achieve unique, sophisticated rooms.” Her favorite wallpaper lines: Ralph Lauren, Schumacher, and Kravet.
4. Make your home smarter
First, tackle the basics like temperature and lighting. The Nest thermostat and the Philips Hue smart lighting system don’t require extensive setup. Smart plugs like the Belkin Wemo Insight bring more wireless control to your “dumb” devices. And IFTTT, a free app, helps devices talk to each other and perform customizable functions, like automatically lighting the front walk for the pizza guy.
5. Install a great home music system
Nothing improves home media like a great audio system. These days, wireless is the fastest and easiest option, as it doesn’t require costly electrical work. Sonos is the gold standard in wireless home audio system, with multiple options available: a two-room set ($379), four-room set ($729), entertainment set ($1,098), and more. The speakers are easy to install, sync to your smartphone, and come with Alexa voice control.
No excuses this year—we’re in Colorado, people!
1. Plan your first through hike
If you’ve never spent a night sleeping under the Colorado stars, now is the time to start planning your first thru-hike. To ensure safe conditions, start your hike no earlier than late June and no later than mid-September. Make sure your hiking boots and other gear are in good shape (consult an expert at REI or Wilderness Exchange, if necessary). To plan your route, use the online resource AllTrails. Most important, never hike alone, and inform multiple people of your hike’s location, start date, and end date before you leave.
2. Learn basic bike repair
Every cyclist—serious or casual—should learn some basic bike repair. In Denver, Bikes Together is the perfect place to learn. Drop by this Denver nonprofit and attend the free Fix-Your-Bike program, a comprehensive workshop that provides access to the space, tools, and expert advice you’ll need to master rudimentary cycle maintenance. No appointment necessary; simply show up during designated Fix-Your-Bike hours and Bike Together will help with the rest.
3. Do a sunrise hike
Here in Denver, we’re so used to looking west (and in the evenings viewing beautiful sunsets), we sometimes forget that the eastern skyline also offers some pretty epic scenery, too. The best time to catch it: at sunrise. So don a headlamp, pack a breakfast, and head out for a few of these favorite spots: Watch the sun rise over Denver from the top of Lookout Mountain in Golden, Royal Arch in the Flatirons, Sugarloaf Mountain in Boulder, and, of course, Red Rocks. Want to stay in the city? Venture pre-dawn to Sloan’s Lake or (if you want to stay inside) head to the top of the east-facing Ramada Inn right off I-25 at 2601 Zuni.
4. Volunteer to help maintain trails
Every step you take on a trail in Colorado is made possible by crews of volunteers who keep it safe and clear of debris. You can help, too. Volunteer for a single- or multi-day construction, maintenance, and restoration project with the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, maintain one of 80 sections of the 486-mile Colorado Trail (with a little help from your friends, of course) through the Colorado Trail Foundation, or visit the Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado website to find projects.
5. Train for and join an obstacle race
If you’ve never competed in an obstacle race, Rugged Maniac is a great introduction to this fun (but taxing) form of exercise. Coming to Denver Aug. 10, this 5K race will have you commando crawling through the mud, scaling walls, jumping over fire pits, and—when it’s over—bragging to your friends. To train, you’ll need to work on your running as well as your total-body strength, which makes cross- fit a great option for pre-race prep. CrossFit Denver offers personal and small-group training that will build the strength you need.
6. Take a wilderness first-aid course
A little emergency know-how is never a bad thing to have, so before the camping season starts, sign up for one of the three-day, 16-hour Wilderness First Aid courses offered by the Colorado Mountain Club throughout the year. The sessions cover numerous emergency situations you might encounter in the wild, like hypothermia and broken bones. All classes include a hands-on training component in the field.
THEN GO INSIDE
Sometimes inner goals are the hardest—and the rewards the greatest.
1. Gain an extra hour for yourself every day
Start by keeping a time log, either in a small notebook or online (Clockify and Slimtimer are two free online trackers). Keep track of events in real time; don’t wait until the end of the day to recall what you did eight hours earlier. Be detailed (don’t just say “worked”—log how long you spent checking emails or worked on a specific project; at home, log how long it takes you to walk the dog or fold laundry). Keep the log for a week, then analyze how you’ve spent your time. What can you cut out so you have time for other important life goals, like exercising or writing your novel?
2. Invent an annual event to host
If you thrive on hosting and event planning, add an annual bash to your list of 2019 resolutions. It can be anything—a holiday celebration, a cookout, a murder mystery soirée—so long as it’s your baby. Research shows that people tend to recall three things about a great party: the first five minutes, the last five minutes, and the apex, an invigorating change halfway through the affair. Nail all three with a well-reviewed guide like The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters (Riverhead Books, 2018), by Priya Parker.
3. Eat more mindfully
Three simple ways to do so: 1. Never eat anything out of a carton, bag, or jar; instead, put your food on a plate. 2. Never eat standing up; instead, sit at a table, away from any phones or screens. 3. Try eating every dinner with chop-sticks; they will slow you down and help you think about what you are eating. If you don’t have a pair, eat with your non-dominant hand.
4. Become penpals with someone very different from you
Polish your epistolary skills by getting a pep pal. Pen Pal World, with more than 2.3 million users all over the world, assiduously protects your privacy; the free signup lets you contact three people within 24 hours; a VIP membership lets you contact 50 people. Interpals encourages practicing foreign languages with native speakers.
5. Learn not to procrastinate. Now.
Technology can help. Break the task—a work report, cleaning out the bathroom cabinets—into do-able chunks of time and get them on your calendar. Tomato Timer can help you do that. If you get easily distracted by technology, the app Freedom will cut off access to websites, apps, or the entire internet when you need to regain focus. Need help figuring out the steps to get your project done? Todoist will track tasks across your mobile and desktop devices.
6. Meditate each morning
Start small. Take five minutes each morning to meditate. Sit in a comfortable position, set your phone alarm for five minutes, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Inhale for four counts, hold, and exhale for four counts. If your mind wanders, bring it back to your breath. Once you feel comfortable with the five minutes, increase your time by a couple of minutes each day.
Sometimes the most prosaic accomplishments can fell the most satisfying.
1. Get professional headshots taken
Sending your résumé to casting directors? Want to update your LinkedIn photo? Professional headshots are never a bad thing to have. Book with Happy Hour Headshot, which provides headshots without the formality of sitting in a studio. Photos are taken outside, with an emphasis on capturing confidence and approachability. You’ll get multiple images, complete editing, and more.
2. Read up on your neighborhood history
The Denver Public Library’s Western History/Genealogy Department is a rich resource for learning about the lives and landmarks that make up Denver’s past. The library offers online neighborhood history guides, historic maps, genealogy archives, and a database that allows you to search the history of your house (or any historic building) to find out how old it is, who built it, and who has lived in it over the years.
3. Learn something new every day
Science has proven that learning new information improves happiness, prolongs life, and leads to a host of other health benefits. Capitalize on this evolutionary hack with Ted Ed, a database of short video lessons from the creators of Ted Talks. Topics range from philosophy to math to technology. Resolve to watch one per day (most are under five minutes). Want to dig deeper? The lessons include discussion boards and external resources. Some even link full Ted Talks.
4. Upgrade your gadgets
Updating your electronics isn’t as hard as you think. First, identify which items are giving you trouble. Slow phone or laptop? The problem may lie in your operating system; check for updates at least once a month. If passwords are your problem, consider Dashlane, an easy and secure way to store and sync them all across your devices. You can check the condition of your phone or tablet’s battery with apps like coconutBattery. Free up storage on your laptop or desktop by performing simple tasks like deleting apps you don’t use, emptying the trash, and moving large files to a cloud storage service such as Dropbox.
5. Get your basic documents in order
Know where the following are: copies of your birth certificate, Social Security card, marriage license, and divorce papers (if applicable); passports; tax records going back three years from the date you last filed; records of financial holdings, including account numbers; insurance policies—medical, homeowner’s, and life; titles to your car, home, and anything else of value; a will, a living will, a health care proxy, and a durable power of attorney.
6. Find five podcasts to make you smarter
With hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there, a tool like Discover Pods is a great way to quickly find one you like. The database offers reviews, curated lists, and other resources to help you search. Download a few to your smartphone, and you’re ready to go.