Spring is a time of renewal. The flowers begin to bloom, buds emerge on the trees, crocus peak through the soil. We start thinking about “spring cleaning” and spring projects. For me, spring is also a time to try new things.
In fact, I made a promise to myself to try something new every season. I started by launching this blog. Yeah!! I love writing blog posts, researching ideas, creating graphics and meeting and engaging with other bloggers and readers. I do not love struggling with the technology of Word Press but I am determined to learn and to master that beast.
The upcoming spring is the second season of my journey. My original plan was to take a French cooking class. I’m a good cook but there is always more to learn and I love food so it seemed like a perfect fit.
Social distancing put a stop to that. The school I planned to attend has shut down due to COVID-19 and isn’t offering classes until further notice. But I am not letting myself off the hook. I had to come up with a new plan.
I thought about what I loved and decided to stay with something food related. But I didn’t have another food related idea. Thankfully, Pinterest had plenty! Honestly, how did we research anything before Pinterest?
This spring, try something new. Here’s a list of 7 activities to get you started.
Canning fruit – Hot water bath canning
I’ve wanted to try canning as long as I can remember. It’s a wonderful addition to my food skills. Hot water canning, which is used only for high acid foods such as fruits, tomatoes, jams, jellies, and fruit butters seemed like an easy way to begin. My first adventure into canning was this weekend.
I canned clementine, strawberries, and apples. To begin with I had 10 pounds of clementine, 9 pounds of apples, and 3 pounds of strawberries. I finished with 9 pints of clementine, three jars of strawberries in syrup, and 8 pints of cinnamon applesauce. It was a blast and incredibly satisfying to see the end result lined up neatly on the shelf ready to be eaten over the next year.
Next week, I will be planting my garden and plan to do a lot of canning this summer.
All you need to try this new activity is a canning pot, jars with lids, and good recipes. The canning pot I recently purchased is the can be found here.
Begin a yoga practice
I’ve practiced yoga off and on for years. I’ve done heated vinyasa, yin, restorative, hatha, and ashtanga. I love it but life got busy and my practice fell aside. It’s a fun way to get some exercise without a large commitment of time or money.
There are many different types and levels of yoga so it is accessible to most people. If you haven’t tried it, I recommend starting with a basic yoga class or a class that focuses on stretching such as yin or restorative yoga.
You might wonder how you can start a yoga class and still practice social distancing. It’s easy! Many cable channels offer free on-demand yoga classes or you could subscribe to a yoga channel. There are YouTube yoga lessons and how-to videos on the internet. Finally, many local yoga studios have gone on-line with their classes to allow for social distancing.
You don’t need much to get started, just a mat, a couple of blocks and some comfy clothes.
Ride a bike
I recently borrowed a bicycle from my sister. It sat in my garage for about six months until I pulled it out last week. It is true what they say – it’s just like riding a bike! I’m certainly not as skilled as I was when I was ten years old but I can ride it.
It was a bit of a rough start. I brought it inside to try in a safe environment. If you want to laugh, think of me riding the bike around my basement, in my slippers, until I crashed into my couch. After a few days, I tried it on the road and I’m improving. I’m still nervous about going too fast or not being able to stop but I’m working on it.
In addition to being fun, it’s good exercise. An average person will burn between 450 and 750 calories per hour riding a bike. It’s an exercise that gets you outside and gives you an opportunity to explore areas that you might not do while walking.
Try an online class
Do you want to learn a new language? Explore the world through art and architecture? Are you interested in taking up digital photography, fashion design, or sewing? Are you considering a career change and need the skills to get started? If you answered “yes” to any of these, there are hundreds of options for online classes, many of them free.
Organizations such as Coursera (www.coursera.org) and Open Culture (www.openculture.com) team up with universities and companies around the globe to provide access to thousands of free on-line education opportunities. Large networks offering Massive Online Courses (MOOCs) make almost any topic accessible via an internet browser.
Many colleges and universities have online programs that offer options that can applied towards a degree, a certificate, or taken as a stand alone course. There are adult education programs through local school systems or trade programs.
I’ve taken several courses through the UCLA extension program. They have selections that cross disciplines and areas. The courses run in quarters and require no ongoing commitment.
Online classes are a great way to learn something new. The environment can be a challenge if you’re not used to it but that’s part of the adventure. You get to learn something new while you’re learning something new!
Start a walking routine
Trying new things can also be healthy!
We’ve all heard about the benefits of walking. It is good for heart health, can help lower your blood pressure, and fights diabetes and obesity. What you may not know is that walking doesn’t have to be boring or difficult. And, the commitment is small.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity per week will improve your health. If you break that down, it’s 30 minutes, five days per week.
Aerobic activity is anything that gets your heart beating faster. This is important to remember when you’re starting out. If you walk for 15 minutes at a slow pace and you’re out of breath, that’s aerobic activity!
Set a realistic plan for yourself. If you haven’t exercised in a while then start small. An example might be:
Week 1: Just do it!
Hit the treadmill or lace up your sneakers and get out in the fresh air. Think about your posture while you walk, don’t slouch or lean into it. Walk at a leisurely pace and get used to the feeling of the movement. Shoot for 15 minutes per day for five days. That’s 75 minutes in your first week, a great start!
If you can’t do 15 minutes, do what you can. Walk the length of your driveway and back. Then do it twice the next day.
You’ll be surprised to see that by day five you can take more steps than you could at day one.
Weeks 2 – 6: Add five minutes per day
Increase your walks each week so you’re doing 20 minutes per day in week two, 25 minutes per day in week three, and so on until you reach 150 minutes per week. If you find that adding minutes is too difficult then stay with what you’re doing. Remind yourself that the goal is to keep moving and you’re doing more than you were on day zero.
Don’t push yourself too hard in the beginning, avoid injury. But, maintain the routine. Developing a habit of walking will help you in the long run to keep it up. As you get moving more, you’ll feel stronger and more able to increase time and the pace of your walk.
If you have a treadmill, it’s a good way to walk in the winter but I encourage you to get outside in the nice weather. Enjoy the fresh air and explore a bit. It’s healthy to have a change of a scenery, especially nowadays when so many of us are stuck at home.
You can learn more about the CDC’s recommendations here. It’s a great site.
They also offer a one page resource with everything you need to know. Get the “Move Your Way Fact Sheet for Adults” here.
Start a container garden
Do you love to garden? Have you always wanted to start a garden but didn’t have the time or space? Or perhaps you dreaded digging up the yard, dealing with weeds, and the sometimes back breaking work of gardening.
Container gardening is easy and may be your answer.
I love my container garden! There are many products available but you can use any container as long as it meets the needs of the plants you’re growing. Five-gallon buckets are often an ideal option.
I use Grow Boxes made by A Garden Patch. The Grow Boxes are self-watering containers. That means you fill the reservoir and the plants wick up the water. This particular model holds more than most with a four gallon reservoir.
Do I have to start my plants from seeds?
These work for me because they’re easy to setup and maintain. I also like the uniform look of the planters. The first year I used them, I grew more tomatoes and peppers than I knew what to do with. I had extra tomatoes in my freezer for over a year! I adjusted my plan for the upcoming year and will grow a wider variety of veggies. I’ll share pictures as the season progresses.
If you don’t want to go through the bother of starting from seeds, you don’t have to. Check out your local farmer’s market for starter plants which are already several weeks old and can be planted directly outdoors. Many farmer’s markets have gone online due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Do a quick Google search or check out your phone’s app store to find yours.
Read about Gardening with your Grandchildren here.
Learn more about Planting Peonies here.
Virtual reality goggles
Virtual reality (VR) games and apps are the latest craze and there’s a good reason for that. It’s because they’re amazing!
If you haven’t heard of VR, you’re missing out. VR goggles are now affordable and offer games, learning, virtual travel and ways to spend time with family and friends, even when you can’t leave your home.
All you need to get started is a pair of goggles. Some devices are stand alone. Others work with your iPhone or Android device. You don’t need to go to a high-tech store to get your equipment anymore. Virtual reality goggles are easy to find on Amazon or at Walmart.
What options are there for using VR?
The options for VR are seemingly endless and expanding. You can play video games in an immersive environment, meaning you are placed in the game and see it as if you’re there. You can tour Paris or see dinosaurs in their natural environment. If you want to look around, just turn your head. Explore ancient civilizations, meet up with friends and family in a virtual meeting space such as a living room, basketball game, or yard. Watch TV with your son or daughter 1,000 miles away. Swim with dolphins! The adventures don’t stop.
If you want to dip your toe into VR, you can start with a basic cardboard headset that works with your phone. If you want to dive in, checkout the Oculus Go which is an affordable standalone, all in one, solution.
Check it out and let me know what you think. You’re going to love it!
I hope something here inspired you to try something new. Each of these activities can be done while practicing social distancing and enjoyed with friends and family when we’re all free to get together again. In the meantime, make the most of your days and expand your horizons.
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