The last time we checked in for our staff's Weekly Upgrades, our editors were foam rolling, egg boiling and charcoal masking to our hearts' content.
This week, our efforts at self-improvement ranged from sleeping better (with the help of ear plugs, white noise machines and meditation); embracing the joys of make-ahead freezer meals (and the Tupperware that holds them); and getting our holiday shopping done shockingly far in advance.
What upgrades did you make this week? Let us know in the comments.
Block out traffic noise with white noise
"We love our new apartment, except for one tiny snag: Our bedroom overlooks a major expressway. "How bad could it be?" we told ourselves before the move. 'It's like white noise,' we added to ourselves.
We were wrong.
Anyhow, even if the din of the expressway can't be defined as 'white noise', there exists these magical creations known as 'white noise machines', and I went right out and got us one. This particular device offers varieties of soothing sounds above and beyond the constant 'shhhh' of white noise: There's brown noise, which is more of a 'whuuuuhhhhhh' (technical description), or if you want to get fancy, there are several nature sound choices, such as a babbling brook or a typhoon (why would you listen to a typhoon? Beats me, but I appreciate the option). You could also listen to a lullaby, if you're a baby or like pretending that you're a baby. (No judgement.) At any rate, there are many sound machines on the market and I'm not going to pretend that this one is the very best. But it is the one I purchased and I am exceedingly pleased with it." - Alice Bradley, Deputy Editor
Master Your Work Lunch Routine With Freezer Meals
"For the past few months, with moving and starting a new job at the same time, I've been off my game when it comes to prepping meals to bring in to work, or doing much home cooking at all. (My grocery and restaurant budget has become a nightmare, as Mint likes to remind me.) But normally I am the Queen of Freezer Meals -- my go-tos are a version of these burrito bowls, and also individual portions of Chrissy Teigen's (extremely cheap and delicious) vegetable tortilla stew recipe. I've realised that almost everything freezes and re-heats well, so then if you make a bunch of meals ahead, you can squirrel things away for a rainy day, and aren't forced to eat a big batch of something every day for a week until you get sick of it or just throw it. Next on my docket to try: A vegetarian iteration of these frozen breakfast burritos.
Anyway, I'm prepping to get back into a routine, and that started with investing in some nice new glass containers in which to do all this freezing and re-heating. Something about my plastic, food-stained old containers wasn't exactly appetising." -- Virginia K. Smith, Managing Editor
Get your holiday shopping done way ahead of time
"I bought Christmas gifts in August! I I read that these Fingerlings Baby Monkeys are going to be the It toy of 2017 (maybe even the new Hatchimals), so I bought a bunch because they're already selling out. What do these things do? I don't really know. But I plan to be the coolest aunt ever -- that or I'm a total sucker. Either way, I'm done for the year." - Michelle Woo, Staff Writer
Leave Earlier for a Meditative Commute
"Between hectic train commutes to work and an overactive terrier at home, squeezing some quiet time into my day is a little challenging. I do meditate, but I'm not exactly the greatest practitioner of mindfulness. This week, I decided to alter my morning routine a bit, and leave my home a bit earlier. Sure, I have to hit the sack before all the good TV starts at 9PM, but the combination of Apple's Bedtime mode, which sends me a notification when it's time to turn in, plus my recent purchase of some Dubs earplugs, means my morning commute is a tiny bit less hectic. It's also a lot quieter. Now, when I get a seat on the train, I close my eyes, focus on my breath, and think about, well, nothing. It's a welcome change from grumbling about who keeps bumping into me and stepping on my shoes." - Patrick Austin, Staff Writer
Achieve perfectly windswept hair
"My hair is getting longer so I finally buckled down and ordered some hair products -- something I haven't done for a very long time. I want to give my hair a sort of "wind swept" look, but my hair is thick and wavy (borderline curly), which it makes it very disobedient. I found something that works pretty well, though! It's called Suavecito Hair Cream." - Patrick Allan, Staff Writer
Become a Pinball Wizard
"At the Silverball Museum in Asbury Park, I learned to read the instructions on a pinball machine. As a casual pinball player, I was only trying to keep the ball in play, but I learned that most machines reward you with points, or even an extra ball, for lighting up the right series of targets." -- Nick Douglas, Staff Writer
Learn from Your Own Thought Patterns
"My upgrade this week is simply a tag on Lifehacker: Numbers in Context. It came about because I've written a few posts that help readers understand a newsworthy number, and our editors -- especially Melissa -- started to notice and to ask me to do more posts along those lines. The takeaway here is that sometimes you can get good ideas for the future simply by recognising a pattern in your good ideas from the past." - Beth Skwarecki, Staff Writer
Avoid the Laundromat Altogether
I got this very cheap clothes drying rack from IKEA, so I don't have to hang my clothes up in the bathroom and over chairs. It's also good for laying out knits that may warp if you try to hang them to dry." - Claire Lower, Staff Writer