When we rounded up our staff's Weekly Upgrades last Saturday, our editors were taking ballet classes for a spin, upgrading our software, creating ingenious texting shortcuts, and finding creative ways to keep our kids occupied.
This week, we're streamlining both our digital and analogue lives, experimenting with new photography options, taking on ambitious DIY projects, and improving our morning routines.
What upgrades did you make this week? Let us know in the comments.
Tidy up your desktop
I recently discovered the "snap to grid" feature on OS X, which automatically arranges any files you drag onto your desktop (or any specific Finder folder) into a grid. I suggested this as a full post and everyone said, "Duh, everyone knows that," but now I'm making it my upgrade, SO THERE.
Nick Douglas, Staff Writer
Create tangible holiday keepsakes
My family is going to Disney World next week and I just bought an Instax Mini so we can have some tangible snapshots. I'm hoping that my four-year-old can meet the characters and get their autographs like this. Do kids still care about autographs these days?
Michelle Woo, Parenting Editor
Invest in your photography habit
I bought a new soft box lighting kit for my photography and film side projects! Found a great kit for an affordable price.
Patrick Allan, Staff Writer
'Switch' up your gaming setup
I recently purged my cosy apartment of quite a few video games, despite my devotion to the hobby since my older brother handed me a black Game Boy Pocket with Pokemon Red inside. The physical keep cases were taking up space, and the consoles, dormant for months at a time, were simply collecting dust under my TV. The decision wasn't an easy one, but I managed to ditch three consoles along with dozens of games.
I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a freeing experience, though it did leave a controller-shaped hole in my heart. So I used the accumulated funds to add a new game console to my pseudo-minimalist entertainment setup: The Nintendo Switch. Ditching old consoles for a new one is certainly a bittersweet moment, but after snagging a hot commodity like the $469 Switch along with a few games and accessories for a little over $100, I think I'll manage.
Patrick Austin, Staff Writer
Get a jump on your morning caffeine routine
I started setting up my coffee pot at night - grinding the beans, filling the water reservoir, and so on, so I just hit a button in the morning. It has greatly improved my mornings.
Claire Lower, Food & Beverage Editor
Make your own ink (!)
I made my own ink using the husks of black walnuts, which grow everywhere around here, including my back yard. All you do is boil them with a source of iron (I used steel wool) and eventually you get a dark liquid. I have a twitter thread with some pictures here.
I thought I was going to end up with some kind of weak brown soup, but it turns out walnut ink is excellent for writing and drawing. Supposedly renaissance artists used it; certainly people in America did before factory-made inks were common. Nowadays you can buy imitation walnut ink from art supply stores, but I don't need to. I made my own for free!
Beth Skwarecki, Health Editor
Finalise your seasonal clothing swap
Last weekend, I threw caution to the wind and swapped out all last season's clothes for this season's options, tidying up my room and rearranging my clothing storage setup in the process. (I bought a few under-bed storage bags, which are working out quite nicely.) This also forced me to make a plan for how to store and preserve my nicer winter coats, which had previously been stuffed into one of those plastic IKEA bins that doesn't close properly. I'm excited to feel like the weather's changing, at least psychologically, and have gotten my home a little more organised in the process.
Virginia K. Smith, Managing Editor