When we last rounded up our staff’s Weekly Upgrades, our editors were going all-in on subscription services, experimenting with new meditation models, adding extra exercise into our routines, and exploring the world of Batman pyjamas.
This week, we’re bird-watching, taking care of tasks around the house, and sipping cocktails in the tub.
What upgrades did you make this week? Let us know in the comments.
Get to know your neighbourhood birds
I hung up a bird feeder, but that isn’t my upgrade. That led to me using Merlin Bird ID to identify my new visitors, and discovering that a little brown sparrow I never noticed before makes this tweety buzzy sound I hear all the damn time. It’s been singing all around me my whole life and I never knew it existed.
So now I’m trying to learn more bird sounds. I’ve downloaded another app, Chirp!, that teaches and quizzes you. It’s for American birds, though, so Australians might want to try something like Bird Song Id Australia, The Morcombe & Stewart Guide to Birds of Australia, or Pizzey and Knight Birds of Australia.
It is so dang hard to learn the difference between all these bird calls, but so satisfying when you start to catch on. This morning I was driving with the windows open and I thought “That’s a red-winged blackbird… cardinal… robin… another cardinal…” all without taking my eyes off the road!
Beth Skwarecki, Health Editor
Put the finishing touches on your apartment
I bought a couch and an area rug for my tiny apartment and now it feels cosy and complete. I even managed to break in the couch already by dropping a piece of greasy pizza on it after I set it up last night. Home sweet home!
Alicia Adamczyk, Staff Writer
Bring a beverage into the bath
I’ve been trying to be more fiscally responsible and also drink less, so I have started making use of my very well-stocked bar cart and having one drink in the tub. If I still feel like going out after that, I let myself go out, but I am usually so relaxed from the bath beverage that I stay home, go to bed early, and wake up feeling pretty good. It saves me money and keeps me out of trouble somewhat!
Claire Lower, Food & Beverage Editor
Do that home improvement project you’ve been putting off
I finally built the IKEA drawer unit that had been mocking me for two months. (It took that long for the company to send out a replacement for a critical part that was damaged in shipping.) Because I was so annoyed at the whole process, I used a drill instead of a dinky little screwdriver to speed up the building process. (No, it was not a FIXA.)
I finally have more drawers, nothing was damaged when building, and I can now turn my home improvement kick toward my car, which badly needs a wash.
David Murphy, Senior Tech Editor
Use the library for quiet work time
I did some writing in my local library this week. It wasn’t actually productive – after 10 minutes I got distracted looking up the classical music parodies of P.D.Q. Bach – but it was a clean and quiet space to sit with a notebook. Next time I’ll turn off my phone.
Nick Douglas, Staff Writer
Switch to energy efficient lightbulbs
I replaced the light bulbs in my bathroom with LED bulbs, which apparently have quadruple the lumens. So now everything is very bright and I can see all my pores, but I’m saving so much energy and they last 13 years.
Joel Kahn, Senior Video Producer
Work around movie ticket reservations
My cinema doesn’t let you reserve tickets online, but I want to see the new blockbusters on opening weekend. So I’ve started doing this thing where I head to the cinema in the late morning, buy a ticket for good seats at a matinee that afternoon, then I grab lunch and hang out at a coffee shop to do some work until show time.
Patrick Allan, Staff writer
Pickle red onions and put them on everything
I finally got around to making a stash of pickled red onions to have at home, and it’s improved my life just as much as I expected. First of all, they’re stupid easy to make – I used a recipe similar to this one. But also, they’re delicious, go with almost everything, and are generally very good for your ~gut health~. These are definitely becoming a permanent staple in my fridge.
Virginia K. Smith, Managing Editor
Make your takeaway order do double duty
Recently, when getting takeaway for dinner, I’ve been ordering an extra dish for my lunch the next day. I know – I should be cooking more and eating less takeaway and spending less money, but it’s a little thing that makes my life easier. And I usually get really excited in the morning about my upcoming meal.
Michelle Woo, Parenting Editor