Category Archives: Life & Body


Food for the Soul: A post for my grandmother

I asked her to write down her cordial recipe and she looked at me, slightly panicked, and said she can’t–her hands are too arthritic; she can’t grasp a pen very well.  “That’s ok,” I said.  “I’ll write it down and you tell it to me.”  I sat down on the floor at her feet, in front of the wood stove.  My friend Lisa, who was visiting with me, sat on a chair on the opposite side of the stove.  I opened the notebook, balanced it on my thigh, turned on the pen and pressed its tip to the record button at the bottom of the page.

My grandmother died this weekend.  It wasn’t unexpected, but it hurts.  I can still see her, sitting in her favorite chair, being hilarious.  She was hilarious, generous, stubborn and I can definitely see her in her children and grandchildren, myself included.  She was my last remaining grandparent, and the only one I’ve had the privilege of getting to know as an adult; I loved her dearly.  She was a great influence on me.


My grandmother, Frances Harris

She also made a mean cordial.  It’s a simple thing–you take fresh berries, some sugar and a lot of booze and throw them together in a jar–but delicious and I’ve associated it with my grandmother for as long as I can remember, along with a honey-whiskey toddy, freshly made lemonade, poundcake, and bread and butter pickles.

I decided one day earlier this year that I wanted to record her giving her recipe for the cordial.  I wanted more than just the memory of her saying it, I wanted to hear her long after she was gone.  Now that she’s passed, I’m so glad I did.  I only wish I had recorded more.

With the Livescribe pen, you can write and record both your writing and any audio at the same time.  Wirelessly, that gets transmitted and saved to my Evernote account, where I can share it with the rest of my family.  I can listen to the recording from my Evernote notebook, or I can tap the pen on the notebook itself and hear it.

It would have been better if she’d been able to write it herself–I always liked her handwriting.  Mine, with the notebook balanced slightly on my thigh, was not so great.  The entry certainly isn’t perfect.  Halfway through the ingredient list, she realized she was remembering it wrong– so things are crossed out and written over and messy.  But even moments later, when I climbed into Lisa’s car and opened the notebook and listened to the recording, it made me smile.  It was so very authentic and wonderful.  It made me want to do this with everybody I love.

I created a blueprint for a project I call an audio-annotated cookbook.  So far, I’ve given my Livescribe pen and notebook to a few friends and family and had them record their favorite recipes.  It captures their handwriting, their voice, and their personality in a way that I never could before, and helps me create a truly unique cookbook that is more than just the text of the recipe.  It’s not perfect–it’s messy and sometimes we stumble in the writing or over words, but that just makes it all the more dear to me.

Don’t get me wrong–you could do this in a number of ways.  You could write the recipes and scan them in and attach an audio file.  You could write on a tablet and use an app that will record audio and match it to the notes.  I liked the pen for this because it’s simple,  it can be used anywhere, and it saves the recording to a place I trust.  But I don’t think it really matters how you do it.  I just think you should do it.  I kept thinking I would have more time to record more of her recipes, but I didn’t.  You can’t really do anything about that.  But you can take steps to preserve the people and culture that you love, even in little ways.

I wish I’d thought of this project years ago.  It’d have captured so many stories, from so many people.  But I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to do this with my grandmother, to capture a moment we shared together.  To capture a piece of her.

My grandfather and grandmother

My grandfather and grandmother, Albert and Frances Harris

I’ve pasted a link below to my grandmother’s recording.  It makes me smile just to listen to it; it’s only fair that I share that smile with as many people as possible.  Just a note–I accidentally pressed ‘stop’ in the middle, so the recording is in two parts.  When the first part finishes, the second part will automatically load.  Click the play button again to get it going.

Grandma’s Cordial

Creating an Audio Annotated Cookbook Pencast


Improve Your Fitness with Activity Trackers

In my last post  I introduced the iHealth activity tracker. I gave my review of how usable, convenient and useful it was for me. This month I’m going to focus on how specifically it can help you be more active and help you start to build some habits around fitness.

During my testing of the device, I found a few of it’s abilities quite useful for helping to improve your activity level. The three key features I like are 1) setting goals 2) idle alarms and 3) partner integrations. Let me break them down:

1) Setting Goals

Within the iPhone app you are able to set your daily step goals. By default, this setting is set to 10,000 steps per day. This is an average number for an average person, however, this doesn’t mean it’s the right goal for you. This is an important piece! Most people take less than 5000 steps per day so to jump right to double that might not be ideal.

To best set your own personal goal, I suggest tracking your activity for a few days. Calculate your average daily steps and then add 500-1000 as your first goal. Once you can reach that goal consistently, you can increase it by another 500-1000 steps per day. The fun part is in the daily view. In the tracker, it shows your daily progress with a cute little frog on a podium. As you progress through the day you go from the ground, to 3rd, 2nd and finally 1st place!

Activity Tracker

2) Idle Alarms

This feature surprised me when I first set it up, literally! The idle alarm is a special alarm that goes off any time you are idle for the given amount of time. So, if you’ve been sitting at your desk for hours, the alarm will go off and tell you to get up and be active. You can set it for hours or even minutes. I played with it at 30 minutes for a while to remind me to at least stand up and stretch my body a bit a couple of times per hour. You’ll be surprised with how quickly 30 minutes of sitting can go by!

3) Partner Integrations

Through your iHealth web account, you can link your account to other services. The one I love most is of course Evernote, however, you can also link to your RunKeeper account or your MyFitnessPal account. By linking your device to these services, iHealth will automatically sync your data to those accounts. This is great for activity and calorie monitoring on those platforms. This integration allows you to keep
a bigger picture eye on things and easily keep all your data linked in one place.

Activity Tracker

I’d love to hear about your success. Has using an activity tracker helped you increase your activity and fitness?

iHealth Activity Tracker

The iHealth Activity Tracker – My Review

Over the past month or so, I’ve been testing out an Activity Tracking from iHealth.

iHealth Activity Tracker

Activity trackers are small devices that we wear on our body to track our activity throughout our day. Usually these devices track data like steps taken, distance travelled, and calories burned. iHealth’s tracker also has the ability to track your sleep quality at night, set daily goals and even notify you when you are being inactive.

The goal is to gather data that builds a picture of your daily activity. This is actually a very popular thing and there’s even a movement titled Quantified Self where people are looking to gain self knowledge through self tracking.

Anyway, back to the iHealth activity tracker.

I’ve been testing it out personally so I can see how well it would work with my clients. I wanted to see 1) how easy it was to use, 2) how convenient it was to wear and 3) whether or not I found the data useful. Here are my findings.

1) How easy is it to use? 

Use of the device was actually very simple for me. It only has one button, so it can’t get much easier than this. Pressing the button cycles through the different measurements of steps, distance, calories and a fun little graphic that shows you how close you are to your daily goal by a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place podium.

The other use of the device is through bluetooth connection to your iPhone. For me, this process went exactly as outlined in their manual. However, for Kelly (who was also testing a device) she had much more difficulty. We were actually un-able to connect the device to her phone and had to set it up with her iPad. (I played with it for an hour and couldn’t figure it out. We did not contact customer support)

Once connected to my phone, it was very simple. In the iHealth App, all I had to do was click on the Activity section and it would connect to the device and sync. All the data was there in a nice pretty graph that was easy to read.

2) How convenient is it to wear?

The iHealth tracker comes with both a wrist strap and a waist clip. I found I was wearing the wrist strap more often because I like to wear a watch. However, it’s not really a replacement for my watch, so often it appeared like I was wearing two watches.

It’s great to have the wrist and waist options, but this created a small problem. The waist clip is better during the day when tracking steps, but the wrist strap is better at night when tracking sleep. The problem comes in when switching between the two. I’m not sure if it was just me and my large fingers, but I found it challenging to switch the device around, especially when taking it out of the waist clip.

3) Was the data useful?

I wore the activity tracker for a couple of weeks and got a lot of data. Data about my steps in a day, data about my sleep at night, and even data about how often I’d forget to wear it. The data was interesting and even a little surprising at times. I realized that some days I didn’t walk nearly as much as I thought.

I found that the data got less exciting over time. I started to see my averages, I started to see the trends, and day after day, week after week, it didn’t tell me much that was new. So, I was less motivated to keep wearing it once I knew my trends. However, I think my opinion is very skewed in this aspect.

I believe these trackers are best for someone who isn’t very active. Because I am very active, this data wasn’t really new information for me. I already exercise regularly and get frequent activity. The activity tracker seemed to show me what I already knew, and to have a few days of lower activity isn’t a concern for me.

However, if you’re someone who isn’t very active and spends a lot of time at the desk, this little device can be an amazing tool. There are a few key features that can really help you focus on being more active, and help you start to build some habits around fitness.

Stay tuned for my future post about what these key features are and how you can use them to start increasing your activity level!

Have you used an activity tracker before? What was your experience using it?


Coffee with a Canine

Julia Child once said, “People who love to eat are always the best people.”  I fully agree with Miss Julia, as I usually do.  I also think a subset of those best people also enjoy dogs.  (And another subset enjoy cats, gerbils, snakes, marmosets, sloths, etc.)   For those of you food lovers who also enjoy sharing meal times with your canine friends, you might be interested in this fun little blog: Coffee with a Canine.

It’s full of brief interviews with interesting people (writers, small business owners, buyers, etc) about their dogs, and their favorite coffee occasions.  It’s fun, super cute and full of pictures of awesome four-legged friends.

And there’s a post about yours truly and my two favorite mutts!  Check it out.


Moves - fitness app

Fitness Apps: How they keep you motivated!

Depending where you live, June is a month where the weather starts to get a lot nicer and more people are getting outside. Walking is a great way to get your day started or even finih it off so you can burn those “desert calories”. Fortunately for most, walking is a pretty simple activity that requires little equipment. In a way, you just get up and go!

As an online fitness coach, I’m always looking for ways to use technology to help people be more active. Since most people nowadays have a smart phone and carry it with them everywhere, it can be a great too for tracking your fitness. Do a quick search in the app store and you’ll find many apps that are great for tracking your walking and even steps throughout the day.

One if these apps I’ve been testing out lately is called Moves. It uses the accelerometers of the phone to track your steps and the GPS to track where you go. It connects Foursquare, a location tagging program, that allows you to check in and get recommendations for the places you visit. This combination allows you to accurately track where you go each day. They’ve also done a pretty good job with their display, so at the end of the day you see where you’ve been, how long it took, how many steps you took and even how far you’ve travelled. Like magic, it even seems to know when I’m cycling!

Moves - fitness app

However, tracking where you’ve been and how many steps is only great if you’re actually walking and going places. The key is how will this app motivate you to keep moving?

When it comes to motivation, it’s all about goals. If you don’t know your destination, how motivated are you to get up and start walking? I suggest setting a daily, weekly and even monthly goal for your tracking in Moves. This can be the minimum steps or miles you want to achieve daily. I suggest aiming for at least 5000-7500 steps per day to start. Once this goal is set, check in to the app daily to see how you’re stacking up. Some days you’ll find that you blow your goal out of the water, while other days may require a late night walk just to get your minimum.

Bottom line, apps can be great tools for tracking your fitness, but if you’re not setting goals, you won’t stay motivated to use them and push yourself.

Have you used Moves? What do you like most about it?

Chad Williams

Introducing Guests Posts from Chad at AnthroPhysique!

I am super excited about this post!  Today I get to introduce you to Chad Williams, who is an awesome, amazing and hilarious person.  Starting today, he’s going to start sharing a little bit of that awesomeness with all of us.

Chad is a fellow Evernote Ambassador (Fitness) and runs his own online fitness coaching company: AnthroPhysique. Fitness and health are his life and his goal is to help people create the body they were born to have. He takes advantage of Evernote and other technology to offer his online fitness coaching services to clients around the world.[divider top=”0″]

Chad Williams, AnthroPhysique

Chad Williams, AnthroPhysique

Thank you! I’m am very excited to be a part of this blog! Food and cooking are obviously a huge part of my life and my clients lives, and I believe this website is a great resource for new ideas and inspiration. I hope I can help by giving tips, advice, and nutritional information to the readers.

Continue reading

Foodie Skin Care: Vanilla-Almond Sugar Scrub

I love my chocolate bath scrub.  Love it.  Between that and the whipped chocolate soap I get from Etsy, I have the best smelling showers ever…and super-soft skin.  Which is important to me, especially in the freezing and drying air of winter.  However, the days are getting a bit longer, a bit bright and a bit more Dear-God-Is-That-Spring-I-See-Before-Me? and so, having reached the end of my current batch of chocolate scrub, I figured I would make something a little different, a little lighter perhaps.

I like making my own bath scrubs for a few reasons.  One, way cheaper.  Two, super easy–I can use stuff I already have in the pantry anyway and all I have to do is mix it together.  Three, I can control and pronounce the name of every ingredient in it.  I like to have very soft, healthy skin.  I am very skin-oriented and dedicated to the idea that the best way to improve and maintain your skin’s quality comes down to what you put in your body and what you put on it.  Don’t believe me?  I even have a free e-pamphlet stating as much with a bunch of different DIY food-based concoctions (see the Foodie Skin Care page). Continue reading

It rubs the lotion on its skin: chocolate salt body scrub

Chocolate is truly the food of the gods.  You can eat it plain or with nuts, in cookies and cakes, drizzled over scones, and  melted with whipped cream on top.  You can also rub it on your skin, for various reasons (hey, whatever you do as a consenting adult in your own time is none of my business), and one of those reasons might be skin exfoliating.

It’s no secret that I happen to love the benefits that good food gives you from the inside and the outside.  I mean, this blog even has a whole page of foodie skin care tips utilizing home made concoctions of various foodstuffs.  Well here is one more: a chocolate body scrub.

When I found this recipe on Betty Confidential, I was pretty excited (I mean, it’s chocolate!) and I also thought it would be nice to make some up as gifts for the rapidly approaching holiday season (they are playing Christmas music already, did you know that?!).  It was also an interesting recipe because it called for an ingredient that I knew about but never had much cause to actually experiment with: chocolate nibs.  These little bites are the center of the cacao bean and the epitome of chocolate; the outer shell is removed and the nibs are roasted.  Continue reading