With an hour more of sunlight in your evening, we’ve rounded up a list of ways, both indoors and outdoors, to take full advantage of what feels like longer days. Each activity should take approximately 60 minutes, more or less, and each one is meant to put you in the proper mind-set for when the snow is gone (all gone, really all gone!) and spring weather is here.
Get dirty: Whether you’re a pro or a novice in the world of gardening, the early season is ideal for planting no-fail flowers and ferns that are practically guaranteed to flourish all summer long. Ian Smith of Recover Green Roofs in Somerville recommends prepping your cold season crops indoors during this time. Hearty examples include cabbage, broccoli, kale, and celery. They can be transplanted to the garden within eight to nine weeks for an ample selection for your green juice fix. Your what? (Keep reading!)
Jump on the blender bandwagon: Green juices and smoothies are the talk of the town for a reason: The benefits of adding fistfuls of fresh vitamins and nutrients into your diet with one swift gulp are undeniable. Take an extra hour out to gather and pre-mix your green goo and swap it out for your morning java. Your body will thank you.
The gang at the new food truck Mother Juice sent over one of its favorite recipes for a green juice:
The Tropical Rainforest
Makes one 16-ounce serving
• Juice of one orange
• Juice from ½ a lemon
• 1 banana
• 1 mango
• ⅓ cup vegan coconut ice cream or yogurt
• 3 leaves of green, curly kale, de-stemmed
• 2 generous handfuls of spinach
Blend all ingredients together well. For added nutrition, throw in a spoonful of chia seeds or ground flax seeds.
Start Couch to 5K: The first two weeks of this workout have you doing a series of three 20-minute sprint-walk-sprint warm-ups. The program takes about nine weeks to build up pace, meaning you’ll be ready to hit the pavement by May. Download the C25K app or visit CoolRunning.com for a full overview of the program.
Take the scenic route: Pack your sneakers (or snow shoes or rain boots) and instead of getting off the T at the stop closest to your home, get off a few stops sooner and walk the rest. You’ll see things you never noticed while exercising. Apps like Sunday Drive assure a scenic path without the stress of getting lost.
Change up your chakra: Swap out your tried and true yoga or Pilates for a class with an alternative spin. Try ballet-inspired micro-muscle workouts at Pure Barre and The Bar Method, head-bopping, core-tightening hip-hop yoga classes at Sweat and Soul, and agility and balance-testing AcroYoga at Back Bay Yoga.
Early bird al fresco: It might not be patio weather just yet, but take advantage of an extra hour of evening sunlight to chase one of the eight brand-new (and six new to the area) food trucks rolling into the Hub this season and dine streetside. Among the new ones that have us already planning some outdoor lunches are the Area Four truck from Kendall Square, Fugu Foods, which describes itself as pan-Asian, and something called the Taco Party Truck.
Go global with your groceries: Skip the supermarket and explore an ethnic grocer, or even better, an outdoor market, to find new ingredients to create your family feast. Stock up on stir-fry ingredients at Kam Man in South Bay, make an authentic antipasti platter with Capone Foods in Cambridge, or explore H Mart, the huge Korean market in Burlington. The outdoor Copley Square Market opens soon. A list of all the Boston-area farmers’ markets can be found at www.cityofboston.gov/food/farmers/locations.asp
Wine up, wind down: Many local wine and liquor shops offer complimentary tastings and informational sessions. Break free of your pinot grigio prison and open your palate to new options. Urban Grape’s EnoRound Elite Tasting Machine dispenses a smorgasboard of ½-ounce samples of 16 wines curated by the staff, who will walk you through as you sip. More focused tastings and sessions are also offered regularly, including a tasting with George Levkoff of George Wine Co. on March 19 in Chestnut Hill and a wine pairing lesson for either ham or lamb just prior to the Easter holiday on March 29 in the South End. www.theurbangrape.com
Jump-start your spring cleaning: What are you waiting for? Open the windows and let in the sunlight while you clean house; a little chill is nice. It’s not fun now but it will be when you can skip out the door with a clean conscience (and closets) come April. Here’s a checklist to get started:
• Trash expired goods and donate unwanted items from the pantry and fridge.
• Give the floors a good buff and upholstery a freshening fluff.
• Streamline electronics, plugs, and cords.
Log online and learn: Sites Skillshare.com and How2Heroes.com offer quick online courses in pretty much everything — from fashion illustration to international cuisine — most of which are dirt cheap or free. Learn something new once a week and this is the one time when going to class in your pj’s is totally acceptable.
Join a meet-up: Step into your comfort zone and partake in a meeting of like minds for an evening. Or better yet, step out of your comfort zone and do something you’ve never done. Sites like MeetUp.com and Yelp offer a multitude of options for group gatherings from lovers of house music to social media strategists to aspiring poets. Extend your social circle and explore your passions; you might have more in common with your fellow folks of Boston than you thought.
Sit. Read: Remember the simple pleasure of loitering in a bookstore or the library? So go do it again. Crack open some spines and relish the written word. Chances are your public library keeps late-night hours once a week, typically until 8 p.m., so take advantage and enjoy some screen-free quiet time. And if you really want to indulge, read into dusk in the beautiful Boston Public Library courtyard, one of the city’s true gems. See www.bpl.org/general/hours.htm.
Support your local arts: Big-ticket arts in the city aren’t the only source of cultural enlightenment. Check out one of the Hub’s many smaller stages for a midweek indulgence of theater, art, or music. Between student performances and rush seats, ticket costs can be comparable to a night out at the movies. The Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning “Clybourne Park” is playing at the SpeakEasy Stage Company in the South End through the end of March. And New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall offers free afternoon and evening performances by students, alumni, and instructors.
Rework your wardrobe: Take a long, hard, honest look inside your closet, with one question in mind: Do I wear this? Take the tattered things to the tailor, freshen the outerwear at the dry cleaners, resole and mend heels on Boston-battered shoes, and finally donate all those purchases that you were absolutely, positively in love with at the store and proceeded to wear exactly once. It might not be as glamorous as an all-out shopping spree but your wallet will thank you and so will the recipients of your donations.
Volunteer, mentor: Give back to your city by spending an hour pro bono, even if it means just helping your neighbor clear their gutters. An hour spent helping others is an hour well spent. BostonCares.org and VolunteerMatch.org are two reference websites to find potential opportunities to give back. For example, Boston By Foot trains people to host walking tours in the city, to raise cultural awareness around the most historically significant spots. Boston Partners in Education is a tutor/mentor program with a one-hour-per-week minimum, assisting small groups of public high school juniors and seniors as they approach the MCAS test.
Find your inner artist: Finally plop yourself down at the pottery painting facility, drop in on an amateur photography workshop, or sign up for a paint night with friends. You may unveil hidden talents or just go home with another sloppy souvenir for mom, but either way it will get your creative juices flowing.
Play tourist: The concept might be tired, but we find it hard to believe that you’ve done and seen all there is to do and see in the city. And we’re not just talking about walking the Freedom Trail. Have you whispered in the corner of the Mapparium at the Christian Science Center? Have you stood tall next to the Hull Street “Skinny House” or tried to peek in the windows at the Scarlett O’Hara house in Beacon Hill? Have you ever texted your color suggestions to Dennis Carmichael’s Light Blades at Rose Kennedy Greenway? No? Get on it!