Archive of ‘Miscellaneous’ category

Let’s Talk About Pandemic Fatigue

The water was so still it acted as a mirror.

Hi all! Yes, it’s been a while. I think pandemic fatigue has finally gotten to me. I just have not been creatively inspired lately, to be honest. Even photography, which I genuinely enjoy, has fallen by the wayside.

The winter weather hasn’t been helping, either. But we are finally seeing some signs of spring here in NJ. That said, I have recently finished an online photography class given by the International Center for Photography in New York City. I’m hoping I’ll feel more inspired to pick up my camera once the weather warms up, and I want to be ready.

One cool thing I did do was take two outdoor photo treks in January with a Meetup group I’m in. Both treks were out in western New Jersey, which was fun for me, because I am not really familiar with that part of the state. One was to Carnegie Lake near Princeton (see above and below).

My fave shot from Carnegie Lake. I love the pop of blue.

The other trek was a hike up the red dot trail on Mt. Tammany, near the NJ/Pennsylvania border. And I mean it. was. a. hike. I thought I was in pretty decent shape, but apparently I’m not. For my efforts, I got four decent pics. My fave:

I was going for the reflections in this puddle, but I’m not sure if I actually got there. Unfortunately the weather was pretty overcast on both treks. I want to go back and do them again in sunnier weather. I also want to photograph the waterfalls along the blue dot trail at Mount Tammany. When I do, I promise I’ll post the pics.

As of April 5, journalists and members of the press in NJ will be eligible for the vaccine. I can’t wait to see people in person again, and burn my black yoga leggings.

So how is everyone holding up, more than a year into the pandemic? Let’s keep each other going in the comments!

Be sure to subscribe to Fabulous Forever using the form on the top right of the homepage, and use the social sharing buttons below the form to follow me on social media. Here’s my Twitter and Instagram. And don’t forget to like the Fabulous Forever Facebook page!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book of the Month: Quaran-reading

I’ve always loved to read. It’s one reason I became a writer. When I was two, my parents and I lived in Scotland for three months. We actually had to join the local library over there to get books for me.

So I was psyched to be gifted a subscription to Book of the Month last fall. It was a very generous gift from the Newswomen’s Club of New York for serving on the Front Page Awards committee. I wanted to jump on here to tell you about two selections I have really enjoyed.

The Library of Legends, by Janie Chang. This novel takes place in China during the Sino-Japanese War in the late 30s. During the war, Chinese universities had to evacuate, and students and faculty walked thousands of miles inland to avoid Japanese bombs.

Chang’s novel follows nineteen-year-old student Hu Lian on such a journey. As they try to elude the Japanese, Lian and her fellow refugees also have to protect a five-hundred-year-old collection of Chinese folklore called the Library of Legends. The Library awakens mysterious, immortal spirits as it travels across China. These spirits change the country’s fate, and Lian’s, forever.

The characters had an intriguing air of mystery about them, which kept me reading to find out more. And I’m fascinated by the fact Asian folk tales have survived for thousands of years. Plus, Chang kept mentioning Chinese dumplings, which are my favorite food and the quickest way to my heart.

My litmus test for if I really enjoyed a book is whether or not I would read other books by the same author. In this case, the answer is yes! Chang also wrote Dragon Springs Road and Three Souls, which I look forward to reading.

The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd. Kidd is best known for her novels The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair, both of which l loved. This story is a little different. It imagines what it would have been like if Jesus was married, in this case to a woman named Ana.

As someone who went to Catholic school for 13 years, I thought that premise was a little weird. Jesus was defintiely not married! But the book is very well researched, and Kidd is a good storyteller.

As you read her novels, it’s like you’re sitting around a campfire, and she’s telling you a tale. Her prose flows that easily. I am currently reading her book The Invention of Wings, which is the story of the relationship between a white girl and her black slave in early nineteenth-century Charleston, South Carolina. It gets you thinking about how deeply-rooted racism is in this country.

Tell me. Have you been reading more during COVID-19? Do you have any recommendations for me? If so, please drop them in the comments!

Be sure to subscribe to Fabulous Forever using the form on the top right of the homepage, and use the social sharing buttons below the form to follow me on social media. Here’s my Twitter and Instagram. And don’t forget to like the Fabulous Forever Facebook page!

 

Quaran-streaming

Hey, all. We’re in week what of this thing?! Week 4? Stay strong, my friends. I thought a post about fun things to stream while sheltering-in-place was in order. Though TBH, I have not really been watching much TV. Just Andrew Cuomo’s daily press briefings.

They have actually put up a field hospital in Central Park to care for COViD patients. That got me thinking about TV’s most famous field hospital, the 4077th. God knows, there’s enough episodes of MASH to choose from (250+ to be exact). You can even play Spot the Star Before They Were Famous. John Ritter, Ron Howard, and Patrick Swayze were all patients at the 4077th before they hit it big. And Shelley Long (Cheers), Blythe Danner (Gwyneth Paltrow’s mom), and Marcia Strassman (Welcome Back, Kotter) all administered TLC as nurses.

My fave episodes are ‘Hot Lips and Empty Arms’ and ‘Sometimes You Hear the Bullet’. Much of MASH might seem dated today, despite stellar writing from the likes of Larry Gelbart. But one character who really came into her own, and evolved into a woman ahead of her time, was head nurse Major Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan.

In ‘Empty Arms’, Margaret grows frustrated with her life as an Army nurse. A letter from a friend describing domestic bliss with a guy Margaret turned down makes her question her choices. So she decides to reboot her life by requesting a transfer. Cue the wisecracks and hijinks. Pay special attention to Margaret’s toast to Hawkeye and Trapper. (You’ll think about Thanksgiving a little differently.)

Loretta Swit, who played Margaret, really shines here. So it’s interesting that two women, Linda Bloodworth and Mary Kay Place, wrote such strong material for her. (Amazon Prime scroll down to S2, Ep. 14)

‘Sometimes You Hear the Bullet’ has been cited as one of the best episodes of any TV show ever. Hawkeye gets a visit from an old friend that takes a tragic turn. The scene between McLean Stevenson’s Henry Blake and Alan Alda’s Hawkeye afterward is among TV’s most moving. And this episode features a post-Opie, pre-Richie Ron Howard as an underage soldier for whom Hawkeye decides not to bend the rules, for once. (Amazon Prime scroll down to S1, Ep. 17) (Or try Hulu.)

If movies are more your thing, there’s a lot of hidden gems. Here are three:

The late Burt Reynolds is hilarious in Striptease. As an oily Florida politician running for a higher office, he steals every scene he’s in. (Amazon Prime.)

Another Reynolds film worth watching is The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Unfortunately, he’s sorely miscast here. (It’s a musical, and he doesn’t sing.) But the music is great, and Dolly Parton has a blast as the madam of the titular Chicken Ranch. But the real treat is the late Charles Durning’s charming turn as the governor of Texas. (He won an Oscar nomination for his role.) And the end has a special surprise: the original, country version of “I Will Always Love You.” Yes, that “I Will Always Love You” from The Bodyguard. Dolly Parton actually wrote the song back in the 70s. I think you’ll like her version, too. (Amazon Prime)

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Volunteers, starring the world’s most famous COViD patients, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. (Who thankfully have recovered.) They have been married over 30 years, and legend has it they met on Volunteers.

The film is set in 1962. I love the Kennedy/Camelot era, even though i wasn’t even born yet. So I’m a fan of the opening sequence, set to a doo-wop-style cover of ‘Blue Moon’ by The Marcels. (Amazon Prime)

Tell me. What are you watching? I want to see Making the Cut on Amazon Prime, World on Fire on PBS, and Mrs. America on Hulu, but I’m open to suggestions.

Be sure to subscribe to Fabulous Forever using the form on the top right of the homepage, and use the social sharing buttons below the form to follow me on social media. Here’s my Twitter and Instagram. And don’t forget to like the Fabulous Forever Facebook page!

 

 

The Corona Chronicles

A friend of mine made this sign for her windows!

Hi all! How are you holding up? I’m doing OK. We’re in the heart of the storm here in Hoboken. Hudson County, where we are, has the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the state. Nearby NYC, where many Hoboken residents work, has the most in the country. It’s pretty much Ground Zero.

I ‘heart’ NY

I try not to think about how downright scary this is. There is just too much uncertainty. When will the apex hit? When will quarantine end? Will someone I know get the virus, or God forbid, die from it? I mean, the loading dock of the hospital across the street from my building has a refrigerated truck parked there. For use as a makeshift morgue. And they say the virus hasn’t even peaked yet.

Sidewalk chalk art to thank the healthcare workers.

I’m still using blogging and photography to cope with my anxiety and fear. I also do online yoga classes and take walks. (We’re allowed.) And I watch NY governor Andrew Cuomo’s press conferences almost every day. If you are not watching or listening to those, you should be.

Even when delivering grim news in a Queens accent, Cuomo provides the strong, focused leadership New Yorkers need so badly during this time. He and his younger brother Chris, a CNN anchor who has tested positive for the virus, have become the best political brother act since the Kennedys.

I’m using this time to update my resume and continue writing for The Doctor Will See You Now. I am also trying to reach out to as many old friends as possible. A blast from the past just feels good right now.

So tell me. How are you sheltering at home? Have you eaten all your snacks and gained the dreaded COVID “19 pounds”?  I’m trying to be at least a little productive each day, but lofty goals like taking an online journalism or photography class are just not in the cards. Let’s talk boredom busters in the comments!

But before I go, can someone please check on Betty White?!

Be sure to subscribe to Fabulous Forever using the form on the top right of the homepage, and use the social sharing buttons below the form to follow me on social media. Here’s my Twitter and Instagram. And don’t forget to like the Fabulous Forever Facebook page!

Purfect Bracelets

I recently got a DM on Instagram about collaborating with a Boston-based company called Purfect Bracelets. They make cute printed bracelets, and donate a percentage of the proceeds to a different animal shelter each month. Anyone who knows me knows I am passionate about rescue, so I was more than happy to help.

I chose the bracelet in the Burberry print. (see below)* But they have other fun prints available as well. I love the Lily and the Seashell print. They kind of have a Lilly Pulitzer vibe, if you are into Lilly Pulitzer. Check out the cute pics on Purfect Bracelets Instagram here. You’ll be glad you did!

The rescue for February was Five Acres Animal Shelter in St. Charles, MO, and the rescue for March is Tree House Humane Society in Chicago, IL.

The bracelets are like collars.

They call the Burberry print the Purrberry!

Petey loves the camera.

Mesa is a bit more indifferent.

It is important to me that my cats be rescues. Can you please share pics of your rescue fur babies in the comments? I’ve already gotten us started…

Be sure to subscribe to Fabulous Forever using the form on the top right of the homepage, and use the social sharing buttons below the form to follow me on social media. Here’s my Twitter and Instagram. And don’t forget to like the Fabulous Forever Facebook page!

* I bought the Purrberry print bracelet. Opinions are my own.

Florida 2018

At the end of April, I went to Florida to defrost. I stayed with Mother Bear, her friend Gail, and Gail’s labradoodle, Stella, in their rental house in Naples. We had a late spring here in NJ, so it was pretty cold well into April. What a treat to relax in the Florida sun!

After Photo 2, I was exhausted. I didn’t even bring my camera with me. I just took these photos on my iPhone.

My mom actually took this one of me in the pool.The pool area was gorgeous!

Mother Bear and I at dinner one night.

Another night we went to a restaurant called Backwater Jack’s. I got some really good sunset pics there.

Yes, I took this photo and the pic above through a screen.

Took this on my last night. We took a sunset cruise.

Last night in paradise!

This guy was also taking pictures of the gorgeous sunset.

Those are the highlights! I needed to unplug and just soak everything in. And I did. Of course, I wore several different sunscreens at all times.

This summer, I’ll be here snapping photos, writing, and blogging. What about you? What are your summer plans?

Be sure to subscribe to Fabulous Forever using the form on the top right of the homepage, and use the social sharing buttons below the form to follow me on social media. Here’s my Twitter and Instagram. And don’t forget to like the Fabulous Forever Facebook page!

 

 

 

 

I Return with a Little Photography

Did you wonder if I was still alive?! My apologies for the radio silence. Shortly after my last post, I got the flu. Then I started a second freelance gig. I am the new weddings writer for BestofNJ.com! So between living on chicken soup and cough drops and looking at photography studio web sites, I’ve been pretty busy.

You can read my article on wedding gown trends here and my article on choosing a wedding photographer here. I’m currently writing two more wedding-related pieces for Best of NJ. I’ll share those links soon!

The other thing I’ve been doing is taking a black and white photography class. It’s pretty cool! You know I love anything vintage. Well, black and white photography has a serious vintage vibe. My photography teacher called it “the language our grandparents and great-grandparents spoke.” See below for some of my best efforts.

Well, I feel better and I’m back now. I’m planning a few fun things in the weeks ahead. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving! Tell me what you’ve been up to in the comments!

This year, I’m doing the Eyecandy Project 52 photography challenge. Every week, we have to take a picture inspired by a prompt, such as From Above. Some prompts are relevant to the time of year, some are more evergreen. I’ll post my more successful efforts here about once a quarter. Check out the Q1 highlights here, the best of Q2 here, and the Q3 highlights here.

Be sure to subscribe to Fabulous Forever using the form on the top right of the homepage, and use the social sharing buttons below the form to follow me on social media. Here’s my Twitter and Instagram. And don’t forget to like the Fabulous Forever Facebook page!

 

 

Miscellaneous: On Dame Helen Mirren and the Term ‘Anti-Aging’

Looking Dame good, girl. 72-year-old Helen Mirren rocking the cover of Allure like a boss!

If you follow beauty news at all, or just peruse magazines at the supermarket, you may have seen Dame Helen Mirren on the cover of Allure‘s September issue. You may have also read the magazine is no longer using the term ‘anti-aging.’

According to Allure editor-in-chief Michelle Lee, the term anti-aging insinuates that aging is something we need to fight or prevent, like some disease. I agree! With women like Mirren leading the way, and showing us how sexy life experience can be, getting older is nothing to fear. ‘Anti-aging’ has become an outdated word.

I probably look better and feel better now at the tail end of my 40s than I did in my 20s and early 30s. I do know I feel better about myself and I am more comfortable in my own skin now, versus back then. (Although in my defense, it was the late 80s. Everyone had big hair, and wore stirrup pants and white Reeboks, people!)

I also take better care of myself. I gave up eating beef and pork, and I try to get some form of exercise daily. I either go for a walk or hit the gym, and I do yoga two or three times a week. I take better care of my skin too. I consider that to be basic self care.

As I face the big 5-0 head on, I am more at ease putting myself out there and trying new things, such as photography. And I know who I am: a journalist and blogger.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but it just wasn’t for me. As a kid, I never expressed an interest in science. I always had my nose in a (non-science) book or magazine. What does my love of reading suggest my future profession should be? A writer! (Duh.)

I’m also not as concerned as I once was about what others think. My favorite quote from Mirren is “If I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words ‘Eff Off’ more frequently.” I hear ya, Helen.

I respect others’ feelings and opinions, but I try to worry less about pleasing everyone, and making everyone love me. It’s impossible. (And the people I should have told to “Eff Off” know who they are…)

I guess you could say I’ve started to grow into myself. And I’m still growing. So why would I want to fight getting older? I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

You can read the Allure cover story featuring Helen Mirren here, see some of Mirren’s best quotes here, and read editor-in-chief Michelle Lee’s letter about the use of the term anti-aging here.

Tell me. Have you become more comfortable in your own skin as you’ve gotten older? What life lessons have you learned? Let’s talk truth in aging in the comments!

This year, I’m doing the Eyecandy Project 52 photography challenge. Every week, we have to take a picture inspired by a prompt, such as From Above. Some prompts are relevant to the time of year, some are more evergreen. I’ll post my more successful efforts here about once a quarter. Check out the Q1 highlights here and the best of Q2 here.

Be sure to subscribe to Fabulous Forever using the form on the top right of the homepage, and use the social sharing buttons below the form to follow me on social media. Here’s my Twitter and Instagram. And don’t forget to like the Fabulous Forever Facebook page!

Product Review: Reviews.com

About a month ago, I got an email from a young woman named Jacqueline Ma. She told me how much she loves the blog, and how she sent it to her mom, who loves it, too! Thanks, ladies!

Anyway, Ma came across my blog when she saw my review of Le Petit Marseillais Shower Creme body wash. Ma works for a consumer resource web site called reviews.com. The site also reviewed Le Petit Marseillais, and picked the orange blossom scent as the best body wash for everyday use.

I was very touched by Ma’s kind words about my blog, so I went right to reviews.com. What a resource! The site reviews all types of consumer products, from beauty products to pet products, to everything in between.

“We try to write an unbiased review, where we really take the time to get into the nitty gritty of each product,” Ma told me in a follow-up call. The content team does its research by talking to experts and analyzing ingredients, said Ma. They do a methodical write up of each product and identify the best options available in that product category.

For example, to pick to the best body washes, the reviews.com team spent six weeks discussing ingredients with three dermatologists and personally testing 21 popular body washes. They found high quality products free of harsh cleansers like sodium lauryl sulfate, but full of moisturizers and conditioners that left them feeling clean.

I am so glad I discovered reviews.com. I think it’s a particularly good tool for researching products in a category you have not tried before, like when you want to switch to natural deodorant or find a good mass market brand hair oil.

Tell me. When you need to do online research about consumer products, what resource do you turn to? Do you “crowd source” on social media, or do you have a favorite web site? Let’s talk research and product reviews in the comments!

This year, I’m doing the Eyecandy Project 52 photography challenge. Every week, we have to take a picture inspired by a prompt, such as From Above. Some prompts are relevant to the time of year, some are more evergreen. I’ll post my more successful efforts here about once a quarter. Check out the Q1 highlights here and the best of Q2 here.

Be sure to subscribe to Fabulous Forever using the form on the top right of the homepage, and use the social sharing buttons below the form to follow me on social media. Here’s my Twitter and Instagram. And don’t forget to like the Fabulous Forever Facebook page!

Bath and Body: Summer Teeth Stainers

Yup, berries, cherries, and popsicles will stain your teeth.

I love cherries this time of year. I sometimes eat a whole bag full in a day. But I started to worry they may be staining my teeth. So I asked Dr. Jennifer Plotnick, a dentist in Brooklyn, NY, and Dr. Victoria Veytsman, a dentist in Manhattan, NY, for advice.

“A lot of things that cause staining are particularly popular during the summer,” Plotnick told me on the phone. Examples include the aforementioned cherries, plus blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Even fruit popsicles and iced coffee can stain teeth, Plotnick said.

Citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, and grapefruits are acidic, and can can cause discoloration because they erode tooth enamel, Veytsman wrote in an email.

Unfortunately, things that stain our teeth are too delicious to refuse. “We are not going to be able to avoid the things that stain our teeth because we all really enjoy them,” said Plotnick.

What can you do? Simple! Rinse your mouth out with water after eating these summer teeth stainers, and brush your teeth about 20 to 30 minutes later, said Plotnick.

She went on to say, “I always make the analogy when you have your morning coffee, and forget to wash out the cup, you always notice a really dark ring on the inside of the cup when you pour out the coffee. But if you rinse out the cup right after you drink the coffee, that ring doesn’t even appear.” So Plotnick tells her patients if they wash away the food they just ate with water, they can really minimize staining.

What else works? Both Plotnick and Veytsman said whitening strips from the drug store work well. Plotnick said she recommends patients get a good dental cleaning before doing any kind of whitening technique.

And watch out for mouthwashes that contain alcohol and fluorides, which can stain teeth. Both dentists recommend an alcohol-free mouthwash, such as Listerine Naturals.

Tell me. How do you brighten your teeth? Let’s talk pearly whites in the comments!

BTW, you know my obsession with Instagram. Dr. Plotnick’s practice, Grand Street Dental, has the. best. feed. Check it out here! It even got a mention in The Cut, New York magazine’s style blog. You can read that post here. Dr. Veytsman’s practice, Cosmetic Dental Studios, has a great feed, too. See it here. Some of her patients may look familiar!

This year, I’m doing the Eyecandy Project 52 photography challenge. Every week, we have to take a picture inspired by a prompt, such as From Above. Some prompts are relevant to the time of year, some are more evergreen. I’ll post my more successful efforts here about once a quarter. Check out the Q1 highlights here.

Be sure to subscribe to Fabulous Forever using the form on the top right of the homepage, and use the social sharing buttons below the form to follow me on social media. Here’s my Twitter and Instagram. I’m on Snapchat at clobuono. And don’t forget to like the Fabulous Forever Facebook page!

1 2 3 6