Say You Have a Doctor Appointment…

… or something else that will explain why you’re going to be a bit late getting to work. Instead of rushing out the door at some ungodly hour, have a nice relaxing breakfast with a friend or even a date! Leave your walking shoes at home, take care dressing and go somewhere nice – no diner counters, please. Oh, and no talk of work. And no phone.

fullsizeoutput_63e5

 

Yes, you could do dinner or lunch with a friend, but everyone does that. Be different! Be brave! Change the context! It’ll be quieter, more relaxed. No loud bar noise to have to talk over. Now, I’m not suggesting a two-hour brunch meal, but do take some time to enjoy this little decadent, clandestine pleasure.

You’ll feel better all day. Trust me.

 

Advertisements

Get Your Summer On!

Spring is the most volatile season – but this year? Off the charts!  Offhand, can’t think of any region that was ‘normal’ volatile. Here in New York, it was gray and cold for way too long. Dreary with some teases of spring here and there. Then Wham! End-of-June/early July heat wave. In the 90’s, high humidity. Ugh! So bad, it put all those keratin hair treatments to the test!

The worst part of not being able to visualize that summer was close? Not getting those secondary summer plans in place. We all plan the July 4th holiday and vacations in advance, but what about the rest of the summer? Weekends, days off, evenings.

Summer. It’s here. Right now. It’s time to make some plans!

So, before too much time passes, put dinners and lunches on the calendar, with friends you haven’t seen for a bit. Just imagine…an al fresco meal, sipping some Rosé or Vino Verde and sitting back and enjoying some good company. Don’t leave it all to chance, people travel, make other plans.

Do a bit of research and make a list of some day trips in your area. On my list? Up to the Cloisters to see the other half of the Metropolitan Museum’s Heavenly Bodies – Fashion and the Catholic Imagination exhibit, a bike ride along the river up to the Lighthouse by the George Washington Bridge, a day exploring Governor’s Island, strolling Central Park, checking out the New South Street Seaport, the new Brooklyn Aquarium, another trip to the Bronx Zoo, and yes, beaches!

Load the Kindle now. There’s nothing worse than finishing a book on a plane or the beach and not having another one or ten ready. My book theme and reading list have been made and started. At least every other book will be a re-read, which I rarely do, and books that are related to some I’ve already read. I enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind four-or-so years ago. Spanish Gothic. Interesting. It was the first in the Cemetery of the Forgotten Book trilogy. Ready to return for the second story, The Angel’s Game.

I read on a Kindle, but especially in good weather, I always make sure the book I’m reading is also on my phone. You never know when you’ll pass a small, quiet park, with an empty bench in the shade. Sit. Read. Relax for a bit. Breathe in. Breathe out. Ahhhh…

Bike rides, walks, tennis, yoga in the park, softball… find someone to team up with and make a date.  Baseball games, soccer matches. Call a fellow fan, get your favorite team’s schedule and nail down some dates.

Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall. All the seasons have the same number of days. And even though we mentally start Summer at Memorial Day, almost a month early, it always seems like the shortest season. Flies by in a flash. That’s why it’s so important to sit back and decide, in advance, how you would like to remember it. Then, make it happen.

Don’t Just Smell the Roses!

Yes, most of us always have a camera with us 24/7. On our phones, of course. And for many things, a camera phone serves its purpose, doesn’t take up much room in the bag or pockets and doesn’t weigh much.

Still, summer begs for a real camera. Begs for creativity. Begs to be taken off automatic. Begs for different lenses. In return, it offers unlimited opportunities. I love to screw on a macro lens and take pictures of flowers.

Think about setting a theme for your creative picture-taking this summer. Sunsets, children, pets, sunsets, boats, landscapes, sports…whatever you’re interested in.

I’ve already been to the Bronx Botanical Garden twice this year and had a different landscape each time. Two of the most relaxing afternoons this season!

If you’re interested in photographing flowers, check out this article on the dPS Digital Photography School site for some good advice and guidance on this and many other photography-related topics.

Tips for Taking Better Flower Photos

Digging Deep

Been digging deeper and deeper these days to channel my inner Pollyanna. This brutal winter seems like it’s never going to end. So far, it’s been the coldest winter here in New York in 38 years. And, with a few days left to go to put an end to February, it’ll go down as  the 3rd coldest February, the 8th coldest month, has seen 6 nights with temperatures in the single digits and has only offered one day above normal.

It gets harder and harder to find the bright spots. But here’s a try:

•Spring is 28 days away.

•Daylight savings time starts on March 8th, 11 days away.

•The next season of House of Cards is just 2 days away.

March 1st is Sunday. Invite friends in for a celebratory dinner. Found a good one on Food52 today…

Chicken Gratín

Enjoy!…and hang in there.

Start at Home

Planning summer escapes? Don’t forget to include some day or half-day trips close to home. Last weekend was glorious and a friend and I walked to the River and headed North. I ride my bike that way a lot, but that leaves a lot of the more interesting sites out of reach for the wheels.

In 80 blocks, I saw flora & fauna, wild life, beautiful and interesting sculptures, fabulous nooks with comfortable chairs that begged to be sat on, gorgeous views of the George Washington Bridge, people napping and picnicking or just sitting by the water with a book or a friend. There was free kayaking, the boat basin, lots of sail boats in the water, places to rent bikes, foMer-man - Version 2od carts and a cafe. And, as we got closer to Riverside Park, the grounds began to resemble Central Park. Lush trees. Woodsy vistas. Hills and ornamental steps and old monuments. And then there was that outdoor rehearsal we came upon, complete with a bearded man in a Victorian gown. What was so amazing was that the highway and cars and skyscrapers and the hectic city life was the distance of just one block away…and yet miles away in my mind.

With lots of stops to admire, explore and photograph, the five mile tour took about four hours, and that included a stop for lunch at the cafe. Though I pass through the area with some frequency, slowing down, taking closer looks and seeing everything a bit differently, I almost felt I was in a different state. We did take the subway back downtown, another benefit of NYC living. I came home relaxed, excited about some of the things we discovered and with many many good pictures to share. The total cost for two, for lunch and the subway home, was less than $25. An added benefit? Walking is good for your body and an enjoyable walk is good for your spirit.

New York isn’t the only city with surprises for its residents. Sit and think of interesting places in your vicinity that you pass by but never stopped to explore and learn more about.

Long weekend coming up. If you’re not leaving your town, think of what you can explore or revisit in it. Enjoy the day and don’t forget your camera!

DSC_0126 - Version 2 DSC_0092 DSC_0046

DSC_0026

 

 

 

Attention Camera Buffs!

Beautiful sunny days. More outside time. Grab your camera and go! Actually it doesn’t have to be a sunny day. The light is so much softer on a cloudy day and can be absolutely dramatic during a rainstorm. Anyway, a camera is good to have in hand, or in your bag.

photoFor those of you looking for free tips (and an online photography school), visit http://digital-photography-school.com and sign up for their newsletter. You don’t have to buy anything to take advantage of their tips and tutorials. Or, skip the signup and just visit their site when the mood hits. (As an aside, I have taken a few of their online classes.)

If you’re the type that gets overwhelmed at the number of possible subjects around you, look for the site’s shooting suggestions and tips for weekend picture taking. Have something in mind before you leave the house, just don’t close your eyes to surprise possibilities!

One tip from home base – Don’t get so engrossed in the camera and settings and snapping away that you forget to enjoy and appreciate where you are and what you see. Be mindful, take pleasure, enjoy the moment.

Where Do You Find Good Books to Read?

I used to be able to walk to no less than five Barnes & Noble bookstores, plus more than a handful of independents, and troll the isles looking for good books. If you want to go past the Best Seller lists, maybe find older books on offbeat topics, you have to browse in a good store. Even after I switched to an electronic reader, I still searched the shelves, guiltily scanning the bar codes with my GoodReads app, knowing I wasn’t going to buy anything from that retailer. Most of the stores are now closed and it’s harder to find good, interesting books to read.

What was the last book you read and how did you find it?