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


No-News Wednesdays

Nine months ago today, I made one very good, very satisfying, very healthy, mental health decision. I started turning away from the news feeds every Wednesday. Just one day a week. I had, like many of you, become addicted to the constant flow of political news and opinions. I read and watched all I could. I read articles to the end and then clicked on the links at the bottom. I watched news and more news and more. Something had to be done to clear my head.

I vowed to stay away from the AM newscasts, the noon newscasts, the afternoon/evening newscasts and the late-night newscasts every Wednesday. Just one day a week. There would be no George, no Anderson, no NY Times, no WaPo, no Politico, no New Republic and no to the many other news and political sites saved in my Bookmarks. Kimmel and Colbert were allowed, but only after the monologues were over. I took Amy Siskind off my feed. It was a good start, but not enough. There was plenty of political comment on FaceBook and Twitter, so they too, soon joined the Wednesday list.
And then there was email to deal with. Oh, the box overflowed with news alerts, emails from politicians, survey requests, donation invitations and on and on and on. When I stopped checking mail on Wednesdays there were a few oops. Missed an important email from my accountant. When he called me the next day I explained why I missed the mail, how uplifting a day off the news was, how much it was helping clear my head. “Everyone should try it!” “Yes”, he replied, “we call it Shabbat.”  Smart.
Nine months later I declare success! I not only look forward to the mid-week day off, but have tapered off on the other days. I don’t have to read every article, don’t have to read or hear what everybody else thinks, don’t have to click on every related link. The world goes on when I’m not engaged and will be there when I get to it. My head is clearer, my stress levels are lower, my mind is free to roam and think with clarity and without interruption…and not just on Wednesdays!

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Enough red onions. I want Spring!

It seems that every year, as March approaches, I get an urge for red onions and lemon zest. Throw them in everything I can. Why you ask? It must the body clock craving the annual arrival of the fresh flavors of Spring that is (usually) just on the horizon. The season of new beginnings this year is playing havoc with us. A day here and there signals its arrival, then Winter comes back for an encore. New blossoms are soon covered with snow. And, while the last four storms mostly spared the city, the last one, with little snowfall, claimed the tree in front of my house. Gone overnight. The container of snow salt still stands just inside the front door, not yet ready to be taken down to the basement.

I’m growing weary of red onions and lemon zest. We should be enjoying a new crop of fresh peas and asparagus, spring walks and bike rides and generally more time outside. I’ve finished four sweaters for next Christmas and have started my fifth while waiting to escape to the outdoors.

As the first week of April comes to a close, the weather forecasters predict warmer temperatures in a week. Hope they’re right because my fingers hurt and I’m running out of closets to clean.

Scrambling for Spring

I’ve officially pushed back my spring cleaning weekend. The weather is just not cooperating and it seems like it’s too early to change over my closets for warmer weather. But, there’s always a chance it will arrive at any time, with little notice. So now, I have to be  ‘more ready’ to be ready to act quickly. This is worse than waiting for guests to arrive!

Clearing Clutter, Sitting Down

Part 2 of Clearing Clutter Sitting Down. Moving on from electronic cleansing, I hit the bedroom today. Easy stuff first – small piles, noticeable results, sense of accomplishment noted. First task today was cleaning out the makeup basket. Some stuff has been in there way too long and needs to be replaced…especially makeup that’s used around the eyes. Be ruthless here…it could be a health issue. Then, there are things that never lived up to expectations — the sheer tint that wasn’t so much, colors that just didn’t work, goopy mascaras and lipsticks not even worth saving for Halloween. Before you move on, don’t forget to make a list of things that need to be replaced soon. There’s nothing worse than reaching for something that isn’t there anymore.

While most makeup doesn’t have expiration dates, sunscreen does. Check the date. I’ll be honest, I don’t throw expired sunscreen out, but I don’t trust it to protect my skin from the sun’s harmful rays either. Use it as a hand cream, a foot cream, or rub those dry elbows with it. Everything should be this easy to repurpose.

My manicure basket sits alongside the makeup, and I had five minutes to spare. It was full of thick polishes and colors that were just wrong for me. It’s mostly empty now, awaiting new Spring colors. Essie has a new Cashmere Matte I’ve wanted to try. Now I have the room.

In all, I spent maybe twenty minutes, sitting down, list of things to buy included. Just a bit cleared out today, which didn’t take much time away from being out on a beautiful day. Little by little, things are getting done.

Looking Back

From a blog post written on January 26th, the first big snow of the season….

“There’s nothing more calming for me than the flavors of a big pot of stock wafting throughout the house. Yarn, afternoon nap, good book, Netflix…Bed Camp time. Don’t fight it, don’t let it ruffle your feathers. Give in and just enjoy a relaxing, peaceful day at home.”

At what point in the next few months did I lose the novelty of staying at home and settling in for a bout of snow? Probably about the same time I ran out of room in the freezer for more stock. The last few weeks of winter always seem to be the hardest.