Tuesday, June 30, 2020

June 2020 Recommendations

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Doesn't this feel footloose and fancy free, sharing recommendations on the last Tuesday of the month as if we're in The Land Before Corona Times?  

1. Wear a fucking mask indoors, in lines, and when you can't maintain six feet of distance outside. If you're afraid to, it's fine, stay home. Let the people who are not afraid to have regard for other people be out living life and social distancing like bosses if you are afraid to wear a mask. Do not make life harder for people working who have to wear masks and then also get after your dumb ass to put one on when you know damn well you should. 

2. Curbside pick up from your library if they're doing it. No, it is not the same as being in there but it feels damn good to hold a library book!  

3. Book direct instead of using VRBO or AirBB. If you are looking at a house on one of those platforms and the house has a name (like ours is Home Sweet Shore Home), google House Name Location and see if a link to book direct comes up. Do not book anywhere without a rental contract that protects both you and the owner. Let me know if you are looking to do this and have questions. Also: if your flying vacation got cancelled and you are planning to drive somewhere, DO NOT TRAVEL if you want a guarantee of safety in regards to Covid. No private or hotel owner can guarantee that for you. Also do not travel if you think you are the only person who wants to travel after months in your home and will then complain about how many people are around at the destination you are in, as if you are the only person who has the right to go and be there. Final also:  do not travel if you want to act like there is no pandemic. The same mask up, patience with small business owners, awareness of new ways of doing things, etc you have to do at home you have to do elsewhere. Do not make anyone's life harder because you have an expectation of a normal vacation.

4. These baskets have been awesome - I have kid books hanging in them in the main house at the shore, and snacks in our apartment here. If you are short on space and need additional storage, these work great. 

5. Kid books. I try to add new books to my shore collection every year. This year was Kindness Rocks by Sonica Ellis; Celestina the Astronaut Ballerina: A Kids’ Read-Aloud Picture Book About Space, Astronauts, and Following Your Dreams (Big Ideas for Little Dreamers) by Donald Jacobsen;cele Hide and Seek Harry at the Beach by Kenny Harrison, and Sofia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beatty. My niece and nephew donated some of their books too. 

6. Leaning into this unpredictable time. I know. If you are like me, you hate unpredictable. Try to use it as a time to really examine everything - even things you think you enjoy - and only keep the ways, activities, things, and people that really make your life. I spent almost five years forcing myself to get up at 4:30 in the morning for sunrises at the shore when I don't even like them that much in May, June, and July...much preferring end of August through December. Why was I doing that? When I asked the question, there was no satisfactory answer. Even though I enjoyed it eventually, I'm not doing it anymore. And my days flow much better this year than they used to down here. I can actually see sunsets and sit on my porch and enjoy the night quiet at 9:30 pm because I'm not dead tired/angry trollish by 8. The sunrises will still be there later in the summer and through the fall, when I can get up at 6 or later. 

7. Tommy Bahama Beach Umbrella. The only umbrellas I will buy or use. Do not buy a cheap ass $20 umbrella with no anchor on it and expect it to stand up to winds by the ocean. Under no circumstances should anyone ever purchase an Amazon Basics umbrella. You'll kill yourself or someone else.

8. Buy from a black-owned business. Try https://www.buyfromablackwoman.org/, We Buy Black on Instagram, download the Black Wall Street app, if you are in a city who has it (Philly, you are), use Black & Mobile for food delivery service for black businesses, google buy black. 

9. This vacuum attachment is great on baseboards. It fits both my Eureka and Shark vacuums.  

10. Stay hydrated and take your vitamins.

Last day of June. What.

Monday, June 29, 2020

TWTW - last one in June

Friday MFD and the old dogs headed back to Philly early. I had morning calls and work was popping but I escaped at lunch to pick up freaking library books curbside and I was so happy.  I did a fun plate lunch and had a Ben lap dog. I read and changed my recurring monthly donations. 
We spent the evening on the porch and trolling around creeping on other people's flowers, catching a watercolor sunset back at the bay. It was a long walk and we all slept like the dead.
Saturday Unexpected rain showers in the morning had me making shower spray since I located hydrogen peroxide, then having coffee on the porch with the best friends. I hit the beach for an hour and a half, had to tell a group who plunked down too close to move. I got takeout lunch from Farmstand at 14th which was delicious. Verbal altercation with a maskhole there (I did not coin this term, first heard it from Ali, but have seen it numerous places this weekend and it fits - wear the fucking mask when interacting with people working, people!). I also got into it with a lady who let her two dogs approach mine without asking and dropped the leash, causing a major situation on a busy road. Since I was 0 for 3 with peopley things, I retreated to the porch to the afternoon and finished a book. I had the totally underrated fish sticks and salad for dinner, then another long bayside walk with flower creeping. Not much of a sunset but you can't win 'em all. 
Sunday I swear there was literally no air to be had on the island in the morning. After dog walk duties, I went to the grocery store, then did some food prep for once (chicken breasts, hard boiled eggs, rice, chopped kale salad), cleaned and organized the apartment including moving furniture and mopping (small space living is totally for me), more dog walking, and general lounging because it was hot AF. I can't read Hood Feminism as a library book, I need to highlight and write in it, so I found it on bookshop at 11:30 pm Saturday and bought it via Harriett's Bookshop, then started back up with the Will Trent series. 
MFD and the old dogs rolled back into town around 6:30. After a walk we headed to the North End for him to fish and me to read. It's relaxation station down there and the sunsets are nice. We were back around 9, ate, dog walks, and fell out around midnight. 

Happy birthday to Kim's Steve Friday, my brother in law Mark Sunday, and my cousin Courtney today. 

Easy weekend and outdoor showers daily. And a four day week since Friday is the observation of the Fourth. My kind of life. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Thursday Thoughts - all for freedom and for pleasure nothing ever lasts forever

1. Have you ever seen Night of the Comet? I've asked a bunch of people that this week and no one has, which I get because it was a terrible 80s movie and just not palatable especially if you hate anything remotely scary movie-wise like I do. ANYWAY Night of the Comet is what being in the city on Tuesday felt like. Surreal. Anyone who has ever taken 16th Street to the Vine out of Philly during rush hour in regular times, you will know how eerie the lower right photo is. I made it to the shore in an hour, jamming to a top 100 of the 80s countdown. I stopped at the fishing pier on the way into town just to stand by the water for a minute. 
2. I took care of a lot of things when I was in Philly Saturday night to Tuesday but it was a relief to be back here at the shore where my life is now. Although I can't see this when I leave to go on my errands down here. 

3. I'd like to publicly apologize to myself for the 100+ quarantine days I went without doing the Olaplex Treatment #3. It was sitting in my closet unused the whole time. My hair could have been so less bales of straw-like. Speaking of, my hair appointment is booked for July 29! I'm pumped. 

4. In other taming of the shrew news, I got a pedicure last night and it was freaking amazing. The only thing different were the plexiglass shields everywhere and me wearing a mask. The woman at the salon near our house at the shore always wears one. I get my nails done like twice a year and last night I got them done too since they needed to be painted anyway and I wanted to zone out after a wild day and give them some business since they've been closed for so long. I inadvertently made it like Christmas with OPI Dutch Tulips on my toes and I don't know what on my nails, some no name brand of electric booger green? Slime green? Something different and it'll be on less than a week. 
5. My aunt and cousin are renting upstairs this week so I hung out with them on the porch last night and that was nice. Today is my cousin's birthday - she's the youngest grandchild at 7 and I am the oldest at 43. 

6. Ever since BarkBox came out, I was like no, I will not get that. Then I got a dog that loved toys so much, and truly spent hours playing with them, and I was spending a lot monthly anyway as he destroyed them, and fine now we get BarkBox. In other dogs news, I met my dog nephew Harry when I was back in Philly Monday and how freaking cute is he? You can follow Harry on Instagram. Then I just had to add in Bruce in the pink princess bed - he misses that when he's at the shore - and the old dogs snuggling.  Other dog things: considering Modern Mystery School and other training techniques for Ben and his unique yet piercing bark at every freaking dog tag that jingles by on the sidewalk; did a curbside pick up of Gus's CBD oil that has kept him alive extra long and was invited to learn more which I am always into. I got some CBD cream for myself and will report back. 
7. If you are crying over statues of colonizers and slavery defenders coming down and insisting if we don't leave them up we will forget our history, have you thought about how illogical and stupid that sounds? If you are a statue humper so vested in knowing and having access to the history of this country, have you read the Slave Narratives? They're free documents for all Americans to read in the Library of Congress. First hand accounts. All the information is literally out there if you stop spending more time defending the right for statues of enslavers to exist than you spend defending the right of black people to exist in this world the same way white people do and just read it. Also please provide an explanation for why most of these statues were erected in the 50s and 60s - Jim Crow era - and how we knew our history before that? Anyone going hard to keep Columbus statues erect, especially in Philly like was he even there? let me know if you need links to things to read about colonizing rapist murderers in lieu of looking at statues of them. 
8. There's super hard pushback right now from a lot of 50+ white people online - I'm a good person, I don't see color I treat everyone the same I work hard for what I have so should everyone else I am sick of the hate the people causing the problem are the people who keep talking about racism. Bro, take several seats. First of all, every one of those statements and beliefs has been ingrained in you ON PURPOSE to make you complicit in the systems of oppression so when uprisings happen YOU are there to prop up whiteness above all else - to refuse to see anything outside of your life, to want things to just settle down and stop so you can go back to living and black people can remain less than. It's time to open your eyes and look past your yard and acting like you've had it the worst. If you think everyone had the same opportunity and access, got the same education, has been treated the same in stores and restaurants and on the streets, was given the same benefit of the doubt, started from the same places, and been afforded equal protection under the law, I'm sure you will have no problem switching places with black people in this country. Right? Let me know. We're going to start with them swapping neighborhoods with you because they were redlined out of your neighborhoods, which of course means your kids will go to their schools, which are not funded the same. I'm sure you'll be happy to swap since you think just not talking about systemic racism and inequality means it does not exist. Start packing up your houses! Time is ticking. We have 400+ years of switching places to do.

9. Reminder and applicable to every facet of life 

10. E-cards...like, I don't even feel like throwing fish sticks into the air fryer and assembling a salad

The words following the hyphen are the song I am listening to when I start the Thursday Thoughts post. This week is Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Work from home flowus interruptus

I don't always work on a deadline, but when I do, something goes south. 

Today it was the battery for my laptop. The piece that plugs into the computer looked like it melted today. No problem, I thought. Let me see what's left. 58 minutes left on the battery, but at least two hours of work until something was finalized. 


I called a few local places. Nothing. Staples does not keep them in stores. Best Buy, win, ONE left in the store, curbside pickup within an hour and the store was a half hour away. I raced there, hoping I had chosen the correct battery.

My freaking order wouldn't pull up. My stomach was churning. The dork working curbside called me love twice and I didn't even reply with feminist backlash, that's how distraught I was. If you've been here for a minute you know I don't let that shit lay like the turd on the rug it is under normal circumstances. I drove home at warp speed, praying as a non-prayer that this worked while running down what I'd do if it didn't so I could still meet this deadline.

Since I am calmly re-telling this at the end of the day, you might guess it worked. Why I doubted it would is one of those mystery of life things. I mean, I can read and I know what I pressed purchase on. Off to decompress from the adrenaline leaving my body and school MFD on the best fitness water bottle - he keeps taking the super small ones fishing and wondering why he is running out of water.  

Thank you for coming to my could have been a catastrophe but wasn't story. What's for dinner?
Salad and possibly fish sticks here. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Empty Streets of Philadelphia

The title of this was going to be Wednesday is Weird except today is Tuesday. I am in my office today in the city for the first time in 103 days because I have a dentist appointment. It is super convenient to have all of your doctors within walking distance of your office until you are abruptly not in your office anymore for a long period of time.

Coming in today felt a little like coming in for my first day here in August 2008. Ahead of that day I thought what will the commute be like? How will it be going into the building? Will I know which elevator to go to? What if I get there and no one is in the office yet? 

I thought all of those things last night and today, but fast forward nearly 12 years. 

I have realized what is missing at my home office is a third monitor and an office chair, which I'm perusing on SunPan

I have missed walking around the city, but it's very weird to be in a city that is very empty of people and cars and movement compared to what it usually is, with lots of construction and what looks like temporary steel bridges, tables set up to service unhoused people, tent cities self-declared as autonomous zones, very few corner newspaper vendors or food carts, and just a lack of things I am used to seeing. Lots of things have changed in 103 days. Comfortable is not how I'd describe coming in today. I wouldn't use uncomfortable either. Bizarre? That might fit. 

The intro photo was taken at 11:30 when people are busting out of offices to take a walk, get lunch, run errands, etc. It is wild to see most things closed, stores that were boarded up that have not reopened still boarded up, and nearly everything empty of people. 

I misplaced my mind and looked into grad programs that I am not even interested in and now I am getting things from everywhere including medical (https://allsaintsuniversity.org/admissions/transfer-students/) which is not in my wheelhouse. 

I have not misplaced my fear of the dentist. That's still here, and it's amping up as my appointment at 1 pm to have the filling that partially fell out in the third week of quarantine approaches. 

How are you?

Monday, June 22, 2020

TWTW - the second of two three dayers

Thursday I headed to the beach after work. There was a weird creeping fog but it was overall nice. I found some seaglass, finished a book, had a salad, then we strolled the boards. Have you had Ben & Jerry's salted caramel blondie? Holy crap. We sat on the porch for a bit then hit the hay.
Friday Off for the day for Mom's birthday! Rich got Brown's donuts, they did a surrey ride with Kate and the kids while I did a little work and made up foaming hand soaps and shower spray. Then we all hit the beach. It was a perfect beach day followed by a perfect porch day. After a while Kate and the kids headed home, and we had fried chicken and onion rings from Boyar's before Mom & Rich headed home. I did some touch up painting and then read. 
Saturday I was up at the ass crack walking two sets of dogs, packing up, watering flowers, etc. I hit the beach for a few hours before heading back to Philadelphia for the first time since May 12. I was not that thrilled. I returned something to Target, MFD made dinner, and I was up finishing a book until 1. 
Sunday I slept in and it was glorious. I did some cleaning, laundry, made million dollar cream cheese and garlic dip (year of the dip lives on, this was a good one), and we stopped to pick up Rita's water ice. Stopped in to see Rich for Father's Day, then on to Aubrey's parents' for an outside Father's Day celebration sponsored by delicious food and a very nice breeze. 

How was your weekend?

Saturday, June 20, 2020

5 Thoughtful Gifts for Someone Special

Gift-shopping for those you love can be a very stressful time for some people — but it doesn’t have to be. You simply need to think about the type of gifts they want, need, or have expressed an interest in already in their everyday lives. Take the time to think about their normal routine and what they could most benefit from, while also thinking about how you can go the extra mile if you’re willing to splash out a little bit more! Always consider your budget when shopping for gifts, and remember that it isn’t the price tag that makes the gift special, but the thought itself.

1.    Experience Days

Gifts don’t always have to be a physical item that an individual can unwrap. Sometimes, experiences and memories can be the most treasured gifts. Looking into experience days can be an exciting time, both for the gift receiver and the gift giver, if you can tag along! These experiences can be something simple, such as afternoon tea, or they can be more adrenaline-fueled, like a rally car experience or a hot air balloon ride. The possibilities are endless!

2.    Customized Jewelry

Jewelry is a very safe choice when it comes to a gift, and that’s because it’s very popular. Most people really love to wear jewelry, and especially a more special item that was presented as a gift. Customized jewelry can make the experience even more special. It could be a specific engraving, or it could be a monogrammed piece with the individual’s name, even just the first letter of their name is a special touch. This makes the item truly unique to them and shows extra thought and care.

3.    Vaping Subscription Box

This is a great idea for someone in your life who is either thinking of switching to vaping, or who already vapes. A vape monthly subscription box is a great gift idea because it’s one that can be more regular and ongoing to fulfill their needs. Subscriptions boxes are great ways to keep vaping supplies topped up and delivered straight to your door, without the need to go out shopping for them. It can also be a great idea as a starter kit and regular supplies for those who have never vaped before but who have shown interest in starting.

4.    Personalized Items

There’s pretty much nothing you can’t get personalized these days, so it’s just a question of what would be the best fit! Think about the likes and interests of the person involved. If they’re always enjoying a cup of tea or coffee, then maybe a personalized mug would be the ideal gift. If they never go anywhere without a bag, perhaps a personalized shopper would be the gift they’d most appreciate. Or even everyday items like a personalized coaster, bookmark, tea towel, or more!

5.    Kitchen Goodies

If the special someone in your life is a foodie who spends most of their time in the kitchen, then they are never going to turn away a kitchen-related gift. Whether it’s a new chopping board, an expert set of kitchen knives, or maybe even a quirky contraption for their cooking needs, there are many great kitchen items you can consider.


this post was written for the Life According to Steph audience

Friday, June 19, 2020

Today is Friday and I am

Out of office.

Full of That Friday Feeling. 

Spending the day with my Mom for her birthday (happy birthday to my cousin Ashley too)

Headed to Cape May Brewery later.

Happy MFD installed new blinds and hung up a second kid book basket before he left yesterday.

Commemorating Juneteenth 

Eating Johnson's buttered popcorn like I'm going to the chair. 

Preparing to go back to Philadelphia for a few days on Sunday for the first time since May 12. Seeing my Dad of course, and also getting my car inspected and going to the dentist to finally deal with the filling that half fell out the third week of quarantine

Cleaning up excessive amounts of dog hair and considering this deshedding tool

Investigating additional ways to take payment for shore rentals and perusing sites like https://www.northamericanbancard.com/features/security and considering updating photos because it has been at least a year and I always think I'll be better at that then I never am

Pointing out that your president and his team used a Nazi symbol in his campaign ad 

You? What's on deck for the weekend?

Have a great one! 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Thursday Thoughts - cause I've been walking down your street with a love that I can't hide

1. The Bangles are underrated. Like the title lyrics from Walking Down Your Street. Bebopping around to In Your Room while cleaning the house? Listening to Hazy Shade of Winter with a light grayish yellowish early January sky out the window? These are the times. These are the late 80s jams. 

2.  I am at an all time very bad cooking person level. I just do not fucking feel like it. Dinners this week have mostly been cucumbers and cheese and crackers or ordered out. I just went to the store to replenish my salad fixings and I am eating them, damnit.

3. Nail color picked out by my niece this week: OPI Go with the Lava Flow and on the pointers Suzi's Slinging Mezcal
4. New favorite after work activity: straight to the beach. My Mom and Rich and Kate and the kids are down until tomorrow night. My mom's birthday is tomorrow and I'm off. 

5. I talked a little about racial inequality in the publishing world in how much authors are paid in advance black vs. white and how that impacts which books get promoted, when, and how hard in the last Show Us Your Books. As always you can google for more information about this stuff. The best way to show support for any up and coming author or book you are excited about is pre-ordering books. That is doubly true for black authors. It tells publishers there is interest and it is worth it for them to invest in the promotion of these books. Here's a list by Bookriot of 45 upcoming books by black authors you can pre-order right now. If you are a reader and have the money, please consider doing that, and pre-ordering from an indie book store (Black-owned if possible). I used to buy books constantly, then stopped for years, and now I'm on the rise again. I have pre-ordered When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole and And Now She's Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall (also got from Netgalley as an ARC). I will order Luster by Raven Leilani (also got from Netgalley as an ARC) and Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi before their pub dates. Since publishers do not promote books by Black authors as vociferously as white authors, you might not be reading as many of them. It will take a while to right that ship. In the meantime Buzzfeed has gathered 24 Black Bookstagrammers you should have on your radar, so start by following them if you don't already. In other exciting book news, my library in Ocean City is now doing curbside pickup. YESSSSSSS!

6. In other putting money where our mouths are moments, I am using the not insignificant amount of money I spent on OPC per week pre-Corona to donate to causes that align with me. This week is Matthew Shepard Foundation and Philadelphia Black Giving Circle. What causes are speaking to you recently? 

7. People are losing their fucking shit over Aunt Jemima being re-branded. Why is it hard for people to let go of things that were intentionally racist at their conception, even if it is not personally racist to them in 2020? Why is it so important to hold onto something steeped in racism so you can call your syrup what you've always called it? Similar thing with the statue humping. Stop. You are defending stone likenesses of people who fought for the Confederacy for five years and fucking lost. It is embarrassing at this point for people to be defending statues of oppressors instead of being like hmm, maybe we should reexamine our touchstones in this country. Check out this instagram thread and caption. 
Also, this thread on helpful terms for your google search bar and most importantly the caption. Learn things. 
8. Other mishmash I'm googling: construction and performance bonds (learn more), foot peel, Surfer dude, teak mat, safety first which led me to Canada https://calhounsuperstructure.com/the-calhoun-difference/safety-first/, LUSH conditioner, the true history of the Confederate flag, and water tank

9. Reminder:

10. E-cards...seriously though it's been pants and long sleeves weather at the shore a lot

Cheers to SCOTUS this week handing down decisions in favor of employment protections for LGBTQ+ folx and saving DACA. Huge, huge wins this week for letting people be who they are and not punishing them for that or where they come from.

Thursday Thoughts from you?

The words following the hyphen are the song I am listening to when I start the Thursday Thoughts post. This week is Walking Down Your Street by The Bangles (link in #1) 
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