Tuesday, July 27, 2021

3 Things to Remember to Do When Planning a Vacation

This is a guest post by Steve Conway, a passionate traveler who explores the globe in pursuit of adventure, sun soaked beaches and azure waters.

After spending the last year or more at home unable to travel as you ordinarily would, you are very likely excited to be gearing up for an actual vacation finally. Being able to get away from home and escape the demands of daily life for a week or two can be a fantastic way to kick back and relax.


That being said, any seasoned traveler will tell you that going on vacation is not as simple as packing a bag and hitting the road. There are preparations to be made and things that you will need to organize so that you can leave home without a worry.


With all the anticipation of finally being able to go on vacation, it can be easy to allow a few things to get overlooked in the planning stages of your trip. However, forgetting such things can at the very least prove to be an inconvenience for you and, at the worst, cause your trip to be spoiled entirely.


If you are preparing to go on a vacation in the near future, here are three things that you will need to remember to take care of ahead of time so that you can truly enjoy your trip.


1. Accommodations for Your Pet


If your family includes a pet, you will need to make sure that you arrange appropriate accommodations for them well before you head out on your vacation. Quality boarding facilities for dogs and cats can fill up fast, especially during peak travel seasons. This is why it is best to make your pet’s reservation sooner rather than later.


Your veterinarian might have a good recommendation for a dog or cat boarding facility if you have never boarded your pet before. You can also check out some great options for dog boarding at exceptionalpets.com. Just make sure that your vet knows where your pet will be staying in case a medical emergency should arise.


2. Home Security


Before you head off to the airport for your vacation, you will also want to take steps to ensure that your home will be secure and protected while you are away. If you are traveling during a peak time of the year, you can be sure that burglars will be out and about to see what homes are being left vacant while owners are away.


Consider calling your local police station to have your house added to their watch list. That way, an officer will patrol your street and check in on your house, in particular, to ensure that nothing appears to be out of the ordinary.


3. Transportation


Even though you might have booked your plane tickets months ago for your vacation, you might have forgotten to arrange transportation for yourself upon arrival at your destination. 


Whether you will need a car to get you from the airport to your accommodations or use some form of public transportation, it is always a good idea to get these details sorted out well before your departure from home.


Monday, July 26, 2021

TWTW - the one with the bridges

Friday I made salad and gnocchi for dinner and put it aside. MFD assembled my new desk and I worked until 8 pm. I ended up having to put the damn desk on the opposite wall, fucking up my gallery spread but whatever. I had no idea the one outlet was only two prong. I think it's the only one in the house. I fell out around midnight.
Saturday I was up, over the Walt Whitman bridge, and down the shore by 8:30. I went to the beach for a bit, prepped things for MFD to do turnover next week, had an easy turnover aside from a super gross grill which is why one of the reasons we do not provide grills any more, caught up with a neighbor, and was back over the Walt Whitman by 12:45. I stopped at HomeGoods then two damn grocery stores because the first one was our of salsa verde. Got home, made a quick dip, painted my nails (OPI Do You Have this Color in Stock-Holm? And four nails topped with Rainbows a Go Go), and had MFD load the car and buckle me in to not ruin them.
Back over to Jersey on the Betsy Ross Bridge for the return of the annual Sannelli summer party. Aside from Evan once last May, Darwin once last May, and Frank and Amanda, it’s been two years since I sat around with these people. Most we have known for 30 years, with families and partners and entire group adopted friends picked up along the way. Nothing makes me remember the person I have always been and what is good and true and important than being around my longtime friends. Nothing shows me the ways I’ve grown and changed more than being around them either. It was great to be together again. I was There for seven hours, back home over the Tacony, and got home around 12:45! Still got it. Not really but it feels good to say. 


Sunday These damn dogs were up at 6 even though we were all up until 2. There was a fight over food and Mae’s eye is fucked up so that’s being monitored. She is also having an allergic o episode and her wrinkles are infected. It is fun to wipe them three times a day. JUST KIDDING. I worked much of the day and night, did some purging and organizing in the basement, engaged in the business of running a household - placing Target same day delivery and Chewy orders, updating calendars, getting all the trash and recycles out (we missed last week and had a ton), cleaned the washer, etc - and made salad and grilled chicken thighs for dinner. 


I have my first in person meeting today since March 2020. So that's the focus! 

Have a good one!


Sunday, July 25, 2021

Where Luxury Meets Tradition In The Maldives

The bright blue waters and white sands of this gorgeous island nation might be more than enough to entice some people, but the Maldives have tucked away delights to thrill just about any traveller. You can experience some of the most phenomenal natural beauty sights, thrilling experiences, great food, and a culture that’s to be treasured. Here are just some of the treats the Maldives are hiding.


Link - Pixabay License


Take a cruise

The Maldives are a series of islands, each diverse and gorgeous. If you want to take in as many of the sights as the archipelago has to offer, then there are few better ways to do it than by sea. Dhoni boats are the traditional way to explore the island, and there are plenty of Maldives dhoni cruises that will take you around the islands, some of them lasting just a day, but some of them lasting for days on end with several opportunities to stop and sample life on each of the islands, as well as some stops to lesser-seen sandbanks along the way.


Get the real experience

The Maldives may have become known for the high quality of resorts and services provided by its thriving tourism sector, but there’s a culture there as well that’s left unexplored by many. There are authentic cultural experiences that you can enjoy, from trying out the sweet hedika with a cup of black tea at any of the shop’s cafes in the early evenings to explore the Buddhist stupas, the mosques, and the shrines throughout the island. The Boduberu drumming performances need to be caught at least once on your travels.


Go exploring the waters

The oceans surrounding these islands are a gorgeous turquoise and they’re replete with opportunities for adventures. There are plenty of diving and snorkelling spots that offer a close look at tropical fish, tortoises and even some reef sharks and rays. The islands are also home to some of the best spots to ride the waves in the world, and staying at one of the Maldives surf resorts can help you get access to the best of the best. Perfect for not just surfing, but windsurfing and kite surfing, too.


Getting the luxury treatment

The Maldives are a very popular vacation destination, especially amongst the wealthy and influential. As such, it has built up a strong industry of luxury treatments designed to offer the very best of experiences, and the wide range of spas are top amongst these. These luxury spas take the traditional treatments and go the extra mile, taking a holistic approach to ensure that every bit of the experience invigorates the mind and soul, from the services themselves to the amenities and bonuses you can enjoy along the way.


If you’re going to be making your way to the Maldives, be sure to follow the tips and advice posted elsewhere on the site. These islands are so packed with stuff to do you will want to make sure you get the absolute most out of your time there.

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This post was written with the Life According to Steph audience in mind


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Thursday Thoughts - there's a pale moon in the sky the kind you make your wishes on

1. The Olympics and sports leagues are having a time. As FeministaFabulous said on Instagram in two separate posts, "Are the Olympics okay?" and "Alternately, we could just let women live" in regards to attire. The racism, sexism, and ableism on display in the Olympics and various sports boards or whatever in leagues wherever is straight fucking trash. Not to mention disqualifying a track woman for marijuana, which has never made anyone faster at anything or enhanced performance regarding speed in anything. Can we fucking do away with archaic "laws" that are just there to oppress people? Man alive.


2. Hard agree. Me yesterday.

3. I'm letting my toenails breathe, which I never ever do in the summer. They're always polished. It's quite liberating and also feels like something has been left undone, been overlooked, got lost in translation.

4. Through work from home life, I started working at the dining room table, then eventually I moved to a room in the basement, made MFD give me his big desk, set myself up nice, then decided I wanted to move my office to the top floor. So this is in progress. The pink cabinet was brought home from the shore a few years ago. The chair is from the basement. I'm building out a gallery wall the way I like to do it which is not measure jack shit and just assemble things I like which is eclectic and also loud. My pink desk is coming in a little over a week. The second desk we had in the basement that I made MFD take is over 10 years old and is about to collapse. 
5. Yes, that's a new dog bed for the new office too. MFD was like, "Can we stop buying new dog beds? We have so many." No. We cannot. Go on about your business and worry about your own self. 
6. I am trying to build a routine where I go into the office once every other week at least with the goal possibly being once a week by the end of the year. I need a day out of work from home life and I miss a lot about the city. There's a lot I don't miss too, but I do miss some.

7. I will never understand not getting this vaccine if you are able to get this vaccine. Imagine your children or grandchildren getting Covid because of you. Imagine them having long-haul health issues because of you that negatively impact their whole lives. Hell, not even kids related to you closely, just kids you pass by in the store because I know for shit sure people who are not vaccinated are going to stores and out in public and not wearing a mask or maintaining distance. Going mask-free and closing up the distance is for people who are vaccinated. Not people who refuse to get the vaccine. Imagine in general thinking 600,000+ dead from a virus is not a big deal. 

8. Co-sign this. In my world this time of day is good for absolutely nothing except laying around, reading, or doing other things that don't require serious brain power. 

9. Reminder: We have a tendency as humans to count small things piling on each other - or more typically a big thing piled on by smaller things. Sometimes, unfortunately, a few big things in succession that feel like knock outs. Most of us still have so much going right for us and it's good to remind myself (and you, in the process) of that. 

10. Ecards: can't hurt to give yourself a leg up.
Happy birthday to Mr. Chris yesterday!

And you?


What appears beyond the hyphen in Thursday Thoughts titles is what I'm listening to or most recently heard when I'm starting this - this week is I don't wanna fight by Tina Turner





Monday, July 19, 2021

TWTW - July style

Friday I started work early, then headed to the shore around 10. Ridiculous traffic. I stopped to pick up a library hold, hit my corner store for sustenance for the weekend, and finished out the workday. I set up my new foldout desk that will move to an upstairs bedroom when rental season is over. Your girl is too old to work from a not ergonomic position. For $50 the desk is perfect for my needs and I love that it folds totally flat and can be stowed if necessary. My big ass office chair which obviously does not fold flat and cannot be stowed but does have wheels so can be easily moved was also supposed to arrive but alas it did not. Allegedly it's coming today. I hit the beach at 5:45, which is a great time to do so in the summer. The tiger lillies are in full bloom down the street hanging out over the sidewalk like a riot. Tomato sandwiches for dinner, this week the tomatoes should be perfect. MFD and all the dogs arrived after 11. We did a final walk and then fell out.

Saturday Ben's Bark Box unboxing is a big event in our house. He likes to sit with all of his hoarded toys after. We did turnover and there were food in bedrooms again. Why why why. We packed a cooler and went down to the North End for the day. It was great when the boat was not docked on the beach blaring its music out. We came back and I painted my nails (Zoya Brandi and Essie tide of your life), finished my book, and started another.
Sunday I lazed around with coffee, did the business of vacation rentals by updating listings and photos, made potato salad, did some clean up, and hit the beach for two hours. I was annoyed with all people so I headed back home, lay down and read and took a small nap. I made chicken thighs and oyster mushrooms in the air fryer, took a quick shower, caught up with my neighbor, then biked over to see Joyce Maynard discuss her new book in the parking lot of the public library. Love my library here for getting a big ass tent so they can still hold events but not rely on the indoors as Covid is not magically gone. MFD met me there and I got my book signed and photo taken and talked with her a bit, then we biked to Aunt Betty's to get ice cream for National Ice Cream Day.


Send up a flare that FedEx finds my freaking chair so I can make my way back to Philly on a schedule that in any way resembles the one I had planned on. 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

What to consider when renovating your home

When you have decided to renovate your home, there are some things that you need to consider first. By considering these before you start your renovations, you will be ensuring that your home can suit your needs and that you and your family can have a great quality of life within your house. Then, here are some of the considerations that you need to think about before you get stuck into your renovations.

1. Pets

Pets are often a huge part of your life, and if you are planning to renovate your home, you need to make sure that it is still suitable for them. This could even be the perfect time to make your home more pet-friendly. For instance, one of the best renovations that you can make to your home when you have pets is installing a dog sensor for sliding glass door. This will allow your animal to have more freedom around your home, can keep them safe, and can even allow you to bring an end to some of the most common behavioral issues for pets, such as barking, chewing, and scratching. 

2. Natural Light

When people renovate their homes, they often make changes without considering the impact that these will have on the natural light that pours into their property. Then, you should make sure that none of the renovations that you are making affect the natural light that enters your home. For instance, you should make sure that trees and bushes do not throw your home into the shade and that you do not place furniture in places that prevent light from filling your main living spaces. Instead, you should consider renovations that allow more light to reach your home, such as installing larger windows.

3. Durability 

However, to prevent you from conducting home renovations every couple of years, you should ensure that the improvements you are making are durable and hard-wearing. For instance, you should choose furniture that is made from sturdy woods and metals and ensure that you choose wooden or tiled flooring over carpets, which can easily become threadbare before long. This will ensure that your home can look brand new even in ten years. 

4. Cleaning and Organization

If you are extremely houseproud, you also need to make sure that your home will still be easy to clean and to keep organized after your renovations have been completed. For instance, you should make sure that you have installed ample storage solutions and that you consider minimizing the amount of non-removable fabrics and soft furnishings in your home, as these can easily pick up dirt and smells and can be difficult to get clean again. 

5. The Layout

Before you conduct any renovations, though, you need to think about the layout of your home. You need to ensure that this layout is spacious and that it is easy to move around your rooms without knocking into furniture or ornaments. You should also ensure that your layout creates a sense of cohesion between your rooms. 

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This post was written with the Life According to Steph audience in mind by human and pet mama and freelance writer Maggie Hammond


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Thursday Thoughts - when I turn on my TV will you smile and wave at me

1. Hello from my mood ring dog

2. New TOMs shoes that I will put with the new TOMs I got last year and never wore. These were under $25 each and I've had my eye on them for a while. I do expect to possibly wear shoes again more regularly sometime this year.
3. On the menu this week: OPC delivered by Michelle Tuesday, chips for dinner because adults can make adult decisions, a quick sauce pasta dinner, making breakfast burritos to freeze. 
4. This week is a crunch between work deadlines, an abundance of property manager vacation rental owner work, and personal to dos. I am also a full time laundress. Launderess? Washerwoman? You pick. So eat, sleep, work, laundry pretty much sums up this week. Follow me for more Ways to Live in an Exciting Manner tips.

5. Reminder:

Short and sweet this week, unlike me. Happy happy birthday to my longtime friend Gena Ho!


What appears beyond the hyphen in Thursday Thoughts titles is what I'm listening to or most recently heard when I'm starting this - this week is Hollywood is Dead by Michael Buble





Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Show Us Your Books July 2021



Hello from one of the months of the year I like the least. July is not my jam. Reading books is, of course, and friends writing books is too. Friends with small friends to buy for, check out Fuel Your Best, a children's book to educate & empower kids through fitness. 


Here's what I've been reading since the last linkup. 

Engrossing Reads

Haven Point by Virginia Hume - The perfect beach read with some intrigue and drama and a few things to let fall by the wayside as no story or telling of it is perfect. Some of the Past Times Writing drug on too long. Thanks to Netgalley for the free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review

Fallen (Kate Burkholder #13) by Linda Castillo - One of my favorites of the series. Kudos to Castillo for bringing it hard 13 books in. More Kate and crew, please! Thanks to Netgalley for the free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner - Did this come from this linkup? I was not expecting to be so into this and there were definitely unexpected twists. I loved it. 

After the Fire by Will Hill - I loved this. I was sucked in and creeped out. AND it centered around a cult. Cult books are a perennial favorite. All the good stuff. OCNJ library 

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau - I read this on Sunday. I really liked it. There was something comfortable about reading a book set in 1975 even though it was two years before I was born. It felt familiar as a lot of the stuff that was permissible then carried through to my 80s childhood. Blau did a good job with the almost casual racism and anti-semitism that Mary Jane becomes aware in her home of as her mind is opened to a world outside of her house. It was an excellent juxtaposition but is still jarring to read. OCNJ library

The Afrominimalist's Guide to Living with Less by Christine Platt - Ugh, this book. I love love love. I follow her on IG and think she is fabulous, and that does not always translate into books. This one is excellent and opened my mind to living with less in a way no other minimalist reading has done. Mostly because everything I've read about minimalism has been so blah to me, everything is neutral or the dreaded (to me) greige and non descript and I am the person living in eclectic homes surrounded by color and things that spark joy. This book showed me a path that I've not seen before and made me think about how and why I've come to have too much shit.  pre-ordered, own

Passed the Time Just Fine

The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine - This was fine, read it in a few hours, but something was off. It was repetitive at points and Addison was hard to root for. Also part of it was set in Philadelphia and when discussing neighborhoods she made a statement like going to Chestnut Hill from Northeast which very few people would say. We'd say going the Chestnut Hill from The Northeast. She also described Fishtown oddly - like you could tell she did some research, but stopped short? Have someone local read it if you don't know it well enough. Do not like. OCNJ library

Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson - I standardly like Jackson's books. This one was not a favorite and I'm not going to suggest you rush to read it. OCNJ library

What You Can See From Here by Mariana Leky - Reminded me of some Alice Hoffman mixed with a dash of shit what was that bookstore book from a few years back with the male owner everyone loved? A little mystical realism? Anyway I liked this village and Leky's storytelling. I don't always fare well with translated books but this one hit the spot. Free advanced copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Shoulder Season by Christina Clancy - As the header of this section states, this was fine. I think it was much ado about nothing honestly. Given the setup and a lot of the plotlines, there were a million stories possible here and I think the one told was totally fine but the least interesting possibility. Free advanced copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

The Invisible Husband of Frick Island by Colleen Oakley - Even though I felt like throttling both main characters, I loved this book and the Frick Islanders. It's unique. OCNJ library

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder - Laura had this up in last month's link up and as soon as she said it's not for everyone, I thought it's probably for meeee. And it was. Mental health and eating disorders and religion and queer sex and what's taboo at the intersection of those things, which is a lot. Thoughtfully written about women in their young 20s, which not all books are. It's a tough, searching age and women in life and in books are not given much quarter through that time. OCNJ library 

Look What You Made Me Do by Elaine Murphy - This was sort of campy and fun with a serial killer sister and her sister who helps. Not as well executed as My Sister, the Serial Killer, but passable, a quick read, and an added layer MYTSK did not have. Free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review 

Not Worth It

You Will Remember Me by Hannah McKinnon - Most people liked this. I was like eh. All of us are correct. Probably a good for you, not for me book. 

The Therapist by B.A. Paris - This will be another many people like that I did not. Do I standardly dislike the main character in every B.A. Paris book? Yes. Do I always say this is it? Yes. Have I continued to read them? Yes. I have no one to blame but myself. This author's books are an example of ones I think are hyped and fed to the masses by publishing houses that people assume are good because everyone is reading them but when I actually examine them as a body of work, I do not like. Free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

The Sinful Lives of Trophy Wives by Kristin Miller - Absolutely zero likable people in this book, which is fine if the story holds up. It does not. You have to suspend belief to read anything and everything, but this was a lot. People are not robots and no way would the twist have survived and the people in it remain in contact. It was a "oh, she's not trying to pass this off, is she?" type of things. Free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Did Not Finish
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides - Could not would not finish the sophomore effort by the author of The Silent Patient, which I liked. I was pumped for this but alas it was excruciatingly awful and flat from the start and by 10% in I was done. Thanks to Netgalley for the free copy but no thanks

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld - This felt weird. Could not finish.

Linkup Guidelines:
This link up is the second Tuesday of every month. The next linkup is Tuesday, August 10, 2021
1. Visit and comment with both of your hosts, Jana & me, and check in with as many in our reading circle as you can - give some love to the later linker uppers! 
2. Link back to us in your blog post - if you want the button you can get it from that link



You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter










Monday, July 12, 2021

TWTW - a typical July weekend

Friday I was up early to get the shore trash out and had coffee on the porch. I ran a few fruitless errands at lunch, which annoys me, but also did pick up dog flea/tick/heartworm meds at the vet and Gus's CBD oil. I walked down to the beach after work to see the post-Elsa waves and as usual after a storm when the tide comes in, it comes up fast, and my ass was wet on the walk home. I was in bed early reading.
Saturday Coffee, books, dogs on the porch. The people leaving were late leaving by 20 min which seems to be a thing this summer. It's not a long time to them but with only four hours in between guests it's a long time to me. They were super nice people and left the house nice, which I was thankful for since MFD was working and I did turnover on my own. I was a sweaty mess at the the end, so I closed my doors and windows, put the fan and AC on, showered, painted my nails (9th & Maxwell dahlia and aqua-rius - freaking amazing polish, Black-owned company, try it!), and relaxed until MFD arrived. We had pierogies on the beach from The Pierogie Place on the boards (new and good!) then met up with Jenn, Joe, & Katie. It was a fun night! Except for the homemade chipwich we walked all the way to the promenade for that was expensive AF and...not it. Two bites and trash. The cookie was too hard for it to function as a chipwich. 
Sunday was a good mix of productive and relaxing. While MFD was at his meeting and fishing in the morning, I purged and organized some drawers, cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed, did some personal care, walked the dogs, rode my bike to the library to drop off books and pick up a hold, and when MFD got back we ate lunch then headed to the beach for the afternoon. It was sunny then overcast, and we both fell asleep - that is rare for me. I was dead out. We had dinner from Crunchik'n on the boards before heading back to the house. Showered, finished my book, and packed up.


I drove back to Philly this morning and have been fighting with Adobe ever since. It's a system-wide down. Grand.

Show Us Your Books is tomorrow!!

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