Monday, October 18, 2021

TWTW - sunny days

Friday Flex time for the win, the afternoon was beautiful and warm on the beach and ordered 16th Street Seafood. 

Saturday Was gorgeous but windy, definitely not a beach sitting day. MFD is the self proclaimed heel care king so he gave me a driveway pedicure only he does not do cuticles, polish, or any sort of nail maintenance so a heelicure? Painted my toes Essie like a charm and nails Essie payback's a witch/OPI This Shade is Ornamental! My dad made breakfast and then I lolled around reading for a few hours before taking Ben on a walk. Carol had gone through my mugs so we took them to the thrift store and donated them and picked up a few new glasses there. We also did a quick run through Stainton's before coming back for dinner. Carol made pizza American style which I haven't had in forever and I love. I was laying down early. Approaching the time change kills me. 

Sunday I was up by 7 telling scary stories to the animal crew. Carol and I were on the road by 10:15 for Dana's shower at the Mainland in Manahawkin, which was a gorgeous setup. It was a nice day with family I have not seen in person since before the pandemic to sit around surrounded by beauty eating good food and celebrating a happy occasion. Lola got to help with the gifts and she was very pleased. Carol, Aubrey, Lola and I hit HomeGoods on the way out because you always go to a foreign HomeGoods if you can and that one was a good one. I ate a sandwich for dinner and took the best friend dogs on a sunset walk that ended up being good for sea glass. I was done by the time I got home, I am out of practice being in the company of more than a few other people at once and it's great but I'm always very tired after. I blobbed myself on the couch watching the actual Blob movie MFD put on and promptly fell asleep to. It is terrible. 

Monday! Have a good one.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Thursday Thoughts - The ground beneath my feet is open wide

1. Things I do not miss about the train: carrying shit, people's asses in my face because they have to be the first one off the train so they will stand at the door. I'm happy one of my two chosen exits from Suburban Station has reopened. I feel like they'll reopen the other one never so this will do. My entry to exit has always been open. And if you don't take trains you don't understand any of this, nor do you care. There are many entries/exits to my train station in Center City and the majority have been closed since the pandemic began.

2. I took in new to me public art yesterday, part of the Monumental Tour by Kindred Arts. I'll check out the other three pieces before they're gone in January 2022. This is Kalief Browder: The Box by Coby Kennedy. This piece replicates the solitary confinement cell 17 year old Kalief Browder spent most of his three years of incarceration on Rikers Island in with neither trial nor proof of guilt. The United Nations has stated that placements in solitary for longer than 15 days constitutes cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and that lengthy stays in isolation can constitute torture. Kalief Browder's first extended stay in solitary confinement was over 300 days as a 17 year old child. The charges against him were dropped but the confinement stayed with him and he took his own life two years after his release, although clearly the system took it from him at 16. And no, law and order fucking yahoos, solitary confinement is not appropriate punishment for robbery even if someone is guilty. If you are not questioning what the fuck we are doing in our systems in this country, why not?

3. They were installing Day of the Dead art in LOVE Park Wednesday too, I always love seeing that. And this beauty shot of City Hall.

4. I freaking missed my dear Melissa's birthday by a day last week. Her and John's hard for me to keep track of days. Happy Happy Meliss. Love you!

5. This is true, and Thursday is always the latter for me. I need to be jamming on it because I have to be out on a site this afternoon.

6. For the ladies who pooh pooh feminism

7. My I don't need it but it belongs with me find from HomeGoods this week: this is now in the middle of my dining room table in Philly and I love it. It goes perfectly. Incidentally I also found what I did need which are the storage boxes. 

8. Thanks to everyone who joined us or read through the 7th Anniversary Show Us Your Books on Tuesday! If you haven't, enter to win our  giveaways: one of two $25 gift cards to, up to $25 of merch or books from Harriett's Bookshop, badass reader socks bought at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT, and some books that were pre-ordered via Harriett's: Consumed: On Colonialism, Climate Change, Consumerism, and the Need for Collective Change by Aja Barber and All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris (comes out 11/2 so will ship to you from us around then), and either a book or merch from Harriett’s (limit $25). Click here

9. Reminder - it's true, you do. Check out my boosting happiness in seven ways post from yesterday too if you need to. Also follow atist Tusks & Peonies.

10. Ecards

Keep a good thought for Mae, she's in for a dental today.

Have a good one!

What appears beyond the hyphen in Thursday Thoughts titles is what I'm listening to when I'm starting this - this week is Story of My Life by One Direction

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Boosting happiness in seven ways

The global pandemic related struggles of the past two years as well as the racial, social, economic, and political clashes of America that have been brewing since our inception coming to a head in that same time period have made it harder for many people to maintain a baseline happy life. If you’ve found that your natural happiness has taken a hit, you are surely not alone.

We can all do our part to contribute to public health as well as fighting for racial, social, and economic justice, but we do not control any outcomes there that extend beyond ourselves and whatever power and privilege we can lean on to make change happen. 

To get a happiness boost, there are some things we can control though:

Remove financial stress to the best of your ability
It’s very difficult to focus on the positives when the weight of financial problems is on your shoulders, so you can do some winter work inside on seeing if you can do anything different financially. Financial management apps that track your income and spending are helpful in this process. 

Most of us living above the poverty line have some financial waste in our lives. Some things are so easy to trim. Starting with home entertainment packages - what streaming subscriptions do you have versus what you actually use? MFD is constantly subscribing to shit we don't need and I am always unsubscribing. $5 here and there can add up.

Invest in your wellness
Go for a walk, talk about your feelings with someone you can be totally honest with, find a therapist, join a club, read a book, sing loudly and activate your vagus nerve, ground your bare feet to the earth, get fresh air, wear comfortable shoes, stretch, eat good food, sleep, rest, hydrate, say no to things you don't want to do or don't have the bandwidth for without explaining yourself. Adding good habits is an amazing happiness booster. 

Removing the negatives is equally as important when thinking about your happiness. The fallout of persistent bad habits will continue to stand in the way of true happiness. Quitting cigarettes is a popular choice. When that finally stuck for me it was from reading a freaking book our friend Lyndsey mentioned as being the way she quit - if I had known it was that easy I would have done it in the late 90s.

Be with the right people
Human interactions hold the key to our happiness. Giving the most toxic interactions the most time and energy leads to toxicity internally and life is too short for that. Unfollow, let the interactions drift, make a clean cut, whatever works. 

I don't care who they are to you or how long you've known them - toxic friendships and relationships in general do not serve you. Remove these people from your circle and you'll have more room for people who fill you up. 

Likewise, we are not contorting to fit other people. It is not our job or be likeable or palatable to people. It is our job to be ourselves. Your people will love you for you. Anyone who doesn’t is not your people. It is so freeing to be fully yourself. Try it if you are not quite there. 

Do something bigger than you
Volunteer. Donate money. Advocate for equality. Work to abolish oppressive systems. Clean up the park on the corner. We are hyper focused on ourselves, which is good until it isn't. Step away from yourself to gain perspective. 

Paint your nails
Or whatever your nails are in your life.  I am not well with chipped nails. Painting them makes me feel immediately more put together. Changing your look is superficial but packs an immediate flush of happy for most of us. New hairstyle, fresh nails, a little bit of lipstick or mascara, wearing a favorite outfit you love. Simple, easy mood boosters. You can of course go further. MFD got his million dollar teeth as we call them years ago. Many of my adult friends have gotten braces. The average braces cost will give you another reason to smile for years to come.

Social media is not your life, your life is what happens outside of it
Don't let the social media lead to an inferiority complex. You're not perfect, nor is your life, and no one else's is either. Worry about what you're doing. Make sure you're living your life outside of facebook, instagram, twitter, tiktok, etc. How much time are you spending on them? Use them as intended, not as your main life. 

Realize constant happiness is not going to happen
The cult of positivity might have you thinking you should be happy all the time but not only is it not probable, it's not possible. We're human. We have a range of emotions. Your life doesn't suck if you aren't always showing a happy face. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

How to get the most out of a short stop-over

When traveling for business or pleasure sometimes the schedule only allows you a small pocket of time in any one place and while you are grateful you get to visit that place at all sometimes a short layover simply isn’t enough to time do that place justice. So if you find yourself in the position to be able to carve out a 24-hour flying visit in one location here is a guide for how to make the most of that short space of time.

Photo Credit; Vinta Supply Co From Pexels

Do your research on the place you are visiting and note down any points of interest. Chances are your destination will have famous landmarks or well-known tourist hot spots you don’t want to miss out on so make a priority list of must-see locations. It could be climbing the Eiffel Tower in Paris and a trip to the Lourve, followed by a stroll along the Seine. Select a few non-negotiable points of interest and list them in order of priority. Once you have your non-negotiables add a few extra ‘in case we have time options’ that you might be able to fit in if things go your way. While you may not need to research your must-see attractions or locations carrying out a bit of due diligence is always a good idea. It may be that a particular monument is closed or the opening times don’t fit your schedule. Turning up to Buckingham palace only to realize you cannot enter may result in wasting precious time. Your research may also reveal attractions you didn’t know were available or temporary events such as one of Quebec’s infamous street festivals or the Kardashian closet, Las Vegas’s most recent pop-up shop whereby you can buy clothes from the Kardashian’s actual closet. Whatever piques your interest if you do a little research on the town you are visiting beforehand you may be surprised at what might be available to do and see that day. 

Another key component you want to spend a little time researching is the transportation and the location of the different activities you want to squeeze in. It may be you are visiting a bustling town with a great infrastructure network and getting from one attraction to another is as simple as hopping on and off a local bus. Other destinations, however, may pose more of a logistical problem, attractions could be separated by a river, or be opposite the ends of town. If you are sure on the list of things you want to do then you have to plan how you are going to get to them in advance. Spending time figuring it out on the day will eat into the leisure time you have. You also want to be sure you have the time for all of the attractions on your list and that by traveling across town you are really getting the most out of your visit and not wasting what little time you have that could be better spent elsewhere, for example, New York’s Central Park is one end of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty is quite the other. While both are doable in a day getting from one side of the city to another at the wrong time could be quite time-consuming and may result in you missing out on some of New York’s many other world-renowned attractions. 

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

Show Us Your Books: October 2021

Seven years of this linkup, friends! Thanks for reading books, sharing what you're reading in comments here or on some other form of media, sharing Show Us Your Books posts with your friends, linking up your posts, and interacting with Show Us Your Books in any way. Jana and I appreciate our reading community so much. The linkup is at the bottom as usual, and we hope you read through each other's posts and be in true book people community together. 

There's also a giveaway to enter at the bottom. The two bigger prizes are a $25 gift card to so you can grab a book or two while supporting a small, local bookstore. Smaller prizes include book socks bought at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT, and some books that were pre-ordered via Harriett's Book Shop (did you know she has a sister shop, Ida's now?) to support Black women authors like Consumed: On Colonialism, Climate Change, Consumerism, and the Need for Collective Change by Aja Barber and All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris (comes out 11/2 so will ship to you from us around then), and either a book or merch from Harriett’s (limit $25). Enter to win at the bottom of the post. 

One more ask - please read my friend Shelby Cohen's short story The Lady of Rever (through that link it's free) and passing it along, and please consider pre-ordering Breonna Brownlee's (bloggers, you probably know her from Bre Writes) book Two Too Many coming out in December. It's $5 on kindle, and the great majority of us can spare a fiver to support a debut author. Debut authors and up and coming authors need those pre-orders when we can afford to do them, especially Black authors who do not get the same play from publishers. 

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

Engrossing Reads

The Unseen World by Liz Moore - I adored Long Bright River for its truthful and sensitive grapple with addiction and mental illness and its Philadelphia setting, so I was happy to find this one in Liz Moore's back catalog to be quite good as well. TW for alzheimer's, this was so interesting to me on so many levels. I flew through it. OCNJ library
My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson - I’m not typically a short story reader. I'm glad I put that down to read this. The writing was tremendous here. I  devoured all of them quickly. Virginia left me breathless.

Did I Say You Could Go by Melanie Gideon - Here is an example of a book I did not love but sits in this category because it was compulsively readable and hard to put down despite the unloveable characters and holes. These people are fucked up! 

Buses are a Comin': Memoir of a Freedom Rider by Charles Person- Jana texted me about this when she read it a while back and I got my hands on it and she was right, I loved the way that you can love a book about this subject matter. An important read, and one that really brings out all the emotions. I am so proud that humans like Charles Person and other Freedom Riders exist. Angry, frustrated, ashamed, and horrified at why we have come to know them and the fact that things are still not different enough in this country, that we still have not fully reconciled our past here, which is why the present is not great either. 

The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman - Alice did herself dirty with the Owens family saga - the books were written in one order and chronologically flow in another, hugging Practical Magic on both sides which by all accounts is the least favorite of most people. If you read Practical Magic and didn't like it, please try the two books that were written after it that actually precede it (Magic Lessons then The Rules of Magic), then just think Practical Magic movie thoughts in your head because that is one of two instances where I prefer the movie over the book, then come back in and try this one, which is not as good as Lessons and Rules but still worth it. I love the Owens family minus Sally. This is in the engrossing column because I wanted to know the book end of the Owens family, otherwise it would be pass the time just fine. Pre-ordered, own, book publishes 10/12, also received a free copy from Netgalley 

I Know You by Claire McGowan - I had to stay up to finish this one. A quick read and mystery within a mystery which is not always something I love. This was done well. Free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, book publishes 10/19/21

Passed the Time Just Fine

Just Like the Other Girls by Claire Douglas - Very readable, although a little jumbled. I flew through it. OCNJ library

The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski - I couldn't figure out what was what through a lot of this, which is of course the point. Some things fell flat but it was a good heading toward Halloween read. Free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, book publishes 10/12

Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena - Lapena is standardly beloved, and I read her books, but typically feel take it or leave it about them at the end. This one was no different. OCNJ library

Brat: An '80s Story by Andrew McCarthy - Possibly my favorite Brat Packer aside from Rob Lowe, I had to read this. No gossip, just low key 80s focused stuff. I would have liked to hear more stories involving others that weren't gossipy even but it passed the time just fine. Free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

The World Played Chess by Robert Dugoni - A quick read and quite different than the other Robert Dugoni books I’ve read. I liked William’s parts the best. I wish the third POV was the son, but a good read all around aside from some parts that felt self indulgent on the part of the author. Free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Friends Like These by Kimberly McCreight - Loved Reconstructing Amelia, Where They Found her and A Good Marriage were also good. This one was rough. Readable, but rough. OCNJ library

Not Worth It

Did Not Finish

The Power Couple by Alex Berenson - Stuck in the mud on this one because I just didn't feel like it. Normalize not finishing books because you don't feel like it. It took me a long time to get there but I'm there and it is like book utopia all the time. Kidnapping stories are not my favorite. 

Linkup Guidelines:
This link up is the second Tuesday of every month. The next linkup is Tuesday, November 9, 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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 11, 2021

TWTW - settling into October

Friday Work was brisk. Carol and my Dad came back to the shore, and Carol made salmon and pasta for dinner. I took Bruce and Ben down to the beach and it was a beauty of a night. Came back and painted my nails, read, and relaxed. 

Saturday The return of the Fall Block Party, although not the full return of how we typically do the Block Party. The girls will be back for the weekend next year. I got to do it with first timers this year which always increases my appreciation for something I already enjoy - Dad and Carol and MFD. Dad and Carol will come back for the day next year but MFD probably is not invited back since he kept calling me for $1 and $3 and talking to everyone and making dad jokes. LOLOL They all loved the coveted grilled pretzels on our corner though so I'm happy I didn't overhype them. Weather was great, porch watching of the hubbub before and after was great, food was great. I was so happy for all the vendors, many of whom sold out of stuff after a 1+ years of no Block Party due to Covid. I was also happy to see Melissa and Stephanie and More Stephanie as they came through. It was a good day Can't wait to be back in full force next year! I also had to call the cops on the cops as a fleet vehicle was blocking the street and not picked up two hours after the street was open. We think they did not believe me when I made the call but they arrived within five and moved it swiftly.
I freaking forgot Ben's fourth birthday until like freaking 6 pm. MFD was thankfully still there and hoofed it over to Wawa for birthday cheeseburger, eggs, and chopped beef since we celebrate Mae's birthday with Ben's. Total fail as people who celebrate dog birthdays but the rally was strong. MFD took Gus and Billy home and I finished a book and started another before bed. 
Sunday Easy like Sunday morning as miraculously these dogs slept until 8. Mostly because Gus the 6 am dog was not there. I read, cleaned up, cleaned out the fridge, had a bagel, exchanged water jugs at ACME, returned books and picked up a hold from the library, filled my car up with gas, sorted through some towels, made wings in the air fryer (if you haven't, try Black-woman owned Chef Curl Ardee mild seasoning and lemon herb seasoning), put out some football food, placed my orders of what I need for the week, and read and did some blogging while Dad & Carol watched the Eagles game. I mean while I watched the Eagles game.
I made change your life chicken for dinner and missed my window to hit the beach with the dogs. I can do drizzle or coming dark but not both simultaneously. We were in bed by 9 and I was up until midnight finishing a book. 

Happy Indigenous People's Day! No, I am not off for this, have never been off for the artist formerly known as Columbus Day since I graduated college, and in general work every bank holiday as those who don't get them off call them. 

The 7th Anniversary of Show Us Your Books is tomorrow - see you here for that! There will be prizes. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Thursday Thoughts - we skipped the light fandango turned cartwheels 'cross the floor

1. After work beach walks are back, usually just me and the best friend dogs since they are allowed on the people beaches again, but sometimes MFD and Mae. This is what I’m here for in the off season-the peace that is at the end of the street at the end of the day, before the work day starts, or in the middle of it (if I'm not taking a lunch shower which is one of my favorite WFH things to do). 

2. There’s something extra special about being the only or one of a few people on a beach or in any place really that is usually packed to the gills. Summer at the shore makes it easier to own this house because summer comes with vacationers who rent it. The off season is my favorite. You know how some parts of your life feel truer than other parts? Like when you're living them, you're like THIS is my life, THIS is who I am and where I should be? That is the off season here for me. I'm grateful to be here. 

3. If you are these in HomeGoods or the HomeGoods section of Marshalls or TJX, I highly recommend this particular brand because of the way the lids stay on. I store cat food and dog and cat treats in them.

4. I was off Monday, and I want to recognize that on Tuesday morning I held my boundary and read in the morning as I normally do instead of getting up and turning my computer on to "make up" for missing a day. It's paid time off there is no need to make up anything regardless of deadline. 

5. My work station has been moved up into the main house at the shore. I’m into it. Since the bench that's usually where the desk now is is up against the wall the dogs like to sit on it and look at my work like micromanagers.

6. I’m back with the Owens family this week, who I love to distraction. If you have not read any Alice Hoffman books, do not go into them thinking you are going to see Practical Magic the movie laid out for you in book form. Her Owens novels meander and cut. The 7th anniversary of Show Us Your Books is Tuesday. There will be prizes. 

7. I made dinner Friday, yesterday, and I’m planning to make it again tomorrow. I know! Look at me go. They were all related to chicken thighs but it's fine. Tuesday I ate a fun plate because I was pissed about having to continue to think of dinner. You know how it is I’m sure. I'm also upping my anti-inflammatory foods. Thanks perimenopause!

9. Reminder - life is what's happening not on an app. Social media is great for many things, as long as you always know what you see on apps are splinters of life. 

10. Ecards
Have a good one!

What appears beyond the hyphen in Thursday Thoughts titles is what I'm listening to when I'm starting this - this week is A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum . I'm on a Big Chill soundtrack kick

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

TWTW - the one with the birthday

Friday I eased into the day with some fall nail painting, worked, made krauty chicken for dinner, and took the dogs back to their beach for the first time since April 30. Dog on people beach season again. Aubrey and the kids arrived around dinner and my brother later and MFD after him. 

Saturday Happy sixth birthday to my niece! I had the best friends on the beach at sunrise and came back to a fully decorated house. Aubrey killed it. My brother got the requested donuts and we all hit the beach. Lunch for adults from The Farm Stand at 14th. We biked down to Wonderland and saw some tremendous surf along the way due to Sam churning off-shore. Rides were ridden, and I did the swings which I will not be doing again. Vom. Aubrey made delicious pot pies and salad, we had cake and did a pinata and watched the new Addams family movie. I was dead ass asleep by 8:37. It was great to spend the day doing Lola's chosen things for Lola's day.

Sunday I made mimi's breakfast muffins (excuse the icon, I was not remaking the collage) and my Dad and Aubrey made eggs and pork roll and bacon. It was another stellar beach day. Angelo's pizza for lunch. Mae even made it down for the end and Lola walked her all the way back. Leftovers and porch time before Stephen, Aubrey, and the kids took off. 
Monday I was off to come down from my five month project and had no agenda and it was glorious. Porch and reading and walking the South End with Carol and the best friend dogs, then a trip to the Marshalls and Aldi in Rio Grande with Dad and Carol and clearing the fridge dinner while MFD did his driveway pedicure. Hashtag shitmfddoes

Happy happy birthday to Aunt Carrie today! She is the best. 

Here we are at Tuesday and mine is jammed since I was off yesterday. Have a good one!

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