Archive for the ‘Out and About’ Category

Well, I’m sure the hot topic these past few days has been New Year’s Resolutions. How many of us have tried to make resolutions like lose a million lbs and wake up 2 hours early and blah blah blah.  Well, I was going to write this post about the statistics around New Year’s Resolutions and tips for making positive changes in the new year, but instead, I am going to post about one thing I want to emphasize in my life this year:

Taking more time to do what I want to do 

Taking more time to do what you want to do is really important.  My cousin, Gerard (photo below), and I had a big discussion about that this past week.  He firmly believes in allowing yourself a minimum of 1 hour per day to take time for YOU.  During that hour, you can do whatever you want to do as long as it is something that you truly want to do. Well, in this discussion, I realized that I don’t even come close to 7 hours a week just doing what I want to do.  Then it’s always cramming stuff in that I want to do when I can squeeze out some time in my life.  And, because I try to cram everything in during a short window of time, I wind up getting more stressed or exhausted.

As a freelancer, it’s really hard to find time to do things for me.  I can’t say “no” to gigs because I worry that I won’t make enough money or I won’t make the connection that I need for a breakthrough.  But really, after three years in the same city, I know deep down, what gigs I can pass up.   Now I just need to gain the courage to say NO to allow me time to do the things I value most.

The tip: Take time for yourself!  Aim for at least one hour per day!

Things I am hoping to make more time for: Crafting, photography, attending choir practice, cooking, relaxing, exercising, reading, spending time with family, spending time with friends, coursework.

This is going to be a good year.

BELOW: Photos of my cousins ringing in the new year with me!

Cousins on NEw YEars

My Cousins and Boyfriend celebrating New Year's Day. From left to right: Gerard (check out his band here), Katie, Erin, Christine, Jenny, and Dave

"The Train will be delayed due to ongoing signal work" That is what we heard as we sat on the Subway on New Year's Day 2012, waiting for it to take us to the Mummer's Parade! From left to right: Katie, Gerard, Erin, Jenny.

Gerard and Erin riding the Subway New Year's Day 2012

Gerard and Erin riding another subway on the way to the Mummer's Parade. Don't they look like they should be famous!?

Jenny blowing her horn on new Year's 2011-2012

Jenny blowing her horn on new Year's 2011-2012. Jenny is super creative and made the hat she is wearing. Notice the crazy neighbors on my block setting off GIGANTIC fireworks!? A few of them almost hit us.

Photo of the cousins on New Year's Eve 2011-2012

The photo we took in a mirror at my house. The goal was to send the parents a pic of all of us. From left to right: Jenny, Dave, Christine, Me, Gerard, Katie, Erin. Happy New Year!

I wish each of you a Happy New Year complete with time for YOU!


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Alright.  This is the holiday season folks.  It’s notoriously the season of giving.  So, why,  is it also notoriously the season of headache shopping?

Yesterday I was trying to return a gift I bought someone at the mall near my job. After talking with them, and finding a WAAAAYYYYY better gift for them, I realized it should be returned.  The parking lot was a madhouse!  And I went early in the day!  Anyway, as per usual as I was walking to my car I realized I had no clue where I parked.  And to make matters worse, it was raining.  As I walked through the parking lot, a car honked at me angrily as if to say “how dare you try to walk around in the rain and try to find your car!” I was angry and I thought of yelling nasty things at them.  But I didn’t.  Or maybe I did, but under my breath. Then, as I was pulling my finally-found car out of its parking space, I saw the girl who had honked at me crossing the parking lot just like I had done a few minutes prior. I thought about delaying her in the rain by quickly pulling my car out of the parking spot so she couldn’t cross behind.    And then I remembered why I was at the store in the first place.  I was there because I wanted to get the perfect gift for each person on my list.  I was inhabited by that spirit of giving.  And, reluctantly, I decided I would forgive and forget and really make an effort to wholly embody that spirit of giving and give the 2 seconds of my time it would take for that girl to cross behind my car.  Afterall, it shouldn’t just be about giving material things, but also giving of one’s self.  And that is something the masses seem to forget.  If the crazy holiday shoppers could remember that in the first place, shopping for those items on your list would definitely  be much more pleasant experience.


Side note: Forgetting where I park is no new thing to me. and on that note, let me just tell you, I did the same thing when I bought this gift. This gift happened to be really heavy-  a cast iron panini pan with a lid.  And of course, I had forgotten where I parked.  But this was the worst kind of forgetting.  In fact, it’s a split level Target inside a mall and I parked on the wrong level!  So, afraid of being accused of shoplifting, I didn’t want to take the shortcut through the store, so I lugged the cast iron pan and the million other gifts I had bundled up all around the parking lot, up the hill until I finally found my car.  I had no choice but to find the pathetic humor in that situation.  Even so, I vowed to remember where I parked from now on…though I hear there’s an ap for that….

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Today I am finally posting again!  Sheesh! And, it is the inaugural voyage of Photo Friday!  Hooray!  I was inspired by BrightHaven Days’s Wordless Wednesdays.  Check out BrightHaven Day’s blog!

So, here it is..

This photo is a picture taken from the bottom of the new Race Street Pier looking up at the Ben Franklin Bridge at sunset.  I took it right before the city’s official unveiling of the Race St. improvements.

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Let me just say right up front that I really don’t have a lot of time to write a post today.  So, I apologize in advance for the sloppy nature of this post!!! And, in the interest of time, I am going to cut right to the chase. Today’s tip is to do a good deed.  It was inspired by the BBC program I was listening to on NPR this morning that featured London’s Guerilla Gardener.

Aside from just being a good thing to do, there are many health benefits of being altruistic and unfortunately today is so booked solid that I am going to spare you the details and give you some links to read about the benefits yourself. Check out http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/emotional/science-good-deeds-1105  for more info on the scientific benefits of good deeds.

Anyway, the program this morning was covering the riots and looting in London.  They interviewed the Guerilla Gardner,  and the things he said just really made me happy and inspire me to do more good for the world.   As Guerilla Gardener, Richard Reynolds makes it his mission to give London’s sidewalks and empty lots a facelift and goes around planting beautiful plants around town. You can check out his mission at his website http://www.guerrillagardening.org.  He’s also on Twitter @Richard_001.  How does he relate to the London Riots?  Well, he rounded up a bunch of people to go to the site of the riots and help clean up the damage that was done.  He felt that it was close to home and he doesn’t want this negativity to linger.  To hear his first hand account go to BBC World Service and listen to Chapter 8 of today’s News Hour.  It can also be found here:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00j8sxb#p00jpws2

In addition to his awesome help restoring London, his Guerilla Gardening program sounds AWESOME.  Does anyone know of any programs like this in Philadelphia?  Heaven knows we could definitely use a Guerilla Gardener sprucing up Philly!

Well, let’s keep the unrest in London in our thoughts and prayers!  Thanks, Richard, for being the type of citizen we all should be!

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It’s finally starting to look and feel like spring again!  The return of sunshine and warm weather really gets everyone out and about.  You see neighbors walking up and down the street that you didn’t know exist, flowers bloom, windows start to open, and, one of my favorites, the ice cream truck starts making its rounds again!  I know I couldn’t wait to get outside and work in my garden, which, thanks to family and friends has gone from this

Back yard


The state of the garden when we moved in

Overgrown and dying Garden

to this work in progress

May 2011 Garden seating

Can't wait till these seats are filled with friends!

Early May Garden

This is what my garden looks like right now!

While the spring and summer seasons begin to settle in, there is someone else who is ALSO starting to settle in.  That is our not-so-friendly visitor, the mosquito.  I think everyone will agree that mosquitos are irritating–literally!  And so, in an attempt to beat the biting bug blues, I thought today’s tip would focus on how to naturally repel them.  I certainly don’t want my friends being subject to numerous bites while we are out back this weekend.  So, I did a little research on what can help keep those nasty pests away. The number one thing I learned is that there are many species of mosquitos so the best way to limit your chances of a mosquito encounter is to have a variety of repellents and other anti-mosquito solutions.  I am going to list two ideas here for today’s tip!

Idea 1: Home made natural mosquito repellent

This recipe was taken from  http://chemistry.about.com/od/healthbeautyprojects/a/naturalmosquitorepellent.htm  the article that linked me to this recipe warns that just because it is natural doesn’t mean it’s harm-proof. Please use caution and common sense when making anything!

To make your own simply mix 1-2 drops of an essential oil for every two tablespoons of carrier oil/alcohol.  (that’s 5-10% essential oil or 1 part essential oil to every 10-20 parts carrier oil/alcohol)

Suggested Essential Oils :cinnamon oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, citronella oil, castor oil

Suggested Carrier Oils/ Alcohols: olive oil, sunflower oil, other cooking oil, witch hazel, vodka

Note: you will need to reapply this every 1-2 hours or after swimming or sweating!

Idea 2: Home made mosquito Trap

Many of the sites I read described a mosquito trap using a 2 liter soda bottle.  This site, http://www.helium.com/items/1237914-how-to-build-a-homemade-mosquito-trap-repeling-mosquitoes  listed 2 different ways to make the trap.

Additional Tips:

Mosquitos are attracted to warmth, dark colors, carbon dioxide and monoxide, and dampness (they breed in standing water and are quite attracted to perspiration).  Knowing that information, you can better prevent yourself from mosquito-attracting.  Since they are attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide, they will be attracted to open flames…hence the citronella candle…

Obviously, one of the most commercialized ways of repelling mosquitos is with citronella candles. While researching this, I found that citronella grass is a great way to repel mosquitos and is grown commonly in Brazil but can also grow around the U.S..  Additionally, Rosemary, Catnip, and Marigolds will also repel mosquitos.

Alright, time to go get some marigolds to plant!

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Besides cooking and photographing, I have a passion for event design.  When I worked at the boarding school up in Maine, I designed all of our major events including a Medieval Feast, a Medieval Festival, a Casino night, a Penny Carnival and also several formal dinners for the entire student body and staff.  I just absolutely adore being able to plunge people into a certain mood, feeling, or theme by the detailed choices I make in what will surround them.  And, of course, as is my M.O. for everything I do, I enjoy being able to do it all for less than anyone ever imagined WITHOUT the quality suffering.

Now, ever since I was very little I have been attending the Allentown Fair on an almost-regular basis.  This year was no exception!

The Great Allentown Fair!

It’s always a lot of fun and this year I had added incentive.  Every so often, I pick up the Premiums Book (you know the one that lists all of the contests they will be having over the course of the Fair) and tell myself I am going to enter!  This year, when the Premiums book came in the mail, I told myself  the same thing as always, that I was going to enter a fair contest.  But this time I meant it.  For the first time since we moved to Allentown in 1988 (okay so I wouldn’t have really be able to enter for probably those first 5 or so years I lived there) I entered the Allentown Fair.  And the funny thing is, I don’t even LIVE in Allentown anymore.

But the point is, I finally entered.  I had planned on entering two pieces in the photography contest but due to a printing mishap, I missed the deadline.  I had also planned on entering the Table Setting Contest, which I entered. I was so excited for the Table Setting Contest!  And, on a last minute whim I also entered a part of a coin collection.

My Proposed Photography Entry for "Country Landscape in Color"

My Proposed Photography Entry for "Country Landscape Black and White"

Well, it must’ve been beginners luck because I placed first in both the place setting contest AND the coin collection.  And, to top it off I won best of show for my place setting!  I’m sorry, did you just hear that?  I WON BEST OF SHOW!! So crazy!  I was afraid I wouldn’t even place, because, well, you know those fair people–it’s in their blood. Their great great great grandmother’s great grandmother entered and the tradition keeps getting past down the generations. What chance did I– the newbie traveling from Philly– have at the Great Allentown Fair?

Anyway, for me the experience was superb!  I can’t wait to go back next year. Oh– and did I mention that if you enter a contest you also get 5 free admission tickets!  It’s a great deal!  You can enter as many things as you want for small entry fee of $10!  And there are CASH PRIZES for the winners (okay, so my grand total winnings was like $29– but that’s not the point!)

So, check out an upcoming post for more details on my place setting for the theme A Garden Wedding!

The Place Setting Entries 2010

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