Category Archives: ideas

Tidying Up

What does one watch after they blow through Mrs. Maisel, Season 2? Well, if you’re feeling inspired by the start of a new year, or as if your life is somewhat out of control, you can’t go wrong with the Netflix series Tidying Up.  It’s the perfect antidote to an overly consumptive holiday season and promises to provide a pathway to a more simple and satisfying home life. Interested? I’ll tell you more…

Marie Kondo, “world-renowned tidying expert,” has developed a process which she calls the Konmari method for eliminating clutter and home organization and I’m hooked. She divides what can be a daunting task into 5 distinct areas of clutter to address – Clothes, Books, Papers, Komomo (a catchall of kitchen, bathroom and garage miscellanea) and Sentimental. I don’t know about you, but the first and last of these categories are the ones that really can hang me up – especially when we’re talking about items which straddle both of those groups, like articles of clothing I no longer wear, but which retain a strong sentimental value. I could do a series of blogposts on that topic, believe me.

Here’s how she suggests dealing with your specific clutter:

1. Commit.
2. Imagine the ideal life you wish to live.
3. Discard first.
4. Tidy by category.
5. Follow the order above.
6. Ask yourself “Does it spark joy?”*

I’m three episodes in and witnessing three different families apply these rules to their individual situations has been really interesting. Each family has their own personal accumulation of possessions with which to deal, but the Konmari method adapts to address their unique circumstances and helps to create a more peaceful home environment. Who doesn’t want that?

While a lot of the focus is on ridding yourself of physical items, based upon the emotional prompt of “does it spark joy?,” it isn’t just about tossing things in the trash. Marie is a creative user of containers, boxes and folding techniques to manage what one retains and I can’t wait to explore how my home might benefit from her wisdom. Even though I get a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach at the thought of discarding stuff I’ve owned for perhaps decades, I’m even more excited by the possibility of simplifying my life.

I can’t wait to create my own personal mountain of clothing to sort into piles to be folded or to be kissed goodbye. Looks like my February break is going to be spent with Marie Kondo. It may not be quite going to Japan, but if things go well I’ll treat myself to a sushi feast when I’m finished, with sake.

*copied from housebeautiful.com.

1 Comment

Filed under house, ideas, Observations, Recommendations, television

Resolving to find grace

A new year is probably the ultimate holiday gift, don’t you think? Receiving the chance to try again to get things right, to attempt something new, to do something better, is a luxury not everyone gets and while I’m not a devotee of the typical new year’s resolution, I do get a little jazzed by a clean slate on which to write a fresh chapter.

I’ve decided that my task for 2019 is to work on accepting what others give me with grace. Whether it’s a physical gift, a kind word, or an opportunity to experience something, I want to be able to receive and accept it with openness. That may sound simple to you, but it isn’t always easy for a person who is accustomed to meeting their own needs and prides themself on being fiercely independent.

This grace to which I aspire is something I probably should have begun working on long ago – like that time a friend’s family took me to Florida with them for vacation and I attempted to pay for my meal* at a rest area on the Jersey Turnpike. My friend’s father spoke to me quietly, with kindness in his voice, and told me they had invited me with the expectation that they would be paying my way, unheard of (and unimaginable) in my world. Just like seeing Florida for the first time, his generosity will be something I’ll never forget.

On New Year’s Eve I had my first chance to start practicing being graceful. I was presented with a thoughtful and unexpected gift, a gift that I might have been inclined to resist because it was generous and felt like too much after having been hosted as a houseguest for nearly a week. Instead of immediately declining though, I paused, took a breath and accepted my present with a sincere thank you. I love the gift and will use it frequently and I know that my thoughtful and dear friend was happy giving it to me.

How about you? Is there something you’re hoping to find or create in your own life this year?

*I had $50, given to me by my brother, for a 10 day vacation. I was poor – and clueless.

1 Comment

Filed under aging, beauty, favorites, friends, holidays, ideas, love, musings, Observations, Uncategorized

Joshua Tree and the miracle of hot springs

When I travel I refuse to overbook myself or make too many specific plans, preferring to be flexible because it’s vacation and having a rigid schedule sort of contradicts that concept for me. Prior to departing from home, I familiarize myself with some of the offerings and attractions available at my destination and try to determine what might need to be booked in advance. It sucks when there’s something you might want to experience when you’re visiting a new (or favorite) place only to learn that reservations needed to be made ahead of time – think the statue of David in Florence or the Washington Memorial in D.C.

Beyond those sort of points of interest, I’m all about getting a feel for a place, figuring out what can be accomplished without sacrificing my vacation vibe and seeing how the local weather influences which activities can be enjoyed. On this trip, my focus has been spending time with a dear friend, but I did have a couple of items on my hope-to-do list. On Friday I knocked two of them off.

I began with Joshua Tree National Park, a place I’ve never been before. As a person who considers U2’s 1987 album an absolute desert island record, checking out JTNP has long interested me. Unfortunately, the current government shutdown, along with a fierce and cold wind, made for a less than ideal visit. There weren’t any guided tours or services available and I was hesitant to hike any distance solo, so my explorations were limited to a short walk and some clambering up rock piles to access the best views – and what views there were! Every direction beckoned and I had to remind myself to not allow the vistas to tempt me into going further into the park (and away from where I had parked) in an attempt to see what might be visible from a different angle. 

The wind was numbing and my hands were stiff from the cold, but the hour or so I spent looking around, climbing and shooting photos provided an introduction to a fantastic national resource that I hope to visit again under better conditions. With teeth nearly chattering, I made for my car and a destination that promised to warm me up – Miracle Springs Resort & Spa in Desert Hot Springs. I needed to soak.

It wasn’t easy to find a spot that offered mineral baths with a day use option, but the established Miracle Springs met my requirements of convenient location, multiple outdoor pool options and not expensive since I only planned to indulge myself for an hour or two. This place checked all the boxes and the $14 daily use fee was just what I was looking to spend. If you’re hoping for fancy this may not be the resort for you, but, if you’re satisfied with hot, bubbling water, sunshine on your face and a view of the mountains, perhaps you’ll be content. I was. Bonus if you, like me, enjoy a dry sauna because there are even a couple of those available. Not luxurious, but more than serviceable and a great way to warm up on a cool, high desert day.

Stretched & soaked

Leave a comment

Filed under beauty, California, Exercise, Hiking, ideas, Recommendations, road trips, travel, vacation, winter

Going back to Cali

The running here is magical. I’ve been known to take a run, drive back “home,” hear a good song and take a second run. True story.

Do I look like a desert girl to you? I said desert, not dessert, folks… As a fair skinned, half Irish person, I never imagined that I would be so captivated by the desert, specifically Palm Springs, but I absolutely love it there. There’s something about the dry heat, spectacular mountains and clear, cool nights that keeps me coming back for more and I’m excited to be visiting a close friend who lives there soon.

 

Have you been there? It truly is a desert oasis – gorgeous homes, beautiful people and a climate that during the winter and spring months offers fantastic running in the hills surrounding the city. Palm Springs is the place where I ate my first Mexican food and drank my first margarita, which obviously makes it forever special. I’ve also taken the aerial tramway to the top of the San Jacintos for a “hike,” spent a significant amount of time hanging out poolside, and, way back in the day, went as close to clubbing as I’ve ever been. It’s a fun, cool town and I’m looking forward to getting back there this winter.

 

Now, here’s where you come in – beyond the experiences I’ve already enjoyed in PS, what should I do when I’m there? I’ve been drawn to a mid-century modern aesthetic in recent years and am thinking that an architectural house tour might be fun. Have you ever done that there? The last time I was in Palm Springs I found a nice little hot yoga studio that I may hit up again, but maybe you have a recommendation for a place for a challenging class or two, preferably not Bikram? There seem to be hot springs in the area and I would love to soak outdoors in some hot and bubbly water. Suggestions? And, lastly, maybe you’ve been to the surrounding area? What else should I try to see when I’m there?

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under beauty, California, Exercise, favorites, friends, Hiking, ideas, Recommendations, running, Uncategorized, winter, yoga

Wrapping up Rent the Runway

You know that credit game? The one when you transfer an outstanding balance on a credit card to a new bank which promises zero percent interest for a limited amount of time, which gives you enough time to pay off your debt at a minimal expense? Well, back in the day, I was a champ at that game. My recent experience with Rent the Runway provided me with a similar sense of totallygettingoverontheman accomplishment.

To recap, I purchased a one month unlimited subscription which provided me with 4 garments at a time with an unlimited number of swaps for new items. There was no charge for shipping, cleaning or insurance. All this came for a special offer price of $106, a great discount from the usual $159+ tax charge.


Here’s how I maximized my rentals:

 I purchased and activated the subscription exactly one month minus a day ahead of the big event I planned to attend in a rented gown. This meant the last day of my subscription, aka the day everything needed to be shipped back, was the day after my event.
 My first couple of shipments included gowns that I was considering for the gala. The dress I ultimately selected arrived in my very first shipment and hung on the back of my bedroom door for the entire month – great incentive for running that extra mile and declining a third cookie. Although this decision meant I really only had 3 slots in rotation, I was too worried that I’d somehow “lose” the dress if I sent it back and tried to have it reshipped closer to my date.
 My absolute favorite item was the gorgeous, purple motorcycle jacket which arrived brand new with tags on. I wore the hell out of it for a week and felt like a rockstar each time I put it on.
 I made a point of choosing garments that are beyond my budget. Why waste time with a dress that retails for $150* when you can wear one that would set you back $500 or $600? 


I’ve placed my membership on “hold” rather than cancelling it, which gives me the option of simply restarting my subscription. This courtesy is available for 3 months at which point I’ll need to either restart or cancel. I’ll see what kind of deals I’m offered in the next 10 or 12 weeks and will consider reactivating if the price is right and my social life demands an infusion of new outfits.


Overall verdict – awesome. If you’re interested in giving it a whirl, leave a comment and I’ll try to share a code that will give you $30 off your rental.

*even $150 is more than I’ve ever spent on a garment other than a leather coat.

Leave a comment

Filed under Events, Fashion, favorites, ideas, Observations, Recommendations

Revisiting Rent the Runway

I’ve got about a week left of my Unlimited Membership and honestly, if the cost of my initial month ($106) was the regular price, I’d be re-upping in a heartbeat and continuing the service. With one little hiccup aside, more a shipping issue than any fault of RtR, I’ve loved the experience.

I’ve had 10 items delivered (including three formal gowns, all options for an early December event) and have worn, or will wear, 8 of them. One of the two gowns which were part of my initial shipment is exactly what I wanted for the upcoming gala, so I’ve held onto it for the entire duration of my subscription. not wanting to risk it not being available closer to my date. That left me with three open spots to rotate garments through, a fun challenge that I really enjoyed.

The quality of the clothing has been high with everything arriving on hangars, in plastic. One dress had some very minor “pulls” in the fabric, but beyond that, everything has been pristine. I’ve made a point of selecting garments which are beyond my typical budget for clothing, i.e. designer dresses which retail for $500-$700, gowns that top out north of the $1000 mark, a real indulgence which I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to experience. That being said, I’ve been a bit surprised by the manufacturing standards of what I consider to be very expensive items – a Jason Wu dress with a hem that isn’t turned of truly finished. They just don’t make things like they used to…

When I reflect on what I’ve borrowed, it’s apparent I have a real fondness for easy sweater or knit dresses in eye-catching patterns – the kind of stuff that is strikingly vivid, yet quickly repetitive. Exactly what I want in a garment that I’m only going to wear two or three times. The shipment that I’m expecting tomorrow includes a really high end leather jacket in a beautiful raisin color. I could never justify buying a $1200 motorcycle jacket, but I will be wearing this one as frequently as possible before my subscription ends. Look for me in it!

3 Comments

Filed under Fashion, favorites, ideas, Recommendations, Uncategorized

Down by the river

88CFEC58-3838-493B-8057-D7F2259DB34E

Salzburg’s riverfront

When I was traveling recently I was really impressed with the integration between city and river that I experienced in Salzburg and Prague. In both places the river was the center of the city rather than a divider and it felt very natural to make your way to the shore for walks, dining, shopping and art. So civilized.

We arrived back in Albany to a week of wet, humid weather. It’s been difficult to motivate myself to be active, but Jeter has gotten a couple of good walks and I remembered how much I enjoy running down by the river when the temperature is high. I’ve gone down to the Corning Trail twice the week and had really good runs, even with the humidity level through the proverbial roof, there’s always a breeze to be caught along the Hudson.

I couldn’t help but compare our Albany riverfront to the ones I really appreciated in Europe. People, we’re falling short…

9C02F77A-3171-47A6-9227-083D20D18BD5

Prague’s Charles Bridge

In Salzburg, the river has a terrific running and walking trail, just like we do, but they also had a cool, independent market. It was a series of stalls and trucks offering unique items (most handcrafted), food, wine and coffee, fabrics and jewelry.  We could totally do something like that in Albany. In Prague the UNESCO site, the Charles Bridge, has vendors along its sides selling souvenirs, and art and there are musicians performing. Our Walkway could definitely host similar activities.

I’ve run down by the river for more than 25 years and I can tell you it is greatly improved in ways that the average person might not notice. On Friday, before I ran I had to use the portapotty and I prepared myself with a deep inhale of fresh air prior to opening that plastic door. It was unnecessary – the portapotty was remarkably clean. That’s new.

We’ve had some heavy rains and in previous years, the smell of the river after a storm that turned the water brown, would be downright offensive. There was a metallic, chemical odor that reliably accompanied the higher water levels, particularly, as you might imagine, across the river from the water treatment plant. The past couple of days? No odor at all. That’s better.

2F9CD8A2-567F-43A0-802B-8903FA64E226

Yesterday at the Corning Preserve

The wildlife down by the Hudson would have to be our greatest advantage over the much older, and better evolved, cities that I recently visited. I’ve had snake, bunny, woodchuck/beaver/mole thing, and deer sightings this year alone. Often they’re not really afraid of me and continue to nibble on the grass or stand at attention watching as I run by. It’s cool.

I spend a lot of my disposable income taking trips. It’s kind of a joke among people who know me. I’m sure I should be more conservative with my money and pour more of it into my house or my retirement, but traveling and seeing new things, even when they’re really old, is such a great investment. Seeing how other people do things is inspiring. 

What have you observed during your travels that you’d love to see replicated in your area?

Leave a comment

Filed under Albany, Austria, beauty, biking, Czech Republic, Exercise, favorites, ideas, Local, musings, Observations, Summer, travel, vacation