Staying Abroad: Handy tips for a successful European Airbnb adventure

Check out my article (pg 168) in USA Today Go Escape, Summer 2019: “Staying Abroad: Handy tips for a successful European Airbnb adventure.” Airbnb Gannett | USA TODAY NETWORK #travel #travelwriting #Europe #holiday #vacationtips

The Girlfriend’s Guide To Threading

I first encountered threading while living in the Middle East for a few months. Middle Eastern women vastly prefer the art of threading, an ancient method of hair removal, over waxing. Why? By using two pieces of 100 percent cotton thread to whisk away hair, threading is natural. Yaaass, bring on the applause! No chemicals. No strong cocktail of potentially irritable ingredients. Nope, just a spool of thread. Gliding quickly over the skin’s surface, the intertwined strands of thread instantly remove hairs from the root of the follicle, so regrowth is slow, meaning threading lasts longer. Fewer appointments = more $ and time for other things — like sipping latte with your girlfriend, girlfriends.

Hmm. Not bad.

And? My brows were gorgeous, shaped to perfection. Threading allows for greater precision than waxing because the threading tech can create the perfect brow-shape for your face by swiping away one hair here or a short row there.

Read in full on AARP, The Girlfriend.

The Girlfriend’s Guide To Essential Oils

Essential oils have won me over because they stand ready to meet today’s smelly challenges, and more.

So, how do I love thee, essential oils? Let me elaborate here:

1. Last time I opened my washing machine I nearly fell over backward after inhaling rank mold and mildew. It was disgusting. I bet I’m not the only one with a smelly washing machine,no? To banish the stench, I recommend following this formula, which includes 20 drops of any antifungal essential oil. Antifungal oils include: citronella, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, lemongrass, orange, palmarosa, patchouli, peppermint and tea tree.

2. Shoe deodorizer fueled by the power of natural essential oils? Yassss, please! Try Poo-Pourri’s spray, Shoe-Pourri. It deploys cedarwood, eucalyptus and grapefruit to extinguish shoe odors and earns a solid five-star rating from over a hundred customers. You also might want to try Natural Shoe Deodorizer Spray, which seeks to eliminate odors with antibacterial and antifungal oils.

Read in full on AARP The Girlfriend.

What Happened When I Touched Base With My Oldest Friends

On the heels of hearing a string of bad news about friends of friends losing loved ones or reeling with a sudden cancer diagnosis, I sent a flurry of love-ya-friend texts to my band of merry girlfriends around the country ranging in age from 40 to 70-something. Moving numerous times throughout 27 years of marriage has helped me understand the value of true friendship and learn to fiercely protect and nurture these friends. My girlfriends have faithfully supported me over time, first hanging out in the same town and eventually separated by hundreds of miles. My text reads something like this:

“Hey, dear friend. Just blasting into your world to remind you how deeply I value our friendship! I’ve always appreciated and relied on your counsel and words offering direction, encouragement over the years. Thank you for being in my life.”

Read in full at AARP, The Girlfriend.

Are You Cold All Cold All The Time? You may want to get your thyroid checked.

Parked in front of the school a few years ago to watch for kids blasting out of the building, I jumped out of my Jeep Wrangler to chat with my girlfriend Carmen, who also was waiting for her 8th grader. I was cautiously dressed to combat the crisp fall weather. Why take any chances? Shivering with cold is no fun.

So I’d dutifully donned my signature fuchsia scarf and swaddled it securely around my neck. My puffer coat reached to the top of my knees. Really. Sensible. And my furry beanie? It’s warm and cute — nailed it: a win-win.

I gave Carmen a quick hug, and she asked what was up with all my winter gear. It was then I realized Carmen wasn’t wearing much — I mean, a fleece vest?

“I’m the classic cold-girl-type,” I automatically chirped. Maybe, maybe not, Carmen challenged without missing a beat, as only the best of friends will do.

Read in full at AARP, The Girlfriend.

What Does a Yellow Ribbon on a Dog Mean?

While out on a walk, you observe a dog retreat behind his owner with a growl when approached by another dog. Eventually, a scuffle erupts—and thankfully, the owners are able to pull the dogs away without serious incident.

In an ideal scenario, a nervous dog who needs space will not be approached at all until he’s ready to be social, says Tara Palardy, founder of The Yellow Dog Project.

Read in full on PetMD.

Help! Friend Needed Immediately! I adore my dog, but I need a real bestie.

While out of town visiting friends, we went around the dinner table and shared our goals and hopes for the rest of the year. Foolishly, I took the exercise to heart. There was an awkward pause after I blurted, “I’d like to make a friend — just one friend!”

The others’ comments didn’t disclose anything, so mine really stuck out. How I wish I’d come up with something bland like, “Finally moving forward on our kitchen remodeling project. Yay for us!” Since I couldn’t retract my statement, my honest words just hung there eliciting lots of sympathetic aahs amid pats on the back. Blech. I’d been honest, and it was awkward, but even more, I realized just how much this desire for a friend was bugging me since I couldn’t stop my words from rolling out.

Read in full on AARP, The Girlfriend.

The Top Winter Foot Problems And What To Do About Them

“Every winter I sigh when I send my cute summer feet underground into socks and boots for the season. There they go, buh-bye, all sun-kissed and wonderfully moisturized, flaunting a sassy pedicure. Perpetually covered, they will not see the light of day all winter. Let’s be honest, when spring comes my feet are not ready for public consumption. Oh no, they are pasty white and wrinkly from being cooped up in winter boots. You’ve heard — if not seen — what a broken arm looks like after it’s healed and emancipated from its plaster cast, right? Pale. Yep. Wrinkly. Yep. A bit unsightly. Yep.”

Read in full on AARP, The Girlfriend.

Loving fully in an unfair world

Today, a bird slowly died in front of my children. The impact against our sliding glass doors was deafening. Housebound by a winter storm, the kids and I quickly abandoned our hot chocolate in our rush to discover that a bright crimson cardinal had struck the glass. It now lay helpless in the snow.  

Be honest and don’t construct a cover-up. What’s been seen can’t be unseen: I watched, helpless to intervene or make my kids unsee this tragedy. The suffering we were witnessing elicited, “Mom, let’s help it!” “Should we bring it inside and nurse it?” “What do we do?” “Poor bird.” Our 12-year-old’s large eyes were brimming with tears. Her younger brother couldn’t look away. I wanted as badly as my kids to watch this bird miraculously fly away. But the cardinal grew still and we, silent, mourning the loss of an innocent bird.  

Show sensitivity and respect for their particular attachments: Unlike adults, children fall in love fearlessly, without baggage. Maybe it’s toys as much or more than the people surrounding them they cherish. In the case of my children, it was their stuffed animals—each complete with name and personality.  

As enjoyable as it was for me to witness the creative powers at work in my children’s play, I knew that the depth of attachment would create a storm of trouble if any of these animal kingdom favourites were lost. After all, these were real as flesh and blood friends in my children’s world. On many occasions, we did come close to losing a stuffed friend. At the grocery store, in the airplane, on the sidewalk, silently fallen out of the stroller.   

In every instance, the look of shock and pain in the affected child’s eyes was a small step into the brutal world, where fierce affection is often accompanied by sorrow, a pain equal to the love.  

Read in full on City Parent Toronto Magazine.

Holiday Parties: Getting Your Kids Involved

Holidays guarantee entertaining, in one form or another. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the chaos of hosting, cutting dramatically into family time during a season which should be above all, family-centric.

I countered this once by asking our son and daughter to be servers at a small dinner party we hosted. To my surprise, they took on the task with creative fanfare, devising a plan to emerge dressed “alike.” Our petite daughter stuffed herself into her younger brother’s khakis and plaid shirt, and with a mustache drawn on her face, appeared side-by-side with her khaki, plaid-shirted and mustached brother to greet guests, take drink orders, hand out water glasses and clear appetizer plates as needed. They called themselves “Bob and Bob” and ended up stealing the show. They enjoyed their popularity, and my husband and I appreciated their helpfulness, since we were stretched with finishing the meal and welcoming our guests.

This positive experience reinforced my commitment to invite the kids into the process of planning and executing a dinner party so they participate in a meaningful way.

Read in full at Washington FAMILY.