Capital Region Living: December 2007 Archives
It’s amazing what a difference a year can make. At this time last year, the staff was told that the magazine had been sold. Naturally, we were anxious that there would be change. How much, if any, would there be?
Little did we know how positive 2007 would turn out to be. Doug Hahn, the new publisher, has made great strides in making CRL better than ever: new website, new server, donations to dozens of local charities and increased sponsorships with local non-profits and sports teams. Perhaps the most noticeable change was in the paper—we switched from newsprint to all glossy, which has brought rave reviews from advertisers and readers, and has even encouraged new advertisers who have been waiting for such an opportunity. In short, this past year has been one of tremendous growth for the magazine. And we certainly don’t plan on slowing down. After five years, we’re just getting started.
As with any New Year, everyone hopes for growth in some aspect of their lives, be it professional or personal.
For many engaged couples, the next year will be one of incredible change. Having recently planned a wedding, I can confidently predict that it will consume prospective brides. Having only had a 10-month engagement, things came very quickly for me. There is so much detail in planning your wedding, especially if you want to add touches that make your day stand out in people’s minds. For my own fall wedding, I opted to eschew the plain white place cards in favor of baby pumpkins (gourds) purchased from a local farm stand. I’m glad that I did: not only did they look pretty sitting on the table during cocktail hour, but they gave our guests a unique way of finding their seats –not to mention a little autumn memento to take home with them.
Of course, the choice of place settings is trivial in light of all the other things involved in planning a wedding. In this issue, we offer tips on everything from tipping to thank you note etiquette to choosing a venue. And in April, look out for CRL’s Bridal Directory, a more extensive publication on all things bridal.
Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy New Year and success in keeping your resolutions.
New options in local wedding spaces
By Lisa Light
There are many decisions that go into planning a wedding. However, the most important decision is choosing the perfect venue. Think of the venue as the stage, the setting where the ceremony and celebration will unfold. It will set the tone and the ambiance, whether it be elegant and sophisticated or fun and whimsical. This is why it is so important to first decide what kind of atmosphere you want your wedding day to exude. Do want an indoor or outdoor wedding? What do you want to look at when you say, “I do”? What do you want to hear and smell? What makes you feel happy? The answers to these questions should narrow down the search a little, which is a good thing, as there are so many possibilities in the greater Capital Region.
Here are three helpful tips to keep in mind when selecting a venue:
Keep an open mind: When visiting venues, take a chance on something that might not seem perfect in the pictures—you might be surprised at how it looks and feels once it is decorated. An empty or raw space is the perfect canvas for your own design ideas. It might be smarter to select a venue where less is more.
Know your budget: Having a budget from the start will help make your decisions that much easier, especially regarding the venue.
Be realistic: Being realistic and accepting the space you have to work with that fits within your budget is key. Make certain you think about all the options in terms of layout of the ceremony and the reception at one site versus holding them at separate locations.
The Capital Region and surrounding area has many distinctive venues. Many are tried and true and well-known by most, but there are few newcomers to the scene and other less-known gems that are worth a look.
Inn at Erlowest
This Queen Anne style stone castle is nestled in the mountainside along the majestic Lake George, providing a one-of-a-kind experience for you and your guests. The Grand Ballroom, with large picture windows provides a breathtaking view of the lake and mountains. The terrace is a perfect spot for guests to enjoy cocktail hour on a warm summer night or cozy up to the outdoor fireplace on a cool autumn evening. Accommodates 200 guests.
Saratoga National Golf Club
583.4653, ext. 635
This is a perfect venue for elegant weddings from 30 to 300. Located on the award- winning Saratoga National Golf Course, this venue provides guests quintessential Saratoga elegance with modern flare. An exciting, new, private event space is due to be available in May of 2008 complete with floor-to-ceiling windows and an open-air terrace which will allow guests spectacular views of the golf course.
Universal Preservation Hall
This truly magnificent building, formerly a church, is currently being renovated as a performing arts center offering 7,000 square feet of raw, yet elegant event space. This is a must-see for couples who are looking for a one-of-a-kind location as the Great Hall takes everyone’s breath away upon entering, even without design and decor. Accommodates 350 guests
The Chatham Fairgrounds
The Chatham Fairgrounds is hardly new to the neighborhood as its claim to fame is holding the oldest, continuous running fair in the state. There are four buildings on the fairgrounds that are newly available for special events including the stage and grandstand which would be quite dramatic, a small octagonal house, a pavilion and the recently renovated central Fair House which is complete with a wrap-around porch. This is a venue that offers a lovely, country atmosphere in a unique space that will surely make any wedding memorable. Accommodates 300 guests
Although Naumkeag has been around since 1886 and available for events for a long time, few people think of it when planning a wedding. It is, however, one of the most stunning venues in the entire area. It is one of the many acclaimed summer “cottages” in the Berkshires. In actuality it is a 44-room, shingle-style estate filled with original furniture, ceramics and artwork collected fromAmerica, Europe, and theFar Eastand surrounded by eight acres of terraced gardens and 40 acres of woodland and meadow. It is perfect for a couple who would like a garden wedding and reception in a place that feels as though it is yours for the day. It is managed by The Trustees of Reservations,the nation’s oldest statewide land trust and non-profit conservation organization, which manage 99 properties of scenic, cultural, recreational and ecological value around the state, several of which are historic homes that can be rented for special occasions.They are all listed on their website, www.thetrustees.org. Accommodates up to 120 under a tent in the gardens.
Whether you are looking for old-world charm, rustic elegance or modern chic, there is a venue that is right for you in the Capital Region. These are only a few to begin with. For more information on other venues talk to event planners, caterers, the local chambers, museums, schools, camps and visit online resources.
Lisa Light is a local wedding planner and author of Destination Bride: A Guide to Planning Your Wedding Anywhere in the World. For more information visit www.lisalightltd.com
How to keep the costs down
By Francesca Bruno
Generally speaking, your wedding will be one of the happiest and most memorable days of your life. But let’s get real—a wedding can cost an arm and leg. The average price of a wedding in the United States is approaching $30,000. Don’t want to spend that much? Here are some tips on how and where to scrimp.
• Have your priorities in order—sit down and talk with your fiance and figure out what you would both be willing to compromise on (at the same time, don’t get too caught up in the nit-picky details).
• A wedding planner could actually end up saving you money because he or she will know where to cut costs based on experience.
• Pick a relatively “unpopular” time for the festivities. Think “off” months, like winter or early spring and/or a Sunday and Friday wedding. Saturday nights are still the most coveted wedding day.
• Cut down that guest list.
• Don’t invite people with whom you haven’t spoken to in years.
• Don’t feel obligated to let single guests bring dates.
• Don’t buckle to the pressure of having to invite all your co-workers.
• Don’t let friends bring their children.
• Don’t invite people more distantly related to you than, say, first or second cousins .
• Avoid going for the priciest invitations. Order online! There are great deals to be had. Be sure to request paper samples. While you want to save money, you also don’t want to send out paper thin invitations.
• You can also shop sales and really scour the Internet and other resources to find the best-priced dresses and tuxedos; consider borrowing or renting.
• Use limos or stretch cars for the immediate wedding party only, or cut them out completely.
• Let your caterer know about your budget and have them help you select less expensive foods, beverages and manners of presentation.
• Cut down on staff—try an hors d’ovres table instead of having them butlered.
• Hire a DJ instead of a band.
• Limit the time of your photographer. Maybe have him/her photograph the important parts: ceremony, portraits, and maybe an hour or two of the reception. You don’t have to have your photographer there the entire time, you will still get plenty of great photos. Also, ask for your photos on disc so you can make your own enlargements and/or don’t order the expensive album that they put together. The proofs are all you need.
• Honeymoon close to home with an outdoor excursion or road trip, or plan a trip to an island during their off-season.
• Examine all the resources you have through family and friends, including musicians or officiates, and ask others how they cut costs for their wedding
• Check out your favorite restaurant or one with ambience to see how much a private room or renting the whole facility would cost (this works better during non-peak hours, as the restaurant might be more inclined to accommodate when it’s not being inundated with customers).
• Look into having your wedding at a city park, which generally only requires a small fee (again, look for details and ambience).
• Want to be the true star of your wedding? Old-fashioned theaters and those with grand lobbies can function as both a ceremony and reception location.
• Take a trip down memory lane by having your wedding at your old high school or college chapel (this type of venue is typically cheap for alumni).
• Forget the ordinary! Have your wedding at a “different” location (maybe one that holds special memories, like a mountain top); and since these kinds of places aren’t standard wedding venues, you might be able to get a great deal.
• Use what’s in season.
• Tell your florist your budget and what you’d like so they can make flexible recommendations.
• Consider having your wedding during the religious holiday seasons, when a church will already be decorated (likewise, avoid having a wedding during Valentine’s Day—need you be reminded of those flower prices?) or find an outside venue such as a park or garden that is already filled with floral splendor
• For larger arrangements which will only be gazed at from afar, use inexpensive or larger, filler flowers.
• It’s smart—not tacky—to talk to the venues to see if any other brides will be using the facilities that day with whom you could coordinate flowers and split the cost.
• Get crafty and make your own centerpieces or bouquet (leave boutonnieres to a florist though) Or, opt for something other than flowers, like candles.
• Rent large potted plants, which visually fill a lot of space (or you can purchase them and have them for later use in your home).
• Consider ordering flowers from an online wholesaler, but keep in mind that you will also be responsible for prep and care.
• Make sure that cake is the only dessert that’s served (some reception venues will automatically bring out other sweets, which are part of the total bill).
• Square-shaped cakes yield more cake than rounded cakes of similar dimensions, so go square.
• Use “dummy cakes” to make your cake tower higher than it really is for that look of luxury minus the cost.
• Simple and natural additions like fruits or flowers are cheaper than gums and pastes and can look just as lovely.
• Consider cake alternatives, such as pies or elegantly-decorated cupcakes.
Look red carpet worthy while walking down the aisle
This spring, it will be difficult to tell if a bride is walking down the aisle or making her way down the red carpet. After a year-long love affair with the boxy trapeze dress, designers are emphasizing the waist and adding elegant details.
“This focus on the feminine calls for glamorous bridal jewelry fit for a queen,” says Shawn Diddy, Jewelry Television’s trend tracker. Here are some of the looks she’s expecting to be hot in 2008:
• Brides will make a “ready for your close-up” impact in an off-the-shoulder dress. The look from the runways calls for minimal accents — a single, “statement” piece of jewelry such as a pair of dangle earrings that sparkle or a thick, signature bracelet. Wear hair up to really show off your shoulders in that gorgeous dress.
• Pleats, ruffles and tulip tiers abound in light and frothy fabrics. Because of the unusual silhouettes of these trendy dresses, keep hair and jewelry simple. A loose chignon softens your face while a classic pair of diamond stud earrings adds elegance and light to the ensemble.
• A white dress and Grandma’s pearls is what everyone else is wearing, so why not go with this season’s hot pastels? Diaphanous dresses in shades of peach, blush and baby blue are fresh and stylish. Pull your hair back into a soft ponytail to show off sparkling crystal earrings or a necklace in a complementary color.
• Lace is always in, but this season’s unique lace details work especially well with long, flowing hair. Rich, jewel-toned, vintage-look jewelry adds texture to the ensemble.
• Whether the dress is short or long, designers have put the emphasis back on the waist. Nipped-in lines and wide belts or sashes showed all over New York’s runways. Because of the symmetry of the dress, wear your hair parted to the side and add drama with strong platinum jewelry pieces.
“Few brides can spend a fortune on a couture gown and estate diamonds so we recommend Jewelry Television’s Bella Luce Collection,” says Diddy. “Most pieces are platinum plated sterling silver for elegant, affordable, designer-inspired wearability.” For more information on the latest trends in bridal jewelry, visit www.jtv.com or check your local listings for Jewelry Television.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Why single parents should consider a family-oriented wedding when they remarry
When Tabitha Irwin began dating Michael Leach, she would never have predicted that this casual friend would turn out to be the man of her dreams. But once she realized that the 30-year-old radio producer had a heart big enough to embrace her and her four-year-old son Calym, she was smitten. By the following year, the couple announced their engagement.
One thing muted the joy of her pending nuptials — the memory of her own mother’s remarriage when Tabitha was a typical, insecure adolescent. “I wasn’t included in the wedding and, from then on, I never really felt like part of the family,” she recalls. “That’s why Michael and I wanted to do something special during the wedding to communicate to my son that he was going to be an integral part of our lives.”
The marketing manager was grappling with a problem experienced by most of the tens of thousands of single parents who walk down the aisle each year: What can be done to ease the concerns of young children who feel, on a conscious or unconscious level, that their secure place in the family is threatened by the marriage/remarriage of a parent?
After much research, Tabitha found a simple and emotionally satisfying answer to her dilemma in the form of a family-oriented wedding service that gives children a meaningful role in the wedding celebration. This five-minute ceremony — known as the Family Medallion service — can easily be integrated into any religious or civil wedding ceremony. It differs from the traditional wedding in only one respect: After the newlyweds exchange rings, their children join them for a special service focusing on the family nature of a marriage. Each child is given a gold or silver medallion with three interlocking circles, a symbol that represents family love in much the same way the wedding ring signifies conjugal love.
Although the family service seemed to be an ideal way to recognize Calym during the wedding, Tabitha and Michael let the kindergartener cast the deciding vote. First, they explained the meaning of the family ceremony in a way that a young child could understand. Then they allowed Calym to select the specific Family Medallion from www.FamilyMedallion.com that he wanted to receive. “It made him feel important to be involved in the decision-making process,” Tabitha adds. “He became more excited about the wedding with each passing day.”
The Leaches say they will never forget the moment during their wedding at a local park when Michel presented the Family Medallion to Calym. While the minister led Michael in a recitation of the words of the ceremony — a promise to love and care for the youngster and help him grow into a responsible adult — he placed the family symbol around his stepson’s neck. Calym responded with a giant hug.
“It was an incredible bonding experience,” Michael recalls. “In that instant, Tabitha, Calym and I came together as a family.” Tabitha was moved to tears watching her new husband make a formal commitment to her son.
As for young Calym, he was just plain thrilled. “I really liked having a ceremony just for me,” he explains. “It meant that Mike loved me and was going to be my dad.
For the wedding guests, this unique family service was the pinnacle of the marriage celebration. “Many later told me how moving it was to see us assure Calym, in such a loving and public way, that he would always be part of our family,” says Tabitha.
The family wedding concept is an idea whose time has come. With a high divorce rate — nearly two in five marriages fail, according to the Heritage Foundation — more and more single parents with young children are remarrying. Additionally, the U.S. is experiencing a wave of first-time marriages among young single parents who had a child during the course of a common-law union or other relationship outside of marriage.
Yet, despite the fact that a growing legion of single parents are bringing one or more children into their marriages, virtually no religious or civil wedding ceremony acknowledges the existence of these youngsters. This void frustrated Dr. Roger Coleman, ministers and president of Clergy Services, Inc., an organization in Kansas City, Missouri, devoted to developing family-oriented services for weddings and other important life events.
“The so-called traditional wedding ceremony does not serve the needs of couples with children, whether their own or children from previous relationships,” Coleman explains. “That’s because traditional weddings focus exclusively on the union of a man and a woman. The important role of existing children and the family nature of marriage are simply ignored.”
Today, more than 25,000 couples annually use the Family Medallion ceremony to help strengthen the bond between parents, stepparents and children.
Tabitha, Michael and Calym are among its biggest fans. Today, more than a year after their family wedding, the Irwin-Leach blended family is thriving. Young Calym is ecstatic to have a baby brother, who was born this summer. “He doesn’t feel rejected like I did when my mother and stepdad had a baby,” Tabitha says. “That’s because from the moment Michael and I decided to marry, we included Calym every step of the way.”
For more information about family weddings, visit www.familymedallion.com.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Tahiti, Bora Bora & Moorea: Beauty beyond your imagination
By Linda McClain, CTA
Are you planning a romantic vacation? Have you been thinking of an idyllic honeymoon? If you are looking for the most beautiful destination in the world, look no further! Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora could be your answer to finding paradise.
How do I get there?
Air Tahiti Nui, the international airline of Tahiti and her islands, offers non-stop service from New York and Los Angeles. French Polynesia is located as far south of the equator as Hawaii is north. It is about three hours longer in flight than Hawaii.
Faa’a Airport in Papeete, Tahiti, is approximately a 71/2 hour flight from Los Angeles, and 13 hours from JFK. Are you an American Airlines frequent flyer? Save money by using frequent flyer miles. Free air can be redeemed on both Air Tahiti Nui and Qantas Airlines to most South Pacific destinations.
Weather in paradise
There are two significant seasons: Summer runs from November through April. Daily temperatures average 82F. Winter spans from April to October. The temperature is about 78F, and it is drier. There is no hurricane or cyclone activity. Water temperatures range from 74F˚ to 90F˚.
Tahitian and French are the official languages. English is widely spoken in tourist locations.
The Pacific French Franc is widely used, although the USD and traveler checks are also accepted in select hotels and restaurants. Tipping is not customary.
• Polynesian history dates back to more than 1,700 years.
• The first Europeans arrived in 1595.
Tahiti was discovered by English explorer, Samuel Wallis in 1767.
• Historic Mutiny on the Bounty took place in 1789. When Captain William Bligh accused his crew of stealing food from his private reserve, his rage was returned with a vengeance. Numerous films and books have been made depicting this incident.
• Folkloric music and traditional dance are still very much a part of island culture.
Tahiti - Gateway to Paradise
Over 70 percent of the population lives in Tahiti. Papeete, Tahiti’s capital city, is a busy port for departing cruise ships and charter boats. From here, you can take a two-week cruise to the Marquesas Islands, one of the most remote areas on earth.
Most beaches in Tahiti have black volcanic sand. This region is distinguished for world class surfing.
Go downtown and experience unique shopping such as native handcrafts, wood carvings and shell leis. Don’t miss the chance to purchase a rare black Tahitian pearl.
People watch while dining at a sidewalk café or select fresh fruits and vegetables from the Municipal Market.
Gaugin Museum - Although more of a memorial to the famous painter’s life, you can peruse limited pieces of sculpture.
Tahitian Botanical Gardens are adjacent to the museum.
The Lagoonarium Pens - holding sharks and colorful lagoon fish can be admired from an overhead boardwalk. You can also snorkel with the fish.
Moorea - A Spectacular Island
Moorea is an 11-mile stretch from Papeete. Its’ haunting beauty can be seen at a distance. Choose a 30-minute ferry ride or 10-minute flight to continue your journey through paradise.
Stay in an over-the-water bungalow and have breakfast delivered by canoe. Watch a vibrant sunset fall to the sea from your own private balcony. If you can dream it, you can do it, here.
Love to snorkel? Boat transfer to an islet (motu) and marvel at the assortment of tropical fish in a true aquatic lagoon. There are 80 different species of fish in the islands.
Take a four-wheel drive safari excursion over breathtaking mountain vistas and rugged volcanic roads. Include a stop at a vanilla or pineapple plantation.
Historic buffs will appreciate Opunohu Valley, an ancient dwelling place with 500 structures and an open-air marae (worship area).
Bora Bora -The Pearl of the South Pacific
Often called the most beautiful island in the world, Bora Bora should not be missed. The volcanic island is just 20-miles around and is surrounded by a coral reef and magnificent lagoon.
From Papeete, it’s a short 45-minute plane ride to Bora Bora.
James Michener modeled his book, Bali Hai, on this island’s stunning beauty.
Bora Bora is famous for its incredible marine life, as well as diving and sailing.
Other activities you may enjoy
• Feed sharks and sting rays
• Black tip lagoon shark and manta rays snorkel safari
• Dine at Bloody Mary’s Restaurant
• Visit ancient temples.
Movies made in Tahiti
“Mutiny On The Bounty” (three versions) with Clark Gable, Marlon Brando, Mel Gibson and “An Affair To Remember” with Cary Grant.
Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, is said to have referred to the Polynesian people as the friendliest in the world.
If you are searching for ultimate tranquility and breathtaking paradise, the islands of French Polynesia are waiting for you.l
Linda McClain, CTA, is owner of Capital Region based Linda McClain Travel Services “From The Islands To The Highlands, No Dream Is Too Far From Here!” For more information call 372.7657 or visit www.lindamcclaintravel.com.
Tips on tipping
Guidelines for gratuities on your wedding day
By Francesca Bruno
Calculating tips at a restaurant is one thing, but when you hear wedding bells, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is how much you’re supposed to be tipping everyone involved in the festivities. Here’s what should you know for your Big Day.
1. Try as best you can to find out what the tipping policies for various venders are in advance. Some places will include tips, so be sure to read the contract before you reach for your wallet.
2. Set aside any anticipated tips in marked envelopes. Keep some extra cash on-hand in the event of emergency or surprise tipping.
3. Choose one or two trustworthy and reliable family members, friends or wedding party members (such as the best man) to serve as designated tippers.
4. Tip based on both precedent and performance. Although you can expect to tip many of those behind the scenes for their services, don’t be afraid to tip lower or higher on the tipping scale depending on how well the service was performed.
The rehearsal dinner
For larger parties, expect a gratuity of approximately 20 percent to be automatically added to the bill.
Bridal beauty prep
For the hair and makeup artists, manicurists, and other beauty experts there to make you and your bridal party shine, tipping 10 to 20 percent of the total cost for each service is customary, though optional. If they traveled to your house though, strongly consider a tip.
This is generally about 20 percent of the total cost. Sometimes you can even pay ahead of time.
The ceremony venue
Tipping an officiant is fairly optional, although it’s common practice to make a donation to the place of worship or to a related charity. When tipping, take into consideration the number of guests present. It’s fairly customary to tip anywhere from $20-$100 before or after the ceremony. Tipping the organist and musicians for the ceremony is also optional. If you choose to do so, a $5 to $20 bill for each musician can be taken care of after the ceremony by the designated tipper.
Delivery truck drivers and those working on the set-up should be given anywhere from a $5 to $20 bill, depending on the difficulty of the job. If family or friends are in charge of the set up, have them take care of this.
During the reception, the staff will generally consist of a manager, maitre d’, waiters, bartenders, as well as coat-check and parking attendants. About 20 percent of final reception bill should go back to these folks, who will usually split the gratuities among themselves. But, be sure to go over your contract beforehand – the gratuity might already be included in the final cost of the reception that you paid a day or two before the wedding.
• To keep the tackiness factor down, you can instruct the manager ahead of time that tips should not be solicited by the staff.
• Tipping the bartenders is optional, but if you do, it should amount to about 10 percent of the total bar tab.
• DJ/musicians at reception can be handed a $20 bill each at the end of the reception. If you are dealing directly with the owner of the company, it is not necessary to tip. But, if you dealt with a company who sent over a DJ, then tip.
And remember, although other professionals—such as the tailor at the tux shop, jeweler, florist, and photographer, as well as those who run their own businesses—don’t typically receive tips for their services. Feel free to send them a little something anyway, like a bottle of wine or even a handwritten thank-you note for a job well done.
By Genn Shaughnessy
Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! Whether you have planned for this day your entire life, just a few years or are rushing into wedded bliss, below are some essential beauty tips to get your skin into picture perfect shape.
8-12 months before
Body ~ Consult your doctor, then a trainer and begin a workout regimen to get your skin, body and mind in shape. A healthy mind is a strong mind and fitness will help you handle stress better, as well as relieve it. Set realistic fitness goals and determine what it will take to get you there.
6-8 months before
Image ~ Begin looking at magazines and wedding books for inspiration. Start thinking about how you want your overall appearance to be for the big day. Keep in mind classy not tacky. Also, be careful not to scare your beau by changing who you are.
3-4 months before
Skin ~ Visit a trusted salon or spa and consult with a licensed esthetician about any concerns or issues you have about your skin. Severe skin concerns should be diagnosed and treated by a licensed dermatologist.
2-3 months before
Make-up & hair ~ Look around for makeup artists & hairstylists and schedule trials. Once you have found “The One”, schedule your wedding day service or consult a pro to help guide you to do your own. Be weary of prices— just like everything else in life, if a deal sounds to good to be true, it usually is. Inexpensive might mean inexperience.
1-2 months before
Appointments ~ Schedule your nail services the day before your wedding. Double check your other styling appointments to make sure you are scheduled for the right place, time and stylist. Have a back up in mind just in case of a minor emergency or scheduling conflict.
From tips to toes, here are insider tricks to getting professional results at home. It’s a great way to celebrate yourself on a night-in with the girls.
Even the most inexperienced makeup users will have ease of application with the most ingenious lash tool ever invented - Sephora’s Lash Placement Kit is as easy as 1-2-3. Lashes are best applied after finishing your eyeshadow and mascara. Please remember not to sleep in them. To remove, pull skin taught like you would when tearing a band-aid and quickly pull off.
After deciding on which lashes best suit you, hold the lash up to your eye for size and take a look at how much will needed to be trimmed off the edges. Use the lash clamp in the placement kit to hold lashes. Take a small strand of Duo lash glue (some lashes include it) and rub along the edges of the lashes (I personally use toothpicks), leaving a tiny bubble on the corners. Hold up to your lashes, push into the lash line and let go. The thinner the strand, the quicker it will dry and slip less once placing them on. Finish off the look by using your favorite waterproof mascara under your own lashes to comb into the false ones. Voila! Purrfect lashes.
Sephora: Various styles of lashes, Lash Placement Kit and Deluxe Lash set. $8-$18, www.Sephora.com.
Lashes by Celebrity Lash Stylist, Dionne Phillips
www.dlashes.com four styles to choose from- $25.
Brows complete every look. Whether you want to fill in sparse areas or completely overhaul the shape and color, Eliza’s Eyes and Too Faced have you covered. Eliza’s Eyes has my absolute favorite brow pencil in the form of a chunky wax crayon. This crayon not only ads color, the waxy base makes every little hair stay put, leaving your brows perfect. Available at www.exhalespa.com,$28.
Too Faced Brow Envy Kit ~ This compact little set is all you need to get your brows in shape; it even has a mirror. Complete with tweezers, stencils, grooming stay-put wax and brow color in pencil and powder. Compact enough to keep up the grooming on your honeymoon.
Available @ www.toofaced.com, $35.
Kissable and non-transferable lips are the most requested of the lip products. The problem with most is they are so harsh and drying that they are uncomfortable to wear. Cover Girl and Lorac (pronounced Lah-rahc) have the corner in the market. After doing a little experiment on my hand, these two had the most impressive results. During a 10-hour makeup event, I placed five colors on either hand and checked every time I used hand sanitizer and washed my hands. I also tried to use makeup remover to scrub them off. They lasted nearly eight hours!
Lorac Longwear lip www.loraccosmetics.com $19.
Covergirl Outlast All Day Lipcolor is available in 41 shades and lasts up to 16 hours. A great fit for any budget. Available
@ Drugstores and www.covergirl.com $9.50.
At-Home Micro Dermabrasion
Zia Treatments—Natural micro-dermabrasion system. This complete system will resurface skin cells in just three simple steps. It’s paraben and aluminum-free and is sure to make your skin glow. An easy substitution to spa services to help cut down on cost without compromising the final result. Follow instructions as directed and do not overuse.
This system comes with a microderm tool, face scrub, skin balancing tonic and moisture infusion serum, $79.99. Available at www.zianatural.com.
Repair, protect and moisturize over-stressed skin and soothe aching joints with the benefits of a paraffin treatment. For spa-like service at a fraction of the cost, try The Sanctuary Spa Covent Garden Pure Pamper Box.
Take a hydrating salt or sugar scrub to slough off dead skin. Rinse off then slather a thick layer of a moisturizing mask or body butter. Dip hands or feet three times into the paraffin bath. (Be careful as it is extremely hot.) Wrap in plastic, then cotton mitts or booties and leave on for 15-20 minutes. Slide off when done and discard. Paraffin can be reused over and over.
Artemis Paraffin Bath, complete with paraffin bath, wax, mitts and plastic sleeves, $49.99. Available at www.artemiswoman.com.
The Sanctuary, Spa Covent Garden Pure Pamper Box includes
Body wash, body scrub, body butter, exfoliating wash cloth and fragrance candle.
Genn Shaughnessy is a broadcast personality, make-up artist & beauty expert. She has a regular beauty segment on FOX23 News Daybreak and has worked with national and international photographers & talent. She can be reached by email
at: Genny@DarkShadowsMedia.com or visit www.DarkShadowsMedia.com.
Thanks for the memories!
Wedding thank you note hints
By Francesca Bruno
You’ve had your ceremony, reception, had a blast on the honeymoon; and now it’s time to sit down and thank everyone who helped make your special day possible. Yes, everyone (even if you already thanked them in person). While it may seem daunting right now, don’t fret! Here are some hints on how to check this task off the post-wedding to-do list.
Don’t put it off too long. It’s not only poor etiquette to send out your thank you notes late, it’s also stressful. You can get thank you notes out of the way for any gifts you receive before the wedding by writing them the day the gift is received. For gifts received after the wedding, begin the process right after you return from the honeymoon. Why wait? Get your notes out within the first month after you’ve returned and you won’t have to worry about them anymore. Anything after three months is rude. Your guests took the time out of their busy schedule to attend your wedding; show them your appreciation by thanking them in a timely manner.
Hand-write and address your notes to give them a more personal touch. Use appropriate stationary or cards. To avoid hand cramping, write the notes over a period of time, setting goals for each day. Create a note-writing station with all that you’ll need—stationary or cards, pens, stamps and the gift list (or create a spreadsheet on your computer with guests, addresses and check-off boxes). Since everything is right there, you’ll have no excuse to put it off for another day!
Speaking of personal, always try to start with a personal note, such as “It was wonderful to see you.” NEVER begin your thank you notes right off the bat with “Thank you for...” Make sure they know your gratitude comes from more than just their gift. Also, if you have already placed a gift somewhere in your home, let the giver know that you’ve made good use of it. A simple message of thanks is all it takes—don’t spend too much time trying to be clever or lengthy. A few well-written words should be all that you need. If you have a photo of yourself with the guest at the wedding, you can include it with the card.
Don’t forget about those who were working behind the scenes. Show your appreciation for your wedding venders by also sending them a thank you note . This is an especially nice gesture if they were not in a position to be tipped the day of.
Double-team those notes! You’re both enjoying the wedding gifts, right? So enlist the help of your spouse and have him or her help with the writing. To make the division of labor a little easier, you could each write out the notes for your own family and friends.
Stealing the show
How to keep your wedding from becoming a five-fingered discount
By Francesca Bruno
Believe it or not, thieves will often target weddings to steal unguarded gifts. But problems with these wedding crashers can easily be avoided by following a few simple tips.
• Many wedding guests bring gifts to the reception. Consider having them delivered to your home or a relative’s home instead. Do this via an online registry and let others know that you’d prefer to have them sent there rather than brought along.
• Ask a trustworthy friend or relative to be your gift table attendant and to keep an eye on the monetary gifts. If the reception is large, think about hiring a security guard or two to stand watch.
• Be sure that you use a card receptacle with a lock – think birdcages, gift-wrapped boxes with a slit for a card or decorative mailboxes. Whatever you do, don’t just let guests put the cards on an open table or in a basket, where those with sticky fingers have easy access.
• Have a “kit” (tape, pen, extra boxes, and packing material) handy to deal with marking, storing, and transporting any packages.
• If the gifts are brought to the reception, arrange to have the gifts taken to a safe location afterward.
• Have the gifts placed somewhere far away from an exit (and within view) to help prevent anyone from sneaking out with your gifts.
• If you see anyone suspicious or a person you know doesn’t belong there, don’t hesitate to inform the manager.
• Consider buying wedding insurance. There are companies that will cover stolen gifts as long as the theft is reported right away.
• Even after the party’s over, some thieves will watch to see where wedding gifts are being delivered and whether the house is left empty. While you are on your honeymoon, invite someone to housesit for you or store the gifts with friends or relatives.
• Unfortunately, thieves aren’t always strangers who wander in – many people have reported their own friends and family members lifting gifts from their reception.
What if something happens anyway?
• The number one thing to do is to report the theft to the police immediately.
• Call the reception site to see if any of the employees saw anything or if there were any security cameras that may have caught any suspicious activity on tape.
• It won’t be easy, but explain to your guests via email or however you wish to pass the word along (depending on the number of guests present) as to what happened. Even though you may not ever receive their gift, don’t forget to send thank you notes. After all, they did take the time to get you a gift and attend your party.
The marriage of flavors
By Craig Allen
Something red. Something white. Something sweet, dry, fruity, acidic. A little stuck on finding the perfect wines to appeal to the many tastebuds attending your wedding? Well, it isn’t as hard as you may think and you don’t have to break the bank.
Start with a retailer or a caterer and ask for smaller wine producers. These boutique vineyards will give you better quality for the money because you won’t be paying the premium for those big brand marketing budgets. If the wine is less well–known by the group, they won’t have preconceptions about the wine. And better yet, it makes your event special because more than likely, folks won’t encounter it at another event.
I made your hunt a little easier by narrowing down the whites to Pinot Grigio. This grape tends to produce a dry, light wine, which works with a lot of foods. In fact, it is light enough to serve during the cocktail hour. It’s versatile in that you don’t get the heavy oak as you would with many Chardonnays and it isn’t overly sweet like a White Zinfandel. This wine is very popular with many people and it isn’t wildly expensive.
Il Conti Pinot Grigio ($7.99)
Fresh and inviting with bright fruit and an easy drinking style with a pleasing hint of almonds in the aftertaste.It has a brilliant straw color with emerald reflections.You’ll find a floral bouquet with a hint of pears and apricots.
Saint Michael Eppan Pinot Grigio ($14.99)
The grapes for this fine, fresh and fruity Pinot Grigio come from selected vineyards from the “Anger” location in St. Michael-Appiano.Its’ color is light yellow with a slight green luster.Delicate fruity aromas with fragrances reminiscent of ripe pears typify the bouquet.A wine which, when served chilled, tastes delicious as an aperitif and serves as an accompaniment to many Mediterranean appetizers, fish and white meat dishes.
Maso Poli Pinot Grigio ($17.99)
One of Trentino’s top wineries (particularly well known for their crisp, lively dry whites), this Pinot Grigio is more fleshy, fat and concentrated than most of its Trentino peers.It reveals considerable character as well as abundant amounts of pear, peach and apple-like fruit.
How about a Shiraz? There are some nice bottles coming out of Australia these days and they don’t cost an arm and a leg. Shiraz, like Pinot Grigio, pairs up well with many foods. It’s light enough for the cocktail hour and has enough body to carry a prime rib. Shiraz is fruit forward and doesn’t have the tannins or acidity in the back like other reds. You will also find better quality for the money than California Cabernets or Merlots.
Climbing Shiraz ($8.99)
Lithe and lively with juicy acidity against black cherry and cola aromas and flavors. Finishes with fine-grained tannins.
Yalumba Shiraz Y Series ($11.99)
Offers an exotic, flamboyant nose of blackberries and flowers, along with wonderful intensity, richness, fruit and glycerin.
Kilikanoon Shiraz Grenache Killerman’s Run ($19.99)
This one possesses a deep ruby/purple color, terrific blackberry and cassis fruit, hints of charcoal, licorice and earth and an opulent, voluptuous personality.
And you know you can’t have a wedding without the sparkle of bubbles!
A quick rundown
Champagne can only be called champagne if it is from the Champagne region of France. Grape varietals for champagne consist of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Champagne is rich with a great body and hints on green apple. Budget champagnes will run you in the $30-$50 range.
Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs Brut $39.99
Cava. This is the Spanish version of Champagne and is made with Macabeu, Xrel.lo and Perellada and sometimes Subirat and Riojan Malvasia. Cavas are a little lighter and dryer than the French Champagnes and are a much better value.
Segura Viuddus Brut Reserva Heredad - $21.99
Paul Cheneau Brut - $9.99
Prosecco. This Italian sparkling wine is named after the Prosecco grape. Prosecco is much lighter than champagne with softer fruits than Cava. Another good value.
Bisol Prosecco Crede - $18.99
Riondo Prosecco - $11.99
Yes one more to check out. Sparkling wines are produced all over, but the closest version to Champagne comes from California where they use the same grapes and method as their French counterparts. Price points vary, but it is still inexpensive when compared to champagne.
Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs - $36.99
Domaine Ste.Michelle Blanc de Blancs - $11.99
One more thought when looking at bubble styles.
Brut is the most popular and tends to have a better quality than extra-dry. If you want something a little sweeter, try Italian Spunmante or Frizzante (made from the Prosecco grape). And ladies, if you love a little color to your fizz go for the Rose. They are produced in the brut style and make a lovely presentation.
You have something white, something red and something sparkly… now it’s time to find something new, something borrowed and something blue.
A toast to your very special day!
Craig Allen is owner of All Star Wine & Spirits in Latham Farms. For more information call 220.9463 or visit www.allstarwine.com.
Top wedding tick-offs
Weddings are a joyous time to celebrate, but the stress of everything can cause aggravation for the bride, as well as the guests. Read below to see if you have committed any of these no-no’s.
Things that tick off the guests
• Seating them near the speakers, which are so loud everyone has to shout.
• Centerpieces so high that people at the table can’t see each other.
• It might be unavoidable, but having a long lag time between ceremony and reception can be a drag, especially for out-of-towners who don’t know the area.
• Getting stuck sitting next to a dud at your table.
• Guests who can’t control their liquor and take advantage of an open bar.
• Cash bar
• No bar
• Cold food
• No vegetarian food options.
• Not enough food – leaving hungry!
• A bar by the dance floor.
• Sitting at a table where you know absolutely no one—and they ignore you!
• A DJ who plays guest’s requested songs even though the bride asked him/her not to.
• A DJ who plays bad music that you can’t dance to.
• Theme weddings. A 1930’s theme might be fun, but if you only play swing music you will eliminate most of the people from the dance floor.
• Friday night weddings.
• Traffic getting to and from the ceremony to reception site.
• When it is indicated that transportation will be provided from the hotel to the reception at a designated time and the transportation leaves early or doesn’t show up at all.
• When the bar won’t serve drinks to people who have arrived for the cocktail hour a few minutes early - a few drinks for a few people a few minutes early doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
• When the wedding is in the evening and dinner isn’t served until 11pm!Who wants to eat dinner at 11pm?
• Smashing cake in each other’s face is the most embarrassing thing to witness.
• Throwing the bouquet – is it really necessary to make the single women stand up to acknowledge that, “Yes, we’re single”? Don’t rub it in.
• Tossing the garter – another embarrassing thing to witness.
• When it takes forever to get going. Dinner should be served in a swift manner so that the party can get started. No one wants to be sitting there for 2 or 3 hours. After a while you just get bored.
• Having to wait in line for a drink at a bar.The best way to solve this is to make sure that your venue has enough to wait staff to go around and ask for drink orders.
• Too many speeches. It’s customary for the Best Man to make the first toast. It’s sweet if the groom wants to say a few words of thanks to the guests. But when everyone jumps in on the bandwagon with toasts and speeches and private jokes…it gets uncomfortable. Keep speeches short and sweet. Remember: less is more.
Things that tick off the bride
• Not sending in your RSVP – how hard is it to check off “yes or no” and drop the already-stamped envelope in the mail? If you leave your house on a daily basis and receive US Mail, this should be an easy task to accomplish.
• Vendors not returning calls in a timely fashion.
• Children at a wedding, especially screaming children.
• Bringing a guest when the invite was clearly for you and you alone.
• When a female guest brings a female friend because shedoesn’t havea date or doesn’t want to bring one.If you’re going to do that, make sure your friend at least gives the bride and groom a gift, otherwise they’re just getting a free meal and drinksout of it—its costing the wedding host more money, especially if the bride and the groompaying for the wedding themselves, which seems to be the case most of the time.
• When a female guest wears white.
• When guests bring their uninvited children (sometimes kids aren’t invited for a reason, i.e.to give parents a night out, to give other adults a kid-free environment, or to avoid having to invite 35 kids to your wedding).
• A drunk groom.
• A lot of no-shows.
• Taking so many pictures that you miss the cocktail hour and/or part of the reception. That’s the best part of the party because it’s where you can really mingle with your guests. After all of that planning, you want to enjoy your own party.
• Late guests arriving at the church. No one wants to be following the bride down the aisle.
Pathways to something more this year
By Michelle Heffernan
Our chronically stressed, Starbuck’s-filled bodies have become accustomed to standards of normal that are quite abnormal. Normal has become bigger, faster and more convenient. The quest for these things has put more than the earth in a treacherous state. Our bodies, too, have been overbuilt, filled with technology and exposed to toxins. In spite of this, life expectancy is on the rise. But what kind of life can be expected? Where does good health, vitality and zest for life fit in?
With these questions in mind, there is an increased curiosity about options for wellness of mind and body. The practice of Reiki is a great option to use on your path to wellness.
What is Reiki?
Reiki (pronounced ray-key) is a Japanese word, meaning universal life-force energy. Simply stated, a Reiki practitioner channels energy and passes it through their hands to a recipient. This enhances the recipient’s immune system and natural healing abilities on a mental, emotional, physical and spiritual level. This healing art works with the energy that flows through all that is alive and balances that energy for optimal health and harmony.
Benefits of Reiki
Mary Brown, Reiki Master and founder of Universal Pathways, includes a comprehensive list of the benefits of Reiki in her Reiki student’s handbook. Some of these include:
The session is done fully clothed on a Reiki table. The practitioner can gently place hands on or just above the body. The energies are generally subtle, but vary upon the situation. Clients may experience such things as tingling, deep relaxation or warming of the body.
• Natural healing processes are accelerated
• An effective method of relaxation and stress release
• Can be taught to anyone and used on anyone, even children
• Can be given to yourself
• Helps to empower one’s sense of influence over a health condition or crisis
• Beneficial before and after surgery
• Can be sent to a person, place or situation at a distance
• What does one experience during the Reiki treatment?
Healing and curing
One can have healing experiences and still not be cured of an illness or disease. Healing takes on emotional and spiritual qualities in well-being. Curing is the absence of physical symptoms. It is important to state that Reiki should not be used in place of medical treatments. It should compliment, not substitute.
Becoming a Reiki practitioner
A Reiki Master teaches those who wish to learn one or all three degrees of Reiki. The fundamentals and history of Reiki are shared and the students receive energy attunements that help them to channel healing energy to another. Teaching styles will vary among Reiki Masters.
The practitioners are not healers, but act as channels of healing energy.
Finding a practitioner
Most importantly, talk to the Reiki practitioner before scheduling the appointment. Ask questions about what to expect in the session and explain your situation and needs. You should feel a sense of comfort with the person who is going to work with you.
The energy hot topic
Energy work is becoming more recognized as larger numbers of people experience the benefits and search for options in healing the body, mind and spirit. Dr Mehmet Oz, renowned cardiovascular surgeon and author of the best-selling You, The Owner’s Manual, recently stated, “As we begin to realize how little we know about the body, we begin to realize that the next big frontier is energy medicine.” Dr. Oz was one of the first surgeons to include a Reiki practitioner at his Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center practice.
With the momentum of this new year and an invigorated desire to have something more, Reiki may be that new hope, that new partner in change on the path to better health, vitality, wisdom and peace of mind. l
Michelle Heffernan holds degrees in design and Creative Arts in Therapy, is a professional member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association, and is a Reiki II practitioner. Michelle is a consultant for Synergy Counseling Associates in Albany.
She can be contacted at healingARTS@nycap.rr.com.
Make 2008 the best year ever!
Take the Terrific Parenting 30-day challenge
By Randy Cale, PH.D
Do you feel like you are wasting energy with your kids? Does it seem that the whining and complaining is going to drive you crazy? Do you lose your cool when trying to get the kids to listen? Are you eager to have a more positive and healthy relationship with your kids?
Well maybe it’s time to start 2008 with the Terrific Parenting 30 day challenge!
Let me ask you to imagine this: Suppose I have been magically following you around your house for the past year and I have been carrying two buckets. On the side of the first bucket is a plus sign (+) for positive behavior. Every time that you engaged, noticed, smiled at or talked to your kids during a positive or healthy moment, I put a penny in the positive bucket.
In the other hand, I have bucket with a negative (-) sign. Every time that you invested energy in a negative behavior—nagging, reminding, prodding, pushing, arguing, giving nasty looks or even commanding your children to change their current behavior—you got a penny.
What would these two buckets look like? Many of the parents I work with tell me it looks like the negative bucket is overflowing and there are a few pennies in the positive bucket.
Well, this is a problem. It’s even a bigger problem as time goes by. We have to change this if we want 2008 to be the best year ever. Why? Because you can’t nurture more positive behavior by investing your energy in negative behavior.
This is a critical fundamental that many of us just don’t get. If your child happens to be an easy child, who has few oppositional or challenging qualities, then you can “sneak by” without coming to head-to-head with this critical lesson.
However, if you have a child who is more oppositional, strong willed, resistant or non-compliant, then you must understand this fundamental principal or otherwise life will get ugly.
So, the first principal to master is: You cannot nurture positive and healthy behavior by consistently investing your energy and time in negative behavior. So what do you do instead? You must master the rule of watering seeds and starving weeds!
Seeds refer to positive, healthy and productive behavior. There are seeds of happiness, seeds of responsibility and seeds of kindness. These are all the behaviors we want to nurture.
And then there are weeds! Weeds include all the negative behavior, such as whining, complaining, negotiating, arguing, not listening, disrespect, kids squabbling and general attitudes of negativity.
Your home may be a place where you invest more of your energy in weeds than seeds. If so, you likely have a few struggles on your hands. But if you take the 30-day challenge, you can turn this around.
How do you do this?
Start watering seeds very heavily. For the next month, obsess on moments of thoughtfulness, kindness, hard work and responsibility. When the kids are carrying their plate from the table to the dishwasher, touch them on the shoulder and smile. When they help to carry in the groceries, gently wink at them. While they are doing their homework, walk by and give them a 30-second shoulder rub. When they are playing well together, walk by and smile, bring them a cup of juice or give them a thumbs-up. Every time you give your attention to these positive moments, you are watering seeds of responsibility with your attention and energy.
In addition however, you must “starve weeds.” You must avoid giving your energy to weeds, or otherwise they just keep growing. Have you noticed that you can bring harsh consequences upon these “weed like behaviors” and they just still don’t seem to go away? It’s because you keep watering them—with your attention and energy.
So over the next 30 days, see what happens when you start ignoring those weeds. I know it’s hard, but you still have to show them that this negative behavior is not worthy of your attention. The world will not invest in these negative, annoying and unproductive moments. So to prepare them for the real world you must teach them you will walk away.
For some of you, your child will follow you. They will be your shadow, whining and complaining all the while. But you have to keep starving that weed until it fades away. Be patient! Seeds take a while to grow.
As you go through the next month, do not expect magical results at the end of a week. I would encourage you to not even expect magical results by the end of two weeks.
But, if you consistently put your energy into moments of positive, healthy behavior and consistently walk away from more negative behavior, you will see a dramatic shift in your household. Test it, and make 2008 the best year ever!
Dr. Randy Cale, a Clifton Park based parenting expert, author, speaker and licensed psychologist, offers practical guidance for
a host of parenting concerns. Dr. Cale’s new website, www.TerrificParenting.com offers valuable free parenting information and an e-mail newsletter.
Four specialized tips to beat the bulge
A recent study from the American Obesity Association found that nearly 62 percent of the female population is categorized as overweight. For women looking to shed a few pounds in the New Year it’s important to start a new health and fitness regimen now before high-calorie holiday meals push you further from your weight loss goals.
However, women need to be cautious as they start a fitness program, because as many studies indicate, a woman’s biomechanics make her more vulnerable than men to certain conditions such as a variety of knee problems, ankle sprains and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. According to physical therapist Megan Barclay, this increased vulnerability is exacerbated in overweight women because for every extra 10 pounds a woman carries on her bone structure, the force on her knees increases by 30 to 60 pounds per step. So, it is important to consider the following tips to prevent injury and keep weight lose on the right track:
1.) Discuss with your doctor: Before beginning any new fitness routine, it’s imperative to speak with a physician. Barclay suggests, “It’s a good idea to have your doctor take readings of your heart rate, blood pressure and other vital statistics to not only get a benchmark, but also determine what types of exercises are safe for you to do.” Once this is established, the physician can help design a personalized plan that allows for incremental increases in intensity. “The doctor may also recommend working with a professional, like a physical therapist or certified personal trainer to make sure risk-free habits are established,” says Barclay.
2.) Get ultra support: Not surprisingly, overweight women tend to experience a higher incidence of mechanical knee problems and are four times more likely to have osteoarthritis of the knee. “It’s important for overweight women to have proper knee support while they are working out to help prevent injury,” says Barclay. She recommends Wellgate for Women’s new Queen Sized Ultra Knee Support, which is the first and only over-the-counter knee brace made to fit plus-size women weighing more than 160 pounds. “Now women can get the support they need from a knee brace that fits them properly, is made of a soft, breathable fabric and even comes with a patent-pending control top,” she says. The Wellgate for Women brace, which is only $13.99, is available at most mass market retailers such as Kmart and Wal-Mart and fits women sizes 16 to 3XL.
3.) Baby steps: The most common mistake made when beginning an exercise regimen is overdoing it. Luckily, one of the most effective exercises for starting down the path to fitness is also one of the simplest — walking. “Walking is low-impact so it won’t strain knees or joints. It also helps strengthen your heart and lungs and improves circulation,” says Barclay. “Start today and work your way up to 30 to 60 minutes of relatively vigorous walking, three to five times a week.” Taking a different route each day can help to keep this workout new and exciting.
4.) Make it mental: “Don’t forget that your mind is a muscle, too,” says Barclay. “Keeping your mind healthy and focused and your self-esteem high is just as important as keeping the rest of the body in shape.” Find a workout buddy, enlist your spouse or take along the dog — anything to motivate you mentally will help you stay on track with your new program.
Achieving health, fitness and weight-loss goals may seem harder for those with more weight to lose, but small steps now can help build momentum for the rest of the year and prevent larger health problems down the line.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Winter getaways by the compass
North, south, east and west
By Francesca Bruno
Want to get away, but aren’t really sure in which cardinal direction you should travel? The good news is that you don’t have to go too far! Compiled below are highlighted spots to the north, south, east, and west of the Capital Region to give you an idea of just what the outlying area has to offer.
North: Saranac Lake
First settled in 1819 in the great Adirondacks, Saranac Lake was named best small village in New York State. Saranac Lake changed from a logging and outdoor sporting area in the 1800s to a destination resort and getaway in the 1900s. Notable figures like Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Albert Einstein and Presidents Harrison, McKinley, Roosevelt and Coolidge, to name a few, made it a point to come to Saranac Lake for rest and relaxation. In 2000, trains made a comeback when The Adirondack Scenic Railroad began summer service.
One of the most perennial customs of Saranac Lake is the village’s Winter Carnival, the oldest in the eastern United States. Established in 1898 as a one-day event, the Winter Carnival is now a week-long festival that includes sporting events, performing arts, parades, fireworks and the famous Ice Palace. Winter Carnival starts the first full weekend in February and runs through the following weekend.
Places to stay:
Saranac Club & Inn
Things to see & do:
Come out and play at the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival from February 1-10. Enjoy the sporting events, parades, arts and entertainment and the fireworks over the Ice Palace, home of Carnival mascot Sara the Snow Owl. For more info: 800.347.1992; www.saranacwintercarnival.com.
All aboard on the Adirondack Lake Scenic Railroad and its High Peaks Wilderness Train, which takes passengers on a 20-mile round-trip adventure from Lake Placid Station to Saranac Lake Union Depot. Spend the day or just a few hours, but be sure to take the time to walk through both scenic areas before heading back. For more info: 800.819.2291.
Strap on your skis for some fun at Mount Pisgah, a small, family-friendly ski center with beginner and intermediate skiing, as well as innertubing. For more info: 891.0970; saranaclake.com.
More into the arts? Scope out the Pendragon Theatre Company, the only year round, professional, producing theatre company in the Adirondacks, featuring local artists starring in year-round performances and education programs. For more info: 888.701.5977.
Twenty minutes away, in nearby Tupper Lake, check out the Wild Center and Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks. The Museum features live exhibits and native animals, including river otters, birds, amphibians and fish. There’s an indoor waterfall and river, towering glacial ice wall and a wide-screen theater, all nestled on a 31-acre, trail-filled campus. For more info: 359.7800; wildcenter.org.
The tiny village of Croton-on-Hudson, nestled between Peekskill and Tarrytown in the Hudson Valley, dates back to the 17th century, when Dutch settlers arrived to farm and work the mills along the Croton River. The village is known for the Cortlandt Manor, founded in 1697 by Stephanus Van Cortlandt, who later became the first native-born mayor of New York City.
By the 19th century, farming, shipping, ship-building and flour and brick manufacturing took over the area, along with work on the railroad and construction of the Croton and New Croton Dams and the New Croton Aqueduct.
The communities of Mount Airy and Harmon were incorporated into the Village in the early 19th century and served as part- and full-time residences for Greenwich-area artists, writers and musicians over the years (think poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and silent-screen actress Mary Pickford). With the development of the railroad, Harmon became a residential neighborhood for railroad workers and commuters to New York City. The village as a whole became a part of the town of Cortlandt in 1898.
Places to stay:
The Alexander Hamilton House
Inn at Monteverde
Things to see & do:
Explore the manor, ferry house and gardens at Van Cortlandt Manor or stroll along the Croton River and experience post-Revolutionary War life in the Hudson Valley. Costumed guides demonstrate and invite visitors to try their own hands at crafts and tasks of the period. View the furnishings and impressive colonial kitchen of this once-prominent New York family. For more info: 914.232.5035; www.hudsonvalley.org.
Since 1994, the Croton Arboretum and Sanctuary, Inc., a volunteer, non-profit organization, has provided environmental stewardship for the 20+ acres of wetlands and woods at the Jane E. Lytle Memorial Arboretum to promote ecological literacy and environmental education programs in wetland restoration, wildlife habitat enhancement and water quality monitoring. Take Rubin’s Trail and follow it to the Village Highland Trail and the Brinton Brook Sanctuary, the largest and first sanctuary managed by Saw Mill River Audubon. For more info: www.crotonarboretum.com; www.sawmillriveraudubon.org.
Keep your boots on and check out Croton Gorge Park, 97 acres of land at the base of the Croton Dam owned by Westchester County where hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing and sledding abound. Be sure to locate the 26.2-mile Old Croton Trail at the end of the park and follow along the route of the Old Croton Aqueduct. For more info: 914.827.9568; www.westchestergov.com.
Follow the aqueduct down to nearby Irvington and see all that this likewise quaint Hudson Valley village has to offer, like the mansion where Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first female millionaire, lived, jazz great Stan Getz’s Shadowbrook estate, and Irvington Town Hall, where stained-glass works by village resident Louis Comfort Tiffany can be found, and whose theatre is modeled after the infamous Ford Theater in Washington, DC. For more info: 914.591.3010; www.irvingtonchamber.com.
Special summer event!
The Clearwater Festival, also known as The Great Hudson River Revival, is America’s oldest and largest annual festival of its kind and it’s located right in Croton. For over three decades more than 15,000 people annually have attended this June weekend event, the proceeds of which benefit Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc., a nonprofit environmental organization. The project is driven by musician Pete Seeger, and has had guests from all over the American Roots’ musical spectrum like Janis Ian, Arlo Guthrie, and Dizzy Gillespie. The festival now features, in addition to the music, various water-based activities, such as kayaking and ship rides. For more info: www.clearwater.org.
East: Shelburne Falls/Deerfield, MA
Shelburne Falls is a district composed of the towns of Buckland and Shelburne. Famous among native Americans for its salmon population, the village gradually changed over into an industrial community centered on the Deerfield River.
The town resisted the “urban renewal” trend of the 1950s and ‘60s, which allowed it to retain its local, historic feel. Nevertheless, in the 1980s and ‘90s, the village experienced a revitalization and evolved into a vital downtown and blossoming arts community.
Perhaps the greatest draw to this area is the world-famous Bridge of Flowers, which attracts more than 35,000 visitors a year. Geology and natural history enthusiasts also enjoy the beautiful rock formations, left in Shelburne after the melting of the glaciers. Shelburne Falls is also home to humorist Bill Cosby.
Shelburne Falls also happens to be a walking community, so visitors can park in the free public lots and walk just about anywhere within the village.
Places to stay:
Things to see & do:
Resting at the end of Deerfield Avenue and below Salmon Falls are over 50 glacial potholes, ranging in size from six inches in diameter all the way up to 39 feet, the largest on record. The striations of metamorphic make this one of the most fascinating natural wonders in Western Massachusetts. View the potholes from the observation deck and see how the melting glaciers shaped the Connecticut River Valley thousands of years ago.
Photographers and those who appreciate a good sunset will want to hike the High Ledges trails through Audubon-protected woods on Mt. Massamet. For families and casual strollers, there are well-groomed trails and for those looking for a bit of a challenge, there are more demanding hiking trails off to the sides.
When the snow thaws…
Stroll along the Bridge of Flowers, the only one of its kind in the world. Starting out as a trolley bridge in the early 20th century, the bridge was funded to be decorated by flowers after it was abandoned decades later. Cared for by its gardener, the Shelburne Falls Women’s Club and other volunteers, the Bridge boasts over 500 varieties of flowers, vines and shrubs, which bloom from April through October along a 400-foot span. For more info: 413.625.2544; www.shelburnefalls.com.
Check out the Trolley Museum for a glance at transportation history, then take a trip back to the early 20th century with a ride on the beautifully-restored Trolley Car No. 10, the last surviving trolley car from the Shelburne Falls & Colrain Street Railway. For more info: 413.625.9443; www.sftm.org.
Head on over to neighboring town of Deerfield for a blast from the past and some good old-fashioned New England ingenuity. Walk along Historic Deerfield, a 330-year-old, mile long street, where the architecture, artifacts and lifestyle of a prosperous early New England town have been preserved. There are many historic homes to visit, such as The Wells-Thorn house. Though it’s closed during the winter months (but reopens for daily guided tours on March 29, 2008), you can schedule a private tour-by-appointment by calling Nancy Bell at 413.775.7132. For more info: 413.775.7214 / www.historic-deerfield.org; 877.636.7707 / www.yankeecandle.com. At the Yankee Candle Museum and flagship store in South Deerfield, visitors can dip their own candles or learn about the art of candle-making.
West: Greater Binghamton
The Binghamton area, which in located in New York’s Southern Tier and borders Pennsylvania, is cut by the Susquehanna River and Chenango River, and is surrounded by hills. Binghamton was named for William Bingham, a wealthy Philadelphia banker who was interested in developing the land following the Revolutionary War. Later, the now-defunct Chenango Canal, part of the Erie Canal system, brought more people and business to the area.
Greater Binghamton is also home to the State University at Binghamton, the birthplace of the IBM corporation (in the nearby village of Endicott), has the world’s largest collection of functioning antique carousels, has the largest public observatory in the northeastern United States, was a significant hub of American footwear production as the home of Endicott Johnson Corporation, and is home of the modern flight simulator.
“Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling grew up in Binghamton, where his boyhood home still stands at 67 Bennett Street. There are some key points of interest for Serling fans to visit in the area, such as local sites used in “Twilight Zone” episodes and a permanent display at the Forum Theatre for The Performing Arts. For more information call 607.775.0250.
Places to stay:
Pickle Hill B&B
Verde Views B&B at Endwell Greens
Things to see & do:
Step back in time at the Bundy Arts & Victorian Museum, a Queen Anne-style mansion built in 1892 by architect Elfred H. Bartoo. Specifically built for Harlow E. Bundy, founder of the Bundy Manufacturing Company which produced various time recording clocks which evolved into IBM, the three-building complex features a variety of time pieces and extensive collections of antique Americana, Africana and Orientalia available for sale. And down the road in Endwell, the Amos Patterson Museum showcases a collection of Victorian parlor items, a 1930s kitchen, military memorabilia, photographs, scrapbooks and quilts. For more info: 607.772.9179 / www.bundymuseum.com; 607.786.5786 (Amos).
Tap into your inner science geek with a trip to the Roberson Museum and Science Center. This nationally-recognized museum and center features art history, folk life and technology exhibits and programs and is home to the Link Planetarium, Heritage Area Visitor Information Center and Binghamton Visitor Center. Then hike it over to the town of Vestal to scope out the Kopernik Space Education Center and Observatory, one of the largest public-access observatories in the Northeast. For more info: 607.772.0660 / www.roberson.org; 607.748.3685 / www.kopernik.org.
To the extreme Winter sports with a twist
Snowboarding is probably the best-known “extreme” winter sport. Just think of it as a booted, winterized version of surfing or skateboarding. Snowboarding originated in the U.S. in the 1960s. Once considered an offbeat activity in comparison with skiing, it’s now viewed as both a skilled sport and has been a part of the Olympic games since 1998 (you may have heard of events like the halfpipe, boardercross, slopestyle and parallel giant slalom). There are two main styles of snowboarding: freestyle/freeride, which is as its name suggests, and alpine/carving, the original type of snowboarding also known as “hardbooting”—a cleaner and more precise style. Both styles require special equipment.
Test your skills at:
Greek Peak Ski Resort
When others tuck their bikes away for the winter, this type of cycling allows you to keep yours on the go. Ice biking is just like regular cycling, but with ice and snow. It can be done on either the road or trails. However, on account of the terrain, some adjustments (i.e. studded tires) may need to be made to the bicycle. Techniques also differ depending on the riding conditions. Check around for biking groups in your area, or visit websites like icebike.org for more information on the sport.
Test your skills at:
Finger Lakes Trail
Watkins Glen, NY
Kushaqua Loop Trail
Saranac Lake, NY
Riding a motorized vehicle around in the snow doesn’t seem very out there, does it? But snowmobiling, like snowboarding, has evolved into a world of its own, and an extreme one at that. Nowadays, snowmobiles are making jumps and other aerial maneuvers. Equipped with a track in the back and skis in the front, snowmobiles can also be raced (in a manner similar to that of motocross, or other all-terrain vehicle racing) or ice-raced over frozen bodies of water. Because this type of racing requires consistently low temperatures, ice racing with snowmobiles is typically done in higher and more northern terrain.
Test your skills at:
Mount Greylock State Reservation
North Adams, MA
Jefferson/Lewis/Oneida/Oswego Counties, NY
VAST Trail System
Ski freely by adding a few tricks into your old downhill skiing routine. Traditionally referring to skiing without doing so for racing or training purposes, this sport is now considered to be essentially a skater-style version of skiing. Over the years, this brand of skiing began to encroach on the snowboarding terrain. Some resorts have now started to include terrain parks with rails, tabletops and funboxes (ramped, table-like rises) to accommodate this and other freestyle sports. It’s also part of the Winter X Games and has begun appearing in other aspects of pop culture, such as movies.
Test your skills at:
Lake Placid, NY
North Creek, NY
Also referred to as “skibob”, this device resembles a mountain bike with skis in lieu of wheels, which gives it balance, stability, and control as the rider uses nothing but gravity to descend a snow-covered hill. These bikes can be used for downhill or tricks; however, for an “extreme” sport, snowbiking is considered to be pretty safe. Because of the uniqueness of the equipment, lessons are strongly recommended for this particular sport, although word is that it’s easier to pick up than other snow sports. For proper technique and other information on this sport, check out websites like ski-bike.org.
Test your skills at:
Woodbury Ski Area
Ice climbing involves using crampons, i.e. spiked footwear and ice axes to scale a frozen formation, such as a waterfall or iced-over cliff side. To do so, one must generally travel to the mountains or higher, colder terrain. The equipment needed to climb depends on the texture (soft, hard, brittle, tough) and slope of the ice. Many mountaineers don’t consider ice climbing to be anything out of the ordinary until it reaches vertical proportions, as they frequently encounter ice in their climbs. There are a variety of techniques that a person must learn before they start climbing, such as rope systems, tying into the harness, and how to lead a climb.
Test your skills at:
Wish I may, wish I might
A look at the Make-A-Wish Foundation
By Francesca Bruno
You may have purchased a Make-A-Wish angel in a local bank or mall or seen a television commercial for the foundation, whose mission for the last 27 years has been to grant the wishes of children who have contracted life-threatening illnesses. But did you know that many of these children have gone on to become spokespeople for the foundation, as well as fully-functional adults?
That’s right. One of the greatest misconceptions regarding the Make-A-Wish Foundation is that its services are only intended for children whose illnesses are most certainly terminal. Having a “life-threatening” illness does not necessarily mean that the affected child won’t beat the illness and make it into adulthood. In fact, over 70 percent of afflicted children end up beating their illness.
Since 1980, The Make-A-Wish Foundation has helped more than 144,000 children with life-threatening medical conditions around the world. It began with one memorable little boy in Arizona. Seven-year-old Chris Greicius, who had been diagnosed with leukemia, realized his wish to become a police officer with a little help from Officers Frank Shankwitz and Scott Stahl of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, who swore Chris in as an honorary officer and arranged to have an official uniform custom-made. Seeing how happy their efforts made this young boy, Shankwitz and Scott planned to carry on the tradition after Chris passed away; and with the endorsement of Chris’ mother, the Foundation was born. Since then, the organization has gone international.
Over the years the wishes have certainly been varied, but the most popular wish has always been a trip to Disneyworld. Some of the more recent wishes have included tickets to see High School Musical 2, meeting Oscar De La Hoya, a trip to Japan, the chance to be a supermodel and go on a Fifth Avenue shopping spree.
For Bill Trigg, who has been the CEO of the Make-A-Wish Northeast New York Chapter in Latham for just under two years, working at this particular non-profit has been extremely rewarding.
“The people I’ve been associated with are all so genuine,” said Trigg. “It’s all about the children. There’s simplicity and purity in the mission.”
Trigg says that Make-A-Wish’s presence—which is 67 chapters nationwide—has been an asset to the organization and its mission.
“We have great support at the headquarters in Phoenix,” he added. “We’re a federation of chapters—all part of one organization. It’s a great relationship.”
One of the ways in which the Foundation has been able to continuously grow and provide wishes for so many children has been through its network of more than 25,000 volunteers, who serve as wish granters, fundraisers, special events assistants and many other positions. Make-A-Wish also has a variety of corporate sponsors, such as Things Remembered, and the campaigns of many individuals whose lives and the lives of loved ones have been afflicted with this childhood illness. Other resources include the donation of commodities that could be granted to a child, such as airline miles, building materials, electronics, or any other items on Make-A-Wish’s shopping list.
To be eligible to participate in the Make-A-Wish program, a child must be between the ages of two-and-a-half and 18 years old and not have already received a “wish” from any other organization. Once a child is referred, the Foundation will contact his or her physician to determine whether the child is medically eligible for a wish, based on certain medical criteria. Anyone can nominate a child by filling out Make-A-Wish’s online form or by contacting the local chapter of the organization.
One local young man, Brian Buchanan, 17, became afflicted with lymphoma and began treatment last year. He had no idea that he would be eligible for his wish, which was to ride sport horses in Ireland. He successfully recovered from his illness and served as 2007 Capital Region ambassador for the foundation
“I always thought it was for kids who were going to die,” he said. “I mean, I was pretty bad, but I never thought [Make-A-Wish’s program] was for me.”
When a social worker told him more about the program, he was thrilled. Buchanan recalled the Make-A-Wish staff coming to him on his birthday bearing gifts. As soon as he started to grow stronger after the chemotherapy, Brian’s wish to ride horses was granted. But the fact that he had that wish to look forward to was what kept his spirits up.
“When everything was going down and when I was in the hospital, it was one of the joys I had,” he said.
Trigg also recalls the relief that the mere anticipation of the wish brought Buchanan and his family.
“Sometimes it’s just experiencing that anticipation,” he said. “It’s healing because it takes the mind off of the illness. He got to experience normalcy.”
Buchanan now speaks at events and has been on local radio shows and done a few commercials. He plans to remain involved with the foundation as much as he can.
“They’ve been really good to me,” he said. “I’m just returning the favor.”
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northeast New York serves the 15 northeastern counties of New York within the 518 area code. Their offices are located at 950 New Loudon Road, Suite 280 in Latham. For more information call 782.HOPE (4673) or visit www.northeast-ny.wish.org.
Whether or not you belong to a book club, you will enjoy Kathy L. Patrick’s new book, The Pulpwood Queen’s Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life. Patrick worked happily as a publisher’s sales rep, traveling to independent bookstores until 1999, when chain store depredations decimated the ranks of locally owned stores. Her position was eliminated and she was out of a job. When she emerged from her post-layoff funk, she had to find other employment. In a brilliant, if quixotic, move, she decided to combine her two passions and opened Beauty and the Book, a combination beauty salon and bookstore. Shortly afterwards, she started the Pulpwood Queens book club, which grew into a nationwide phenomenon and made Kathy Patrick a well-known champion for literacy. Her new book tells the story of how she managed to find her purpose, create her dream job and help her empower other women to do the same thing. Her book is filled with stories of her childhood, her love of books, her wonderful girlfriends, her supportive family, and it is seasoned with quotes from her favorite authors and Pulpwood Queens from all over America. Every chapter ends with a list of recommended reading, slanted heavily towards Southern authors, since Patrick lives in Texas and supports her regional authors whole-heartedly. Despite its religious overtones, this is a fun, quick read, likely to inspire both book clubs and general readers. Take a chance and move beyond Oprah books!
Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker by Stacy A. Cordery, is a terrific biography. Everyone knows about Alice’s needlepoint pillow emblazoned with “If you haven’t got anything good to say about anyone, come and sit by me” and her father, Teddy Roosevelt’s, resigned comment, “I can be President of the United States—or—I can attend to Alice, I cannot possibly do both!” These well-known stories are merely the tip of the iceberg of the fascinating life of Alice Roosevelt Longworth. Her birth in 1884 to Teddy’s much-loved first wife was followed by her mother’s and grandmother’s (TR’s mother) deaths two days later. By the time her father became president following McKinley’s assassination, Alice had a step-mother and a crew of half-siblings competing for her father’s time. When she became First Daughter and “Princess Alice” in the newspapers, she managed to get the attention she’d wanted all her life. In addition to her taboo-breaking behavior (smoking cigarettes, speeding in her little red roadster, spending extravagantly on clothes), Alice became a helpful, non-official goodwill ambassador for her father, who appreciated her political acumen. She married Nicholas Longworth, a congressman from Ohio who later became Speaker of the House, and continued to put her political abilities to good use. She and her husband entertained many prominent politicians; Alice’s salon was the place to see and be seen in Washington, DC. Cordery drew on recently unearthed letters and diaries to research this biography; the intimate details of Alice’s love affairs and the paternity of her daughter are confirmed for the first time. The political divide between the Republican Roosevelts and the Democratic Franklin Roosevelts are also explored at length; Alice backed Republican candidates all her life, although she managed to be good friends with the Kennedys despite their political differences. Cordery does an admirable job of bringing Alice to life; her writing is crisp, clear and compelling. Like Katherine Graham’s autobiography, Personal History, this is a well-written tale of a DC insider that will interest readers who are not DC insiders. Thoroughly enjoyable!
Continuing the political theme, we have Sue Miller’s newest novel, The Senator’s Wife. It really has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with marriages and how they are conducted between two people, no matter what their friends’ and family’s opinions are. Meri is a newly married woman who just moved with her husband to a town house in a staid New England village. Their new next door neighbors are Delia Naughton and her husband, the famous senator Tom Naughton. There is something odd about the marriage next door, though—Tom doesn’t appear to live there. When Delia leaves town for her annual sojourn in Paris, Meri keeps an eye on the house, does a little snooping and finds out a secret about Delia and Tom’s relationship. How that secret and her illicit knowledge of it almost breaks up both marriages is at the core of this compelling novel. Sue Miller does a great job of exploring the nuances of marriages, both old and new. This novel is likely to be a bog book club choice when it comes out in paperback.
Susan Taylor has been in the book business, in one aspect or another, since 1982. She spent 14 years in the Boston area (which included stints at the Harvard Bookstore and the Wellesley Booksmith) and now works at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza. Stop by the store if you are looking for a good book—she’s read a lot more than she can talk about here!
Sun Sign Forecast
For January 2008
By Arlene DeAngelus
Best Days for January: 1st, 7th, 11th and 29th
Aries: (March 21 to April 20)(March 21 to April 20) The New Year begins with your focus on career areas, or the equivalent. You expand your ambitions and have a renewed desire for success. After the 22nd, there are enjoyable times with your children and loved ones. Toward the end of the month, you make career decisions that take you one-step closer to your desired goals. Review these goals and directions after the 28th.
Taurus: (April 21 to May 20) The New Year brings with it an interest in abstract subjects such as the law, ethics and religion. You seek to broaden your spirituality and perspective on life. Decisions are made regarding shared assets. You find it easier to resolve a personal matter after the 22nd. Later in the month, recheck all business correspondence and communications for errors before submitting or mailing.
Gemini : (May 21 to June 20) The New Year focuses on the handling of financial matters and shared assets as well as favorably settling old debts. Decisions in one-to-one partnerships can be reached. After the 22nd, you become interested in environmental issues. At the end of the month, reconfirm any travel plans. This is also a time when you seek knowledge on both an intellectual and spiritual level.
Cancer: (June 21 to July 22) The New Year centers around your one-to-one relationships and fulfillment through these important relationships. You also take a new interest in your diet and exercise regimen. You review your finances and budgeting practices after the 22nd. Later in the month, there are discussions regarding shared resources, including marital assets. Rethink any important decisions.
Leo: (July 23 to August 22) The New Year places attention on the services that you provide for others and the efficiency in your work area. This also involves physical efficiency as well. After the 22nd, you make subtle changes in your appearance either through a new hairstyle, hair color or new clothes. Avoid misunderstandings in personal relationships by communicating clearly after the 28th.
Virgo: (August 23 to September 22) The New Year brings happiness through your loved ones and children. Your domestic and personal life takes on a new importance as you make decisions in these areas. You search for your roots and a deeper spiritual understanding after the 22nd. Toward the end of the month, remain flexible in work situations and with co-workers. Re-evaluate work schedules and expect possible delays.
Libra: (September 23 to October 22) The New Year shows growth through your family relationships. You may also decide to add a room onto your home or move to a larger apartment or house. You become interested in taking a workshop or college course. After the 22nd, rethink your long-term goals and directions. Later in the month, remain flexible when loved ones are more independently.
Scorpio: (October 23 to November 21) The New Year focuses on your communication with others. If you need to put your best foot forward or sell an idea, this is the time. There are financial decisions to be made during the month. You receive recognition for a job well done after the 22nd. Communicate clearly with your family members and loved ones to avoid any misunderstandings after the 28th.
Sagittarius: (November 22 to December 21) The New Year emphasizes your finances and how you earn those finances. You feel self-confident and it is apparent to others. You receive career recognition or a promotion around the 21st for work that you have done well. You are interested in intellectual pursuits. You can add to your well-being by attending a workshop or beginning a class toward the end of the month.
Capricorn: (December 22 to January 19) The New Year centers its attention on you and your popularity. You strive for success and you make decisions regarding your future. If you need to impress someone, you are your best asset on the 21st. Later in the month, abstract subjects appeal to you. After the 28th, eliminate any confusion around financial decisions and reread all financial contracts before signing them.
Aquarius: (January 20 to February 18) The New Year allows you to achieve some of your hopes and wishes. You set new goals and directions for the year and work toward accomplishing them. Relationships are smoother because of your willingness to compromise after the 22nd. Toward the end of the month, communicate clearly with others. Rethink any decisions especially those dealing with one-to-one partnerships.
Pisces: (February 19 to March 20) The New Year focuses on you setting new goals and directions for your future. Decisions are made in career areas during the month. The 21st brings happiness in your personal relationships. Toward the end of the month, start a new diet or exercise regimen. After the 28th, you search for spiritual enlightenment. You re-evaluate your inner needs and work to fulfill them.
New Year’s Resolutions
By John Gray
It’s amusing how we kid ourselves about who we are. I mean, just because we are forced to go out and buy a new calendar, we assume this thing with dates and pictures of light houses or cute kittens has some magical power that will enable us to turn a page and suddenly be something we’re not. A man who’s smoked for 22 years will now quit because it’s January and he’s decided it’s time to make stopping a priority. A woman who lives and dies for chocolate covered raisins while watching “Project Runway” will now make it her personal project to drop 30 pounds because it’s on her ‘list’. I’m talking, of course, about New Year’s Resolutions and I don’t believe in them. Not really. I mean if you want to quit smoking, lose weight or go to church more, I don’t think you’ll do it because it’s January in upstate New York. I think something has to happen inside that is just between you and the inner you that nobody gets to know except you. A little conversation where something clicks or snaps or pops and you say, “enough.” Then it happens.
I was a very chubby bunny growing up, a good 50 pounds overweight. I liked candy, had zero will power and my newspaper route took me right by Kay’s corner store in South Troy where the penny candy was actually a penny. Yeah, I’m that old! Moses and I were classmates. Anyway, I went through my adolescence a little (as mom’s like to say in an effort not to hurt your feelings) ‘husky’. Then the summer after my senior year of high school I lost almost all the weight. I told my friends and family that I just decided to live a healthier lifestyle and that’s how it happened, but that was a load of baloney. Do you want to know why I was so successful? Girls. I wanted to kiss one and for some odd reason all the cute ones were kissing all the skinny guys. Go figure. I never went to a prom in high school because I never had a girlfriend. Sure, I had girls who were friends and I could make them laugh, but I could never make them swoon. Not carrying all that extra baggage. So one day while walking home with a half-pound bag of M&Ms, I just stopped, looked at the candy, and threw it into the weeds. Three months later I was a whole lot smaller.
I did a little research on the Internet and found the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions are: quit smoking, lose weight, quit drinking, go back to school, spend more time with family, go to church more, pay off debt, get a new job, travel moreand watch Fox 23 news. Okay, I made that last one up. Let’s take them one by one.
The toughest has to be the first, since nicotine is an addiction. I’ve never smoked, so I don’t know how hard it must be, but I would tell anyone who smokes to take a small wallet size picture of their youngest child or grandchild and tape it to the side of the cigarette pack. Every time you reach for them think of the years you will miss with that child.
To lose weight you have to do it for you. I’m struggling now to lose 20 extra pounds that showed up without invitation when I turned 40. My trick: keep junk food out of the house. Lord knows I’m too lazy to go out in the cold and drive to the store to buy ice cream at 10 o’clock at night.
Drinking alcohol can also be an addiction. My only advice there is to avoid putting yourself in situations where there’s drinking going on. For some people, that may mean getting a new set of friends. Oh, and if your old friends can’t understand why you can’t drink with them then they weren’t very good friends in the first place.
Going back to school is the easiest. As the folks at Nike would say, “Just do it.” Get online, pick a college and enroll. Start small, maybe just one course. It may take time, but most worthwhile things do.
The ‘family thing’ is tougher than it sounds because you have to make your loved ones a priority. That means opening your planner, picking some dates and telling your siblings or children or whomever, “On this day I want us to spend some time together. It’s important to me. Please make time for me.” Humbling, yes, but also rewarding. My two brothers and I used to travel to a Boston Red Sox game every summer and then just stopped. Shame on us. You know, no matter how old we’ve become, when you put three brothers alone in the car it’s like 1975 all over again. That’s on my list for 2008.
Going to church is a personal thing for each of us, but I will say (at the risk of God sending down a bolt of lightening) that being close to God has little to do with brick and mortar and stained glass windows. You can become more spiritual while sitting on a CDTA bus on the way to work. You just have to open your heart. That said, it’s hard to beat the sound of a good church choir on Sunday morning.
Paying off debt takes sacrifice. I once did a news story that looked at what the average person spends a year on silly things like that cup of coffee on the way to work or the Snickers bar out of the vending machine. Thousands of dollars, my friend! Start with the small stuff and big things can happen.
Of course, reducing debt is easier if you make more money, which explains why so many of us want a new job. My only advice there is this: if you are serious, get serious. People complain about their jobs all the time, but don’t take action. Polish up the resume, get on job sites, network with people and tell them you are itching for a change. The phone just may ring
As far as travel goes, hey, book a flight. Can’t afford that? Get in the car and go to Montreal, Vermont or the Big Apple. Who’s stopping you?
The one resolution I wish was on everyone’s list is three simple words: no more gossip. People love to talk trash about others and it’s hurtful – to the person you are gossiping about and to yourself. You are better than that. I remember once running home when I was 15 to tell my mom about some kid in the neighborhood who was arrested for some stupid thing he did. She could hear the glee in my voice and said, “Stop.” She continued, “John I know his mother and father and this is a terrible thing. Every time something like this happens I thank God it’s not one of my children. It’s not something to spread around. It’s sad.” I felt like two cents, but she was right.
As we begin 2008, maybe we should put away our list of things we want to stop doing and write a list filled with those we should. I will hold the door for a stranger every day. When I hear some juicy dirt about someone at work I’ll keep it to myself so the chain of gossip ends with me. I will cut some slack to the guy zipping in and out of traffic and not lean on the car horn, because maybe he just learned his kid is in the emergency room and he’s racing to be there. I will watch less TV and try to read one book every other month, because it’s good for my brain. If I have to have the potato nuggets or French fries with my meal I will order the small size and offer some to my co-workers to minimize the damage. I will at least once this year make my kids lie on their backs in the grass and look at the clouds on a pretty day and see if they can spot shapes. I will hug my friends more for no good reason. I will go to the doctor at least once, because one of my male friends punched me in the nose because I gave him a hug for no good reason. And last, but not least, I will buy those Red Sox tickets so it can be 1975 again.
Well, that’s my list. I wish you luck with yours my friend. All of us have our bag of M&Ms. Sometimes we need them and that’s okay. But maybe this is the year you can throw them away.
John Gray is a Fox23 News anchor and contributing writer at the Troy Record. He can be reached at email@example.com