Category Archives: Products I Love

Book Buzz: It Ends With Us

I am a person who needs a book handy at all times. Hence, you will find one not just next to my bed, but also in the bathroom, in the side pocket of my car, and on the kitchen counter.

Audible has enabled this quirk of mine by offering hundreds of audiobook titles that I can listen to anywhere. This is especially nice when I’m in the car or out for a daily walk. I can get so wrapped up in a good tale that those 10,000 steps seem much less arduous.

The buzz over author Colleen Hoover’s latest novel, It Ends With Us, had intrigued me, so I eagerly downloaded it from Audible.

Romance, yes, But so much more. A complex story that takes on a harrowing subject with frankness and emotional depth, It Ends With Us is a novel that left me breathless even before getting winded by step #5849.

Book Buzz: It Ends With Us

Listening to It Ends With Us on Audible, I found my emotions running the gamut, and because I was moved from highs to lows over and over again, I may have unleashed a few expletives on my neighborhood jaunts. Hopefully I was out of earshot of the neighbors.

The narration bounces from 15 year-old Lily reading entries from her diary to the present day Lily. The younger Lily writes mostly about her relationship with Atlas, a boy from her school, and the older Lily brings us up to date 10 years later.

It Ends With Us

Adult Lily meets hunky Ryle in the most romantic of ways: on the roof deck of a Boston apartment building late one night, each one seeking an escape, with the stars and lights of the city twinkling above.

Lily, distraught after failing to deliver an appropriate eulogy at her father’s funeral that day, needs a refuge where she can be alone with her thoughts. Ryle, a brash neurosurgeon, has come up for air as well. At first she is annoyed that her space has been invaded, but as they strike up a conversation she starts to feel a spark. It lasts just a moment, and they go their separate ways.

My reaction: Meh. He sounded dreamy at first, but way too aggressive for my taste. If a man was that coarse with me I would be outta there. You’re well rid of him, Lily.

Some time later they run into each other and although Ryle has steadfastly opposed getting into a romantic relationship, he falls in love with Lily. Initially wary herself, Lily is deliriously happy.

My reaction: Dismay. Lily, this guy may be cute, but his quirks make me shudder. Like taking your pulse during sex to see how high your heartbeat will get? Gross.

Without giving the plot away, let’s just say that eventually Lily finds out in the most shocking of ways that there is another side to Ryle that rocks her physically and emotionally.

My reaction: Horror. Lily, girl, get away from that creep!

Out to dinner one night, Lily and Ryle run into Atlas, Lily’s boyfriend from long ago. Although she is in love with Ryle, Lily realizes that she still cares for Atlas as someone who once was so important to he.

Atlas can read Ryle like a book, and out of concern for Lily he wants to intercede, wants to tell her how this guy is wrong for her, but holds back.

Thus begins Lily’s personal struggle to justify being with a man whose behavior is reminiscent of her own father, the father whom she was unable to properly eulogize at his funeral. Her own experiences have taught her one thing, but now in the moment herself, she is vacillating between her love for Ryle and her own self-respect and survival.

This is a portrait of what happens in too many homes behind closed doors. The shame of the victim often shields the perpetrator from scrutiny until it is too late. As observers, we can be judgmental or sanctimonious, but we can’t truly understand the anguish of this situation unless we walk in the victim’s shoes.

Reading It Ends With Us will put you there. After the final sentence, which gave me goosebumps the author revealed what prompted her to write this story.

My reaction: Wow. Read this book!

Have you tried Audible? Go to Audible’s free trial site and you will have a month to listen to as many titles as you like.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible.
The opinions and text are all mine.

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Summer and Springsteen

Summer and Springsteen

Like cotton candy and sticky fingers, hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, and warm nights in the yard catching fireflies, the music of Bruce Springsteen means summer to me.

Summer and Springsteen

Springsteen, just a regular Jersey boy.

When I was in college I had a summer job at the Jersey shore – a rite of passage for many of us who live in the northeast. Shucking clams by day and partying by night, surviving both romantic flings and crushing heartbreaks, I had the time of my life.

I worked in a beach community on a small barrier island a far cry from the glitz of Atlantic City, without a boardwalk or large concert halls. There were few venues for musical entertainment other than smoky motel bars or dilapidated watering holes like The Acme and The Rip Tide that we college kids flocked to night after night. If you wanted to hear live music, you might catch a local act. Or you might get lucky and witness a performance that in time would become legendary.

This is what happened to us.

Bruce Who?

We heard one day that there would be a performer at the improbably named Le Garage, a small warehouse that was usually a venue for teen dances. Some guy named Bruce Springsteen was performing. No one had ever heard of him, but we had nothing else to do that night, so why not.

Summer and Springsteen

From the book “All Things LBI” (Down the Shore Publishing)

At 10:30 that night the place was full. How many it held, I don’t remember, but probably not more than a couple hundred stood perspiring in the heat. The lights were dimmed as we waited for the show to begin. Bruce Springsteen, in all his grungy, unknown glory, his guitar slung across his hips, ambled out on center stage blanketed in a spotlight. He opened with the song was 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy). That voice, as gritty as the sand between the rocks in Barnegat Light, that song, so Jersey shore soulful, that moment, that would become a memory to cherish. The crowd was spellbound and the ovation that followed was thunderous.

That man would become The Boss.

As of that night I was a fan forevermore, and this song would always evoke a pang about that moment, the salt air, my sunburned shoulders and peasant blouse I wore, how our ears rang as we walked out into the night air talking about the music.

Over the years my devotion to Bruce has never wavered and to my delight, the Boss published his autobiography, Born to Run, which fans and critics alike have enthusiastically endorsed. When a fellow Bruce fan and friend of mine raved about the audiobook version, I made it my next Audible selection.

So here is the thing about autobiographies on audiobooks narrated by their authors: you feel like you are having a private conversation with this person. I loved hearing Springsteen talk about his early years in Freehold, his introduction to the music world, and everything that came after. I loved hearing him talk about meeting Stevie Van Zandt, another Jersey musician trying to make it in a competitive business.

No surprise, Springsteen is a gifted writer, and I was as blown away by his book as I was by seeing him live at that little club so many years ago.

Here is Springsteen just a few years after I first saw him, performing 4th of July, Asbury Park, (Sandy) live. I would see him in concert again and again, but that first time was the best by far.

Enjoy.

And Happy Summer.

Do you use Audible? You can try it out for a month by going to Audible’s free trial site and have access to hundreds of titles.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible.
The opinions and text are all mine.

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Book Buzz: The Handmaid’s Tale

Book Buzz: the Handmaid's Tale

If you’re like me, you have an ever-expanding list of books TBR (to be read). I do read a lot, but there are many classics heretofore unread, and Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, was one I regrettably had not gotten to.

Book Buzz: the Handmaid's Tale

The buzz is already out about the Hulu version coming out next week, starring Elisabeth Moss in the leading role. The reviews are glowing. Critics are wowed by the script, the performances and the stunning visual effects. I can’t wait to watch, but I really wanted to read the book first.

Only one problem. I’ve got at least half a dozen review books in my queue. Also, it’s a busy time right now, with holidays and birthdays and family obligations. My reading time is limited.

But thanks to Audible, and these lovely April days, my problem was solved. I’ve listened to the audiobook version during my daily walks and I’m all caught up. Narrated by Claire Danes, it is a riveting novel, especially relevant now.

Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale?

It is quite a stunning piece of work, as most readers of Margaret Atwood’s feminist novel will agree.

It is the year 2195. The Handmaid’s Tale recounts “the new normal” in the Republic of Gilead, the totalitarian state that exists in what was formerly the USA. A fundamentalist Christian faction has assumed power and stripped women of their rights. In response to a precipitous drop in birth rates, the new government imprisons women who are determined to still be fertile and forces them to work as handmaids, AKA breeding surrogates. Their freedom and their access to the outside is taken away. Their names are changed; their identities are erased.

Offred, the protagonist, once had a husband, a child, and a normal life. When the drumbeats got louder, she and her family tried to cross the border into safety, but she was captured. She clings to hope that she will be reunited with them someday, but her memories of life “before” are slipping away.

With themes of gender oppression, authoritarian leadership and religious politics, some might draw parallels to our current political reality. Read this excerpt and tell me it isn’t chilling:

“I was asleep before. That’s how we let it happen,” Offred said. “When they blamed terrorists and suspended the Constitution, we didn’t wake up then either. They said it would be temporary. Nothing changes instantaneously. In a gradually heating bathtub, you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.”

Will these themes hit too close for comfort? For me, yes. Part of the shock is learning about Offred’s life before the regime came into power. It was so normal, so mundane, just like our lives. And then it’s not. That’s all I will say about that.

Audible always delivers, and as an added benefit, there are extra goodies in this recording. I enjoyed hearing the exclusive content written by Margaret Atwood at the end because it deepened my understanding of the book. The novel extends beyond the original final line, “Are there any questions?,” by adding the questions and answers that the people at that Symposium, occurring in 2195, might ask.

Do you use Audible? You can try it out for a month by going to Audible’s free trial site and have access to hundreds of titles.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible.
The opinions and text are all mine.

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Women’s History Month: The Rules Do Not Apply

Women’s History Month is resonating strongly with me this year. Not since the 60s have women’s collective voices been so clear and purposeful, as evidenced by the Women’s March and beyond. The political climate seems to have opened a channel, empowering women to candidly share their deepest emotions, their challenges, their fears.

Listening to Ariel Levy’s actual voice narrating her new memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply, I felt that this was one of those times when the audiobook surpassed the written version of a woman’s poignant, wrenching story.

Women's History Month: The Rules Do Not Apply

The Rules Do Not Apply

In her brave but vulnerable whiskey-husky voice, Levy opens with this:

“In the last few months, I have lost my son, my spouse, and my house. Every morning I wake up and for a few seconds I’m disoriented, confused as to why I feel grief seeping into my body, and then I remember what has become of my life.”

Suffused with shock and grief, she obsessed over the choices she had made over the course of her life. Before the tragedy, she had always laughed in the face of convention, finding her own interpretations of sexuality, work, love, marriage. Loss had never figured into her life plan. But then, does it ever?

Levy began her career doing scut work at New York Magazine and landed the plum job of staff writer at The New Yorker in 2008. Her beat was often the offbeat: traveling to rural South Africa to track down Caster Semenya, a female Olympic runner whose gender had been under pubic scrutiny; reporting on a gang of lesbian separatists named Lamar Van Dyke. As she wrote in “Thanksgiving in Mongolia,” the New Yorker essay for which she received the 2014 National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism,

I’ve spent the past twenty years putting myself in foreign surroundings as frequently as possible. There is nothing I love more than traveling to a place where I know nobody, and where everything will be a surprise, and then writing about it. The first time I went to Africa for a story, I was so excited that I barely slept during the entire two-week trip. Everything was new: the taste of springbok meat, the pink haze over Cape Town, the noise and chaos of the corrugated-tin alleyways in Khayelitsha township. I could still feel spikes of adrenaline when I was back at my desk in New York, typing, while my spouse cooked a chicken in the kitchen.

In fact, it was in Mongolia, on a reporting assignment (and the topic of this essay) that Levy lost her baby. A nagging pain in her abdomen became stronger, and then excruciating. Her baby was born in the bathroom of her hotel room and died minutes later.

Later, her doctor told her the miscarriage had been caused by placental abruption, a rare problem that usually arises from high blood pressure or heavy cocaine use. Or because of the pregnant mother’s advanced age. Levy was 38. It could have happened anywhere, her doctor assured her. Traveling was not the factor. Nonetheless, Levy was wracked with guilt.

Her mother came to stay with her for a while. When Levy asked her, what will become of me, her mother answered, you will be fine. Other times she said, you are not alone. During Women’s History Month let us celebrate the voices of women who can share the universal emotions of grief and loss and survival that let others know that we are not alone.

The Rules Do Not Apply is painful, honest, revealing, and intimate. Levy is unforgiving of herself, but you will want to hug the person behind the voice.

See for yourself. Try out Audible with a free month of accessing a vast list of selections.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible.
The opinions and text are all mine.

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See You at the Movies

See You at the Movies

I’ll see you at the movies.

If you’re a film buff of a certain age, you might recognize that quote from the late Roger Ebert, sorely missed, especially this time of year when movie awards season is underway. Ebert and his colleague/antagonist, the late Gene Siskel, hosted a weekly show reviewing the latest releases. I enjoyed watching their interplay, sometimes funny, sometimes heated, always passionate.

I love movies. Fortunately, so does my husband, so this Sunday night we will get comfy in bed with a bowl of popcorn and settle in for an entertaining event.

And the nominations are …

These days, of course, everything is readily available on the internet, but back in the day, I would be poised with my paper and pen when the announcement was made at 8:40 am on Good Morning America, followed by Gene Shalit giving his impressions of the picks. I loved hearing his take on the surprises and the snubs. RIP, Gene.

Why was I in a frenzy to scribble down the selections? Well, I had to call my husband to let him know RIGHT AWAY which movies we absolutely had to see before the awards ceremony. We both like to see all the nominated best picture films so we can be fully invested.

Alas, this year we have not seen every nominated film, one of them being Hidden Figures. I’m sad that we won’t see it before Sunday, but I did the next best thing and listened to the New York Times best-selling book on Audible.

See You at the Movies

Audible is a cinch to use. I have the app on my iPhone and enjoy browsing the titles and downloading audiobooks to listen to in the house, my car, or when I travel.

The award goes to …

Wow. If you haven’t seen the movie, let me fill you in (and I don’t think this will spoil it). Hidden Figures is a true story about female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space.

Mind you, this took place in the 1940s, before information was accessible by googling it. These women, known as “human computers,” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets and astronauts into space.

Among the group of mathematically gifted women, numbering in the hundreds, were three African-American women whose contributions to the space effort have flown under the radar, so to speak, until now.

During World War II, there was a shortage of qualified talent in the aeronautics industry, then in its infancy. Anyone with the “right stuff” was encouraged to apply for positions in the fast-paced Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Virginia.

Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson were math teachers in the South’s segregated public schools.They answered the call and found themselves in the fast-paced Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Virginia.This was in the industry’s infancy: before John Glenn orbited the earth, before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.

Unbelievable now, but at that time they were required to be segregated from their white counterparts, and the author delves into the impact of this shameful part of our country’s history. Langley’s all-black West Computing group did have the “right stuff” and their contributions helped America achieve a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War.

These women were trail blazers and incredible role models. Listening to the enormous challenges they faced, and the courage and dignity they displayed in dealing with them, makes this book inspirational as well as educational.

Now I am ready, as Siskel and Ebert used to say, to sit back and enjoy the show.

See you at the movies.

Would you like to try Audible? Click here for your 30-day free trial during which you can download any books you like.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Audible.
The opinions and text are all mine.

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Discover Your Inner Child With Coloring Books

Discover Your Inner Child

My husband paused on his way to the refrigerator when he saw me sitting on the stool hunched over a book with a look of concentration on my face.

The mere fact that I was engrossed in a book would not have sparked his curiosity, because I am always with a book. In the kitchen while I’m cooking, by the bathroom sink when I’m blow drying my hair, in the car for when I get stuck in traffic. God forbid I shouldn’t have something to read.

But this time the book was oversized and flat with a lot of white space and I was drawing in it.

“A … coloring book?” he asked.

“Sshh, I’m almost done,” I murmured without looking up, magenta colored pencil in midair. My husband fell silent.

He watched. I colored. The only sound was the soft scritch scratching of the pencil as I oh-so-carefully filled in the design.  Then I held the book aloft so I could scrutinize my work from all angles.

“What exactly do you do with it when you’re done?” my husband asked.

I thought for a second. “You start another one,” I said.

Adult coloring books have been A Thing, you probably know, for a couple of years, and their popularity continues to grow. There have been articles written about them in The New York Times, CNN, The New Yorker, and more.

Ten Speed Press offered me a copy of The Time Garden: A Magical Journey and Coloring Book by Korean artist Daria Song and I was eager to try it out. The book tells the story of a young girl transported into a fantasy world within an ancient cuckoo clock and her journey back home. The designs are intricate, whimsical, and simply charming. It took me hours to complete just one page because of all the detail. Here are two samples. See what I mean?

Adults have embraced coloring books as a way to relax, to de-stress and unwind. And I get it now. When I color, focused only on the tiny spaces my pencils will fill, my mind is freed and calm. A break from the incessant over stimulation of social media, a coloring session is meditative and restorative, much like yoga is for the body.

The demand for adult coloring books has occasionally exceeded supply. I know this because my local bookstore completely ran out and is restocking for the holiday season, which I am glad about, because these make terrific gifts. I just bought one for my best friend.

I may be late to the adult coloring book game, but I’m addicted now. Would you like to see my work? You would? Really? Well, OK, if you insist.

Here is one I completed.

Discover Your Inner Child With Coloring Books

And here is another still in progress.

Discover Your Inner Child with Coloring Books

Don’t look too closely. I still can’t stay completely inside the lines. But I know that really doesn’t matter.

What matters is the color of green to choose next. Should it be chartreuse, spring green or olive?

The nice folks at Ten Speed Press are letting me give away a copy of The Time Garden to one of my readers. Leave a comment and I will choose a winner randomly. US addresses only, please.

I received a copy of The Time Garden from Ten Speed Press for an honest review, which is the only kind of review I write.

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Hallmark Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth

During a visit to my childhood home last weekend, my mother, daughter and I rummaged through my old bedroom closet looking for potential hand-me-downs, and discovered a mysterious cedar box with a clasp on it.

I looked quizzically at my mother. “I forgot about this,” she said softly, lifting the lid.

Our eyes opened wide at the veritable treasure that lay before us: decades-old cookbooks and index cards with family recipes. Newspaper clippings of weddings and funerals. Birthday and anniversary cards. Dozens of Hints from Heloise columns yellowed with age. And cards sent by my grandfather to my grandmother, written in his perfect penmanship, the words of love so sweet and tender.

With delight, we sat down on the floor and read them aloud. Three generations of sentimental women fell silent as we imagined this young couple besotted with one another, almost a century ago.

“They were so in love,” I murmured.

My mother nodded, her eyes glistening.

My 20-something daughter sighed. “Letter writing is a lost art,” she said.

She is so right.

But lucky for all of us romantics — including my grandfather — Hallmark cards have been around since 1910, helping us express often indescribable feelings to the ones we love.

Hallmark cards are woven into my family history.

We are all senders, and we love to receive them. Want to know how much?

Hallmark Took the Words Right Out of My MouthI have saved them all. This is just a smattering.

When the occasion calls for it, I know that a Hallmark card will help me say it better, conveying just the right emotions to the people I love.

To inspire us with the art of love letter writing, Hallmark has created a special #PutYourHearttoPaper campaign on its website.Take a look at the site and I dare you to come away dry-eyed after watching several couples express their love and appreciation for each other.

Hallmark sent me a sample of its new line of Valentine’s Day cards. The designs are just gorgeous.

Hallmark Took the Words Right Out of My MouthI love Hallmark cards, which give me the words that are in my heart but sometimes hard to articulate. And when it comes to love, Hallmark has its finger on the pulse. Did you know Hallmark was the first company to recognize Valentine’s Day?

Thank you, Hallmark, for spreading the love and allowing me to do the same. I will give one lucky reader the same Valentine’s Day pack that I received. Just leave a comment below and a winner will be selected randomly in enough time to mail these cards to your loved ones.

I have several shoe boxes filled with cards I have received over the years, stacked in a closet in my room. I don’t look at them very often, but on days when I am feeling nostalgic, I make myself a cup of tea and take a peek. It is almost like looking at old photos.

Maybe someday my children and grandchildren will find these boxes of memories and sit on the floor entranced, reading words of love from long ago.

This is a sponsored post. I received greeting cards from Hallmark in exchange for an honest review, which is the only kind of review I do.

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When We Became Three

I love, love, love buying baby gifts. Love!

But sometimes I just can’t find the right gift. Oh, there’s always a little outfit or an age-appropriate toy, but everyone gives those. I try to put some thought into buying a gift that will be special and unique. Just like the bouncing new baby boy or girl.

When We Became Three

Also, something that will last. Those 3 month-size outfits last what, about a week or two? And a toy? They outgrow them fast, too.

So lucky for me, and lucky for you, I have discovered the perfect baby gift. A baby book unlike any baby book you have seen, I bet.

When We Became Three

When We Became Three: A Memory Book for the Modern Family,” written by author Jill Caryl Weiner,  was so much fun for me to page through. First of all,  you can just tell how adorable it is from this cover. Right?

When We Became Three

It’s equally adorable inside.

The baby books we had were not like this.

Here’s what I remember about the baby books I had for my kids: nothing. Why?  They were boring (the books, not my kids). I lost interest. To look at our three unfinished books now you might wonder if we ended up giving the kids back. And by the way, do I even know where these books are at this point? Maybe in a box in the attic?

If we had had “When We Became Three” to record the milestones of these precious years we would know exactly where our copies were, because we would have them close by. Like on our book shelf, because we would want to look at them whenever we felt like reminiscing about life with our babies, which is frequently.  I almost wish (almost) we could go back in time and experience new parenthood again, just to be able to chronicle every movement (bowel or otherwise) in this charming book.

Also, I think our kids would get a kick out of the quirky, embarrassing or amusing details of their babyhood that we have forgotten over time. And what came before.

Before new parenthood, there was pregnancy.

And even pre-pregnancy. The book starts out with “How We Became Two” for Mommy and Daddy to record how they met and fell in love. Here’s an example.

When We Became ThreeAnd this.

When We Became ThreeAnd then, on baby’s birthday …

When We Became ThreeSooo cute!

It’s so much more than just height and weight.

There are checklists and free space and prompts that will allow you to be creative. This makes filling in the blanks truly enjoyable. Don’t I wish I had recorded some of the firsts — first bath, first baby sounds, the first foods each baby liked — that we could have preserved in this book to cherish forever? Because no matter how convinced you are that you will remember all of it? You won’t.

Here’s a section that made me laugh.

HABITS WE PICKED UP

  • We started calling each other Mommy and Daddy instead of by our names.
  • Mommy started cutting up Daddy’s food in little pieces.
  • Your things began outnumbering our things and took over every room.
  • We can’t go out with friends without talking about you.

Weiner, a journalist whose articles on parenthood have been published in New York Magazine and The New York Times, among others, is a mom herself. A mom with a great sense of humor which, as all moms and dads know, is the only way to survive parenthood. In “When We Became Three” she successfully identifies the many moments that need to be preserved for posterity. Trust me, new parents, you will be very glad she did.

This book will be a keepsake that will only increase in sentimental value as the babies grow and become adults. I can tell you that happens in a blink of any eye.

I can’t think of a better way to hold on to those tender memories.

I’m not a grandmother yet. But I hope I will be someday. And I know the first gift I’ll be buying, very happily, for the parents-to-be.

 

I received a complimentary copy of “When We Became Three” for an honest review.
Opinions are mine only.

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Best Photo Apps for the Photo-Challenged

I have always been an admirer of awesome photos. But when it came to actually shooting them myself, I would freeze. Cameras intimidated me. Even digital photography seemed beyond my comprehension. I couldn’t see through that little peephole. I couldn’t hold the camera steady.

I left the photo taking to others.

But then there came photo apps.

With the ubiquitous camera feature on smartphones, everyone can be a photographer. Photos are easier to take, and with the availability of cool photo apps on my iPhone, even I can make ho-hum photos spring to life.

Want to impress your friends and family? Try out one or more of these apps on your photos. Most of them are free.

Camera+

I use Camera+ instead of Camera as my default. Why? I can preview my photos and do a little editing if desired, then save them to my camera roll. Or I can keep them in Camera+ purgatory until I decide their fate later. Often the “clarity” option will do a quick and easy edit that serves my purpose, especially if I am in a rush.

Snapseed

This is my go-to app for the next round of editing. Beyond the basic editing features, there are effects such as grunge, HDR and drama that makes the photo look more nuanced and unique.

Over

When I think some text or funky artwork would add a cool dimension to my photos, this is the app I use. Over gives you many fonts and art for free, but there are also deluxe versions that you can purchase for a nominal fee.

photo apps for the phot-challengedphoto apps for the photo-challenged

Tangent

Although not appropriate for every photo, the effects on this app produce stunningly artistic designs. Tangent also features patterns and shapes that can be used as one or more overlays on your photos. You can truly flex your artistic muscles with this one.

garden enhanced

Lenslight

With optical effects such as stars and rays of light in all colors of the spectrum, this app can put a finishing touch on a photo that gives it just the right pizazz. I love using the bokeh effect – an aesthetic blur – that can be very captivating.

Photofunia

How would your photo would look like framed on the wall of the Louvre? On the cover of Esquire? Or on a billboard in Times Square? Just upload it into one of the templates, and bam!

That's actually my son in the painting.

That’s actually my son in the painting.

Photosketch

Want to use a pencil-drawn version of your photo? This app will transform it with one easy click. It also can do a reverse color effect which can be quite impressive-looking.

Aviary

Along with the basic editing tools, this app includes stickers, like hats and mustaches, that can be slapped on a photo for a whole new look. My favorite feature is “splash” that allows you to drop in a burst of color on a black and white photo.

photo apps for the photo challenged

Cinemagram

Similar to Vine, this app will create an animated meme out of a 2-3 second video that you upload. You see these all the time on Google+.

 Instashapes

Crop your photos into a variety of shapes with this app. I like the effect of a photo peeking out from behind a cutout.

Pixlar Express

This app really has it all, and then some. The basic and advanced editing tools, yes, but so much more. Overlays, effects, borders. Amazing.

photo apps for the photo-challenged

Collect

Not an editing app per se, but a scrapbooking tool that lets you organize photos. For example, I curated my photo-a-day submissions into a monthly calendar.

Whether it’s for personal enjoyment or business applications, these photo apps can take your photos from awful to awesome.

Do you have any photo apps to recommend?

 

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I Mostly Hate Glasses

glasses

I hold Dorothy Parker at least partially responsible for my issues with glasses.

You remember Ms. Parker, right? Writer, critic, a fixture of the 1920s literary society and member of the famed Algonquin Round Table. A woman ahead of her time: bawdy and brilliant, caustic and charismatic, the life of the party. I always thought she was the cat’s meow. The bee’s knees.

She was quoted frequently for her witticisms, like these:

“If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.”

“This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”

“She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B.”

But then there was this.

“Men seldom make passes
At girls who wear glasses.”

Well. When I got wind of this bon mot as an adolescent, I was not amused. It only cemented the insecurity I already felt about my looks. For in addition to everything else I perceived as a flaw, I had poor vision.

And when you were an adolescent girl in the 60s, at least if you were me, you obsessed about your looks and pretty much hated them and wondered if a man (someday) would want to make a pass at you.

I took this bon mot to heart.

My first pair of glasses–a shade of bubble gum pink with pointy tips—appeared in my life when I was about 11. They practically screamed doofus.

As my vision grew worse, the lenses got thicker and the frames uglier, and I was so unhappy with the way I looked that I tossed the glasses in my purse and endured the pitfalls and yes, pratfalls, of  life in a blurry world.

I admit it. I was vain.

That was then. Now? Although I still don’t love glasses, I have to admit they have attained extreme coolness.

With famous actresses sporting them with panache—with evening dresses! On the red carpet!—glasses, and the women who wear them, are fashionable, trendy and attractive.

Now that I am a woman in midlife, I need a little help with my close range vision, even while wearing contacts. Readers, they’re called, those cute little inexpensive glasses that perch right on your nose and make reading a whole lot clearer. They’re fun and cool. The ones I’m wearing in these photos are from www.readers.com and I love wearing them. When?

With these fun frames, my relationship with glasses has improved tremendously. I think I look kind of adorable in them. My husband thinks so, too.

So there, Dorothy Parker.

Disclosure: I received three pairs of glasses plus compensation from www.readers.com. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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