Here are my picks for the month, a sampling of what brought a smile or new insights to me as I browsed the web, along with some of my favorite products. I hope you find something useful or that tickles your mind or your funny bone. 

People and places

Speaking of tickling your funny bone, if this doesn't get you laughing, nothing will. I don't watch much TikTok, but this top clip caught my attention and is too good not to pass on. 

We're planning a two-week vacation to the Florida panhandle in late August. I have a system for getting us ready for travel and a glitch-free stay. It's similar to this list of vacation packing and travel tips.     

His wife once formed a club she called "Wives Against Collecting." Nevertheless, I love seeing someone carry throughout a long life his passion, like this man who collected one unique item -- 45 rpm vinyl records. He says that as a 13-year old, he hollowed out the fattest book he could find, added holes to the back, and hid his transistor radio in it so he could listen secretly to his music at school and in his bed at night. That's him today in the photo above.

Enjoy some armchair travel with these winning photos from an iPhone Photography Awards Contest.  They make me want to experiment more with my iPad's camera.

Even non-fashionistas can
enjoy reading YouLookFab
to learn how to look better.  


This is a simple, 25-tip list summarizing how to make personal fashion decisions easy, and always look and feel stylish, written by one of my favorite bloggers, Ang at YouLookFab. 

If you have one of those ordinary, office chairs at a desk in your home and you'd like to give it a new look, here is a tutorial that shows how to cover an office task chair using fabric.  

Selling a home

Here is an important post explaining the pros and cons of working with a Realtor who is acting as a dual agent. Spoiler: there is not much to support having a dual agent, but there is a workaround. 

Whenever you buy or sell a property, the negotiations are what often determine whether the exchange goes smooth enough so that everyone is satisfied with what they got. Check out this excellent run-down of the pros and cons of the counteroffer in real estate negotiations.   

Even in a sellers' market, negotiations are crucial if you 
want everyone to leave the closing table feeling like the sale was fair. 

Products I like

When is soap not really soap? This soap is actually what soap is supposed to be, the one we use almost exclusively at our house because it's free of harmful ingredients smells good, lathers well, and isn't expensive. Have you ever noticed that many "soaps" are labeled "deodorant bar" or "beauty bar." This is true of gels, foams and liquid "soaps." That's because technically, they are detergents rather than true soaps, which are simple combinations of vegetable or animal fats, plus scents and coloring.  

You can find real soaps online, at larger
retail stores, and at local farmers' markets.

Even in today's digital age, when texting and emails are replacing written snail mail, I like to send (and receive!) handwritten thank you cards. My favorite sources for notecards are museum stores. Here is advice from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art on how to write the perfect thank you note

Museums, historic homes, and botanical gardens
are prime sources for interesting notecards.

Using commemorative postage stamps like these
adds an additional personal touch to any piece of mail. 

In the kitchen 

Everyone needs a seasonal, go-to recipe for those times when you are called upon to make something from your kitchen using what you probably have on hand. Here is the recipe that comes closest to the zucchini cake I bake whenever I need something for a pot luck meal, a committee meeting, a condolence offering, or an impromptu dessert to satisfy a craving. No summer is complete without one serving of zucchini cake! I bake it in a bundt pan and even without extras like cream cheese frosting or chocolate chips or walnuts, trust me, it's always a hit.  

Unfrosted, this cake becomes an easy,
out-of-hand snack cake for picnics and lunch kits.

I liked these instructions on how to care for cutting boards and spoons made of wood. I use my two bamboo cutting boards daily. They're not as fussy as other woods are about getting wet. As long as they don't stay wet, they don't warp or crack like other woods can. 


This month one of the books I enjoyed reading was The Night Portrait, by Laura Morelli. It's a historical novel that alternates between two different time periods and locales -- the 1940s in Poland and the late 15th century in Milan. It recounts the history of Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of a nobleman's mistress, a priceless painting that centuries later was stolen by the Nazis. You can read the story's overview here.

I always suggest people read reviews for books or movies I recommend because personal preferences vary widely. 

This is the groundbreaking portrait considered 
Leonardo de Vinci's best work.  

If you read to your young children or grandchildren, there's a source for out-of-print, classic children's books you might not know about. You'll find everything from Harry Potter and Star Wars books to charming vintage (but new) ones like Golden books, Madeline, and The Runaway Bunny. 
If you enjoyed these books as a child, why not let 
the next generation enjoy the simplicity of older classics.

None of the products or sites I recommend here are here because I earn money from endorsing them. I am simply passing along some of my personal preferences.