Gifting Outside the Box

Let’s start with the facts. No guy wants another tie. And no woman wants a gift card.

What do you get for the boomer who has more than they need or want? Most of my friends are packing up their possessions and selling them on eBay, giving them away on Freecycle or donating them to local charities.

But ‘tis the traditional gift-giving season. In addition to Hanukah and Christmas, I’m still attending milestone birthday parties. Since I hate to shop and am a terrible wrapper, I usually choose experiential gifts to mark these occasions. I’ll take a friend to dinner or give them concert tickets. There are so many great new bands out there playing in small, local venues; it’s an easy way to make a 50-year old feel twenty again.

Or, if you know someone who’s longed for a bit of Indiana Jones-like adventure, how about the chance to play amateur archeologist? It’s a unique gift for person in your life who wants nothing.

Looking for a unique gift for a guy? Consider an Adventures in Preservation trip.

Photo: The Fairfield Foundation.

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What’s Shutter Speed Got to Do With It? How to Take Better Photos.

Want to take better photos? The key is practice, practice, practice. And, if you get the chance to practice in the company of a pro, do it! Taking a photo tour with a legit photographer gives you the chance to ask all kinds of dumb questions and to correct one or two things that will immediately improve your shots.

Photo tips for beginners include choosing the right subject, like this red, rusty tractor.

Wandering around the Donaldson Farm, I kept waiting for the big tractors to talk to me as if I was in a Disney cartoon. Photo: The Open Suitcase LLC

Getting the chance to bum around with a professional photographer with an all access pass is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. And you don’t have to have tons of equipment or years of experience to have a great time and to learn to take better photos. I self-identify as a beginner-intermediate when it comes to using my DSLR camera, meaning I still have to think really, really hard about whether the aperture needs to be big or small to get a crisply focused background. Continue reading

Lonely Planet Book Review: “You Only Live Once”

Looking for a great gift for someone who needs a little inspiration? Or maybe that someone is you. “You Only Live Once: A Lifetime of Experiences for the Explorer in All of Us” is a new publication from Lonely Planet. It’s not a traditional travel guide. Instead, through a series of photographs, brief essays, and infographics, it introduces readers to a world of enriching experiences. It should come with a warning because you’ll want to walk out your front door and never look back.


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The book features stunning photographs of people, places, and things to stimulate your wanderlust. Photo: You Only Live Once: A Lifetime of Experiences for the Explorer in All of Us. © Lonely Planet 2016

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Bad Case of Wanderlust? Cure it With a Bedroom Makeover.

Got a bad case of wanderlust and no money for a vacation? There’s a super simple cure – give your bedroom a beach villa makeover! Here’s how.

One cure for wanderlust are dreamy beach pictures like this one of Colombier beach.

An aerial view of Colombier beach. Photo: The Open Suitcase LLC

We go to St. Barth every April.

I know what you’re thinking.

“My, aren’t you a fancy Nancy?” Continue reading

Let it Rain: 5 Places to Get Wet This Spring

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Photo: NPR

It’s a fact. We need spring showers to get beautiful summer flowers. But no one wants their long-anticipated vacation ruined by torrential downpours. Paris in April is supposed to be magnificent, but where’s the fun if you spend an hour waiting on line in the rain to get inside Notre Dame? The secret to spring travel is to pick a destination where getting wet is part of the fun. Continue reading