Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sites and Tools for Web Design, Images & Communication | Online Editors & Graphics (Part 1)

The following list includes some of the best sites I have found online. Each of them I've explored and used, found helpful and believe are worth passing along to you. While almost all are free, to gain use of the larger images and better quality features there may be an upgrade required. Still, for the amount of creativity and inspiration you can find, even the no charge options are pretty good. From icons and buttons, to map generators and photo editors, creating professional-looking images can really spruce up the visual presentation of your website or blog. Explore catchy ways to post tips or reminders (that you might use in an online group), help readers navigate content more easily (and give your site a clean look), or just have fun with creative options for color palettes,photograph enhancement or visual creations.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sometimes We Struggle - Yet Sometimes We FLY


10:54AM. That's what time it was before I looked at the tiny clock in the corner of my laptop screen and realized it was well past the "I'm just going to get online for a few minutes and update my pages" zone. I wasn't even wasting time playing on Pinterest or Googling craft ideas or fabulous vacation homes; I was WRITING - real words - the kind that when assembled together correctly - create complete and well-defined sentences. I was replying to comments about small business and then adding thoughts to a previous blog post discussing the value of spending locally. I was making the case for a principle of economics; posting concise directions for a social media infographic I'd created; answering questions in a forum discussion from yesterday. I saw an announcement for upcoming events, quickly wrote an invitation for a select group of individuals and posted a blog update for a client - and all this without having to backspace sixteen times to reformat what was in my brain. I was ON IT, humming along and cranking tasks out - because the familiar sense of "being stuck on what to do or say" hadn't yet surfaced and I was still free for a little longer. For once, it was all falling into place for just a couple of  hours, and in that couple of hours I could fly, soar, and hover above the struggle of everyday life as I know it.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

"Classic Trucks and Vintage Advertising" | Vehicles at the Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Show

These beautiful old trucks were on display at the Tuckahoe Steam & Gas Association Show held annually in Easton, Maryland. The show, which is hosted by the Tuckahoe Gas & Steam Association each July, features an incredible array of farm equipment and history, steam engines, tractors, antique trucks and vehicles, along with demonstrations of the machines and pulling competitions. Check out the links at the bottom of this post for more on the show!



Monday, June 26, 2017

Signs of Ocean City, Maryland, Part III

Welcome to MORE signs, logos, locally-owned businesses from Maryland's favorite summer time beach town. Already posted in Signs of OC, Part I are: English's, Kohr Bros, Rick's Market, Jonah and the Whale Buffet, Layton's restaurants, General's Kitchen, Nicks Pancake House, Cowboy Coast, Plim Plaza, Yummy Sweet Shop, the Fractured Prune and King Kone.

Signs of OC, Part II included the Oceanic pier, Anthony's Deli, Billy's Subs & Pizza, the Sahara Cafe, M.R. Ducks, Justine's Ice Cream, the Princess Royale Oceanfront and the Cabana motel.

Fisher's Popcorn is a tough name to say - without in your mind, quickly conjuring up images of sticky-sweet caramel popcorn, freshly cooked and best enjoyed while strolling down the boards. For that reason this iconic favorite became the first local business to be included here in part three.


Boardwalk location near 2nd Street, taken August '15
Up close at the counter....
....you can almost taste the golden crunchiness.

Monday, June 19, 2017

"All Gone" ~ Things That Aren't There Anymore | Ocean City, MD

Businesses and attractions of days gone by.....I needed a place to put all this stuff for J/R's thus the blog post. Will be adding more photos and info in the future.


Remember J/R's, "The place for ribs?" It was an Ocean City favorite and beloved destination for than forty years.
There were two locations in OC, one at 140th street and the
other at 62nd street, right as you would come off of the
Route 90 bridge. (this postcard shows one in Rehoboth
as well but that must have been before my time)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

"Vintage Del-Mar-Va" | Old Postcards, Images and History of the Delmarva Peninsula

The term "Del-Mar-Va" was born from the land which encompasses three states and nine counties along the east coast. This distinctive area includes the eastern shore counties of Maryland and Virginia along with the state of Delaware, and the hyphenated portions of each name made up it's original title. The peninsula is bordered by the Chesapeake Bay, the Delaware River, Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Monday, June 5, 2017

My life changed forever one year ago today....

One year ago today was the last time I saw my mom close to what passed for normal, although even her normal wasn't very good. We went out for her birthday dinner at a nice restaurant and the next day she fell (probably due to her overuse of alcohol, a disease which at the time I still hadn't seen), and everything just began to unravel. Despite the fact that she's still here in a sense, there's nothing quite like realizing everyone in the family you knew and were related to, is gone. The following twelve months were a downward spiral; a journey into darkness of so many kinds; realizations and truths and the painful sting of a bitter reality.




The Importance of Supporting Local Family Farms

Do you believe in supporting locally-owned and operated farms? I think there is something amazing about pulling off the road where a small produce stand is located, perhaps just a basic table with a canopy over it, or sometimes a fancy set up with a wagon and portable display. I always find myself sort of eying up the person who may be present - I wonder if they are REALLY the owner, the operator of the farm, a family member maybe. Does it really matter? I guess not....technically, but part of me is always sort of in awe at the fruits of their labor, gawking a bit at the sweeping fields stretched out behind the stand and admiring the barns and farming equipment that dot the landscape. Not in the sort of way that I think they are so different or strange, but more with the sense of WOW....a real third or fifth generation farm family STILL lives here, continues to make their living, remains a part of this place where their blood and roots and ties run deep.



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

News Flash for Small Business Owners: It's not all about You

Why is it so dang hard for people to reciprocate? What makes some folks happy to enjoy the benefits of your loyalty, perhaps by supporting their local restaurant or shop or service business - yet they cannot be bothered to reach out of their own self/shell/selfishness? - and do the same. As far as small business owners go, isn't there power in numbers? Don't we gain more by all working together?



Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Franchise is not the same as a Mom and Pop, Locally-owned, Small Business

My heart is breaking a little bit right now as I write this, not only because I'm a little different and thus am perceiving this situation in an unusual way, but because I believe I'm onto something which concerns me. While I don't think many will comment and react and agree, a foreshadowing of the future is staring us down right now.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Visiting Delmarva • the town of Milford, Delaware (Sussex County)

Located in the First State, Milford spreads across the edges of two counties, Kent and Sussex. It's charming downtown areas, small shops and locally-owned businesses make this an attractive area to spend a day or afternoon. There is a great museum that was at one time the post office, and the detail of the building is pretty interesting, as are the exhibits inside. You may be surprised to learn that throughout the years, Milford has been home to some exciting discoveries and inventions.

Vintage postcard of the post office - see
further down for what it has become today
A view from Walnut Street

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Definition of an Independent Business Owner

Written in honor of the independents of America and for "Small Business Week 2017". As we celebrate the individuals, families, mom and pop duos which make this country rotate and revolve and thrive, I have to ask - what describes or makes up the qualities of such a person? (scroll down for a bunch of graphics to save & share!)



Sunday, April 30, 2017

We Have Become a Society of Disrespect

At one time it was considered wrong to defy, mock or disregard authority. But now parents are insecure in setting boundaries and so desperate for their children's affection and friendship that they have developed into a society of enablers. Did your child screw up at school? In our world today it's far more common to blame the teachers, the other kids, "politics" and "the administration", rather than taking a tough love approach.



Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Juggling, Tricks and Technicalities | Time Management, Part I

I struggle with managing my time. There. I'm coming clean, admitting the struggle is real and that while I absolutely appreciate and value the opportunity to work from home, tasks and prioritizing and hours in the day DO in fact, often get the best of me. (Whew. I said it.) Had I realized that things needed to change? Of course - but seeing it and saying that and actually creating improvement - those are several very different things. It's so easy to become caught up in the details and projects and emails and Stuff That Demands Immediate Attention,  that I just seem to forget the goal for the day was to operate more efficiently, and thus the cycle continues. Until now.


 

I read an article this morning and was inspired by the ability which supposedly lies within me; apparently I'm more capable that I'd thought to take charge and set goals; to define work objectives and wrestle back control of my hours and minutes. I just have to tap into "what lies within" and learn to set limits and boundaries, because if not, there's no external force that can fix this for me. Confident in this new knowledge and wanting to dive right in, I implement new guidelines for the following day, which is Monday. 



Monday morning: I write and send an email detailing a situation which needs resolution ASAP. Immediately after clicking "send", I realize that omitted from the list was an article which must be written today, and so I spend 40 minutes hurriedly Googling for details and essential ingredients. Although not built into the time frame it's necessary.
 
Next, I attack the Great Pile of Paperwork. UGH. This is complex on many levels, but as the Pile poses a growing source of irritation and annoyance, I just leap in and being sorting. The goal of knocking out the mountain of papers wasn't clearly defined time-wise, but it does up end up taking more than four hours.

Update: It's Tuesday at 1:50am and I'm finished. I got all three projects done, along with a few smaller tasks, several which were normal but that I failed to include in my estimate for the day. A couple of others had cropped up suddenly with red flags requiring attention (a continual problem for me as I tend to underestimate the time needed to process). 

Despite the article's advice to take on the toughest part first, I wound up leaving the most difficult two things for last. I'm now curious if tackling the most challenging aspects could have helped productivity? At the time, feeling pretty overwhelmed, I opted to take baby steps instead, and looking back now it seems as if restructuring my process and approach could be a better game plan. We'll see what happens on the next run.




#delmarvausa | community advocate | localist | respect | united we stand

Friday, April 21, 2017

Earth Day 2017 | I'm Concerned About The Things We Are Losing

I think we take too much for granted these days, consistently ignoring the well-being of our planet, our communities, hell - each other.



I think we've become an entitled nation and a tribe of people dependent on "things", and the internet and instant gratification - and the concept of "working for it" is becoming a part of the past.



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Vintage Postcards of Delmarva | Life in Sussex County, Delaware

These images are from postcards featuring areas of Delaware in the southern area of the First State. (Delaware only has three counties....Sussex, Kent and New Castle), however each one has many small towns which are all distinctly different. I recently began exploring many of the nearby places, visiting the historical society websites, walking and touring the main streets and soaking up the stories of yesteryear at their museums and community centers. I'm hoping to feature more information about the individual and unique places that Delaware has to offer in upcoming posts. Please enjoy the trip back in time with these postcards and don't miss the links at the bottom to other collections of photos and memories of the Delmarva Peninsula.

the Brick Hotel on the Circle in Georgetown
For comparison, here's a photo I took in
November '16 during the Return Day parade
Sussex County Courthouse....no date but that car....?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Beach Towns of Delmarva | Coastal Images from Fenwick Island, Delaware

The town of Fenwick Island is considered by some to be just a shortcut, a blip on the map as they pass through heading south to the larger resort town of Ocean City. And sure, it's a tiny place, tucked just on the other side of the Mason-Dixon Line bordering Delaware and Maryland. But for many, it's magical, with that vibe of "soaking up the summertime" appreciation for the sand, surf and shore that most of us have within us. It's a beloved destination for many who return year after year, often staying faithfully at the same family-owned and operated motels and cottages which fill the two mile long stretch along the Atlantic Ocean. Fenwick Island is more than "just a place", it's an adventure; a ritual of summer; a time for family and friends to gather together and a quieter side of life along the sea. Here are some pictures I've taken over the last few years around the town and it's surrounding streets and neighborhoods......I hope you enjoy strolling through our little beach community with these images. Note: they aren't in geographical order or specifically organized; just photos that I've added here to showcase the area.

The Fenwick Island Surf Shop, established 1983. Check them out on Facebook here
This is the welcome center located on Route 1/Coastal Highway, and the first large building on the left side of the road that you would spot as you drive south from Bethany Beach. You can stop in to learn more about the Quiet Resorts and pick up brochures and information about lodging, dining, attractions and more.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Happy Easter | A Collection of Hilarious Cartoons, Vintage Greetings & Cute Stuff

Sometimes you just need to laugh. Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend and happy holiday! Double click to open any image in a larger window to download.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Why Choose Local? Reasons to Consider Shopping at Small Businesses this Holiday

The older I get, the more carefully I seem to choose where I spend. It's been no secret that I love and value some of the wonderful independent businesses that we are fortunate to have here in our area, and that in many ways I mourn their demise as the commercial landscape of our towns and cities changes. Unfortunately, as the landscape of our world changes - and some might say it "evolves" - I see that we are pulling away from many of the things that are not only favorites of mine, but those elements which held us as a society together. We travel further and faster, multi-task and over-schedule, all in the name of pursing happiness and satisfaction. Our time is so valuable that we can no longer be inconvenienced by visiting several small shops or mom and pop businesses, because that's now considered a waste of time and "inefficient". So we dash hurriedly into the closest Walmart which is "so much better" because of it's all under one roof shopping; endless array of choices; vast square footage which provides the perfect opportunity to emotionally and physically "get lost" and perhaps, not even have to walk around with one's family members anymore. We can buy it all right there while dad gets the tires rotated in the back corner of the complex and the kids hang out at the in-store McDonalds, and then we congratulate ourselves on how much time was saved by not visiting and enjoying and valuing the small shops, family-owned bakeries, mom and pop restaurants and independent hardware stores of the past.



Sunday, April 9, 2017

Visiting Delmarva | Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware

Craft beer is big news - and big business - and this location slightly south of the state capital of Dover is no exception. Dogfish Head has been evolving and growing over the past few years and it's able to provide an informative and interesting tour experience. Described as a place with "Off-centered ales for off-centered people", they offer daily tours to beer lovers and aficionados. Note: this is just a quick overview of the place, not a techie write-up of the flavors and tastes and variety of brews. I'm not that into beer but was so impressed with the tour that I just wanted to give you a brief run-down of our visit so you can then go see for yourself. What I noticed first, when pulling up to the facility, is the massive size of the operation. Hearing that it's located in one of Delaware's small towns you may be surprised as well when you see it.



There's this great truck parked out front with the iconic oval logo....




Thursday, April 6, 2017

Tales from a Small Business Owner | "Long hours and rescued pets"

One of the short stories which originally appeared as "Juggling", a collection of events, afternoon mishaps and the struggle to balance my retail store, houseful of rescued pets and the reality of working really 12-14 hour days for months during the summer.

I am really not all together. I was only able to remain at work today for just a few hours before the thudding pain in my jaw pain made me decide to call the dentist. Unbelievably, they had an open spot to see me so I put a note on the store door apologizing for “unforeseen circumstances” and raced across town. I’m worried that I won’t make it home in time to check on the pets but this seems to be of a higher priority right now. Diagnosis is possible abscess/infection in root of tooth but not at the tooth level but in the jaw level; I get a prescription for ten days and then appointment to come back and we’ll see what’s really in there. The word “crown” is mentioned in regards to that tooth but if that’s the case she’s going to have to write me a prescription for Xanex first because I don’t do well with long appointments. Or drilling. Or crowns.




Sunday, April 2, 2017

Off-Season in Ocean City | Wintertime Views of the Iconic Boardwalk

During the summertime the town of Ocean City roars to life as Maryland's largest vacation spot and favorite beach destination. Everyone wants a ride on that Ferris Wheel overlooking the sparkling skyline of the coastal resort, and no visit would be complete without a stroll on the boardwalk. During the peak season of the warmer months is one of the best times to take photos of the lights, attractions, people and faces along the iconic strip by the ocean, but when that fades away and the crowds return home, the hectic pace is replaced by a slower and quieter version of life. It is then that this place takes on an entirely new facade dotted with vacant windows, silent coaster tracks, colorless signs sitting idle, waiting to glow again, and that spectacular view of a deserted boardwalk that seems to go on forever.....I call the months following Labor Day the time period "after the summer ends", and then by about March that transitions into "before the summer begins".

"Tickets please, tickets......everyone must have a ticket to ride!"
It's usually late October when they take the cars off the Ferris Wheel

Friday, March 31, 2017

Vintage Delmarva | A Glimpse of the past in Bethany Beach, Delaware

Some postcards of the southern Delaware beach towns and Sussex County that I've collected from antique shops or online sites throughout the years. It's a great look back at the area from years gone by and for more images see the links at the bottom of this post.


Traveling to the seashore in the early days
"Beach and boardwalk scene"

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Are we turning into Robots? The Case for Thinking Outside the Box

I'm torn between emotions right now, having been on my way to bed an hour ago when I roamed back over to my computer to shut it down for the night. And then durn it, I remembered I had to email someone....and post about an upcoming event....and then well, I'd sent myself a few links earlier today from my phone to follow up on....and here it is eighty minutes later. BUT, the reason I'm still here is this link. It's content is short and sweet; more of a question than an article; something that hits home so much for me that I had to settle down to review it and once that took place there was no walking away without commenting. THIS is home turf; stuff I know about; actions and reactions that I've seen and witnessed over and over again in my own small business. These are the things and the "thinking" (or perhaps, lack OF), which can murder off the mom and pop stores faster than a sluggish economy. The "fear of thinking outside the box" is indeed a killer and it's threatening everyone of us who isn't defined or covered by the protective umbrella of a corporate logo. (I pause here to insert an image I'd created a year or so ago and used as a profile picture to express my discomfort at watching people refusing to think for themselves......)




Friday, March 17, 2017

Gas and Steam Engines | Vintage Eclipse & Frick Machines of Yesteryear

I'm new to these enormous engines, a rookie amount giants in the fields of a few recent tractor shows where I stumbled upon them. Not expecting to see such machinery, I was captivated by their style, design and the look back to a time when life was so very different. Since they are such amazing and unique pieces I just wanted to put them together into a short photo-blog listing and at the end of this post you can find links to my albums on Flickr, 500px, etc. Here are a few sites where you can find out more about the Frick Company.



This first batch of photos was taken at the Eastern Shore Threshermen's Association show held annually in Federalsburg, Maryland.



Friday, March 10, 2017

Woken Up | the Alarm Clock of a Conniving Basset Hound

Please congratulate me for I have found the world's most annoying alarm clock. ** THIS CAN BE YOURS FOR JUST TWO EASY PAYMENTS OF $49.99 **




It all begins with a braying donkey-like sound which causes the user to bolt out of bed in a panic thinking that something is totally wrong or disastrous. Once out of bed you proceed onto the front door, believing that the braying indicated an urgent need for some creature to have access to the outside world IMMEDIATELY, only to discover when you get to the door that there is nothing there.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Delmarva Area News Sites, Attraction Listings and Places to Visit (part 1)

The following sites are sources of news and information covering the Delmarva Peninsula. This area located along the east coast, includes the state of Delaware along with the eastern shore counties of Maryland and Virginia. The peninsula is bordered by the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware River, Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, and while we are just a few hours from many major cities such as D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia, we are definitely a distinctive place.