Category Archives: Jane Dagmi

Stubble Trouble? Blade Buddy to the Rescue

Every young girl anticipates shaving her legs. It is a rite of passage. She begs and begs to shave her legs, until one day her parent, usually her mom, shrugs her shoulders, offers one last warning – “It’ll only come in heavier and darker” — and then, realizing that her daughter doesn’t think so and doesn’t care, whisks her off to Target to buy her first razor.

The daughter is excited at first. She posts about shaving on Facebook and gets hundreds of likes. She instagrams her first razor. Once the newness wears off, and shaving becomes a chore, she realizes that she has unleashed a hairy monster. And when she finally has to buy her own razor blades, she will curse the day she started. This girl needs to know aboutBlade Buddy. Everyone needs to know.

Simply swipe the razor on a soaped up Blade Buddy pad 15-20 times before shaving. New or nearly new blades work best.

Blade Buddy is the way to keep your blade alive so that you are buying blades much less frequently. It prolongs the life of a razor blade for months. The silicone pad is designed with special grooves that work to re-straighten bent blades.  Blade Buddy is a money saver and waste reducer (Billions of razors and packaging are put into landfill each year). It costs about $20.

At least a week has passed since my last shave, and I have just sharpened my razor with Blade Buddy!!
I  took my time and ended up with a great shave. My legs felt super clean!
(btw, this is my knee. A friend of mine asked “what is that?”)
Prior to discovering Blade Buddy via The Balancing Act, my normally fastidious shaving habits had taken a dive. The cost of razor blades dampened desire, plus my former boyfriend was totally cool with my prickly legs. I  am, however currently single, in possession of a Blade Buddy, shaving more frequently, and feeling really optimistic about life in general.
(this blog is dedicated to @casadecrain)


Allegiant Air: AT CHECK-IN, CUSTOMER SERVICE CHECKS OUT

An incident today at the Greenville/Spartanburg airport between an Allegiant employee and a customer leaves me wondering, “Whatever happened to customer service?”

My boyfriend and I were in line to check in for our flight back to Ft. Lauderdale.  There was a nice looking couple ahead of us and one Allegiant  representative behind the counter. She was not tall but I could spy her behind the pens and fake flowers. She did not look up.
After a few minutes of waiting without a word, I asked the couple if they had been acknowledged yet. They said, “Yeah, they said, ‘If you’re going to Ft. Lauderdale you have to wait.’ They won’t check you in till 9:20. If you’re flying to Sanford though, that’s different.”

We waited a bit more. The Allegiant employee never said anything, nor did she look up. The line grew from 4 to 14 quickly, and 2 more Allegiant workers showed up behind the ticket counter. Neither one acknowledged the line. Then came a wave.
The couple ahead of us moved forward. Then, we were waved over. While we were checking in, a man, clearly hurried and harried, came up to the counter.
“Sanford?” he asked. “Did the flight to Sanford leave?”“It pushed back,” the attendant said flatly without looking up.“Can I get on it?”“No, the flight was closed ½ hour ago.”“But it doesn’t leave till 9:50,” he contested. It was 9:15ish.“The flight leaves at 9:30” she replied, still staring down at the computer.“Is there any way I can get on it?” he asked again.“No.”
“What should I do?” he asked, clearly upset.The attendant still did not look at him. “You can buy a ticket to Ft. Lauderdale or St. Pete,” she offered without the slightest atom of compassion.“#&*! U” responded the man who succumbed to dickishness.
My BF and I checked in, and got comfortable at the gate. About 20 minutes later I noticed an Allegiant plane just beyond the window. It was stopped just a few feet from our gate’s jetway. I asked the BF, “Are they towing that in? Is that our plane?” He was engrossed in something on his iPad and didn’t answer. I went back to my work.

A few minutes later, about 30 minutes since checking in, I looked back up. “Hey where’d the plane go?” I asked. From where I was sitting, I couldn’t see it. The BF went to the window. There was no plane! “That wasn’t out plane. That must’ve been the plane to Sanford,” he said.

I understand regulations and duties, but I don’t understand unnecessary rudeness. Perhaps airline employees should be trained on handling stressed out passengers who may miss or do miss their flights. Maybe the new fee for carry-on bags could go toward paying an airline concierge who could step up as needed. If airline employees  practice dispensing bad news with a glimmer of humanity maybe passengers wouldn’t get so dickish.

PATIENCE AND THE FREELANCER

Like most careers, a freelance writing gig has its highs and lows. One of the biggest highs is working with many different clients. One of the biggest lows is chasing paychecks from all those different clients. Besides, putting a wrench in the budget, it just feels crappy to not get paid for work done well and on time.

Thankfully, chasing down clients doesn’t happen often. Usually I see payment within 30 days. Sometimes up to 60. Only once before, did it seem to take more than 3 months, but that company was reorganizing and I did believe that no one was in charge. And now there’s this…


Hey, look at me! I look like I am begging for… um…maybe a paycheck I invoiced 120+ days ago.
It was Day 107 when I started writing this post. And then I hesitated. Maybe it’s not the right thing to do, plus I had that idealistic “oh, it’ll probably come tomorrow” recording playing in my head.

On February 13th, approximately Day 120, I thought, “Hey it’s been 4 months since I sent that invoice.” I’ve been waiting an entire season for a paycheck. In other terms, I have been waiting the time it takes a baby to start solid foods. I got pissed, and resurrected the post.

I tapped on a few keys, then hesitated again. I wrote to the woman who hired me. Mortified that I was still waiting to be paid, she told me that some checks went out on Friday, and that maybe mine was with that bunch. Our fingers were crossed.

Then came Valentine’s Day — a day of love and perhaps…a paycheck! The only exciting thing in my mailbox, however, was a tiny lizard which scared the shit out of me. When I spotted it stationed on the last envelope, nearly white and trying so hard not to be seen, I screeched and threw all the mail in the air. As I collected the letters off the grass, a really cute Wheaton came over to sniff me and say “hello.” That was nice, but the absence of a check was not.

{Confession: I did not sign a contract with this company.}

The freelance gods are frowning upon me; I performed emergency proofreading duties in good faith. I know. I know — a stupid move which actually sometimes makes me think this massive delay is somehow my fault. I hate that that thought actually crosses my mind.

A good friend tells me his sister did a job for the same company, and that they took forever to pay. “But they paid!” he says, attempting to assuage me. I know this is supposed to make me feel better…. kind of like the forgotten 50 you find in a pair of jeans you haven’t worn in a very long time.

I don’t want to sound like an ungrateful, whiny freelance writer — and if you know me personally you know that I am so NOT a WFW, but in the event that I am coming off like one, I shall turn this negative situation into something positive starting….now!

Let’s play…

“GUESS THE NAME OF
THE VERY, VERY SLOW PAYER”

Just leave your answer in the comment section of this blog. If you are correct and the first one to be so (but you may not be a good friend to whom I may have already griped), you’ll receive an autographed copy of a “The Colorful Counting Book,” a short paperback kids book that I made a little too hastily on Lulu. But it’s the thought that counts, right? And it is kind of cute. Oh, I am eager to see the names you come up with, and I do hope you’ll play.

(o.k.- I’m really sorry that the prize is not a cool purse, or a spa service or anything of greater value, but remember, I haven’t been paid — and actually it is kind of cool especially if you have a kid or know a kid that is at the age of learning colors and numbers.)

It is February 15th, and still no check. Maybe tomorrow or the next day or the next or the next or maybe the next………….

This Woman Needs Her Vitamins

(but hasn’t been very good about taking them so far)

I am aware that I NEED to take vitamins. My gynecologist keeps after me to take a multi and my physician tells me to take extra D. I have taken both of them for a few days, and then, after about a year have thrown the money bottles out. I know my health matters — I get that every time I look at my kids. But I’d rather eat an entire pot of sauteed watercress and half an acorn squash than take a vitamin.

When I was recently asked,”Would you like to sample a delicious liquid vitamin?” I immediately said, “Yes!” — thinking this might be the chance to redeem my prior vitamin failures. I was asked to review Passion4Life. I started it 3 weeks ago. I am proud to say that in 21 days I have forgotten to take it twice, and purposely didn’t take it once because I just didn’t feel like it. To my taste buds, you see, it’s not all that delicious.

It’s not horrible either. Each time I approach the bottle, I tell myself that it’s really not that bad and in fact, I think I am getting used to the taste. But I have also perfected the art of ignoring the taste. I don’t pay it much attention as it goes down, and I also refrain from inhaling. And yes, I have tried holding my nose. With every swallow, however, I hope my cells are benefiting tremendously from the 135+ ingredients — many of which I have taken on their own here and there.

After 3 weeks of taking Passion4Life, I don’t see any “OMG WOW” changes, but then I wasn’t expecting anything dramatic. I am not nauseous from this vitamin like I have been from capsules. I feel fine for a women of 48 who gets 5 hours of sleep on average a night. I do believe that a regimen such as this should be complimented with a regular exercise routine which….unless you consider manic typing and dishwasher unloading a work out…I am admittingly still lacking.

Of course I googled Passion4Life before I took it. I watched the segment that aired on Lifetime’s “The Balancing Act.” The 70-year old inventor Charles Van Kessler seems extremely robust for his age and passionate about delivering consumable health to the public. His story is a good one: forced to live in an Amsterdam orphanage during WW II, lived in dreadful condition, ate poorly, sought to regain his health, and then was inspired years later to create his own health business, and also a non-profit called Passion for K.I.D.S. — that gives assistance to kids in desperate situations. I like that a lot.

Vivid Color at the Atlanta Gift Show

Retracing a smidge of the 7 million sq. ft. AmericasMart,
here are 20 instances of eye-popping color.

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all photos taken by me

Top:
Stray Dog’s embroidered shade; French Bull melamine cake plate and server;
belt buckle by Princess and Butch; leather chair by Global Views; E. Lawrence books

2nd Row:
Tweet Tweet HomeDIY bird feeder; Design Legacy floral pillow; Kalalou’s twig deer;
Eames House of Cards mug from Aesthetic Movement showroom; striped shoes from Eliza B.

3rd Row:
necklace from Yellow Owl Studio; turquoise ottoman from Arteriors; Company C wool rug;
TAG floral plate; Pip Studio rectangular bolster

Bottom:
Bike baskets from Nantucket Bike Basket; Michele Keeler Turkish towel thru Karen Alweil Studio; embroidered runners that each take 15 days to make from Gold Leaf Design; gravel and rocks from Accent Decor; wool felt wreath from Cody Foster

Every now and again,
I wonder what it would be like to in a white house.
But I know I never could.

I Am Self Published

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A few hours ago, I joined my desire to write a book with my XOXO of photography and self-published a soft-bound publication through Lulu Press. It is being printed as I write this blog! My 21-page photo book measures 5 1/4″ by 3 1/2″ and has about 150 words and17 original photographs. I called it “The Colorful Counting Book.” It is not destined for adult book clubs, but rather may feel more welcome slipped into a purse before setting out on a cross-town bus with a toddler.

“13 silver shoes” did not make the cut because I felt my niece wouldn’t relate to the old styles
Putting it together was fairly easy considering that I was totally winging it as I uploaded from my vast bank of photos and dragged them onto the pages. I knew that I wanted to make a unique book for my 2 1/2 year old niece. Tired of predictable imagery and licensed characters found in many children’s books, I used photos taken from travels, flea markets, and numerous saunters down the aisles of antique malls. Beyond counting things and identifying colors, I chose photos that can easily spur other conversations and motivate your toddler’s imagination.

Conversely, “4 feet” did make the cut.
Self-published books are creative and thoughtful gifts. They can also be moneymakers. I did not make this book with the intention of selling it, although a Lulu rep, featured on “The Balancing Act” on Lifetime Television, spoke about a woman who self-published a cookbook on the site and sold quite a number of them. If sales happen for this book, well…that’d be a nice surprise. But i want to preview it, hold it in my hands, and judge the quality before I promote it.

I will have an update on “The Colorful Counting Book” on the 26th.

I have a feeling this could be the start of something addictive.

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Naming Names

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Choosing names can be a difficult task because a name is something that sticks for a very long time. From babies to businesses, from pets to domain names. Screen names, user names, blog names, book characters. Names lend distinction. People name boats and estates, even shacks. Women get married and add onto their original, then often wish they never had.

Names last but they are not static. They are susceptible to trends and social influence, falling in and out of favor with the times, celebrities, criminals, world events, even elections.  At some point, everyone wants to be called something different. Just last night, my daughter said she wanted to be named Erica. This is not the first time she’s offered an alternative. She’s 10 and it won’t be the last.

I put a lot of thought into naming my kids. Following in the Jewish tradition, we designated letters, chosen in memory of our grandmothers, to begin the search. I didn’t go to the baby-naming books, but rather, as any magazine editor would do, browsed mastheads. I tested each possibility out loud. I whispered it like I might at bed time. Shouted it like I might at a playground. Spoke the names sternly and softly. I did not want to stick my kids with names that would be frequently misspelled or mispronounced. My husband gave his opinion too. In the end, our two girls were given gender neutral names. First came Dylan Rose, then Sammi (long for Sam) Bea. I can’t really imagine our girls being called anything but what they are.

The son I never had would have been named Ziggy. When my kids hear this, they are grateful they are girls. I fell in major like with “Ziggy.” It conjured up images of a happy-go-lucky bright boy with corkscrew curly hair and a wild side. I imagined he’d grow up to be a doctor, perhaps a pediatrician, and the kids would all clamor after him. “Dr. Ziggy, Dr. Ziggy,”  they would chant endearingly. The caring doctor with boyish good looks and an untamed head of hair would be well-loved. That is the name I chose for the boy I never had, and I may recycle it someday for the dog I hope to have. Please use it if you like!

Did you ever come up with a great name that you couldn’t use? Share it.

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Good Reads for a Healthy, Happy, and Prosperous New Year

January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month and to celebrate the New Year, the health of my cervix and hopefully yours, I wanted to shine a light on three inspiring women authors — Jennifer Grace Safina, Jacqueline Whitmore and Michelle Whitlock — who I have met thanks to my cervix.
At one point in time, the four of us were all present at the National Cervical Cancer Coalition’s annual conference.

This photo was from the National Cervical Cancer Coalition Conference 2009 in Los Angeles. I am in the back row, far right; Jennifer Grace is beside me. Jacqueline Whitmore is in the red dress, far right middle row. Michelle Whitlock is here too, but the photo is too small for me to point her out
* * *

Jennifer Grace Safina and I met five years ago in a classroom. We became fast friends and worked on a cervical cancer awareness campaign together. Jennifer Grace has since become an “executive dream producer.”  She leads motivational seminars and soulful retreats all over the world, for individuals and businesses, in person and on-line, and she was just chosen to be a Hay House author and radio personality. Her book “Directing Your Destiny” will be published in the near future. Here’s Jennifer Grace as she appeared on “The Balancing Act” last month.

Jacqueline Whitmore and I met at the National Cervical Cancer Coalition conference in 2008. Jacqueline, a renowned expert on business protocol, was a guest speaker at the conference, and she shared her own story about surviving cervical cancer. I was moved by her candor and presentation, and we continued a friendship beyond the conference. Recently I was invited to her beautiful home to celebrate the publication of her second book, “Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities that Distinguish Outstanding Professionals.”

Michelle Whitlock was at that conference too, and she shared her dramatic story about survival. Michelle’s passion for life is contagious, and I was happy to learn, after reading a sample chapter a few years back, that her book “How I Lost My Uterus and Found My Voice: A Memoir of Love, Hope & Empowerment” is now published.

Jennifer Grace, Jacqueline and Michelle are each interested in sharing wisdom, techniques, and information that can lead to a life of physical health and spiritual well-being. Something to think about as the new year quietly rolls in.

This blog is dedicated to the memory of a friend, Jeanne Bice, an incredible business woman and funny writer, who beyond building a QVC fashion empire, used words to motivate others and to “Pull Yourself Up by Your Bra Straps.”

For more information about Cervical Health Awareness month, click here.

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AIRPORT LOVE

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Jason Turner has a lot of goodness to come home to.
photo: Jane Dagmi

On Wednesday morning at the Greenville-Spartanburg airport, the Turner family was waiting anxiously. Ansley, Carson, and Laney were waiting for their dad. Little Camden was waiting for his grandfather, and Mr. & Mrs. Turner were waiting for their son. Jason Turner — father, grandfather, and son — was coming home from Afghanistan to spend the holidays with his family, and he is sure to be hugged, kissed, and lovingly admired as soon as he gets within sight of his family.

I am a seasoned airport greeter, and truly love the whole build-up that goes with waiting for family to arrive. My children and I plot ruses that will surprise our visitors but not scare them. I am the front person, seemingly alone, and then the kids jump out from the wings and into the arms of an aunt, cousin, or grandmother. This is our welcoming committee scenario.

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(screen shot taken from the opening airport sequence in “Love Actually.”)

One of my favorite movies, “Love Actually,” pays homage to the wondrous airport love-fest. Beyond the fab mostly British cast — Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Kiera Knightley, and Emma Thompson — who each tackle and triumph with affairs of the heart, the general theme supports the idea that “love is actually all around.” The first and last scenes of the movie take place in airports; the camera, in slow, lyrical motion, catches a multitude of happy reunions. The narrator’s opening sentence is: “Whenever i get gloomy about the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport.”

So if you find yourself in an airport this holiday season, take note of the XOXO that’s all around. It’s pretty spectacular.

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Spruced Up: 5 Easy Christmas Decorating Ideas by Jane Dagmi

We celebrated Hanukkah in our house, but I always loved decorating for Christmas.  I was thankful for our gift-a-night tradition, but for a girl with a penchant for decorating, picking out the colorful candles for the menorah couldn’t compete with picking out ornaments and tinsel for the tree. I was lucky to have friends with trees though, so I got invited to “do Christmas” at their homes. Thank you Linda and Hope.

Fast forward 20 years…

I work at Country Living Magazine; I live and breathe holiday at least 4 months a year. I plan photo shoots in season and pray for snow. I shoot holiday in June and it just feels wrong. Whatever the timing, year after year I come up with new ways to decorate trees, mantles, and any other part of the house, and also hope that the homeowner has done it for me.

Here are 5 easy Christmas decorating ideas — all taken from the pages of Country Living Magazine, from shoots that I produced. Hopefully, one or more will work for you!

Mary Jane’s Porch. Photo: John Blais

1. Paint popsicle stick or twig stars in an unexpected bright color. Buy made or use a glue gun to make yourself.  I chose yellow because it had no traditional holiday connection. It just seemed to go really well with all the red.

Kathryn’s feather tree. Phoho: Keith Scott Morton

2. Cut out paper shapes and punch a hole and hang. Use a stencil, or a Fiskar’s shape punch. Keep it simple or personalize with words, drawing, etc. Other paper goods that work well as ornaments are photos and postcards.

Christine’s pear place cards. Photo: Steven Randazzo

3. Decorate with fruits of the season. Pears are lovely to look at and to taste. Tie a card or tag onto the stem and you’ve got an instant placecard.

Diane’s bounty; photo: Steven Randazzo

4. I never tire of the look of glass jars brimming with colorful ornaments. Each arrangement turns out differently and there are good views from every angle.

Mary Jane’s bed; Photo: John Blais

5.Some beds naturally call for sprucing up, and an open canopy is the perfect spot for some garland swag. A strand of lights makes for a merry mood.

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