What’s up with the Gilded Age? by Gail Ingis

What’s up with the Gilded Age? by Gail Ingis

Watercolor painting of Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum by Gail Ingis

“Victoriana” watercolor painting by Gail Ingis

Read all about it, read all about it,” the young newsboy hollered in the street. “Read about a fabulous home and the fabulous wealthy family who lived there.”

In 1885, Joseph Baldwin purchased a luxury residence at the Sandanko at 72nd Street and Central Park West, on the fringes of the city. He took the top floor dwelling, five stories up, access made possible by a new type of lift, called an elevator. A balcony overlooked a central courtyard and garden. The Baldwins were among the first families to accept the idea of living under a shared roof. Fourteen-foot ceilings, state-of-the-art kitchens, elevators, private courtyards, and servants’ quarters lured them there.

Allie Baldwin stood at the tall, silk-draped window, the latest furnishings imported from France and Italy, by the Herter Brothers, a popular decorating firm employed by the elite. She watched the fall’s colorful leaf dance from the tree branches in Central Park but saw nothing, upset by the latest discourse with her newspaper magnate father, Joseph Baldwin. Her column in The New York Sentinel on the women’s vote had riled the reading audience.

“Our readers want the latest weddings, baby showers, and who’s getting married. No one wants to hear about politics or go to political rallies.”

She planned on interviewing women at today’s rally for the women’s vote at City Hall, but her father wouldn’t give permission. “Papa, I am going regardless and will get those interviews,” she said, turning away with ‘today’ on her lips. She put her arms around him and planted a kiss on his cheek. “I’m sure you know that you have taught me to be courageous and stand up for what I believe.”

Explore the Gilded Age in The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin.

Read all about it in my book, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin, set in the Gilded Age.

Gail Ingis is an artist, author, and designer. gailingis.com
She is currently working on her memoir about her life growing up in Brooklyn in post-World War II America.
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Get Gail’s latest revised releases on Amazon:
The Memorable Mrs. Dempsey and The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin.

 

 

 

 

 

Are We Back to Normal? by Gail Ingis

Are We Back to Normal? by Gail Ingis

Gail and Tom

Now that we are back to normal, wait, are we?

Where are you a year and a half later? Are you homeschooling? Are you working at home? Have you started a new business, a new hobby, new friends via zoom? Not too much has changed for Tom and me. We read, write, edit, do various work, and garden. Tom edited my revised historical novels with their artsy new covers. The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin and The Memorable Mrs. Dempsey will be out August 18, 2021, on the anniversary of women’s right to vote.

Gail’s upcoming releases.

We’re an hour from our New Jersey family, not that I’m complaining, but it might as well be another country. Life is busy, no dropping by, we must arrange get-together dates. We live on the way north, so we get visits from a family going that way. Travelers and the rest of the world must pass through the rolling hills of Connecticut to the upper northern New England states and Canada. Grandkids Ben and Stephanie are on their way to Maine, six hours north of us. The stop here cuts an hour off their trip. Grandkids are refreshing and fun.

“You had a long drive—would you like something cold to drink?” I ask.

Stephanie’s eyes sparkle. “Thanks.”

Refreshing SANPELLEGRINO

“Try this new one we found in Trader Joe’s. It’s delicious. SANPELLEGRINO Italian sparkling drinks Aranciata Rossa, it’s good and so sweet.”

Stephanie shakes her head and holds up her purple plastic water bottle. “Some fresh water and ice are fine, thanks.”

Ben holds up his gray bottle. “Me too.”

Spoil the grandkids, my mantra. Goodies—cookies, ice cream, popcorn—they love popcorn, anything but just water. I grab my colossal can of mega-sized peanuts, fill up small scoops, and hand them out. They munch the nuts and sip the water. It satisfies me for a minute. Feeding them supper—pizza, hamburgers and fries, dessert from the Portuguese bakery here in town, Pastéis de Nata, custard tarts with a rich egg custard nestled in shatteringly crisp pastry and chocolate chip cookies the size of your fist. That’s more like it.

These grown-up grandkids, Stephanie, nurse, Ben, mechanical engineer, like any friends I have, propose exciting subjects. Technological changes over the last sixty years. Unknown challenges. I’ve rewired. It’s a struggle, but each wrangle gets easier, even now whoever heard of plugging in a phone to recharge. What the heck? Batteries run life, like a hybrid car. Huh?

My most memorable decade, the 1950s and the polio epidemic summer, all the pools closed, the beaches empty. At fifteen, mother hurried me for my polio vaccine to a nearby doctor. Tom’s brother Will caught the dreaded polio. His right hand suffered from the crippling polio. According to the June 2021 AARP magazine, those who had polio can relapse in their elder years, like shingles from chickenpox.

I danced halfway through the ‘50s. My fav, the lindy, renamed the swing! Can you hear Tommy Dorsey piping in the swingin’ music? Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers swirling and twirling.

Lilian August classic walnut desk

Ben and Steph, both homeschooled. Will they homeschool when they have kids? Maybe. We all agree there’s no simple answer for the best education. The evening ends too soon. That six-hour drive calls for an early rise. We don’t hear a sound when they leave. We’ll have another visit soon, delivering the classic walnut five-foot Lillian August desk to their new home. A gift from us.

How did you make it through with your crew? Who was the first person outside of your bubble that you hugged?

A Fresh View of Spring in a Post-Covid World

A Fresh View of Spring in a Post-Covid World

Breakfast Duchess-style: Eggs overlays, sausage, home fries very well-done, and whole wheat bread. We get one order and split. SO GOOD!

We passed the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 and I hope we will never pass another anniversary like it ever again. Tom and I recently had our first and second vaccines and we’re getting out a bit more too. We go for our morning walks and a few times a week we enjoy our favorite breakfast at our local Duchess restaurant in Fairfield, CT. It’s not very busy when we go and it’s nice to get back to a routine that is feeling more like “normal”.

Covid didn’t keep us down though, Tom and I have been busy revising my books Indigo Sky (soon to be re-released as THE MEMORABLE MRS. DEMPSEY) and THE UNFORGETTABLE MISS BALDWIN. Tom is the best editor I could ask for. I can’t wait to re-release both books with brand new covers, I’ll let everyone know when they come out.

Spring is in the air and soon our flowers will bloom and our backyards will be a lovely oasis. With that in mind, here are some lovely images of spring I painted a few years back. I hope these pictures give you hope for renewal and healing as we move forward. Enjoy!

Bridge to Tranquility

New England Peace

Waterfall at Lake Mohegan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned for a sneak peek next month. 🙂

All the best,

Gail Ingis.

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter, and interior designer.

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My First Blog in 2021

My First Blog in 2021

Happy New Year! May it be as lovely and beautiful as a flower. Cheers to my first blog of 2021.

I enjoy hard work, challenges, and love learning new skills, even flower growing.  My neighbor, Janet, gave me the most beautiful Amaryllis, here, that I watched grow from a seedling, and my older orchid bloomed the loveliest velvet flower, here. It’s fascinating to watch the plants grow. I have a new Christmas cactus, red, and it has thorns. I never had one of those with thorns, that I discovered picking it up. Ouch!!!

After five years I got my rights back for Indigo Sky from my publisher. The book belongs to me now.

Did you know when a publisher publishes your book, they own it. I’m not free to do anything. I had to ask permission for ads, for re-writes, for distribution, and so on.

Now I own the book and making a lot of changes that I knew I wanted to make. I’m re-writing Indigo Sky. And it’s lots of fun.

Some say to change the title, some say don’t bother to change the title. I had to change the cover though because the existing cover art belonged to the publisher. I have my new cover ready to go and will share it with you here soon. I’m more than halfway through the re-write. I’ll put out a request for updates on the reviews and in return, I’ll provide a free copy of the book.

I’m done writing my brother’s memoirs, he’s working on finishing, which gives me time to go back to writing mine.

I’m busy, so in order to get my memoirs written without distractions I signed up for a memoir workshop. Part of the requirements is to write at least fifteen pages every week for eight weeks, which will get me on a roll. I’m writing each chapter as an essay. I have a page full of subjects.

Over the last twenty years or so, my friends have encouraged me to write about my life, about how I found the Lord, and how I managed my careers–music, art and design, writing, and teaching.

I’m all ears to hear what you have to say.

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter, and interior designer.

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2020: The Crappy Year in Review by Rebecca Heflin

2020: The Crappy Year in Review by Rebecca Heflin

It’s my pleasure to introduce Author Rebecca Heflin as my guest today. Rebecca captured my heart with her dedication to help others, to help organize the blogs for Soul Mate Publishing, and read on for the other million things about this amazing working woman.

Author Rebecca Heflin

This time last year I was making my holiday preparations, which included the honor of presiding over the marriage of my nephew and his fiancée on Christmas Day—a truly joyous way to spend the holiday. This time last year, I was looking forward to a new year, fresh with the promise of a new start. Which meant, this time last year, I was blissfully ignorant of what was to come. Instead, I was naively planning two international trips, a local canoe and camping trip, several charity events, two weddings, countless family and social gatherings, and the celebration of my 25th wedding anniversary.

Who could have imagined it wouldn’t be long before the world would be living the plot of some sci-fi thriller?

January and February bumped along as normal, with work, exercise classes, dinners with friends, and preparations for the release of my 10th novel. By the end of February, the dark edges of the coming storm were visible.

The first weekend in March was my birthday. I celebrated it that Friday with dinner out and a show at our local performing arts center. There was also an out of town wedding that Saturday, which my husband and I attended. Looking back, being in those very public venues probably wasn’t the smartest decision on our part, but the tidal wave had not yet hit our area. March 17th was my last day in the office, as the university I work for shut down and sent its employees home to work remotely. It would be only a day or two later when the entire state would go under lockdown.  Again, in my naiveté, I thought things would be back to normal in a month or so. Silly me.

Zoom meetings would become a regular occurrence in my daily life, and the next few months were a blur of fear and adjustments, as my husband and I created new routines for ourselves. We limited our grocery shopping to once a week. If we didn’t pick up an item during that weekly visit, we just lived without until the following week. Toilet paper (when the store had it) was priced at roughly the equivalent of a gram of gold. Preparing for grocery shopping felt a little like preparing to enter a contaminated laboratory: masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes at the ready. After returning home, it felt like entering a decontamination unit: washing hands, wiping down groceries, and disinfecting everything we touched.

We watched in horror as the numbers rose and people died—many of them frontline workers. I obsessed over the daily case counts, horrified when we hit 1 million cases in the U.S., not even considering that we would reach double-digit case counts in a few short months.

It wasn’t all bad, however. We also watched the world come together in a common experience. Music and voices rose from city terraces. Drive-by birthday, anniversary, and graduation ceremonies became a thing with horns beeping, lights flashing, and signs waiving. Humanity found a way to celebrate life’s milestones even amid a pandemic.

For me, working from home meant no commute. This freed up time for other things. And the lack of social engagements and other commitments meant time for jigsaw puzzles, minor home improvements, and gardening. Not to mention more quality time with my husband. We had a beautiful spring—cooler than average temperatures, and beautiful low-humidity days—which gave us the opportunity for more outdoor activities like corn-hole games, bike rides, and long walks. Life slowed down, and I couldn’t complain about that.

2020

As we learned more about how the virus was spread, and businesses opened up again, we developed a routine that gave us a little more flexibility. Masked and otherwise following the public health guidelines, we gradually began to leave our sterile cocoon. We had friends over for outdoor socially-distanced dinners (BYOF). We began supporting our local restaurants with take-out or delivery, eventually feeling comfortable dining outside at our favorites.

In May, my husband and I celebrated a quiet, but romantic 25th wedding anniversary—not exactly how we had imagined, but nice just the same.

We took three short driving vacations, 2 to the mountains of North Carolina, and 1 to the beach in the Florida panhandle. The change of scenery provided a welcome respite to the sameness of the daily routines.

After working remotely for 6 months, I returned to my office, but still isolated from my co-workers. I only see them masked and walking in the hallway or on Zoom. It was surreal when I entered my office in September to see the calendar still on March.

Here we are again with Christmas past and New Year’s fast-approaching. There is a light, in the form of vaccines, at the end of this long dark tunnel that is 2020. It will take some time, and more patience is necessary, but we will get there. We will overcome this. The world did it in 1918-1919, and we will do it in 2020-2021.

But will the world ever be the same again? I, for one, won’t be. I am forever changed by this experience. I will never again be blissfully ignorant. I have lost my innocence.

Even so, not all the changes are bad. I have come to appreciate so many things I took for granted: my health, my family, freedom of movement, hugs and kisses shared among family and friends, big gatherings and shared social experiences. And my good fortune. Throughout it all, I have wanted for none of life’s necessities. I can’t ask for more than that from the crappy year that was 2020.

Rebecca Heflin is a best-selling, award-winning author who has dreamed of writing romantic fiction since she was fifteen and her older sister sneaked a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Shanna to her and told her to read it. Rebecca writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. When not passionately pursuing her dream, Rebecca is busy with her day-job at a large state university.

Rebecca is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, and Florida Writers Association. She and her mountain-climbing husband live at sea level in sunny Florida.

Rebecca can be reached at rebeccaheflin@hotmail.com. Feel free to touch base with her.

All of her books are available on Amazon
as well as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Eden Books.
The third book in Rebecca Heflin’s Seasons of Northridge Series, A Season to Dream, will be released mid-2021.

Christmas Cookies Never Go Out of Style

Christmas Cookies Never Go Out of Style

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Every year my family can’t wait for the famous Christmas Cookie Exchange. My sons and family bake dozens of thumbprint cookies and give them away, Well, that is after all the tweedles munch on the first batch, and dine on part of the second. I may have one or two cookies, I say rolling my eyes. Not only does my waistline expand this time of year, my clothes shrink.

Look at those lights!

Baking these cookies is a must. My neighbors will graciously accept our donations. Nothing like a cookie to make folks smile.

Family favorite Thumbprint Cookies (Recipe below)

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Cookie tray Thumbprint cookies & Meringue

Cookie tray Thumbprint cookies & Meringue cookies

 

Thumbprint Cookies: Gail Ingis’s recipe
½ pound butter (2 sticks) or 1 cup Crisco
2 egg yolks
½ cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1teaspoon vanilla
1 bag of walnut meal (at Trader Joe’s) or ground walnuts
Mix ingredients (EXCEPT THE EGG WHITE)

Roll into approximately ½” balls then roll into the walnut meal, place on cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 2 minutes, depress center with thumb, then finish baking approximately 12 minutes for larger cookie or 5-8 minutes for smaller cookie. If you like crispy, bake until edges are slightly browned. When cool, fill depressed center with the icing mixture: a combination of slightly warm water, vegetable food coloring and confectioners sugar to an almost pasty consistency. (Color for holidays if desired).

Enjoy! And Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Cooking! Eating!

Gail Ingis Claus is an author, artist/painter, and interior designer.

My current books to be edited and have cover updates.

 

Twelve Days of Christmas Goodwill Challenges

Twelve Days of Christmas Goodwill Challenges

This year Christmas will be different for all.

Who doesn’t love to spend time with family and friends to celebrate the holidays? This year’s parties are off our go-to lists. We’ll be hunkered down in our bubbles. Let’s seek the best holiday cards to shout our cheer, celebrate with virtual games and dress in our finest.

Check out my list below for this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas (and one more).

 

 

Suggestions?
Email me: gailingisclaus@gmail.com.

Twelve heartfelt challenges and one more!

  1. Bring a plate of cookies to your neighbors.
  2.  Make a batch of goodies for doctors and nurses and drop them off at the hospital.
  3. Send an electronic gift card to a single mom.
  4. Send a funny ecard to your co-workers. American Greetings and Jacquie Lawson are my favorites.
  5. Buy a coffee card and ask the cashier to use them for the next person.
  6. Pay for a take-out meal for the person in line behind you.
  7. Drop off holiday cards to a local nursing home.
  8. Volunteer in the community.
  9. Help a neighbor clean up their leaves.
  10. Write a note of encouragement to a retail worker.
  11. Declutter and donate. Give to a homeless person and include a face mask and hand sanitizer.
  12. Donate canned goods to churches, synagogues, inside the entrance of Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and your favorite supermarket.
  13. Contribute to Toys for Tots at your local police station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My current books to be edited and have cover updates.

 

Possible future book cover circa 1886,

FEELING BEAUTIFUL DURING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

FEELING BEAUTIFUL DURING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

Gail in red

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and The Holiday Season is usually the time of year when we love to add a bit of sparkle and color to our beauty regimens. Let’s get dressed up even though we might be spending this Holiday Season at home. Take pictures, videos, and hop online to celebrate with everyone. And what better way to look your best than by using healthy and clean beauty products. That’s why I’ve been using BeautyCounter for almost four years.

I want to share with you a brief history of BeautyCounter, founded by Gregg Renfrew, and why it’s revolutionizing the beauty industry.

Gregg Renfrew, Founder of Beautycounter

Gregg Renfrew: Like many of you, I’m a wife and mom—and, like many of you, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. As I applied sunscreen, lotion, and any number of beauty products on myself and my kids, I never thought for a second they might not be safe: After all, I thought, we live in a country that regulates everything. So imagine my surprise when I learned that when it comes to the personal care industry, that’s simply not the case. Companies are allowed to use harmful ingredients and make their own judgments about safety. And so I started Beautycounter, a company devoted to progress. Here you’ll find a wealth of empowering information about ways we can all make the world healthier, along with safer products you can trust. Because we all deserve better. Our vision is bold; real answers are never timid. Help us put truth back in beauty.

Our Mission To get safer products into the hands of everyone. Decades of studies indicate that serious health issues (including but not limited to asthma, cancer, and infertility) are on the rise and are due in some part to our ongoing exposure to toxic chemicals—whether it’s in the shower, on our commute, while we eat lunch at a local restaurant, or when we clean our kitchens at home.
There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today. Many don’t have any safety data. This is particularly true of those used in the skincare and beauty industry. What’s worse is that the Food and Drug Administration (the agency that regulates cosmetics in the United States) allows companies to use chemicals known to be extremely harmful in the products we put on our bodies and on our kids’ bodies every single day, day after day, and to make their own judgments about safety. It’s time for a change.
The United States has not passed a major federal law to regulate the safety of ingredients used in personal care products since 1938. Over the past two decades, the European Union has banned more than 1,300 chemicals in the product formulas of personal care products and restricted the levels of over 250 more in such products. The United States has only partially banned 30 to date.
We deserve better, and we’re doing something about it. At Beautycounter, we’re committed to a health and safety standard that goes well beyond what’s required by U.S. law: We’ve banned the use of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals through our “Never List”— all while ensuring our products perform and that they’re as indulgent as any other shampoo, lipstick, or oil in the market. It’s not easy work, but it’s well worth it. This is about progress—not perfection. Because every little bit counts.

Learn more about the impact the environment is having on your health.

www.beautycounter.com/ourstory

The prestigious and reliable Scientific American Magazine speaks: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-safe-are-cosmetics/

And just in time for The Holidays- BeautyCounter’s 15% off Black Friday Sale is ON!!!!! Almost everything is included…including gift sets!!! Free Shipping on orders over $50 too. I would be honored if you shopped from me. 🥰

🛒🛍

Give a gift of BEAUTYCOUNTER products. Beauty inside and out.

🛒🛍

My link is below!👇🏼

http://www.Beautycounter.com/gailingis

Gail Ingis is an interior designer, artist, and multi-published author. She is also a wife, mom, and grandma. She takes care of her skin using BeautyCounter. You can contact Gail at gailingisclaus@gmail.com.
Yikes! I’m Going Gray at 84!

Yikes! I’m Going Gray at 84!

Hi-lights and trim

The COVID pandemic, while challenging and exhausting in so many ways has had one positive effect on me and, I suspect on you too. It has helped me “embrace” my gray hair – the color represents those years of trial and error–and all the little pieces woven into my hair. I recently went back to the hairdresser for the first time since COVID, and I decided to let my “golden years” show. 🙂

“Please do not touch my roots,” I said to my hairdresser, “I just want hi-lights.  I want my gray hair to be my face frame.” My older brother, Jay, (he’s 88) has a head full of the most beautiful light gray hair with streaks of white. If I let mine grow, it could be similar, we are alike in many ways. And I’m not losing my hair anymore. Imagine that? Bleaching my hair since I’m thirteen, honest, my mom didn’t like my hair getting dark–then I adopted the system, coloring my hair for so long.

The saying You are only as old as you feel, or look. That is a fact for me. My health and appearance are important. I stay active and walk every morning with my hubby Tom. I enjoy ballroom dancing and sometimes Tom does too, although our dancing shoes are back in the closet for the time being because of COVID.

Beautycounter products are my go to for my skin and hair. Beautycounter’s new serum in the yellow bottle is made to act like Botox for those fine lines, and even for some of the other lines. Apply the serum before your Beautycounter face cream and makeup. But the difference is – it’s not harsh on your skin and it’s environmentally safe. I’m a consultant passing on great products for my friends and family. Today, with everyone concerned about health and the health of our families – what we put on our skin matters. And what we put into the environment matters too. Beautycounter is fast becoming a leader in healthy, safe and beauty products that make a difference and don’t forget the safe shampoos and conditioners, and sunscreen. Take a peek at Beautycounter’s Summer Skin Saviors – I’m sure you’ll love them as much as I do.

The best part of beautycounter is that it’s more than great products, it’s a movement.

Summer Skin Saviors

Warmer weather calls for lightweight yet powerful #betterbeauty-to refresh, protect, and perfect your skin.

SUMMER SKIN SAVIORS LP 2400 1340

Gail in red

All the products here are fabulous, with no fragrance, and no harsh chemicals. The yellow bottle is the “All Bright C Serum.” You can order through me beautycounter.com/gailingis or let me know what you would like, touch base, give me your cc, and I’ll order for you.

Are you interested in looking your best at any age and using products that not only are good for you but not harmful to the environment? You can reach me at gailingisclaus@gmail.com. And I’ll give you more details and background about these wonderful skincare products that have contributed to my well being. Come be part of my team.

https://www.beautycounter.com/gailingis?goto=/summer-skin-saviors

 

My current books

Need Directions?

Need Directions?

 

Are you in need of directions? No problem. You can find them at Walmart (and other stores too). Just follow the arrows. Go no later than 7:30 am, plan to be done by the bewitching hour—8:00 am.

Seniors are privileged on Tuesday’s from 6:00 am to 7:00 am. In case you didn’t know, we are seniors. No one is there except the folks that work there when they are friendly, smiley and eager to please, until the bewitching hour when no one follows the arrows. I had to wait in line for my turn to get into the isle because a man was taking up the space with his cart going the wrong way. Hopefully, he doesn’t drives his car the same way. I could tell right through her mask that the lady behind me made a face toward him. I said it’s okay, you go next when the man decides he’s done, just be careful as he comes out of the isle. I’ll come back later.

 

Tom and his cart

I needed a little notebook for my lists, and only a worker was in the stationary isle. I

asked if he had a pencil to try in the notebook spiral. I felt guilty because he turned one of the desks inside out to find one for me. I was impressed and thanked him lots. I told the young man to never mind because the spiral looked like it would work. He smiled and thanked me. Imagine that?

What does Walmart have that makes us a shopper there? Can’t usually beat the prices. And their knockoffs in various departments are terrific, and I’m not talking about clothes, but feminine things, vitamins, over the counter meds, and more.

Guess what they have lots of . . . bleach.

Lots of bleach

My current books

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