Published Writing Sample Archive

Kendra Scott Unveils New Jewelry Collection

Pack your bags for an exotic adventure with Kendra Scott as she unveils her Fall 2013 Collection, Modern Treasures. The collection is complete with gems inspired by the Mediterranean to the Red Sea.

New Pieces from Modern Treasures

Depart from traditional jewelry collections and experience wanderlust, with a wealth of crown jewels Helen of Troy would proudly display. Paying tribute to the Fall 2013 Collections of Balmain, Lanvin and Peter Som, Kendra’s latest line combines 1970s vintage flair and timeless heirlooms to create ornate, stately pieces for the modern globetrotter.

New pieces from the Modern Treasure Collection

Like a 21st century Cleopatra, journey to the Sahara desert on a Red Chariot and sail the Blue Nile with angular pyramid gems incased in filigree patterns in majestic jewel tones. The collection is reminiscent of trinkets hidden in a treasure trove.

New Pieces from the Modern Treasure collection

Modern Treasures is filled with rich hues like dark red onyx and azure onyx. Even cobalt Cats Eye comes roaring into view in this distinguished collection. Evocative of the fierce Black Jaguar worshiped in ancient Egyptian culture, you will be a marvel in the Kendra Scott Fall 2013 Collection.

New pieces from the Modern Treasure Collections

Embark on your journey today at Scottsdale Quarter Boutique, who is carrying Scott’s new collection.

http://scottsdalelivingmagazine.com/

Meet the Model

Meet Kristen Pyland, one of Phoenix Fashion Week‘s beautiful up and coming models. Catch her on the runway’s of this years Fashion week October 1 to 5. 

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How did you start modeling? I started modeling when I went to an open call for Phoenix Fashion week’s MIMS fashion show last year.

How long have you been modeling?

I have been modeling for almost two years now.

What type of modeling do you like most?

Runway is my favorite part because I show up and get to see all my friends, wear outfits that are about to hit the stores, and it’s not behind the scenes like photo shoots are.

What was your most memorable shoot? My favorite shoot was with Steven Trujillo on my 18th birthday. He is so passionate about his work and makes sure anyone has a great time. He really sets the mood and creates so many different looks in one shoot.

What is your favorite part about being a model?

My favorite part about being a model is learning to have confidence because it is important to be completely comfortable with your true self.

Do you have all time favorite shot of yourself? One of my favorite shots on the runway was at Studio 3D during the shop garment district when I was modeling one of Doux Belle’s gowns. The feather hat, beautiful necklace, and long gloves reminded me of playing dress up when I was younger.

Have you mastered your cat walk yet?

My catwalk is still a work in progress. I feel as if I will always be able to learn something or get a tip anytime we have practice to improve my walk.

How do you keep in model shape?

To keep in shape I do Pilates and yoga at my gym that’s across the street. Also, I take a jazz dance class at my school that boots my endurance and betters my flexibility.

What is your favorite thing to do off the run way?

Off the set I still like to keep busy. I’m always outdoors hiking, camping, boating, fishing, or swimming with my friends. Now since I’m in college I like to go home as often as possible to spend time with my family as well.

What is the hardest part about being a model?

The hardest part about being a model is the stereotypes society automatically gives you. Coming into Phoenix Fashion Week I was apprehensive about meeting all the girls, but was pleasantly surprised. I have gained so many true friends in such a short period of time. We are honestly like a huge family now.

What advice do you have for aspiring models?

The best advice for someone wanting to come into the modeling world is to have fun with it and come with an open mind. You will get as much out of it as you put in. That means come to all the practices, make as many friends as you can, learn the makeup and clothes tips, and enjoy every minute. The opportunities are incredible, so always participate because you never know what lies ahead or who’s watching.

Read more of my work at ScottsdaleLivingMagazine.

More Pictures of Kristen

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New Botox Alternatives 

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It is no secret that skin loses elasticity, as we get older. This causes skin on the face and body to get loose, which can give people an older appearance. Luckily we no longer have to turn to the classic face-lift.

Body Beautiful Day & Med Spa, 4449 North 24th Street Phoenix is the first day spa in the area to offer The Fractora™ Firm by Invasix. The Fractora™ Firm is the newest generation of safe skin tightening technology.

“We’re so excited to be the first day spa in the Phoenix area to have this next generation non-surgical skin tightening technology,” said Marlena Kruger, Executive Director of Body Beautiful Day & Med Spa. “The temperature precision provided by Fractora™ Firm yields the best results of the many similar machines we have evaluated.”

The process of Fractora™ is unlike most other skin tightening treatments. Rather than making incisions, licensed senior laser technicians gently heat skin to an optimal temperature, which causes the skin to naturally remodel and contract.

The result is tighter and firmer skin. The treatment can repair loose skin on the face, jaw, neck, upper arms forearms, upper thighs, knees, and post baby tummy skin.

The Fractora™ Firm is the first skin-tightening device designed with a built-in temperature control that ensures that the optimal skin tightening temperature is reached, and ensures that safe temperatures are never exceeded. Keep in mind these radio frequency treatments are not regulated in the state of Arizona.

Unlike previous skin tightening methods Fractora only takes 30 minutes. There is also no hospitalization or recovery period. After the skin is heated it becomes tighter and firmer. This ensures that each client receives an exceptionally qualified treatment. While each treatment provides visible results, a series of six to eight treatments provides optimal results.

Trend Tuesday: ‘Tis the Season to Accessorize

As cold weather comes in, new trends in jewelry do as well. Big gems and rings are making their way into this fall’s forecast. Local boutiques can contest that these are their customers’ season favorites and employees’ favorites as well.

Event coordinator for Kendra Scott of Scottsdale Sabrina Spector says the most popular jewelry in the store is drusy. The dark stone is perfect for the cool weather, she says. The pieces range from $65 to $125.

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Agate earrings by Kendra Scott.

“Our customers cannot get enough of our beautiful drusy pieces,” Spector says.

Spector has a favorite of her own though. She loves this season’s new iridescent agate earrings.

“It is my favorite because when the light catches it, these earrings look absolutely stunning on,” she says.

Threads by the Shine Project‘s favorite trend this fall is also gems, but with a little bit of charity. Every Threads bracelet bought will help a student financially. The most popular threads are the costume

Threads bracelet.
Threads bracelet.

bracelet stacks. Mix and match gems to make a unique stack of your own. The prices range from $12 to $24.

“I am loving the small and delicate charms on a simple chain,” Brooke Carlson of Threads says.

At Frances Vintage, silver adorned with turquoise is the popular combination at the moment. Knuckle rings are flying off the shelves, too. Sara Matlin from Frances reveals that knuckle rings is her favorite as well.

Ring from Frances Vintage.
Ring from Frances Vintage.

She also likes a stacking ring bands together. For only $6 each, Matlin recommends buying a few to mix and match.

Clutch Jewelry is wearing its jewels a different way. Stacy Eden of Clutch says putting rings on a long chain gives a retro look that’s multifunctional.

Her favorite rings to put on a chain have big baroque and snake prints on them. These rings are handmade and come in silver, gold and bronze, starting at $98.

“The bigger and more detailed the better! Snakes have always fascinated me…The way they move captivates me to my core,” Eden says.

Willis Elkins
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Willis Elkins, a Texas native, is a founding member of the North Brooklyn Boat Club in Greenpoint.

Today, he currently volunteers at the club as a canoe leader and instructor to provide members access to the Greenpoint and Williamsburg waterways.

His curiosity for the waterway partly started the North Brooklyn Boat Club.

Elkins began exploring Brooklyn’s waterways, and soon found plenty of people that shared the same interest. Together, the like-minded group founded the boat club.

Elkins said the boating season begins in May and runs until the water gets too cold in October. The 2013 boating season has already begun.

During the season, the boat club provides environmental education about the polluted water they canoe on, however Elkins believes Newtown Creek has the potential to get much cleaner.

“The water has had 150 years of pollution,” Elkins said, however adding that, “there is a low risk of exposure” when joining in the boating excursions.

Elkins, who became an expert on the water as a kid when he began practicing at youth summer camps, now teaches his students about the history, ecology and wildlife of the Newtown Creek.

For a monthly fee of $40, members can join Elkins and the boat club in a series of bimonthly events on the second and fourth Saturdays of every month. These events also allow non-members to come and set sail for free.

On a side note, his volunteer work has also resulted in his Lighter Life project, a program he developed in 2010 when he started collecting and photographing lighters he found while out sailing.

While Elkins said he is finished with Lighter Life, he is not yet finished collecting while canoeing. “I still collect interesting things I find,” he said.

The items he rounds up now revolve around the theme of place or type of item, all told through the lesson offered on the creek.

Read more: Queens Ledger – Willis Elkins

New NYC Soccer Franchise has High-Profile Owners

New York City Football Club, the 20th Major League Soccer franchise, has been bought by a partnership between Manchester City Football Club and the New York Yankees, MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced Tuesday.As part of the announcement, Garber said the team will play its inaugural season in 2015 in an interim home. The club’s new management will continue MLS’ discussion with the city about building a new stadium in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, but will explore other sites as well.“The league has been engaged in this process for close to a year with the city of New York on trying to reach agreements in Flushing Meadows Park,” said Garber. “At the same time, we were looking to secure an ownership group and we are here today proudly announcing Man City and the Yankees.“The ownership group will look at what we’ve been able to present to them as a relate to pushing Flushing Meadow Park and try to see if that deal is one that makes sense, but only after they have gone out into the community to do the kinds of things the Yankees have done in the Bronx,” added Garber.Currently the football club is not only looking to make New York a house but a home as well. This means the NYCFC is looking to have a positive relationship with the public.“This is not only about finding a place to build a stadium, this is about finding a home,” said Ferran Soriano, CEO of MCFC. “We want ew York City FC to have a home. That means basically that first and foremost listen to people. Listen to the community. Listen to the stakeholders and make sure whatever we build, we are embraced by the community and we become family”,While groups opposed to the stadium are still worried about the stadium deal in Flushing Meadows, news that alternate sites would be explored was welcome.“We welcome Major League Soccer to New York City,” read a statement by the Fairness Coalition of Queens. “We are pleased with their new willingness to consider other sites in New York. The proposal for a stadium inside the heart of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is deeply flawed and would irrevocably damage a vital community resource.Until the club has a permanent home it will play at an interim venue, and it is possible that will be Yankee Stadium. Other sites could include Red Bull arena or Belmont Park.“At this point it’s premature to comment on any temporary venues,” said Garber. “We’ve got work to do to assure that we’ve got the right temporary facility for them to hit the ground in 2015, so more to come on that in the months ahead.”

Read more: Queens Ledger – New NYC soccer franchise has high profile owners

A Garden Grows in Long Island City

The ribbon was cut on the expansion of the Long Island City Roots community garden last week.In April 2002, the first tree in the garden was planted in memory of Firefighter Michael Brennan and others who lost their lives on 9/11. The garden eventually lost that space, and in 2004 asked permission from the MTA to fill in a section of unused railroad track.The new expansion, located at 29-08 47th Ave., will open the doors to a whole new group of gardening enthusiasts.The new features include a rainwater harvesting system and a bee farm helping with pollination and also to create honey.“Bees don’t really care about you,” said GrowNYC member Lenny Librizi. “They really care about flowers. It’s safe as long as you don’t get in their way.”GrowNYC manages and maintains the garden with help from students at Wagner High School International High School.“When you bring these kids into the space, it’s as though they have never experienced life before,” said Terry Born, vice chair of GrowNYC. “They don’t understand the connection between taking your hand, putting a seed in the ground and then it pops up.”Some of the planting beds at the garden are open to the public, and gardeners are allowed to keep their bed contingent on good gardening behavior. There is now a waiting list.“Since I have moved into New York City this is actually the one glowing bright spot,” said Gerard, a gardener at LIC Roots.The garden is open everyday to non-gardeners from sunup to sundown, and is popular with area office workers and students from LaGuardia Community College.

Read more: Queens Ledger – A Garden Grows in Long Island City

A Parade to Remeber our Fallen Veterans
Forest Hills Parade
Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade
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Hundreds gathered on Metropolitan Avenue to watch the annual Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade on Sunday. Bands, Boy and Girl scouts, and local residents marched with veterans and elected officials through the heart of Forest Hills.

The Memorial Day parade is a way for people to remember and give thanks to those who fought for the country, and helps keep the true meaning of the holiday alive in the neighborhood.

“We’ve got to remember over 500,000, almost 600,000, American men and women have died against oppression, and that’s what we’re here for today,” said former state senator, parade grand marshal, and veteran Serphin Maltese.

“The community is getting together and commemorating the veterans who died for the country,” said fellow grand marshal Melinda Katz. “I think it’s a great thing.”

Thomas Long, commander of the American Legion Continental Post 1424, agreed that the parade is necessary in keeping the legacy of fallen soldiers alive.

“I hope the community, the veterans, we all come together to honor those that have given their all,” Long said. “I think that is what we all should get from this.”

Robert E. O’Malley, a former Vietnam marine and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, has been marching in the parade for 18 years. Standing alongside fellow veteran Tom Hayes, the two looked forward to having a drink at the end for the friends they lost in battle.

“We tip a beer for them, because they can’t,” Hayes said.

Read more: Queens Ledger – A parade to remember our fallen veterans

Valeen Bhat
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Valeen Bhat realized her childhood dreams of becoming an art teacher after starting Private Picassos seven years ago.

Bhat was raised on a sheep farm in New Jersey by her parents, who were both artists. She ventured to New York at the age of 18 to study art.

“I always knew I wanted to come to New York,” Bhat said.

With in-home and on-site lessons in printmaking, drawing, painting, sculpting and more, Bhat said Private Picassos is willing to “tailor to students,” meaning the private classes are flexible with content and schedule.

“We customize to each client,” she said.

Her students range in age from as young as 18 months to adults, but she says her average client is in the age range of two to eight years old.

“I love working with kids,” Bhat said.

She says young children are more likely to be creative and explore, and do not worry about making mistakes and being wrong or right.

“Older kids put pressure on themselves,” she explained.

Bhat said her art school teaches lessons that will help in other aspects of life as well.

“It’s a great outlet,” she explained. “It helps them become stronger adults.”

Bhat says the best thing about her art school is the self-confidence it gives her students.

“My favorite moment is when my students are quietly working,” she said about getting them “in the zone.”

Read more: Queens Ledger – Valeen Bhat

 Push to Bring Full Gambling to Resorts

Queens elected officials and business leaders are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to remember New York City when it comes to legalizing gambling in the state.

They held a rally on the steps of Queens Borough Hall last week urging the governor to amend his plan to only allow full gambling in upstate casinos, and instead bring it to the Resorts World New York racino in Queens.

Cuomo is against bringing table gaming to New York because he believes it will ultimately hurt tourism and the overall economy of upstate New York. He proposes opening three casinos upstate, while placing a five-year ban on casinos from opening in the city, Long Island and the northern suburbs.

The plan is still subject to approval by the state legislature.

Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, disagrees with the notion that a casino in the city would kill the prospect of success for upstate gambling.

“It’s not an either-or proposition,” he said last week. “There is room for both.”

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder believes that the city could use the economic activity created by a full-gaming casino, especially in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and that the rest of the state benefits from a robust economy in New York City.

“If we are going to grow our economy, we’ve got to find a way to do it in Queens,” he said.

Business leaders and elected officials also praised Resorts World for being a good neighbor to the local community, and believe the company would be able to bring full gambling to the city in a responsible manner.

They cite the company’s willingness to address community concerns, as well as its commitment to hiring locally.

“Resorts World has been an outstanding economic catalyst for the borough,” said Al Pennisi, president of the chamber. “The overwhelming revenue from the casino demonstrates that people thoroughly enjoy the venue, but it’s also important to note that Resorts World makes a special effort to hire locally.”

Resorts World has an unoccupied third floor that could easily accommodate expanded betting, and the addition of even more gaming would create an estimated 1,000 more jobs.

“We need strong job creation to make sure our communities are able to rebuild,” said Goldfeder. “I’m confident Resorts World is the partner to finally get our economy back.”

Read more: Queens Ledger – Push to bring full gambling to Resorts World

Final Weekend For the Big Apple Circus 
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A look under the ten

The Big Apple Circus, back for the 35th year at Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows, is leaving town after this weekend.

According to general manager Tom Larson, Paul Binder and Michael Christensen began performing as street jugglers in Europe in 1977. After being recruited for a circus and getting a taste of performing under the big tent, they returned to the United States.

“The Big Apple Circus was born under a little green canvass tent in Battery Park City,” said Larson, who has been with Big Apple for 21 years.

Over the years, Larson said he has learned the show’s secret to success.

“At the Big Apple, we take a great deal of care in terms of the quality of our show,” he said. “We keep the production value as high as we possible can within the constraints of the budget.”

There are 30 artists performing at the circus. Artistic director Guillaume Dufresony visits festivals and competitions all over the world to find the perfect cast.

The theme of the show changes annually, so Dufresony has to find new artists each year. New costumes, music acts and sets have to be found as well.

The 2013 show is called Legendarium, and explores the history of the circus with, jugglers, acrobats and a contortionist, to name a few of the performers.

Larson believes it is the community service and not-for-profit angle that has kept the Big Apple Circus popular over the years.

“Our entire attitude toward what we do is different,” he said. “Many other circuses, their idea is to come into a town, and yes they might present good entertainment, but their purpose is to make as much money as possible and then leave town. We have to earn money like any company does, of course, but that’s not our sole operating motive.”

Big Apple Circus has many outreach programs to interact with the local community in whatever city it sets up tent.

“We prefer to enrich the communities and give back something,” Larson said.

Legendarium runs twice a day before folding up the tent and leaving for Charlestown, Rhode Island on Sunday, June 16. For tickets, visit bigapplecircus.org.

Read more: Queens Ledger – Final weekend for the Big Apple Circus

MidVille Relays for Life this Weekend
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The Middle Village Relay For Life cancer fundraiser will take place this Saturday, June 22, in an overnight relay to raise funds for a cure. Teams will walk the track in Juniper Valley Park all night long to raise money for research.

“This event is a mixed-emotion event,” said Alexander Maureau, a member of the planning committee for the event. “There are tears of happiness for those who have fought cancer and won, and sad tears for those who may have lost someone in their life.”

Opening ceremonies will begin at 4 p.m. and the event will conclude at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday morning.

“The event is bringing light to how we all need to join the fight for a cure,” Maureau said.

The Luminary Ceremony features a candle representing a loved one affected by cancer.

“Every candle has a name of a person that has either passed away from cancer, or a person who is currently going through cancer, or someone who has beaten the disease,” said Leslie Orlovsky of the American Cancer Society. “They serve as a beacon and a reminder.”

Orlovsky says ACS hopes to raise $200,000 at the event. The money goes toward research, education, advocacy and service.

According to Maureau, this Relay for Life will be the 11th in Middle Village, but not the last.

“So far we have raised lots of money, over $1 million in 10 years,” he said. “We will not stop walking until a cure is found.”

Read more: Queens Ledger – MidVille Relay for Life this weekend

Tennis Bubble Coming to McCarren Park 
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Before winter sets in this year, the tennis courts at McCarren Park will be covered with a new bubble, which should be installed by October.

The new weather shield will cover the tennis courts and provide for year-round play in the park, but at a cost. There will be a fee to play in the bubble of $20 to $57, depending on the time of the day.

“The bubble will be installed by the concessionaire,” said Meghan Lalor, a representative of the Department of Parks and Recreation. “The capital commitment from the concessionaire is $160,000, and they will also be responsible for the maintenance of the courts while the bubble is up.”

In addition to the bubble, there will be a new pro shop and exterior lights that will enable night tennis, even when the bubble is not up during the warmer months.

Aside from having to pay for the court time, there are other disadvantages as well. Due to construction, tennis will be disrupted for two to four months in the summer, and that’s not good news for players in the neighborhood who already bought a full-season pass from the Parks Department to play on city courts. An adult permits costs $200.

“It’s already spreading myself so thin, it’s not financially feasible,” said tennis player David Vailis last week. “I already pay 200 bucks.”

Kennath Barbina, also a frequent McCarren Park tennis player, agreed with Vailis.

“I’m against it because I don’t think everyone can afford to play,” he said.

While some players were weary about the additional cost, others are just happy they won’t have to play in the cold, or stop playing at all, including Barbina’s wife, Emily.

“I’m for it because you get to play year round,” she said.

Read more: Queens Ledger – Tennis bubble coming to McCarren Park

Maspeth Kiwanis Club Awards Scholarship
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Twelve graduating high school seniors were awarded a $1,500 scholarship for their community service and academic achievements at the Maspeth Kiwanis Club’s annual awards ceremony last week

Thomas Rudzewick, past Kiwanis Club president and current member of the Scholarship Committee, said the club bases the awards on a combination of good grades, participation in the community, and extracurricular activities.

“It recognizes some of their hard work that they put together for their high school years,” Rudzewick said.

Alyssa Gerace, a student at St. Francis Preparatory School, was among the 12 students who received the award.

Gerace has volunteered with St. Stanislaus Kostka’s sports association for many years.

“It means a lot because I’m being recognized for my community service,” Gerace said.

Scholarship recipient Abraham Hoyos, also from St. Francis Prep, said, “It really gives me a sense of pride.”

With the scholarship, Rudzewick hopes the students can continue their service and academic excellence.

“The Kiwanis Club is all about community,” Rudzewick said. “It gives us a chance to show what we do as a club and promote what the young folks should be doing as they continue.”

He added that the scholarship makes the price of college a little more manageable.

“What I think it brings to them is an opportunity to enjoy some of their first years in college,” Rudzewick said. “It gives them a little more financial relief.”

Along with Hoyos and Gerace, Cindy Cui of Martin Luther High School, Beatriz Martinez-Flores of St. Francis Prep, Emma D. Gurecki of St. Francis Prep, Aislinn Messina of Archbishop Molly, Stephanie Montoya of Catherdral High School, Marta Poplawski of Stuyvesant High School, Stephanie Rogers of Townsend Harris, Sierra Schafer of Christ the King, Anthony Sciarratta of St. Franicis Prep and Amanda Tam of Bronx High School of Science also received a scholarship.

Read more: Queens Ledger – Maspeth Kiwanis Club awards scholarships

St. Sans Honors Two Teachers Headed to Retirement
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Students, parents, alumni and co-workers gathered to say goodbye to teachers Teresa Arcuri and Linna McDonald as ended their years of educating the youth at St. Stanislaus Kostka.

McDonald has taught at St. Stans, located at Grand Avenue and 61st Street in Maspeth, for the past 13 years alongside Arcuri, who has been at the school for 33 years.

The two were showered with thanks, hugs, flowers, and tears as the two retiring women, wearing crowns that were given to them as gifts, watched performances by the students.

“After many years of dedication and hard work, we bid a fond farewell to Mrs. McDonald and Mrs. Arcuri, who for the past 33 years and 13 years, have given their heart and soul to our St. Stan family,” said alumni and St. Stan’s parent Pat Powers. “We have appreciated everything they’ve done for our children and we will miss them, but we wish them all good things to come.”

Both parents and teachers said the two women had a tremendous impact on the school.

“They have been tireless in their work,” Powers said. “They are always so willing to help everyone and they do it with a smile all the time.”

“She was my partner, and she took me under her wing,” said teacher Cathy Mangone. “I am who I am today because of the guidance she gave me. I can’t begin to say how much of a better person I am because I knew those two women.”

Read more: Queens Ledger – St Stans honors two teachers headed to retirement

Brooklyn Doll Maker Follows Her Dreams 
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Celine Choi quit her job a year and a half and now pursues a line of work she says she truly enjoys.

“It’s a labor of love,“ she said of her company, Celine’s Dolls.

Living in Brooklyn, Choi is in the business of creating hand made, one of a kind dolls.

“I never make two that are alike,” Choi said. “They are as unique as we are.”

As her orders have started flooding in, the variety is endless as she sews princesses, rock stars, superheroes and even hipster dolls for her fans.

Choi will often match accessories when she sews her objet d’art. The doll’s hair will often match the heart shaped lips, and that color scheme might go along with the rest of the doll’s clothing.

“I’m very French that way,” said the French native now living in Brooklyn. “I need to match everything.”

Aside from the color, Choi rarely plans out a doll, making the result almost a complete surprise.

Each doll can take up to six hours to create.

“I cut everything, and they just come alive,” she said.

Choi’s inspiration comes from the people and world around her. For instance, the hipster dolls resemble her neighbors in Williamsburg, with big square glasses, while the rock stars might have purple hair.

“I love to sit at a café and watch people,” Choi said. “Sometimes I look at people and say, ‘Ah, they would make a great doll,’ because they have such great personality.”

Most dolls are custom orders, modeled after the people she is creating for. According to Choi, many people send pictures of their kids and she puts them in doll form.

“I make a mini version of them,” Choi explained.

Each one comes with a heart and the initial of the first name of the person it was made after. Choi even hand writes the tag.

She uses merino wool felt, French and Japanese cotton fabrics, sparkly thread and hypoallergenic fiberfill. She also adorns the dolls with antique beads crystals, ribbons and buttons that sometimes even come from her own wardrobe.

The materials are chosen to be conscious of kid’s allergies and everything is securely sewn, so the dolls are completely ‘baby proof,’ however they are not just for children.

According to Choi, many dolls get passed on as a family heirloom and many adults even buy one for themselves.

She too will admit that she sometimes finds it hard to say goodbye to her creations, however she sends warm wishes as they are sent off to their new homes.

“They are packed with a lot of positive energy and lots of love,” Choi said.

Her favorite part of making dolls is getting the chance to deliver her toys in person.

“I do that to inspire kids, to create and explore,” Choi said.

Celine’s Dolls can be bought directly through her, on Etsy or in stores like Smoochie Baby at 110 Berry St. and Frolic! Play Space at 34 N 6th St. and at Yoya in Manhattan

Read more: Queens Ledger – Brooklyn doll maker follows her dream

Chamber Officially Unveils “This is Queens” app

Jack Friedman

Jack Friedman

The Queens Chamber of Commerce last week officially introduced “This is Queens,” an app available on iPhones and Androids that will allow tourists and native New Yorkers to learn about Queens.

The smartphone app put the most diverse borough in New York City at your fingertips, with information on the best restaurants, hotels, events, and attractions. The app will also provide deals and coupons.

The application was developed by Digital Natives, a Queens-based digital marketing agency.

The chamber hopes it will encourage more of the 50 million tourists that come to New York City each year to visit Queens.

“As the most popular tourist destination in the country, we have focused on finding ways to continue growing this sector of the New York City economy and attracting visitors to all we have to offer,” said Matthew Goldstein, chair of the Regional Economic Development Corporation, which sponsored the app. “The ‘This is Queens’ app will not only draw more tourists to Queens, but open their eyes to the wonderful attractions that often get passed.”

“Over the next year, there will be events attended by hundreds of thousands of tourists, including the MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field and US Open Tennis,” said chamber executive director Jack Friedman. “We wanted to make sure each of these visitors knew what Queens had to offer.”

The app has six functions: explore, eat, see, stay, do and Queens deals.

“Every years millions of visitors pass through Queens without discovering the incredible sights, sounds, tastes, and business opportunities in this extraordinary and diverse borough,” said Friedman. “The app lets you explore Queens like a native, whether you just landed at JFK, came to Citi Field for a game, or take in some of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in the world.”

Read more: Queens Ledger – Chamber officially unveils This is Queens app

Stricter Texting Penalties For Drivers
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New texting-while-driving penalties aimed at young drivers will soon take effect.

On July 1, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that toughens penalties for drivers who text and drive or use hand-held devices while behind the wheel, especially for younger drivers.

“Today’s new law sends a powerful message to our young and new drivers that texting-while-driving will not be tolerated here in New York State,” Cuomo said.

Junior license holders will now have their licenses suspended for 60 days following a first time offense, while second time violators will see a 60-day suspension.

Probationary licenses can also be suspended for up to six months for a second offense.

“Statistic after statistic shows that texting-while-driving is a chronic problem in our society, particularly among teenagers, and it will only get worse if we do not take action to prevent this deadly behavior,” he said.

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has also increased the number of points against a driver’s license from three to five for texting while driving.

“It will make drivers of all ages think twice before taking their eyes off the road to answer a message on their phone,” Cuomo announced. “It will avoid loss of life and better protect all those traveling on our roads and highways.”

Bill co-sponsor Assemblyman David Weprin attended the signing.

“As a staunch advocate for consumer and driver’s safety, the health and safety of all New Yorkers takes primary importance to me,” Weprin said. “Cracking down on texting while driving will prevent accidents in New York State that are avoidable.”

“The number of distracted driver-related crashes have been steadily increasing, which is why this law is so important,” added New York State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico. “This law will help deter cell phone use which will lead to fewer accidents and will help to save lives.”

Read more: Queens Ledger – Stricter texting penalties for New York drivers

Tianna Meilinger

Tianna Meilinger started Vaya Bags in 2005 with a single messenger bag she made for herself.The bag was strong, sturdy and perfect for her commute. People loved the bag so much they started requesting one of their own.Since then, Vaya Bags has expanded the collection to include purses, laptop cases and book bags, as well as other accessories such as panniers, belts, wallets, cell phone holders and handle bar bags for bikes.Meilinger and two others make the bags by hand.“They’re each individually handmade,” Meilinger said. “We make everything at our store in Ridgewood.”Meilinger uses recycled products, such as bike tubes and old canvas, to craft the the bags.The bags take two to four hours to make, and according to Meilinger the best part about Vaya Bags is getting to create a product from scratch.“I love the creativity,” she said.Vaya Bags can be bought pre-made or Meilinger can make a bag personally for the customer.“We do a lot of unique custom things here,” she said.In addition to being eco-friendly, Vaya Bags also tries to stay active in the local community by promoting other local businesses, sponsoring community events, and donating to the local YMCA.

“We’re a company with a lot of ethics,” Meilinger said. “It just really feels like a community.”

Read more: Queens Ledger – Tiana Meilinger Vaya Bags

Fidel Tavarez, LGCC Graduate
tavarez

Fidel Tavarez dropped out of his third four-year college before he realized it was time for a change. He needed a place where he could push himself while learning the basics, which was when he enrolled in LaGuardia College in 2007.

“I realized I had a lot of catching up to do academically, and LaGuardia proved to be the place to get up to speed,” said Tavarez, who came to the united States when he was 16 years old. “I literally learned how to put sentences together, how to put paragraphs together, what an argument was.”

Once at the school, Dr. George Sussman convinced Tavarez to consider history as a field of study. Later, Dr. Joyce Zaritsky hired him to tutor students in world history, which encouraged him to become a teacher.

“It was at LaGuardia that I met really wonderful professors who helped me,” he said. “With their support and encouragement, I regained my confidence and passion for education.”

He transferred to City College in 2009 with a 3.89 grade point average. Tavarez took two trip to the Dominican Republic where he did research for his senior thesis on Haitian political culture and the independence of the country.

In 2010, he received his bachelor’s degree in history and was awarded a full five-year doctoral fellowship at Princeton.

“I think I made it to Princeton, not because of how smart I am, but because I had professors who made me aware of what it takes to get into a prestigious institution, and who worked with me in the process,” he said.

Tavarez is now in his second year at the Princeton and is doing his pre-dissertation research on the Spanish Enlightenment and the Spanish American revolutions. He will be returning to Spain to continue his research at the Madrid archives and the Archivo de Indies in Seville, where he will be studying colonial Spanish-American documents.

Read more: Queens Ledger – Fidel Tavarez LGCC Graduate

Queen Captured in Photography
Michelle Cheikin
Michelle Cheikin

Elmhurst in 2005

Elmhurst in 2005

“Queens Surface” is a series of 40 photographs that capture the details of Queens life and the light and shapes of the borough by one of its residents.

Flushing Library will host an exhibition of the work of Michelle Cheikin from August 9-28. An opening reception will be held on August 10 from 4 to 6 p.m., and Cheikin will be there to discuss her work and answer questions from the audience.

She will also tell stories about the neighborhoods that are depicted in the pictures.

“All the photos work together as a kaleidoscope of imagery,” she said. “I was inspired by the light, different shapes and architecture.”

Cheikin started the project ten years ago, when she moved to Queens. She photographed the many neighborhoods she lived in over the years.

“As I moved, I got to explore different neighborhoods,” she explained.

Many of Cheikin’s subjects are no longer there, or as they were. Some of the images capture a Queens before portions of it was renovated and reinvented.

“It was a good moment to document and preserve,” Cheikin said. “My photos capture more abstraction.”

Some of Cheikin’s work has been shown in the Queens Museum of Art and the Bronx Museum of Art, as well as other galleries around the country. She also teaches Digital Photography and Media Design at Hostos Community College in the Bronx.

Cheikin might return to photographing Queens in the future, but for now the project is finished.

“It feels like closure,” she said.

Read more: Queens Ledger – Queens captured in photography

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