Between my time as a head reporter in an active newsroom and a freelance writer for dozens of publications, I've authored thousands of feature-length articles on countless subjects throughout my expansive career. Diverse perspectives, written in my unique voice, flow through all genres of my writing, from Lifestyle and Human Interest, Food, Arts, and Culture and Health and Wellness, to FamilyReal Estate, and Decorating and Home Improvement.

Please check out this page for a collection of feature articles across these categories, and click the hyperlinks or sidebar pages for a look at each of these sections individually.

A model life: Oceanside miniature shipbuilder back to work after Sandy

Powerful storms wreak havoc on people’s lives, forcing them to pick up the pieces and gradually move on. That’s certainly true for Jack Pesso, whose handcrafted collection of model ships was damaged in October 2012 in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. “That storm took away my life,” he said of his seven-decade-long hobby and passion for building exquisite replicas of the Titanic, the USS Constitution and other notable seafaring vessels. Six years later, Pesso is slowly putting back together...
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3 years after transplant, Long Islander's on a mission for organ donation

Gratitude seems to come naturally to Ken Abbott: He’s thankful for the medical team that got him through his heart transplant and for the donor who gave him a second chance at life. Abbott, 54, of Centerport, is also grateful for his blood type (A-positive) and self-proclaimed smaller stature. “Those two factors helped to contribute to my not waiting as long as most people for a heart transplant,” he said. His transplant doctor, he recalled, explained to him and his two brothers that...

Renovating Your House Without Any Demolition

Renovating your house doesn’t have to mean taking it down to its studs. It does, however, entail some big decisions. First establish why you want to renovate, says Micah Finkel, owner of the Brooklyn-based Sons & Co., a custom millwork company. Are you looking to create your dream house or improve its value at resale, or, perhaps, to accomplish both? Also, consider whether you’re renovating for aesthetic or functional reasons and convey your intentions to the designer and contractor, says...

A Few Little Tips for Decorating in Small Spaces

As more and more people downsize or move into ever smaller homes, co-ops and condos, they’re faced with the challenge of fitting all their possessions into a more limited space. The first thing to do in tackling a smaller space is to assess what you plan to put in it and take a closer look at your things, says Donna Sheehan, interior designer and owner of Inner Sense Interiors of Bellport. “Letting go of some things can lead to gaining others, such as a workable albeit small closet...

'Change comes slow' in LI community, agent says

"The beauty of Elwood is it doesn’t really change,” says Maria Rielly, an agent with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty of Huntington who has lived 52 years in the hamlet. “Though there used to be more farms, change comes slow. Even with the changes, it still has a hometown feel." Elwood earned the title “The heart of Huntington” because “it’s more or less in the middle of town,” says Robert Hughes, Huntington town historian. “What’s nice about it is that although there are...

Oyster Bay's Bahr Gallery is an ode to the 1960s and '70s

A “Hippies Use Side Door” sign ironically greets visitors to the Bahr Gallery in Oyster Bay. Clearly, hippies would be ushered right through the front door to join the dozens of middle-aged men and women who on a recent evening swayed side to side, bopped their heads, tapped their feet and sang along to the music of the Grateful Dead. The music was provided by David Gans, known as “the voice of the Grateful Dead” for his decades of introducing “Dead” shows on syndicated radio programs. The set...

One surgery launches Gift of Life and 35,000 more in Manhasset

What began with one cardiac surgery at St. Francis Hospital in Flower Hill to save a 5-year-old Ugandan girl has morphed into more than 35,000 life-giving operations around the world, largely due to one man: Robbie Donno of Manhasset. The operations have been organized and sponsored by Gift of Life International, a program of Rotary International begun by Donno 44 years ago. “When people ask my profession, I say, ‘I’m a garbage man, and I do heart surgery on the side,’” quipped Donno, 73...

How to Make The Most of Your Closet Storage Space

Today’s closet is not simply a place to stash your clothes. Rather, with the proper design, a closet virtually becomes a room within a room, a showcase to proudly display your wardrobe. The first thing to address in designing a closet are the hanging clothes, because there’s really nowhere else for these clothes to go, says Bonnie Reich, president of Symmetry Closets, a storage design company based in Holbrook. “When you walk into a closet, it’s not just about packing it in,” says Reich...

Cotton grows in Roosevelt Community Garden, makes debut at history events

The fact that cotton makes most people think of the South has not stopped one Long Islander from growing it here. Gloria Cassell, who has a plot at the Roosevelt Community Garden on Fulton Avenue, cultivated the cotton from a plant her dad brought home five years ago from Tamms, Illinois, where family members grow the plant as a hobby. “He brought it back and said, ‘If anyone can figure out what to do with this, I know you can.’” An avid gardener since moving into her Roosevelt home in 2012...

How To Turn An Attic Into A Bonus Room

If you’re looking for a practical solution for adding more room to your house, consider turning that cluttered attic into usable, livable space, such as an extra bedroom, playroom, office, or personal yoga studio. Provided the space has a high enough ceiling, a finished attic would be an easier and more economical renovation than adding an extension to the house, notes Jean Brownhill, founder and CEO of Sweeten, a free platform that connects homeowners with vetted general contractors...

Should I stay or should I go? Long Island senior citizens decide where to age

Having lived in his East Meadow home for nearly 65 years, Bernard Banks doesn’t plan to move. “It’s very comfortable here,” said Banks, 95. “It’s well maintained. It’s a well-built house.” Bernard, who worked as a mechanical engineer for Republic Aviation, lives with Steven, the youngest of his three sons. In addition, for the past two years Bernard has had a full-time aide who cooks and keeps him company while Steven’s at work. Bernard’s wife, Gladys, died 12 years ago. “I used to drive...

Long Island nature spots worth exploring with the kids

If it's that time of summer when the kids are getting restless and you’ve run out of things for them to do, you might want to explore some of Long Island's parks and nature preserves. Here are a few off-the-beaten spots that are definitely worth the trip. WHAT The preserve features a wide, circular 1.25-mile trail with grasses, marshes and a scenic overlook at the end to wetlands and Reynolds Channel. As part of the Atlantic flyway, the migratory route for birds heading south in the fall...

The latest home tech is all about automation

Imagine changing the color that emits from your light fixture when you’re thousands of miles away or checking whether you’re running low on milk with a peek into your fridge while sitting at your desk at work. These are just some of the latest innovations that exist today to automate your home. With the advent of integrated technology, you can stay in the kitchen while accessing the internet for recipes, video chatting with friends, creating shopping lists, adjusting the thermostat, controlling...

Living Al Fresco: Creating Outdoor Spaces

Come summer, just about everyone naturally thinks of getting out in the fresh air. But with the growing popularity of fire pits, fireplaces, and an array of outdoor heaters, people are spending more and more time in their backyards and extending their living space outward. To create a seamless interior-exterior transition, it’s important to incorporate the same furniture style, similar textures and color schemes for both spaces, says Jodi Dell, owner of Jodi Dell Designs, a Manhattan-based...

For some Long Islanders, the party's out back in the shed

Party central at Evan and Kristen Castellan’s Selden home is a former working shed that’s the size of a one-car garage. Seven years ago, Evan, 34, an HVAC service technician, and Kristen, 35, a paralegal, bought the home she grew up in from her parents. The couple fixed up the shed three years later. “It was a work shed,” says Evan. “We pretty much redid it to include a working bar and hangout area.” And now, each summer, the Castellans host a blowout they call "Shedfest." Whether it's...

LI backyard playhouses get creative

The cedar playhouse in Susan Lopez’s Glen Cove backyard has gotten pretty fancy — ever since, that is, the 35-year-old stay-at-home mother painted the door red, added rainbows to the floor, ladder and ceiling, and covered everything with glitter. The playhouse, which she purchased from Walmart, will eventually be airbrushed with her children’s names — Skyla, 5, Savannah, 2, Lucas, 1 — as well as some of their favorite things, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse, cars, unicorns and, of course...

These Long Island garages are all souped up

For Long Islanders, a garage can be many different things — a place to park a car, store the lawn mower, hide away junk. And it can be a hangout spot, an art gallery . . . even a happy place. When he expanded his Huntington Station home in 2005, Bill DeBlasio upgraded his single-car garage to fit four cars, two in the front and two in the back, he says. It took 10 years for him to then soup it up, starting with covering the 800 square feet of flooring with Racedeck gray and black checkerboard...

Ice cream, bonfires and other ways LI families mark the end of the school year

To mark the end of the school year, Wantagh's Katherine Schilling gathers her husband, John, 51, a road construction laborer, and their kids, John, 15, and Sarah, 13, and lights up the chiminea in their backyard. The fire does double duty. The family makes s'mores — then burns flyers and notices that have come home from school. After a year filled with lots of hard work, the ritual feels like a relief, says Schilling, 52, a phone company technician. Noting that she works from the 4-to-midnight...

Unique Long Island day trips for families

Start your day in this musical mecca at Music & Arts (30 W. Main St., Ste. 101, 631-727-2897, stores.musicarts.com/riverhead), which rents and sells instruments. "We've got guitars and amps, we have drums, we've got everything," says manager Don Norton. Kids can try out any instrument they'd like, says Norton. If it's Sunday, don't miss a stop at the aptly named Sunday Records (125 Roanoke Ave, 631-599-3918), where parents can turn their kids on to some of the favorite tunes from their youth...

Celebrating the 200th birthday of Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman, Long Island’s pre-eminent voice of verse, would have turned 200 this year. The icing on the bicentennial birthday cake will be a series of celebrations ranging from talks to theatrical and musical performances at his Huntington Station birthplace this weekend. Whitman represents America’s first poetic voice, says Cynthia Shor, executive director of the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, the historic home where Whitman lived until he was 4. “He used free verse poetry, which...

Long Island parents share secrets to getting kids to eat well

If your child would be disappointed that her hamburger came with fries instead of a salad, then read no further — what follows are secrets from Long Island parents who have raised their children to eat well and enjoy it... Jennette Watt, 46, a nurse from Roosevelt, grows tomatoes, peppers, arugula, bok choy, thyme and basil at the North Shore Land Alliance’s Roosevelt Community Garden. This year, Watt has three plots that her four sons, ages 10 to 19, help her cultivate...
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