Thursday, December 29, 2011

No New Years' Resolutions......just Beauty and Fashion Solutions! AND...Ladybugs in Winter?

I decided to write about the latter part of my blog title please bear with me while I gush a little........
My daughter Jena LOVES ladybugs and so my granddaughter Chloe will grow up learning to love them too! Her bedroom is all ladybugs and of course the baby gifts and clothes at the baby shower were mostly ladybugs! Chloe has proven that she can wear the red and black of a ladybug well. Her Great-Aunt Michele gave this adorable outfit to her for Christmas and she came over my house today with it on......

even the socks match.....

She also wears the red of a Cinderella dress well.....her Christmas outfit bought for her by me...NaNa

Okay, so now on to the New Years' Fashion stuff...........

Around this time of year the one thing I dread is all the talk about New Years Resolutions! I don't make them because it is the quickest way to set yourself up for failure! If I want to lose weight I start in October! If I want to eat better I start in July when all the fresh fruits and veggies are available.

One thing I can always improve on for the new year though is my own personal style. So, what I do start thinking about is what I can do to start the New Year out looking and feeling better. My birthday is at the end of January and it seems that right after that I start to age....again! I want to be careful about my hairstyle, my makeup and what I wear so that it is age appropriate. I want to look good but I want to be me!
One year I decided I needed to upgrade my skincare and my makeup. I was a huge QVC watcher and user of at the time and I learned alot about the different skincare products out there. They carry Philosophy skincare and once I tried it, I was hooked.
The Purity cleanser is fabulous and pair that with a Clarisonic cleansing system (also available at QVC) and poof! Better looking skin.  Here is a review and pictures of Purity at Swatch and Learn, a beauty review blog.
I use Miracle Worker moisturizer by Philosophy and the hope in a tube lip and eye firming cream is great also. These products can be found at Sephora which is online, in some JC Penney stores and actual Sephora stores in the mall but QVC carries the larger sizes and there is a much better value for the money. It is in the higher price range but what is a little more for the price of  beauty?!
I find it easier and kinda fun to spend big on myself at the beginning of a new year! That is why another year I used a gift certificate to a high-end spa to have my makeup done. I decided I would buy all the makeup they used on me (it looked great!). When the total reached $275 I decided to go a little slower with the purchases! I brought it down to about $100 worth of Laura Mercier makeup and I still use it. The foundation is fabulous and I see a difference in how my skin looks.  It too is available at Sephora and like the Philosophy brand, the prices are set by the company so it is the same price wherever you go. Although QVC does not carry Laura Mercier makeup, they happen to have a deal with Philosophy to carry the larger sizes and they can offer a better price. My last 32 oz. jar of Purity cleanser lasted me 13 months!
I have had the same hairstyle for ever so recently I cut it shorter....kinda like Sharon Osbourne had it during the last season of America's Got Talent.

 Lately it looks like she has grown it out but I am going into the new year with it! Every other year I get a new pair of eyeglasses too and that is always a boost to my style! My hairdresser is my daughter Candice, by the way, and she is one of the up and coming hairstylists at the Scott Miller Salon in Pittsford, NY.
I have so digressed from the original intent of this blog! I wanted to share what I think is a great way to accessorize yourself throughout the winter months. There are winter coats and scarves and sweaters and jackets to wear...all of which are perfect to attach a fabulous pin to. I just happen to have a passion for vintage buttons and one of the things I love to make with them is a nice sized pin. It is like putting a puzzle together and I like to call them Funky Button Pins.
I offer them in both of my Etsy stores, The Button Lady and NaNa's Things.....One of my favorites is this Vintage Bunny Pin in ivory, white and gold...

It looks great on a jacket.....

or this red hold a ruffled sweater in place....

I do have a thing for the military style and using vintage keys on button pins.....

They look great on jackets....

For your outerwear coat, maybe a more subtle ivory/white diamond shaped pin.....

They are also great on jean jackets for spring and summer.....

My newest creations for button pins are the puzzle piece pins. I started making these and then realized that puzzle pieces are the national symbol of the Autism Society and April is National Autism Awareness Month. They are a great item to wear on your lapel to show support or just to be fashionable and little funky! This one has a wintery feel to it and would look great on a white winter coat!

There are too many others to show them all here....thanks for hanging in with me this far!!! Please have a look in my shops and see if you want to spruce up your wardrobe for the New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wise Men Still Seek HIM

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
 Luke 2: 1-20 New International Version
The true reason for celebrating Christmas lies within these verses.
Wishing you abundant joy, peace and overflowing love this Christmas season......

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Busy but Joyful Saturday Before Christmas.........

................a day to do what I wanted to since my shopping is done and my cookies are made.My husband Frank and Michael went to the mall while I had my girlfriends over for a Christmas Brunch. A few years ago a group of us from our church starting hanging around together and having parties for each other on our birthdays. We realized that our stories were all the same....none of us had ever had a group of  women friends like this that we did things with, felt so connected with and had a blast with. Each of us had longed for and at one time or another prayed for that, even though we all had other friends. We decided that it was God's mercy and grace and love that put us all together and so we give Him all the glory. We have so much fun together and enjoy our time together, that it has become a tradition now to get together all year for all the birthdays and Christmas. We named ourselves the Mercy Sisters. We are there for each other and love each other and sometimes we need to have a little mercy with each other! Here is a picture of my beautiful sisters............

We had a scrumptious brunch of Frittata, Broccoli Cheese Casserole, Belgian waffles with cherry jam sauce, Fruit salad, Banana bread, Pumpkin bread and Monkey bread. For dessert we had Peppermint bark candy and peanut butter cup cookies.....yum!!!! We always play the gift game where everyone brings a gift, gets a gift and can steal someone elses' gift. Just as they were all leaving for the day my daughter Jena, my son-in-law Britt and my granddaughter Chloe stopped over. Jena is big sister to my 13 year old son Michael and she always finds time to spend with him. He wanted to make a gingerbread house this year so she bought a kit and they worked on it together....

While the rest of us were in the living room, we could hear the two of them laughing and talking about how they were going to decorate the house. They came up with The Mic J Outback Shack as a name and each decorated one side of it. Jena is handy with a cake decorating bag of frosting as she used to have a job doing that. She put each of their names on a side, the name of the house on one end and Merry Christmas on the other. It came out cute!

It will be Santas first stop Christmas Eve......

I got to spend time with Chloe while Frank and Britt relaxed (actually snoozed, is more like it!) She likes playing with her feet!

I am exhausted and so there will be brunch leftovers for dinner and then after that, the couch! Hope you had a restful and joyful Saturday ! Did you do anything fun?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Let the Decorating Begin - Part 3 - Vignettes

Vignettes (pronounced vin-yet) are one of my most favorite ways to decorate in a room. Once you have all your decorations up all around the house, a good way to accent them or to add interest throughout is with vignettes.  Vignettes are "a small decorative design or picture so placed", according to Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary. Here is an example from my is a corner between the armoire and pocket door of the living room that just needed something.

This next one is in the dining room up against the windows. The tree is actually sitting (and tied on after falling once!) on an antique high chair. The wooden truck is filled with bears and little snowmen with Santa at the helm. The windows with the snowflakes and odds and ends on the windowsills, makes a nice backdrop. It is between a closet door and a cupboard. Any little space that needs a little something is a great place to create a vignette.

In the opposite corner of the room is my Santa and Snowman collection displayed in an open corner cupboard, as seen in Part 2 of Let the Decorating Begin...

A vignette can also be an area of your home that you have as part of your decorating all year, and then you just add seasonal decorations to, as in this wrought iron table under a picture on a small wall in the parlor.....

This space in my hallway changes seasonally also and because it is contained in one small area with decorative items, it is a vignette.

This completes my three part series of  Let the Decorating Begin.  I hope you were able to get some Christmas decorating ideas for your home. What do you think? I would love to hear from you!
Visit Part 1 - Decorating  with Wreaths and Part 2 - Decorating with Santas and Snowmen  for more Christmas decorating ideas.

Happy Decorating!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Let the Decorating Begin! Part 2 - Decorating with Santas and Snowmen

I have been collecting Santas for over 30 years and somewhere along the way I started collecting snowmen. Of course a lot of them were gifts from my husband, kids and friends as a way to add to my collection year after year. I was getting about 5 new Santas every Christmas! I finally had to slow that down and now I do not get any, nor do I buy any! I am always looking for new ways to display them year after year around Christmas. Some ways I have displayed them are a little the Santa hanging from his back on my dining room cupboard!

I have a collection of small Santas that stay in my corner cupboard in the dining room. This year I decided to open the cupboard for display. There are Santas on the top shelf, miscellaneous Christmas stuff on the second shelf, my Wizard of Oz collection on the third shelf and my snowmen on the bottom.

The Santa in the next picture is quite old. I found the sleigh at a small town bazaar in the 80's and the reindeer are paper mache, found at a wonderful local shop called the Country Warehouse in Pultneyville, NY, right on Lake Ontario. The "snow" is batting that I just cut the edges out of to look like dripping snow. And the Merry Christmas sign was a great find from the local Goodwill! I love those finds!

Okay, here is the Santa hanging on the cupboard! He is all handmade and quilted with a bean bag body and stuffed legs. I found him at a very cute little breakfast place called the Chit Chat Cafe in Victor, NY. This restaurant is family owned and run and they and their friends make things to sell, which are also their decorations. I couldn't resist this Santa. The gold in his coat matches perfectly with my cupboard. He usually sits on the rocker in the dining room year round.

My musical Santa at the head of the truck also stays out year round on a wooden high chair in my dining room, but this year I decided to combine some of my small snowmen and bears with Santa to ride on this vintage wooden truck.

This is probably my favorite idea to display all my large Santas. They just fill the stairway and the whole hallway with a Christmasy feel when you first walk in the door.  So easy to do and is just enough to add decoration.

There are snowmen scattered around the house, as well as other Santas in settings called Vignettes, which I will talk about in Let the Decorating Begin! Part 3. This snowman tree is filled with snowmen ornaments, garland and even a snowlady angel for the top. It is part of a vignette in my dining room.......

This last picture is my favorite of all. My sweet granddaughter Chloe was listening to this animated Santa playing a jazz rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town........another great place to display Santas and snowmen....under the tree!

You can decorate your whole house and not spend a lot of money by placing things strategically around to create a Christmas feeling throughout. As you have read, I got a lot of stuff at local bazaars, craft shows, the Goodwill and the Dollar Stores. I go out December 26th every year (this year it is a Monday...yeah!) and get things at 50% off or more. I start at the Dollar Stores and work my way up to the mall and places like Michaels and JoAnn Fabrics. Rarely do I give in and buy something at a gift shop unless it is really on sale or I just plain have to have it!

I would love your comments on anything I've posted so far!

Visit Part 1 - Decorating with Wreaths  and  Part 3 - Decorating with Vignettes for more Christmas decorating ideas.

Happy Decorating!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Let the Decorating Begin! Part 1 - Decorating with Wreaths

Decorating is a passion of mine. I love catalogs, magazines, and websites that give me ideas. I take those and add my own ideas with what I have on hand or can afford and make it work in my home. I am not a professional interior decorator or an authority by any means.....I just love it and enjoy doing it. Because I am always interested in what others are doing and looking for ideas to "steal", I thought I would share some of my have my permission to steal them!

Decorating for Christmas is a two week long affaire for me. I decorate every room in the main living area which includes the kitchen, bathroom, dining room, parlor, living room and hallway to the upstairs. I live in an 1870's Victorian in a small village, so all the quaintness and architectural stuff that I love is already built in, which makes the decorating a lot easier.  It is truly a labor of love for me because I have to un-decorate what is already there year round in order to decorate for Christmas.....and all the boxes of decorations have to come up from the basement and down from the attic. And if there is a box around, you will find Miss Kitty laying on it....

She was in her glory here!

Everything from the mantel and the cupboard and the window seat gets stuffed in the storage under the window seat and the unpacking and decorating begins!
I have a thing for wreaths and so they are a big part of my Christmas decorating. The focal point of the parlor is the wreath above the mantel and all else falls in behind it!

I have three wreaths in the living room. I love the idea of hanging them over windows. Another great idea is to hang them over a mirror.
Here I have hung this wreath from the curtain rod with a decorative ribbon. The lights from the tree across the room make it sparkle at night....

The focal point of the living room is the bay window and I felt something else was needed amongst all the windows. The sparkly gold wreath is a Christmas decoration but I leave it up year is hung with fish line from a nail hidden behind the window treatment.

This next wreath is new this year. I have always wanted a square wreath so when I saw this one in a catalog, on sale with free shipping, I grabbed it! It is made of wood curls formed into the shape of tiny roses. Not that the tree needed a decoration behind it, but I think it works and is kind of a new idea for Christmas decorating.....

I found this handmade star wreath at a barn sale and it was in bad shape! The tag on it says that it was made from wood from a 100 year old home....that was all I needed to know! I fixed it up and added the berries and angel. It goes well in my dining room which is more Country Victorian style....

One more wreath! This one is hung on the pocket doors on the other side of the tree, which goes into my entry hallway. A lot of wide open space needs something! The stars are actually the wreath holder. I just bought a faux pine garland, added the pinecones, molded it into a wreath and there it is....very easy and with a sparkly wooden NOEL sign, it looks great!

I hope you enjoyed my wreath tour and were able to get some ideas for your home. I would love to read your comments.

Visit Part 2 - Decorating with Santas and Snowmen and Part - 3 Decorating with Vignettes for more Christmas decorating ideas.
Happy Decorating!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Cookie Tutorial - Grandmas Italian Biscotti

My first ever Christmas cookie tutorial was for the Italian Fig Cookies and I realize it is probably not for everyone. Kinda hard to want to make a cookie that is expensive, messy and takes a lot of time without really tasting them first. They ARE fabulous and I have been eating them right out of the freezer ever since I posted it, but I understand.

So, this recipe gets so many rave reviews and I have made them thousands of times, that I decided I would share it also. I just made a batch for a girlfriend who loves them and she just lost her mother....I took them to her at the funeral service today. Her face lit up.

Whenever there is an event that needs homemade baked goods everyone looks at me....I in turn say "yes, I'll make the biscotti!" I made a batch for another girlfriend who lost her son and she laughed and then she cried. Last year I was facing hip surgery and was not physically able to stand in the kitchen and make any Christmas cookies. When my pastor found out he was so disappointed, because he is probably my number one fan of these cookies and always so appreciative and complimentary. I felt so bad that I went home and made a batch just for him and gave them to him with a jar of my homemade strawberry jam. He was a happy Pastor! He tells me that every time I make them they just get better and better (he knows just what to say, doesn't he?!)

Here it is then, easier than the fig cookies and unlike the ones in the glass jar on the counter in the coffee shop, which are hard as rocks, you have to dunk them in your coffee to be able to bite into them and they taste just okay......

Put the following in an electric mixer and mix.....

6 eggs
5 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
Grated orange or lemon peel (about 1/2 of the outside of the orange or lemon)
Overflowing cup of sugar
Add ½ pound (2 sticks) melted butter
5 – 5 ½ cups flour
Mix till the dough looks like this.....

If the dough sticks to your fingers, just add more flour. It should be pliable and not sticky.
Form the dough on an ungreased baking pan into 4 -  2” wide x ¾” tall, by 14” long logs. I really did measure these at first because it insures they all fit on my pan!

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. They will come out all puffed up and golden....leave the oven ON

Let cool. They tend to meld together on the pan so just take a spatula and separate them and loosen them from the pan. Be careful not to break or split each log....they will be cut on the diagonal next.

Slice on the diagonal and then rebake for 10 minutes.

Drizzle the top with my all purpose, wonderful frosting with either lemon extract or anise extract added and yum....the finished product!
                                                                                                   2 2/3 cups confectionary sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon flavoring (almond, lemon, anise), optional
Hot water

Combine all ingredients except water. Slowly add a little hot water till frosting is smooth.