Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Time to Get Ready for Summer

Say what?? Get ready for summer?

Yes, even though we are having the first real snowstorm in the Northeast today, with 11" expected, I am already thinking about getting myself ready for summer.

Right about the beginning of March I start concentrating on getting my skin, nails and muscles ready for nice weather. I start this far ahead to have enough time to get them to where I feel comfortable exposing all the parts of me that have been covered up all winter.

Although I don't wear shorts anymore, I do want the lower part of my legs and of course my feet to look good in my capris and sandals.

I do go sleeveless so the upper arms have to be buff (or somewhat shapely!)

I recently discovered body sugar scrubs. I found a recipe to make my own chocolate scrub and it is yummy! Always use a plastic container to put it in for use in the shower!

Here is the recipe thanks to Dee from

DIY Chocolate Sugar Scrub


1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together until fully incorporated.
Spoon into small plastic jars.

This was so easy to make and I was able to make it right out of my pantry....no need to run to the store for ingredients.

One tip: In the shower, be sure to rub the sugar scrub into your skin till the sugar has dissolved. It leaves a satin finish to your skin that water will bead off. Pat dry.

Once your skin is nice and exfoliated, apply this next product.

Although I am 100% Italian, I am pretty pale or fair skinned so I have to use a self tanner. I am not supposed to go out in the sun for long so this stuff makes me look like I do!

I discovered Jergens Natural Glow a few years ago and I think it is the most natural looking self-tanner there is. I started with the Light for fair skin but have graduated since up to the Medium to Tan. I also choose the +Firming option. Not sure how much firming it does, but why not?

I have used Original Jergens lotion forever mostly for the scent of "Cherry Almond Essence" but it is also a rich lotion on your skin. They work well together.

Some tips.....

*rub the Natural Glow in well and as evenly as possible. I don't have problems with streaking when I do this

*let it dry completely before getting dressed. It does transfer onto clothes.

*use it daily until you get the color you want and then every other or every few days for maintenance.
* make sure to wash the palms of your hands or you will have tanned palms!

For sandal ready feet, I use my foot brush, a foot emory/file and Burt's Bees Miracle Salve. My toenails tend to get very dry over the winter so this salve truly is a miracle. It is great for fingernails too.

And probably most important but not very fun for me is the use of my two pound weights EVERY NIGHT. I found a few exercises for my upper arms that really define them. You will have to find what works best for you. Just pumping your arms up and down holding the weights does wonders!

Last but not least, check all of your bottles of nail polish to make sure they are in good condition and not dried up for sitting over the winter.

Now, if you live in a warm climate where you always have a nice pedicure, or you keep up on them over the winter, you probably are good. I only use my nail polish on my toes in warm weather.

I like to have a variety of colors for my changing mood. My favorite brand is OPI. I love the colors and the names. That gorgeous aqua color is called "Can't Find My Czechbook".  Following through on my own advice, I found two bottles that are dried up and useless. I am sorry to see "Alpine Snow" and "I'm Not Really a Waitress" go.

Last tip:  Make your first pedicure of the season appointment early but not too early. One thing I can't stand is to get a great pedicure and then have to cover it up with socks because it is cold out. I wait till mid-June here in the Northeast. Lucky you, if you have more warm than cold weather or if warm weather starts earlier for you!!

If you start now along with me, we will both be toned, browned and polished by the end of June!!

Do you have any routines for getting yourself ready for summer?

AnnMarie xoxo
***I was not compensated for mentioning any of these products. I just love them and wanted to share.

I am linking up with these great blog parties:

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Embracing the Cracks....or What Was I Thinking???

I started stripping wallpaper in my dining room this week.

What was I thinking??!!

I have talked myself into leaving the wallpaper in the dining room for the past 20 years for a couple reasons.

I thought it added an old world charm, enhancing the age and style of my home. It may even be original from my 1870 Victorian, but it was most likely added in the 1960's.

It matched my madeover furniture I brought from my farmhouse perfectly. The color of my huge cupboard and rocking chair is called Buckwheat. I painted all the trim the same color.

I was okay with it also because being an old home, I knew that the walls are plaster and lathe and that there is a really good chance that there were many cracks and imperfections in them. It has proven true in other parts of the home that we have redone.

That was all good and well until I went to my Pastor's home for a ladies' bible study. Our Pastor's wife Kathleen went to school for design and I have always loved her style. She has done a wonderful job styling their new home with every single element I love and have seen on HGTV!

Our tastes are similar except for one thing. Where I use color and wallpaper, she used a backdrop of plain grey walls. All of her décor just popped! Industrial and primitive mixed in with modern worked so well.

I have been incorporating a lot of  industrial and primitive items into my dining room décor but they seemed to have gotten lost in the busyness of the wallpaper.

When I got home from her house I went into the dining room and started ripping the wallpaper off in an area I knew was loose....I really did! I have left the remnants there as a reminder that I was really going to do this.

Should I even go into the fact that there are two other projects that I was definitely getting to this winter? I still have the paint swatches hanging from the door frame in my linen closet area. The wallpaper has to be stripped from there too and it should be a fairly easy and quick job. But still it is waiting.

My front foyer floor and stairs are hardwood and a hot mess. This house used to have two apartments upstairs so it was the main entrance for those and the main house. After I saw Tuula's makeover over at Thrifty Rebel Vintage,  I was determined to pretty mine up too. Still it sits waiting. That would be a significantly harder job!

I think it comes down to how sick you are of looking at the stuff that needs fixing. I am pretty sick of looking at my front hall entrance, I am still okay with the linen closet area, but the dining room? I was more than over looking at that wallpaper.

Can I say I might be regretting it now?

It is too late to turn back. Major cracks.

And did I mention yet that the wallpaper is not cooperating on coming off? It is GLUED on pretty good.

I am now thinking of how I might be able to embrace the cracks. You know, make them part of the design and décor? My vision is to paint the walls a neutral linen color so that all my stuff shows much better.

I have visions of those ancient walls you see in Italian villas or castles in Ireland.

Yeah, probably not.

Our handyman Jim is coming over this weekend to fix our kitchen faucet. I may have to ambush him and negotiate a job.

The dining room!

Stay tuned!

AnnMarie xoxo

I am linking up with these great blog parties:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

New Jersey Crumb Cake

This is probably the best crumb cake I have ever had and some compare it to Entenmann's....I think it is better than Entenmann's. It just happens to be my husbands favorite crumb cake too (maybe because he grew up next door in Manhattan?!).

This is the nice golden color it should be right out of the oven.

Hubby has requested I make some so that he can take it for breakfast at work. He is a total carb guy in the morning.

So since I am making a pan (a 13 x 9 pan! It freezes well) I thought I'd share it with you, since it is pretty easy and worth trying out. Amy, at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes, I am thinking of you over there in New Jersey!

Lots of crumb topping!

Not sure how this recipe got it's name. After googling it, I have come to realize that crumb cake is or was the thing to eat on Sunday morning in New Jersey. They may just have dibs on the best crumb cake ever made, since this breakfast cake is not available all over the country.

Wikipedia describes it this way:

"Streuselkuchen (crumb cake) is a German specialty. Traditionally it is made of a yeast dough covered with a sweet crumb topping referred to as streusel. The main ingredients for the crumbs are sugar, butter and flour, which are mixed at a 1:1:2 ratio.
German Streuselkuchen is usually a flat cake made on a baking tray and cut into oblong pieces. It should be very flat - about one inch - so crumbs make about 50 percent of its height."

Hmmm...my recipe meets some of the criteria. My topping cheats by using Bisquick mix with the butter and sugar. Can't go wrong there!

Without further adieu....

New Jersey Crumb Cake


1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat eggs and milk; mix with butter.
In another bowl mix flour and baking powder, then add to
butter mixture. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into a
greased 13 x 9 pan.

Crumb Topping

1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups Bisquick or any biscuit mix
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 powdered sugar

Cut butter into sugar, biscuit mix and cinnamon. Sprinkle
over batter in pan. Bake at 350 or 35-40 minutes, or till done.

Top with powdered sugar till cool.

Serves 8-16 depending on how large you cut the squares.

This piece was not hurt in any way while taking the multiple pictures it took to get halfway presentable ones! After spending so much time with it I could not resist so I ate it.

This is a MUST try. I hope you do!

AnnMarie xoxo