Saturday, May 31, 2014

May Christmas Cards

Hello!  It's the last day of May and I finally finished my May Christmas Cards.  As most of you already know, I play the Splitcoaststampers Christmas Card Challenge where we make Christmas Cards all year long so that were not stressed out during the busy holiday season.  I make five cards a month so that I'll have about sixty cards at the end of the year.  I make a long card, about 4 1/4 by 8 1/4 so that I can fit a photo card and Christmas letter inside.  I also usually try to keep the layers to a minimum so that are more mailable, but this month they are 'lumpy and bumpy' because I wanted to use up my pretty Prima poinsettias.  I will give these cards to my church family, because we have mailboxes/cubbies at my church for each family so I can just put the cards in them rather than mail them.

All the cards have the same layout, but the paper/embellies are all slightly different because I didn't have enough of everything to make all the cards identical.

On this first card I used a gold foil embossed designer paper from DCWV.  Because the background is sparkly, I went with a duller poinsettia.  The small narrow strips are also covered in glitter and were cut from another sheet of designer paper.  The sentiment is retired Stampin Up! 'Frosty'.  Sequins were my only embellishment.  The card base is Soft Suede.
 The narrow background panel is a dry embossed piece of designer paper;  the imprint is more poinsettias.
 My next card uses the same background paper, but a different narrow strip of paper, and I added some gold string behind the flower because I ran out of Primas.

 My last card uses a strip of paper that already had a sentiment on it.  I simply cut it, adhered it to another piece of designer paper, and then added my embellishments.
 The Primas used on this card were covered with glitter:  I felt more sparkle was needed since the paper was more plain.
I made two more cards that are exactly the same as some of the ones above, depending on what I had left in my stash thus completing my quota for the month.

I can't tell you how much I HATE making Christmas Cards this time of the year:  which is probably why I always procrastinate and don't get it done till the end of each month.  But, I am always grateful in November and December that I disciplined myself and stuck with my goal all year long.

Have a great day!  Amy

Friday, May 30, 2014

Fashion Over Fifty: Bringing in the Unexpected

Hello!  Are you all enjoying the most beautiful spring weather like I am?  It has been gorgeous here in Northwestern Wisconsin and I am loving it!  It is also so nice to be able to take fashion pictures outside again when there are pretty backdrops and natural lighting.  It's so much easier than indoor pictures, and I don't have to stress so much over finding a unique corner of my home to take a shot.

Anyway, onto today's fashion post.  Have you ever tried a piece of clothing on and you really liked the item itself, but you couldn't seem to find anything to go with it?  That's how I felt about this skirt from StitchFix.  I spent over an hour trying on just about every shirt and pair of shoes I owned, and nothing seemed to work.  I don't know why:  it's a neutral, it's black and white, it's simple, anything should go with it!  But it just seemed so plain and frumpy to me, and I just wasn't happy with any of it.  I wore this skirt once before on our Spring Vacation because it is a soft knit material and very comfy.  Only then I wore it with a white tank and sheer black flowing blouse and black sandals.  You can see that outfit HERE if you missed that post.  Now I liked that ensemble, but I wasn't thrilled with it, so I wanted to try a different look.  So then I tried the skirt with all sorts of heels and sandals and then I tried it with a colorful top, instead of black or white, and I didn't like that either. The colorful tops just didn't seem to go with the skirt.  So I finally settled on a black T-shirt and nude sandals and went to bed.  The next morning I started to dress, and I still wasn't happy with my choice.  I know, it's kinda comical how much I worry and sweat over what to wear.  It's a good thing I wear a uniform most of the week,  because if I had to go through this everyday, I'd never get anything done!  So back to my closet I went lamenting to my husband 'All these clothes, and I still can't find a thing to wear!'  And then, a light bulb went off in my head!  The reason this skirt isn't working for me, is because I keep trying to 'dress it up' because it's a skirt and I need to bring the UNEXPECTED element into the ensemble.  What about a casual white T-shirt and tennis shoes or loafers?  So I pulled out an old white T-Shirt that I bought from Express a year or two ago, and a pair of brand new white loafers by Dr. Scholl's, and wa-la!  I found my outfit, and I loved it!  

 I think this is the first time in my life I ever wore tennis shoes/loafers with a skirt before,  my natural inclination is to wear heels or sandals;  but you know what?  I loved it!  The shoes were so comfortable (and as I've said a hundred times before 'fashion is all about comfort at my age!), yet because I had a skirt on, and not pants or shorts, I felt dressy!  I loved wearing this outfit so much, I'm sure I'll be wearing it all summer every time I need to be dressed up, yet want to be cool and comfortable.
 There is a lot of interesting detail on these shoes.  They have a distressed look on the edges, and some 'holes' in them, and eyelets.  And because they are by Dr. Scholl's, they are very supportive.  When I received them in the mail, my husband said 'They have holes in them!  Send them back'.  But he was joking, he really like them.

 My T-Shirt from Express also has some fun detailing to bring a more contemporary/fun edge to the outfit.  My favorite part is the rolled tab sleeves.  It also has a wide V neck opening, which always help make me look more slimmer than a standard T-Shirt.  It is very sheer, so I have to wear a tank top underneath.
 I wanted to bring a little bit of color and glam into this ensemble, or it would look too 'casual' with the T-Shirt and loafers,  and not 'dressy' like I wanted it to;  so I wore this gorgeous statement necklace from The Icing and pink bangles.

I carried a very old nude handbag and wore my old double strap cobalt blue watch on my other arm. The bright blue watch added more color and life to the outfit than a plain black watch would.  I also  felt the nude handbag was a better choice than a black or white one because it broke up the black and white color theme a bit, yet didn't clash with the colorful jewelry.

So, what do you think?  Would you ever wear tennis shoes or loafers with a skirt or dress?  If not, what are some other ways you would bring a bit of the unexpected into your clothing ensemble?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Have a great day!  Amy

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Spring Vacation Day Five - The Hermitage: Home of Andrew Jackson

Hello!  On day five of our Spring Vacation we visited Nashville, Tennessee and boy did we cram a lot into one day!  Today's post is just about what we did in the morning.  One of our goals on our vacation, was to tour a plantation.  There were three estates/mansions/plantations in the Nashville area open for tourists:  the Carnton Plantation, the Belle Meade Estate, and The Hermitage.  Since we were only in the Nashville area for two days, we could only go to one, so we chose The Hermitage because it was presidential.
  We arrived at The Hermitage on a beautiful spring morning before the place even opened.  The temperatures were in the sixties.  Up to now, we had spent so much time in urban environments, it was nice to be back in the country again.  The grounds of this estate are absolutely GORGEOUS:  filled with flowering trees, lush green lawns, flowers,  horses and wildlife.  

After paying an admission fee of $27.00, we then received a head set (second time on this vacation I wore a head set!), and set off for the tour.  Just like Graceland, when you reach a display area, you just type in the number in the display and you hear a story. There is also a short movie you watch telling you all about the history of President Jackson and his beautiful home.  

 Prior to entering the grounds, there were many displays/artifacts to learn about the people who lived on The Hermitage and it's history.  What I liked to hear most was all the personal stories:  specifically the beautiful, amazing, and even scandalous love story between President Jackson and his wife.  You don't learn those things in American History classes!  There was even a display of mannequins that were the exact physical proportions of the couple:  Mr. Jackson was a bean pole:  he was 6 ft 1 and weighed only 145 pounds!  That's what I weigh, and I'm only 5 ft 7!  And his wife Rachael was the exact opposite, she only came to his chest and was quite rotund.  In fact, her mannequin gave her quite the belly, even though she was never able to conceive a child.  

After learning some brief history of The Hermitage, we then entered the grounds.  Again, there are stops all over the estate where you type in a number and hear a story.  Here is a front view of this gorgeous home:
 The estate is quite large, so if you don't want to walk it you can also take a wagon ride for a fee.
 Rachael loved to garden and just like me with my garden, it was her place to find peace and solitude from the worries of this world.  Here is a picture of her garden below:
 This is a side view of the house as viewed from inside the garden.
 There is a small cemetery inside the garden where Andrew Jackson and his family are buried.  Even one of his slaves is buried in this cemetery.  The Hermitage teaches a lot about slave life on the plantation,  and speaks the truth about Andrew Jackson:  both good and bad.

 There were many slave quarters on the property that you could go into and see how they lived.  They reminded me of little log cabins one sees in the north and west.  I don't have any really good pictures of these cabins;  you can see just the edge of one in the left hand side of this picture, and there is another one behind the white flowering crab in the next picture.

 Here are more slave quarters pictured far away in the scene below.
 This is the back side of The Hermitage.  We did go inside but you are not allowed to take any pictures.  It is absolutely gorgeous inside and beautifully decorated.  What I liked most, was that because this home was opened as a museum in 1889,  it is well preserved and as similar as possible to when the president lived here, making it piece of living history.

The most wonderful story I heard about President Jackson was how he hung a picture of his late wife above the fireplace in his bedroom, so that her face would be the last thing he saw before he went to sleep, and the first thing he saw when he woke up.  How romantic!
 President Jackson admired Greek Revival architecture and had his home remodeled to reflect that interest after a chimney fire in 1834.

 After leaving the home, we then toured the massive grounds, of course we had to stop and pet the horses first!
 There are the remains of the first home the president and his wife lived in before the mansion was built on the property also.  It is a simple, modest log cabin.   My husband remarked that was quite the standard of living increase going from the little home to the big, beautiful mansion!

There was a gorgeous little brook running through the property.  There I am pictured below in front of the running water.  The building behind me was their well.  It was quite a long walk from the well to the mansion,  I can't even imagine walking that distance with pails of water every day.
It took us about four hours just to get through all the exhibits, the mansions, and grounds, and we were really hungry at the end of our tour, so we left without visiting the museum which held many artifacts and more displays of Andrew Jackson and his life at The Hermitage.

We really enjoyed our time at The Hermitage, and would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the Nashville area.

Have a great day!  Amy

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fashion Over Fifty: Wearing Lace

 Hello!  Have you noticed how lace is everywhere this season?  Now I love lace, it always evokes a vintage, romantic, 'girly' feel for me;  but I tend to use it more decorating my 100+ year old home than I do on my body.   I've been trying on a few lacy items in the stores, but I have found them either very uncomfortable (lace is not a very 'giving' material), or I feel the look is too youthful for me.  However, I recently found these cute lace T- shirts from The Limited (similar) and a pair of oxfords with some lace detailing on them, that allows me to bring the lace trend into my wardrobe without the 'little girl look'.

My lace T shirt is see through in the front, so I wear a camisole underneath, although, I do know it is stylish just to wear a pretty bra underneath and expose one's mid section…but that is not for me!  I paired my lace T with a coral cardigan, a water color scarf from Old Navy (similar), dark blue denim Capri's, and my oxfords from Famous Footwear.

For my jewelry,  I wore a pretty blue double strap watch and a blue bead bracelet.
 It is hard to see the lace detailing on the shoes in these pictures for they are on the side of the shoes, but if you click on the Famous Footwear link above, you will see it well!
 By mixing the feminine lace with masculine shoes like oxfords and dark, rugged denim, it really tames the 'little girl' look/feel down, and makes it more suitable for this fifty-something woman.

Need more lace inspiration?  Here are some of my favorite fashion lace pins from Pinterest!

So what about you?  Would you wear lace, and if so how?  I'd love to hear from you!

Have a great day!  Amy

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Spring Vacation, Day Four - Franklin, Tennessee

Hello!  Welcome to day four of my spring vacation!  After spending two wonderful days in Memphis, we then journeyed on to our next destination:  Franklin, Tennessee!  Franklin is a sweet little historic town just outside of Nashville.  If it weren't for the heavy traffic, one would think that they had just stepped back in time, for it is filled with cute little houses and businesses that look untouched by modern civilization.  It was my kind of place!

Here is a lovely set of brick row houses.  This town has sixteen blocks listed in the National Register for historic buildings!

 Our first stop was inside this little honey stand where I bought some honey for me and my daughter, and some delicious candies as well!
 This is the town square.
 My husband standing in front of a Civil War memorial in the town square.

 The town was filled with quaint little gift shops and restaurants, but I was shocked to see an Anthropologie store.  For some reason, I thought it was only an on-line store, but to my surprise, they have physical stores as well.  I love the butterfly design they had outside their store.  They are always so creative in their clothing/apparel designs and their ads/decor.
 We loved this old church.  But I do have a cute story to share about this picture.  As I was taking this picture a group of five young men walked by dressed like they just stepped off an album cover:  they were dressed in the hippest clothes and they all had the newest and coolest hair styles.  They said 'Nice Pic!' to my husband, and after they passed by I said to my hubby, 'They are probably some famous country band and we have no idea who they are' and my husband replied 'You're probably right!'.
 A beautiful corner building where a yogurt shop is housed inside.
 There were several civil war homes that are open for touring.  They cost $10.00 each to tour the inside.  We didn't go inside any of them, we just took the walking tour of Franklin, and read about all the history of all the old homes, and looked around the outside of the properties.  There is a really interesting story of these two houses.  During one of the battles of the Civil War, the residents of the white house, which is called The Lotz House had to run across the street and take refuge in the basement of The Carter House (second picture) with all of their families and slaves.  The Lotz House was completely destroyed (this new property must by a reconstruction), but everyone who waited out the attack in the basement, survived.

 During our walking tour of Franklin, I discovered this quaint little cottage.  This would be my version of a dream house:  small, quaint, vintage, and a cute little flower garden in front!
 Another glorious old church.
 Look at the interesting old brick of this business:
 We had a submarine sandwich left over from the day before that we hadn't eaten yet, so since it was such a glorious day we had a little picnic lunch in the sunshine; thus we didn't try any of the restaurants in town.  However,  we did stop at the cute yogurt bar and enjoyed a yummy treat!  I chose a basic vanilla yogurt covered with berries.  It was delicious!  The inside of the yogurt bar was so cute and very well decorated!
 Here is some more interesting historic architecture:
 This is the same Anthropolgie Store pictured above, but now seen from across the street.  That swirl is all little metal butterflies.
 When we were photographing this old building, a man walked by and said that it is the most haunted building in Franklin and had a lot of sightings of ghosts.  I don't believe in ghosts, but I did find it interesting that there were so many ghost stories in the area that people attributed to the horrors of the Civil War.

I hope you enjoyed my little tour of Franklin.  If you love history and quaint little towns, I highly recommend you visit sometime.

Have a great day!  Amy