Monday, August 31, 2015

#IWillWearWhatILike: The Final Week

It is with great sadness that I write this post for today is the last day of the social media campaign #IwillwearwhatIlike.  If your unaware of this hashtag, click here and it will tell you all about it.

It has been so much fun meeting other women, and seeing what fun and creative photos and comments they came up with while wearing "what they shouldn't wear".  I will miss it greatly.

This past week was another fun one.  First up, "Booty Shorts".  I don't own any booty shorts, did not want to buy any, and I certainly couldn't do a fitting room 'selfie' of my bottom, so I just used this picture of me on Instagram.  If you think you've seen it before, it's because you have.  I did a fashion post on this outfit HERE.

Day 25 was old sneakers.  Now what is wrong with women over the age of thirty wearing old sneakers   I wonder?  There were some really awesome photographs on Instagram of women wearing old Converse, Keds, and other popular brands.  It seemed the older, and more scuffed up the sneakers were, the better they looked.  Some brands, especially Converse, just improve with age.  Although I own one pair of Converse shoes, they are brand-spankin new looking as I think I've only worn them once.  So to meet the challenge, I just picked out an old pair of Sketchers that I use to wear to work.

Day 26 was Cheap Bras.  Now this one, I understand.  Mature women usually, definitely not always, because it depends on body type and size, need more support than a young gal GENERALLY does (there's always exceptions);  and cheap bras normally don't offer that support.  HOWEVER, sometimes  you can find really amazing deals and price isn't always an indicator of quality.  I normally have to spend around $50 for a bra (but of course I wait for a sale or a coupon and end up spending half of that).  But on my last vacation my husband and I were shopping at the largest Forever 21 store I have ever seen in my life and they had unbelievably low clearance racks.  I think I walked out of that store that day with multiple bags of clothes and didn't even spend $50.00.  Anyway, I found these beauties there which cost me less than $5.00 a piece and are not only very pretty, but very supportive and well-constructed too!

  Day 27 was Glitter Eyeshadow.   I love the eye make up sets "Naked" by Urban Decay.  I own two sets, and I am dying to purchase the new "Smokey" set by Naked too, but at $54.00 a set,  I have to be patient.  These sets have a mix of glittery and flat shadows, but most of them are glittery.  I mentioned on Instagram that I don't put glitter shadow all over my eyes, but just in strategic spots to highlight certain areas:  like the inner or outer corners.  I use the flat shadows in the set for other areas.

Day 28 of the social media campaign was Platform Flip Flops.  I bought these years ago, but they are still in great shape.  They don't have too much of platform, but enough to qualify!

 Day 29 was Long Hair.  I think my hair is more shoulder length, but I wasn't about to put in extensions for the challenge.  :)  I have cut my hair short at various times in my life, but I never liked it.  I will probably always have long hair, even in my very old age.

 Day 30 was Scrunchies!  Years ago I use to wear these all the time, but  I had to go out and buy one for the challenge, because I couldn't find any in my closet.  I'm sure I'm the odd ball, but I actually still really like hair scrunchies and don't understand why people hate them so much.

 And the last day were all going to go out with a bang because it is Leather Pants!  I can't wait to see all the photos of women wearing these.  Now I don't own any real leather pants, but I do have a pair of pleather pants that I picked up on clearance at JCP last year.  I was really happy to see that they are still in style for this upcoming season too, so I can get more use out of them.  I only wore them twice last season.  They are so comfy, because they are made of Ponte Roma Knit, and the pleather is only on the side and buttocks.

 Because they are very form fitting, I try to wear a longer, looser top with them.  I chose a black cami from Old Navy, and a teal cardigan from Stitch Fix.   My open-heel booties are from JCP.

Be sure to visit Catherine from Not Dressed As Lamb.  She did a wrap up of days 1-15 and was kind enough to feature one of my photos from the campaign.  Thanks Catherine!

Edited to add:  Catherine just announced on her latest blog post that she will be turning this social media campaign into a weekly series/link-up.  Yes!  That's great news!  You can read all about it HERE.

Have a great day!  Amy

Linking up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The End of August Garden

The end of August is always the biggest hurrah of the garden season.  Everything is so full and lush, one needs a machete just to make it down the wooden staircase to my shed.  My yard is severely overgrown, after years of neglect.  Some days I think I'm going to 'redo it all' and rip it all apart and start from scratch, and other days I think "Nah, I like what Mother Nature has done to the place.'  It's primarily a yard full of wildflowers and weeds now, but it still has it's own magical beauty:  especially in the fall when all the Golden Rod is in bloom.

You can buy the Golden Rod plant at any nursery, but you also see it growing along the road this time of the year.  I planted mine, and it reseeded into this!  A Sea of Yellow!  A nuisance plant, but oh so pretty when it is in it's glory.

  The only part of yard I regularly maintain now is my upper garden.  It seems to be all I can handle, and all I really want to do as I have developed other interests since buying this property.  I don't have a problem at all letting my yard go 'au natural'.   The butterflies, bees, and birds seem to appreciate it…as well as the deer and other nuisance animals!

 The Phlox is in full bloom right now too.  While walking my yard to take pictures, I was surprised at how much phlox had reseeded and was in bloom in my yard.   There was almost as much Phlox as there was Golden Rod.  It seems a little late for the Phlox to be blooming, but I think I can thank the deer for that.  They went through my yard and ate almost all my Phlox buds, resulting in the plants branching out and blooming later.

 I planted the annual Cleome for the first time this year and I was absolutely thrilled with the result.  They didn't grow as tall as I expected, just a few feet, but they branched and filled out nicely, providing color all summer long.  The deer also left them alone for the most part because of the prickly texture.  I'm hoping they will re-seed, as Cleome is known to do this, but if they don't, I will be purchasing more next year.

 Once the slugs backed off the Marigolds (thanks to slug bait and warmer/dryer weather), they also did well in my garden.  Deer don't eat marigolds because of the pungent smell, so this plant also worked out well for me in my top garden.  Note to self:  Next spring, more Marigolds and Cleome, no petunias!

Here is a close up of the Golden Rod plant.  A lot of people are allergic to this plant.  If your one of those people, you would not want to visit my house right now. :)

 This is the view walking down the staircase towards the shed.  The Golden Rod bend over into the staircase, you literally have to push them aside to get through.

 All this Phlox was not planted on my septic mound garden.  It reseeded itself here.  Pretty heh?

 A view from the end of the septic mound garden looking at the Maple tree ring of Hosta and stone, all the Golden Rod, and the Phlox.

 A fall blooming Hydrangea.  I have two of these large bushes, and I just love them.  Their flowers change to a pretty pink color as they age.

 I have a lot of the 'weed' Queen Ann's Lace in my garden.  It's just too pretty to pull!

 This was a spring blooming Hydrangea that turns green in the fall.  I love it when flowers don't just fade away but change through the seasons, don't you?

 I planted Joe Pye Weed in my garden and it too re-seeded everywhere.  Lesson learned:  if a plant's name has the name 'weed' in it, it probably is.  :)

 Black Eyed Susans have the longest bloom time of any plant.  They start blooming at the end of July and they don't stop till winter!   Such a great plant!

The view of my garden as seen from my living room window.

A grassy garden path with wildflowers on either side of it.

 This is a view of my top garden as seen from the roof of my house.  It has a small pond, is terraced with three levels, and is also where I keep all my bird feeders.  The path on the far right leads right to the front porch.  Because this garden is so close to my house, and I can see all the flowers from my kitchen window, this is one garden I do maintain.  The rest of the yard lies on the bottom of a steep hill, and is therefore not that necessary to keep pristine, and can grow wild.

I love my tall red Salvia that I plant up against the front of my house.  This plant really likes this spot, and always does well here.  Anything else I've ever planted here has never done as well.  Gardening to me is all about making mistakes.  If you plant something somewhere and it isn't growing well, try moving it to another location, or plant something different.  If a fertilizer doesn't do much, try a different one, or better yet, go organic and use compost!  I'm always learning what works and doesn't work in my garden by trial and error.  And every year is different, producing  issues and problems you didn't have the year before.

 A view looking down at the septic mound from the top garden.

 In the picture below you can see the old wooden staircase that leads to my garden shed.  See how the branches of the Golden Rod bend into it?

The view from the top of the staircase and you descend down the steps.

And I leave you with the side view of the staircase garden as seen from the roof of our home.

And that concludes the end of my summer garden posts.  I don't expect much else to bloom.  Everything will start to fade away little by little.  But I will keep taking pictures for you, as long as I can.  When the leaves start to change, there will be new color and new interest.   I even find the garden quite interesting in the winter as well.  And if I ever reach a point where I am struggling with what to photograph in my own garden for a weekly post, well, I'll just share pictures of other people's gardens or discuss garden topics.  So the Sunday Garden Posts will continue all year, but with some adaptations.  I will probably bring in Home and Seasonal decor as well!

Have a great day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Easiest Card to Make Ever

Today I have a card that would be perfect for someone who wants to give someone a hand-made card, but doesn't have a lot of time to spend in the craft room.  This card is also perfect for mass-producing since it takes so little time.  As many of my long-time readers already know, I do a card ministry, and I often need a lot of cards really fast.  This is my formula:  find a great piece of designer paper and stamp a sentiment on it!

Now, I did add a few little extras to make the card more special:  but you don't have to do these things and the card would still look great.  I embossed the sentiment using copper embossing powder, and I added adhesive crystals and used a corner rounder on the top right edge.  But that is it!  Easy-peasey!
 The card was for a couple's anniversary, and the sentiment is from retired Stampin' Up! "Elegant Inspirations".
 The beautiful designer paper is from Bo Bunny "Gabrielle Collection".
I liked the style of this card so much that I used it as the image for my new Etsy store!  Yes, if you haven't heard, I finally set up an Etsy store.  You can visit me HERE and favor my shop if you'd like.  I only had time to list old retired Stampin' Up! stamp sets there so far, but I hope to soon list my cards and other crafty creations soon!  I also added more stamp sets to my "Stamp Sets for Sale" page on my blog if you have been patiently awaiting more!

Have a great day!  Amy

Friday, August 28, 2015

Fashion Over Fifty: Stripes and Jean Skirts

I love dressy, yet comfortable outfits.  As much as I love to dress up, if the outfit is not comfortable or practical for my active lifestyle, I won't wear it.  I have to be able to walk in my shoes, and move with ease.  So when I found this cute, chambray skirt by Lucky at T.J. Maxx for only $15.00 I was ecstatic!  Soft, flowing fabric, elastic and tie waist, pockets, and the perfect hem length for my long legs….what more could a girl ask for?

 I paired my skirt with a striped, short sleeve button down I picked up at J.C. Penney last spring.  I've shown it to you before, paired with white denim jeans HERE.  In that post I wore a lime green tank underneath the shirt, but in this outfit I chose a white tank.

For jewelry, I chose a yellow necklace from Charming Charlies (old), a gold bracelet from Stitchfix, and a yellow bag which was a gift from my daughter for Mother's Day, but also came from Charming Charlies.

  My husband and I snuck into a neighbor's yard to take these photographs near their corn field and swing set.  I was terrified someone was going to come out and chase us away.  But we had a lot of fun being 'naughty' and swinging on their  swing set.  My husband begged me to go down their slide, but I said "No!  My skirt is too short for that!".

 I wore white shoes to balance out the outfit.  I was just reading on Refinery that one should not wear peep-toe cork wedges anymore.  Oh well, I guess that's another fashion rule I have to break, because I LOVE these shoes!

  I bought this skirt while I was in Florida and have already worn it twice since then.  Although it is meant for warmer months, I can see wearing it in the fall and winter just by adding tights, boots, and a blazer, cardigan, or sweater.

Have a great day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wide Open Spaces

I made another masculine card using stamps from retired Stampin' Up! "Wide Open Spaces".  This set is still auctioning at my Ebay Store now if you interested.  It's a great set for making cards for guys who don't hunt, or the nature lover in your life.  I previously made a Desert Card and a Mountain Card with it, and today I am showing the Pines and Cloud image.

My layout is from a card Debbie Olson created.  I actually have the same PTI set that Debbie used in her card, and I wanted to do an exact replica of her card, but I didn't have a Copic Airbrush System, so I gave that idea up.  Instead I picked a paper that looked like it had an interesting sky background and went with that.  Why I switched stamp sets, I have no idea.  I made this card so long ago, I don't remember!  :)

The paper is from two fall paper pads:  "The Pumpkin Patch", and Basic Grey "Indian Summer" paper pad.  I also used black card stock for matting.

The sentiment is from PTI "Through the Trees", and hemp was used for embellishment.

Despite the layering, it was a very simple card to make.  The images were just stamped onto the designer paper….no coloring involved.  That is the nice thing about this set.  The images are not solid images and  have a lot of detail to them;  you could add some color if you want to, but you don't need to.

On a side note, I finally opened up an Etsy Store!  I have had people ask me for years if I sold my cards.  I did sell them at a local shop for awhile, but when I started working full time I couldn't keep up with the demand.  Now I'm not working, but I do a card ministry at my church, so all my cards usually get used as fast as I can make them.  However, I was thinking that the design part is always the hardest part of making the card.  So if every time I make a card for someone at church, I just make a second one to sell, maybe it will be manageable.  We'll see.  In the mean time, here is my Etsy Store if you care to look and 'favor' it.  Right now I only have used retired Stampin' Up! Stamp Sets there, in addition to the ones I have on my Blog Page and on Ebay, but I hope to have cards posted soon and maybe some other 'crafty' things!  I've also added new stamp sets to my Blog Page for those of you who have been patiently waiting.

Have a great day!  Amy

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Our Colorado Adventure, Day Five, Part Two: Chautauqua Park

I can't believe it is the last week of August already and I'm first finishing up my Spring Vacation Posts now.  It seems the month of May was only yesterday, and now were moving into Fall.  Why is summer always over in a breath, and winter lasts forever?

For those of you new to my blog, or who just happened upon this post, I've been doing a series of travel posts of our adventure to Colorado that we took at the end of May.  They begin HERE if you care to read them all.   Today is the very last post of that adventure, for it was our last day in Colorado.

I broke Day Five into two separate posts, or it would have gotten way too long.  The morning was spent at Pearl St. and you can read about that experience HERE.

After we were done exploring Pearl St., we decided to head to Chautauqua Park, which is located only two miles from the downtown shopping district.  I know, unbelievable heh?  That a big city park with rugged hiking and mountain views would be located right in town?

I first heard about the park from my niece.  It was one of her suggestions to hike the trail to the top of the bluffs and see gorgeous views of downtown Boulder.  I then researched it on TripAdvisor and time and time again I read that one must climb to the top, to the "Royal Arch", to see magnificent views, for although it was quite a difficult hike, it was well worth it.  

We found the park no problem, but parking was another issue.  Even though there is plenty of flat land available, the park has the tiniest parking lot you could imagine…I don't even know if it can hold twenty five cars.  It is a very popular park, and cars were driving around in circles looking for a place to park.  We finally gave up and found parking on a side street and had to walk quite a distance in to get to the Ranger's Office.   Not a good thing, to be exhausted before you even start a hike.  It looked like creating more parking would be no problem whatsoever with all the land (pictured below and even more the other direction as far as the eye could see) available.  But I'm sure the Naturalists in the area did not want to pave over the grass lands.  

We first stopped in at the Ranger's Office and I asked for directions on how to get to the Royal Arch.  She then informed me that it was quite a difficult hike and asked if I had food and water with me.  I assured her I did, though she scared me half to death with that question.  I mean, I know those reviews on TripAdvisor weren't easy, but for a Park Ranger to ask me if I had food and water with me was another thing.  She then proceeded to outline the trail on the map and concluded by saying 'On your way back down, you can come this way'.  I thought her last sentence was slightly odd, but I didn't think much about it.  So, off we went.

From the minute we stepped on the gravel path, it was just up, and up, and up.  You can't tell by this picture, but the trail is going straight up.  This picture was taken about half way up the open prairie of the trail, and I was almost immediately out of breath.  I feigned wanting to stop and take a picture because I didn't want my husband to know I needed a break already.  I looked past him, at that peak, knowing that's where we were headed and I started to wonder if I would ever make it.

Once we made it to the foothill of the mountain,  we entered a wooded area and finally had some shelter from the hot sun.  This made hiking a bit easier, although we were still constantly climbing up.
The hiking trail was quite beautiful, with a mix of open prairies and woodlands.

It was not a well-paved or well-marked trail however.  And any of my regular readers would know that's a big beef with me.  On almost every vacation, my husband and I have gone hiking, so we have a lot of experience with trails.  This one, was probably one of the worst ones I've ever seen.  The paths were so rugged, it was hard to tell if you were on the correct path or not.  And it wasn't just us.  We never ran into more confused hikers in our lives….everyone seemed lost and they were looking at maps trying to figure out which direction to go.  So many hikers were asking advice from other hiking groups, it was ridiculous.

They did occasionally have sign posts stating which trail you were on, and arrows pointing to other trails, but the confusion came because there seemed to be two different names for each trail.  Some time's it would say 'Royal Arch' and other times it would use the words' Second or Third FlatIron'  and you didn't know what you were on or which direction to go.
But onward we pressed.  We figured, even if we on the wrong trail, we were still going up.  There was that strange peak still in the distance…that was our goal….to the get to the top and see the view!
This rocky slope was quite the challenge.  If your afraid of heights, you wouldn't like this too much.  You are quite 'up there' at this spot, but it has an incredible view if you can overcome your fears as I did.

The rocks were tumbled together so much, I didn't even know if I was still on the trail.  I just kept trying to follow what looked more 'like it was put there' and 'not just fallen there'.
The view from the rocky cliff side.

Once we got passed the rocky cliff side we entered a beautiful tree and rock filled area.  It was so peaceful (and cool) inside this little forest area.

The height of the rock formations was absolutely amazing!

There were huge boulders everywhere, and now, we were definitely lost.  There was no clear path or markings anywhere.  The sandy paths seemed to weave in all directions in and out and around all the rocks.  Really?  The park rangers can't even paint an X on a rock every now and then so we know were headed in the right direction?

We ran into another hiker who was coming down from up above.  We asked him if he knew where the Royal Arch was.  He said he didn't, and there was nothing up there, just a sign for mountain climbers.

We then ran into another group of hikers and asked them if they knew where the Royal Arch was.  Of course they didn't, but they think the trail goes down and suggested we go that way.  My husband thought they were nuts.  Why would we go down when the view is from the top.  So we took the mountain climber trail instead.

After a few minutes on this trail, we ran into another hiker coming down.  We asked her if the Royal Arch was up ahead.  She said 'no', that there was nothing up there, and she came back down because the trail is really hard to follow and she couldn't figure out which was an actual trail and which wasn't.  She said she was a resident of Boulder and came to the park often for exercise and has never been able to find the Royal Arch.

Well, with that shocking and sad news, we decided to turn around and take the trail back down like the second group of hikers suggested.
As we proceeded down the trail, a cold front moved in and the temperature dropped about twenty degrees.  It also started to thunder in the distance.  We didn't have any extra clothes with us, and went very quickly from being hot to very cold.

Eventually we hit a fork in the trail and there it was, a sign that pointed to the Royal Arch…still over a mile away.  We now knew, that it really existed, and yes, the hiker was right….you had to go down, to get back up.  We stopped another group of hikers and asked them if they had just come from the Royal Arch.  They said they did.  Yes!  It truly does exist!  Someone actually found it!  But they also said 'I'm not going to lie to you.  It's quite a distance away yet and it isn't an easy hike because it is straight up'.

By now, we had already been hiking for a couple of hours.  I was tired, no I was beyond tired, I was exhausted.  And now I was freezing, and the sky was going to open up and drop buckets of rain any second.  My husband said he was so determined to find this STUPID ROYAL ARCH that part of him wanted to continue, but the other part of him was ready to just turn around and go home.

With heavy hearts, we gave up on our quest to find the Royal Arch, and headed back down the mountain.  It was a good thing we did, because the winds really picked up and it got bitter, bitter cold very fast.  We made it to our car safely before the first drop of rain.

Once inside our car we looked at our map and realized that the Forest Ranger sent us on 'The scenic route'.  If we would have taken the way she told us to 'come back down' on the way up, we would have been there in half the time.  I have no idea why she told us to the go the route we did.  I never once told her I was interested in a long, strenuous, scenic hike.  I only asked her for directions to the Royal Arch.

It was kinda sad really.  I will probably never get back to Boulder or Chautauqua Park in this lifetime.  I really lamented not seeing the magnificent view everyone raved about on TripAdvisor.  However, even though it was quite the strenuous hike, it was still a beautiful nature hike.  It's hard to believe that this rugged, outdoor adventure is right in the middle of a big city.

Well, you can imagine that after shopping all morning and hiking all afternoon that we had worked up quite the appetite.  So when we saw this Buca di Beppo restaurant, we were ecstatic.  We go to Buca's whenever we are in Minneapolis, but I never knew it was a chain.  This one was quite different than the little restaurant I'm used to.  I also have a funny story to share about our experience here.

We walked into the restaurant and the hostess asked us if we had a reservation (the place was completely empty).  We said 'no', and then she proceeded to walk us THROUGH THE KITCHEN!  The cooks all said hello to us as we walked through.  My husband and I looked at each other  and he muttered under his breath 'What, do we have to eat in the kitchen because we don't have a reservation?".  I started laughing, and couldn't stop.  She then walked us through the rest of this huge restaurant and eventually seated us at a table which was right inside a doorway where the hostess stand was…and where we first came in.  My husband and I looked at each other and said 'What was that all about?' and burst out laughing and couldn't stop.  I don't think we stopped joking and laughing about it until the meal was over.

After the bill was paid and we got up to leave, my husband said 'Let's leave the way we came in!'  I said 'no, that's too embarrassing'.  He said 'Oh, come on.  It'll be fun.'.  I still couldn't do it, so I exited through the small doorway next to our table.  He, on the other hand, walked all the way through the restaurant and the kitchen, and said goodbye to all the cooks telling them what a wonderful time he had.    They all looked at him like he was nuts, and I was so embarrassed.  Thank God we were not in our hometown and I would never have to see any of these people again.  However, I found it so funny, I think I giggled all the way back to our hotel.
The next morning we got up early to have our last breakfast on the road before the long drive home.  We stopped at a truck stop and I ordered biscuits and gravy, two sunny side up eggs, hash browns….and gobbled everything up!

Before getting back into the car, I headed to the potty and look what I found:  a bidet!  In a truck stop!  I've seen them in Italy, but never in America.  I never used one before, not even when I was in Italy, so curiosity got the better of me and I decided to give it a try.

All the bathrooms had their own private enclosures which included the bidet and the sink.  The bidet had an electronic push-button feature on the side where you could select water temperature and flow, and also air flow and temperature.  Well now, this could be fun, I thought!  So I gave it a whirl, and it was, quite interesting.  I personally don't see the necessity of it, but it's fun trying something new!
And that concludes my Colorado Adventure series.  Who would have thought it would have ended with a toilet?  So funny!

Have a great day!  Amy