Friday, January 30, 2015

Fashion Over Fifty: Playing in the Snow with Thrift Store Finds

Hello!  In honor of all the excitement the eastern half of our country experienced this week with their recent snowfall,  I decided to post a few snowy pics of my own.  As most of you know, I don't like snow, nor winter for that matter, but how could I ignore such a beautiful photo shoot opportunity like this?
My outfit is as much fantasy as my love for snow.  I would never wear this outfit.  It's too frilly and girly for me.  The skirt actually belongs to my daughter Ashley.  It is one of her many thrift store finds.  But since we were playing make-believe, I thought a make-believe outfit would go well with my make- believe love for snow.  Plus, I don't want to do fashion posts of only things I would actually wear, or that would get boring really fast since I lead a very casual lifestyle.  So by borrowing some clothes, and doing a few make-believe posts here and there, I mix it up a bit!
"Look Ma, no feet!"  LOL!  We thought we had the perfect backdrop for photos, but we didn't realize that the snow was so deep that I would sink into it and look like I had no feet!   Time to move to a secondary location where there is less snow.
I paired Ashley's pretty skirt with my own off-white cardigan (old, from JCP), and an off-white tee shirt (old, from Old Navy).
I decided to wear my cute cut out booties from Francesca's (old) to edge up the outfit a bit.  I also wore off-white tights to keep my legs warm.

The Old Navy tee shirt already has pretty jewels sewn sporadically throughout, so not much extra jewelry was needed.  I wore just a single strand of pearls around my neck (old), and a pink beaded bracelet (old).  Are you starting to notice a pattern here?  I'm using the word 'old' a lot.  Thats because nothing in my post is new!  See dear ('dear' referring to my husband who reads my blog), I do wear my clothes more than once!  JK!
The skirt has a very interesting pattern on it and also some beads and sequins sewn on specific spots.

So with a new thrift store find of Ashley's, I was able to create an entirely new look with old items I already had in my closet.  What about you?  Do you shop at thrift stores?  Are you able to create a lot of fun, edgy looks with your thrift store finds?  I'd love to hear from you!

Have a great day!  Amy

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Me Lately

Hello!  Over a month ago I published THIS POST where I discussed a major life change I began.  Today I wanted to update you on how it's been going and what I've been up to since then.

When I first quit my job in at the end of November, everyone kept asking me  'So how does it feel to be home again?",  and my standard reply was 'I don't know, ask me again once I've had a normal week'.  For you see, I quit my job during the holidays and life was full of Christmas activities like decorating, baking, cleaning, and my house was filled with laughter and fun because all my kids were home.  Later, we also experienced some serious illness for a couple of weeks as my husband, son, and I came down with an awful upper respiratory infection.  After Christmas, well,  there's the usual depressing 'tearing down of the Christmas decorations', and driving my son back to college.  Once all that was done and over, I finally had a normal week. 
 So what have I been up to?  Well, for one, I found I had to exercise again for I gained about four pounds in my first week home.  Gasp!  Horror!  That fact alone almost made me want to go back to work.  I quickly realized that if I didn't get some type of physical activity everyday, I was going to gain a lot of weight.   My previous job I was on my feet and walking all day, so I'm sure I used a lot of calories.  Although, I've also gained a lot of weight this past year due to stress from work.  I would get home late at night, and even though I've already eaten dinner, I would eat again because I would be so upset about something that happened at work I couldn't sleep.

So even though I hate, and I mean HATE, to exercise, I have been faithfully doing it one hour a day, five days a week, and I am no longer gaining weight.  I even lost 5 lbs, which is a lot for me.  I don't lose weight easily at my age.  What do I do?  Well, don't laugh, but I have these old video cassettes from the 90's called "The Firm:  Aerobic Workouts with Weights".  It's basically step aerobics with weights so that you get a cardiovascular workout and a muscle work out at once.  They are very hard.  I loaned one to a friend once and she couldn't even get half way through the tape.  I don't enjoy it, but like eating broccoli, I do it cause I know it's good for me.
 So I thought I'd put my vanity issues aside and show you what I look like working out with no make up.   I always want to be real with you all, and if I put make up on just to take a picture of me working out, that wouldn't be real.   So here I am, Au natural, on my way to getting fit.  Even though I had been very active with my day job, it was a lot of work getting fit again.  I had to start doing the routine without weights or a step, until I was strong enough.  Now, one month later, I'm up to 5 lbs weights and the highest step.  That's my step in the first picture.  I got it for a steal at a rummage sale years ago.  If your looking for fitness equipment, rummage sales are the best.

Because I have had lower back problems off and on through the years, I also use an exercise ball that I bought from my chiropractor.  I can't recommend these enough!  They are wonderful for stretching, doing abdominal exercises,  and strengthening your core.
 I also have a treadmill in my basement and have been walking on that for about an hour a day while I watch a t.v. program.  I usually stay at a  5.0 incline, and a 2.5 walking speed, increasing to 3 for a 20 minute period, then cooling off back to 2.5 until my hour is up.

As soon as the weather warms up, I hope to be in my garden and then I probably won't exercise anymore.  My garden is over an acre and built on hills, so gardening is all the exercise I need in the spring and summer.

In addition to exercising, I've also been eating better.  Now, I've never been much of a junk food consumer or anyone who over-indulged in salts or sweets, but because of my crazy, hectic, lifestyle I had to eat out of the box, a lot.  Power bars, frozen meals, were my main consumption, in addition to chopped, raw fruits, veggies, and a yogurt everyday.  But I  only had a real, home-cooked meal twice a week (my two days I had off from work) and I was really starting to worry about all the additives and preservatives in my diet.  So when I quit my job, I decided it was time to only eat fresh, and I've been cooking every meal:  breakfast, lunch, and dinner since then.  This is what I had for breakfast today, and it was delicious.  It is baked eggs in Canadian Bacon cups.  Have you ever made these?  They are so simple it's ridiculous.  You simply spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, line it with a slice of Canadian Bacon, drop an egg in and cook at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.  Low fat, and high in protein!
 And as promised in my original post, I'm spending a lot of time in my craft room.  Some of you have mentioned that it is nice that I'm creating and posting more regularly than I have before.  I've mostly been paper crafting, but I still haven't built up much or any of a stash to open an Etsy store.  It seems my cards go out as fast as I can make them.  But it is nice to have the time to make special cards for special people.  I even make a card if only to write a note, like the one pictured below.
 My aunt sent me a letter recently that required a response.  Rather than just sending her a scribbled hand written note back, I took the time to make her a lovely card.  I've had this set from Flourishes for years and never used it.  I bought it for occasions such as this one, so it was nice to have the time to finally be able to put it to use.  It was fairly easy to color since the flowers are so small.  The hardest part was coloring the paper, but it wouldn't have to be.   I could have just colored it a solid off-white and been done with it, but I wanted to create an aged, worn look so that took more time.  I then curled one edge of the main image panel to echo the curled papers in the image, and then sponged the edges to make it look old.
 And for an added touch, I put just a touch of pink Stickles in the center of each flower.

Other than paper crafting, I have also been quilting again, but only about one block a day.  I am only one block away from finishing all the blocks I need for my quilt before I start putting it all together.

I cleaned my whole house from top to bottom except for my kitchen.  I'm still working on that.  I only completed one wall of my kitchen so far.  But you have to understand, my kitchen is no ordinary kitchen.  It is filled from top to bottom with blue and white china and silver kitchen antiques, and all white cabinetry.  It takes forever to wash the gunk and grease off of every single piece, and all the grooved white paneling.  I can only do so much a day before I can't stand inhaling one more breath of bleach or the muscles in my arms give out and I call it a day.  I read the most entertaining post the other day based on the quote 'A Clean House is a Sign of a Wasted Life'.  Although I love my home neat and tidy, I did have to agree on the majority of the article.  Life is to short to obsess that much over cleanliness.

Nevertheless, I've been spending more time trying to keep the house prettier than it has been the past six years, and that includes decorating for all the holidays and seasons.  For Valentine's Day I like to do something, no matter how small, even if it's just putting out pretty little hand towels like these in my guest bathroom.

 Or fake red roses in my kitchen window until my husband gives me real ones!
 And I change out my door greetings with ones like these:

So all in all, it's been a good change.  I enjoy seeing my husband everyday and eating a meal together at night, even though he is home such a brief time because of his long work days.  I hope it won't be too much longer till he can cut his hours back so we can spend more time together.

I'm just now starting to get a little anxious (didn't take me long did it, only two months) and I'm still keeping my eye open for that perfect job.  But everything I'm coming across seems to have the wrong hours or too much stress again.  So in the mean time, I've picked up reading again.  Do you have any idea how many years it has been since I've read a book!  I use to love to read, I was an English Literature major in college, but it just became too exhausting for me and I stopped. The last thing I wanted to do after a long day at work reading hundreds of emails and policies, was pick up a book!   But my adventurous self became interested in the new 'Wild' movie with Reese Witherspoon and since I rarely see a movie when it first hits the theaters, I decided to read the book instead.  It's a true story of a  young woman whose life tragically falls apart and she decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail for three months of soul-searching.  I'm about three quarters of the way through, and it is quite a good read, though as a believer it is hard for me to read the destructive lifestyle of this young woman.  I keep thinking, she wouldn't feel this way or do these self destructive behaviors if she knew Jesus.  And I found it interesting, that God placed a Christian on her path, on the Pacific Crest Trail, to help her, but I don't think she realized it (not sure if she ever realizes it, I didn't get to the end yet).
I was interested in reading this book because I love to travel, and hiking in State and National Parks is one of my favorite things to do when I'm on vacation.  I mentioned doing this with my husband, and he said, 'Well, I might be open to doing it for a couple of days, but not that long, and not that far away!'  We might have to go back to the Blue Ridge Mountains for that adventure!

But reading again has been good for me, and I consider it a good brain exercise too, so if you know of any other books I might be interested in reading, I'd love to hear about them.  I'm looking for my next book!

And finally, I've been blogging, just like I promised.  I can't tell you how much I enjoy coming here everyday and writing.  I really, really love it.  And the best part is, I keep meeting more and more wonderful new people that have the same interests as I do.  And that's great, because where I live, I don't have a lot of friends.  My interests are very different than my neighbors, and there isn't a lot I have in common with them.  If there is one good thing I can say about social media, is that it really threw open the doors, windows, and everything else to be able to meet interesting people from around the world and connect everyone to each other without being filtered through a secular media first.  I would like to hear from you about what topics you'd like for me to primarily post on.  When I look at my blog statistics, my fashion posts continue to far surpass any other type of topic so I have been considering adding more than one fashion post a week because of that.  I don't know why, but it seems more people are interested in what this old lady is wearing instead of what she is making.  It could be because the paper crafting industry in general is waning in popularity, but I also think women just like to see what regular women wear, and not models.  I know I do!  I would also love to do more travel posts, but I don't see any big vacations coming up in the near future because of my unemployment, so other than Staycations, those will have to wait for awhile.  So if you have any requests, ideas, or suggestions on future posts, I would love to hear from you!

And that folks, is me lately.  Now what about you?  What have you been up to lately.  How do you intend to get through these next two months of winter?

Have a great day!  Amy

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Valentine Ideas

Hello!  I've been seeing so many wonderful Valentine Cards and cute Valentine gifts popping up all over the Internet, and I thought, I'd love to share my Valentine creations with you, but I can't.  Why?  Because the people I give Valentine Gifts to read my blog and would see their card/gift before they receive them.  So instead, I'm going to show you some cute, Valentine things I came across instead.  And after Valentine's Day, when you no longer need ideas (LOL), I'll show you my Valentine creations.

I found a lot of adorable Valentine items for the house from Francesca's, like this sweet wall plaque with one of my favorite sentiments.  I love the pink color.  I've seen this sentiment many times on other wall hangings, but never in this color.  I really like it.  I'd love to have this hanging in my bedroom.
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And I also found this lovely wall hanging at Francesca's.  Wouldn't this be great for an office?  I can see  someone looking at this during an especially stressful day and knowing someone out there loves you.
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What I like about both of the Francesca items is that a creative person could very easily make them themselves.  I know I could.  But quite often, by the time you buy all the supplies and take the time to make it, it costs just as much (if not more) than if you just bought it.  

I have seen a lot of cute things popping up all over the paper crafting world that I admire.  Like these cards:
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And look at these cute treat bags.  The artist bought the bags at the dollar store, and just personalized them.  I'll definitely be casing these!

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These are cute too.  I love the clip on top and how you can see through them.

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This treat package is probably my favorite, because it combines two of my favorite hobbies, sewing and paper-crafting.  I also think the bag could be re-used by the recipient, and I love how soft, romantic, and vintage it looks.
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Like sweets?  Look at these cuties!  I might have to go off my diet and bake these!

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Looking for a romantic table setting?  How about this one:

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You can buy these pretty rosebuds at any crafts store for just a few dollars.  Don't they make a romantic table setting?

All these ideas and more you can find on my Valentines Idea Pinterest Board HERE.  If your not already a follower of mine,  I encourage you to follow.  I am constantly pinning great ideas, recipes, and fashion to Pinterest.  It's one of my favorite websites!

But I won't leave you with just pics of other artist's creations.  I do have one project I can show you.  This is actually an anniversary card that I made for a couple at my church, but I used Valentine images and papers to create it:

The main image is a retired MFT set called 'Hearts Galore', and the paper is from an old Valentine Bo Bunny Pad called "Crush Collection".  The sketch is from Splitcoaststampers (SC524).

I put a pink ribbon behind the main image panel for more texture and interest.

So what about you?  What special things are you planning to make or buy for the loved ones in your life?  I'd love to hear from you!  

Have a great day!  Amy

Monday, January 26, 2015

Got Flowers?!

Hello!  I'm playing Vicki's Flashback Friday Challenge again this week and this time her theme is flowers.  Every week Vicki from 'Stamp Smiles' challenges us to use our old, neglected, retired supplies in a trendy new way.  I told Vicki all I have is old stamps, so that's never a problem for me!

Well you all know I love flowers, so this week's challenge was a treat for me.  To make my card I pulled out the retired Stampin Up! set "Delight in Life".  

My pretty paper is from DCWV 'Lemon Flower'.   It has a lot of texture and sheen in real life.
To make the card,  I stamped the flowers from the set on separate card stock and cut them out.  The sentiment was stamped directly on a banner cut with an MFT die.  I colored the little yellow flower in the sentiment with my copics.  Little yellow adhesive crystals were added to the center of each flower for embellishment.
It was a fun and easy card to make, and I really loved using my old SU! set again.  If you'd like to play along with us this week, just click the link at the top of this post.

Have a great day!  Amy

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Happiest Wishes!

 Hello!  I have a cheerful birthday card to share with you today.  I used a sentiment from SU! 'Birthday Wishes' as my main image, and added some white daisies cut out with an MFT die for embellishment.

My sketch is by Maren Benedict and the paper is from DCWV 'Pocketful Full of Posies'.  Don't you just love how the daisies in the paper match the die cut daises?  Such a sweet and simple card with a 'wow' impact.  I love easy, yet high quality hand made cards, don't you?
Have a great day!  Amy

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fashion Over Fifty: A New Michael Kors Shirt!

Hello!  Remember when I told you that my lovely daughter bought me two new Michael Kors shirts for Christmas?  Well here's one of them.  I've been a very fortunate momma;  I got a Michael Kor's shirt for my birthday and two more for Christmas.  That brings my favorite designer items up to four,  because Ashley gave me a pair of Michael Kor's gloves for Christmas last year.

I really love this top.  It's very soft and silky to the touch, and the style is perfect for my figure. I like how it gathers above the bust line and not below it, and as in all of Michael Kors items, it is full of interesting detail.

The color of the shirt is hard to define.  I'm not sure if it's brown or taupe, and it's actually got a bit of an olive green undertone to it too, so I wasn't sure what would go with it.  Since it was the first time I wore it, I decided to play it safe and wear it with black, but I could see wearing it with my new off-white cords too.

Black and brown use to be a big fashion don't, but in the past few years it has grown in popularity and become a trend.  I really like the two colors together.  My black pants are Emer High Waisted Cropped Trousers  that I received in a Stitch Fix from almost a year ago.

Because my outfit was kinda plain, I really dressed it up with a lot of bling.  I wore large gold statement earrings (old),  and a simple gold necklace by Jill Michael (also from Stitch Fix) because a bold necklace with bold earrings would be too much for me.  Plus, with the gold studs already on the shirt near the neckline,  I didn't need too much more jewelry around my neck.  I also had a large, gold bangle that I just picked up on clearance for only a few dollars from Express that you can see in the first picture.
My pointy toe, snake skin print flats are from Express.  I bought them last year and this was the first time I ever wore them.  I tell you, I have a lot of clothes and shoes I've only wore once or not at all and like a lot of fashion bloggers out there I made a resolution this year to cut back on my spending till I wear out my closet a bit!  Or maybe I should start selling my clothes on-line, many fashion bloggers do that too.  What do you think of that idea?
These shoes are so cute, but they are not comfortable.  I really am not a fan of pointy toe shoes.

Michael Kors always has to put his signature on his items somewhere, and on this shirt it is  imprinted on the gold cord stops.  Too tiny to even photograph, but trust me, it's there.  I always love looking to see where his symbol is on the clothing he designs.  It's never in the same spot.
Remember when I showed you my new winter coat?  Well guess what?  I bought another one.  It's not like I didn't love that one, I do, but it's warm, too warm.  I can't believe I'm saying that.  Me, too warm? But when we have a warm winter day, like above freezing, it's just too warm, so I wanted a more light weight winter jacket to wear on those days.  I gave my old winter jacket to my daughter because I didn't think I would need it anymore, but it turned out I really missed having a shorter jacket to throw on, so when I saw this jacket at Old Navy for a mere $25.00, I bought it.  It provides all the warmth I need whenever it's above 35 degrees, and it's a different color than the usual black or grey I have hanging in my coat closet.  I love the fur collar too.  And I was actually surprised at how warm this jacket was too.  True, I've never worn it when it was really cold outside (I wear the other one I bought then!), but I have never been cold when I put this jacket on either.  Old Navy has so many cute, wool, pea coats on clearance right now that I'd love to buy too, but really, how many coats does one girl need?
And as always, I have my Kamik Boots on when walking outside.  Unless I'm running errands, I usually wear my Kamik Boots when I'm outside and change into my dress shoes once I'm inside.  It helps keep my shoes looking brand new when they are not exposed to salt and snow, and it keeps my feet toasty warm.  If I'm running errands and there is not a blizzard out side (but I wouldn't be running errands in a blizzard anyway), I usually wear combat boots or my high, flat black boots.
I love outfits that are comfy, yet, somewhat dressy, don't you?  That's what this outfit is to me.  I could wear it all day and still be comfortable, yet, feel like I was dressed up.  It's all due to the stretch pants and loose fitting top!  If I had to pick just one outfit that defined my style, this would probably be it.  Comfy, with a touch of glam.
So what about you?  Do you think you could define your style in just one outfit?  Do you have any favorite designers out there?  I'd love to hear from you!

Have a great day!

Linking up with More Pieces of Me,  A Touch of Tartan,  I Feel Pretty,  Classic Yet Trendy, and The Daily Express.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Winter Garden

Hello!  Well you all know how I hate winter, but even I can't deny it's beauty after a fresh snowfall.  This was what I woke up to yesterday morning:
And surprise, surprise, it was actually warm enough for me to go outside and take a few pictures, so I did.  It was so warm,  the icicles hanging from the eaves were dripping.
I've always loved how my little red garden shed stands out in the snow.  That and cardinals.  Except, I can never capture a cardinal on film.  They scatter like the wind the second I step outside, and I don't have the patience to stand still and wait for hours for their return just to take a picture.  So I enjoy the spot of the beautiful red cardinal from inside my house, through a window pane.
How much snow can stay atop a dried floral bush before it has to land elsewhere or the plant keels over?
Snow covered pines are the best!   If only I could flock a Christmas Tree so perfectly.
Yup, only so much snow can stay on top of this thistle, before it starts to keel over.

I sure do love my Kamik boots in this kinda weather.  But I hated to walk through my yard and ruin the beauty of the fresh fallen snow.  I was careful where I stepped so that the footprints wouldn't show up in the next photograph.
I love how the snow lays so perfectly on every single evergreen branch.
Looks like it didn't take long for the snow to start sliding off the metal shed roof from when I took the first picture above.  Good thing I wasn't standing underneath it when it started to go!
I use to have window boxes on my garden shed window ledge, but I so tired of walking all the way down there to water them everyday, so I found some old items and just set them on the ledge instead. They sit out all year long, and if they get rusty and worn they only look better as far as I'm concerned.
The snow was so heavy for these pine trees the branches bent so much that they were almost touching the ground.
I could actually stoop under them and get a pretty shot of my house from behind the branches.
I've always loved this creepy, old, abandoned shed on the other side of my property.
A snow covered hydrangea bush.
And finally, a snow covered juniper bush.
Well, I hope you enjoyed looking at my winter garden.  It always amazes me the beauty there is in nature in every season and how the plants go to sleep in the winter only to wake up in the spring and look like this:
Yup, only about four or five more months till I see these beauties again.  I know I'll have spring flowers before then, but these are day lilies and they usually bloom in late June or July.

Till then, Have a Great Day!  Amy