Friday, July 31, 2015

Staying Summer Casual Chic with New Summer Clearance Items

I think this is the first time this season where everything I am wearing is new except my bag and necklace.  I didn't really plan it that way, but there have just been some great summer clearance sales going on so I've been scooping things up!  Summer fashion really doesn't change that much year to year, so if you need a few new things, now is the time to get them!

Today's outfit is my typical summer attire.  It is what I feel most comfortable in when I'm out in public in the summer.  I prefer sleeveless tops over tank tops, and shorts about this length.  Anything shorter makes me feel uncomfortable, and anything longer makes my legs look unattractive.  I really don't care for Bermuda shorts at all.
The chambray shirt is by St. John's Bay and is from JCP.  The vanilla camisole is from Forever 21.  I already owned a chambray shirt in a lighter wash, but when I saw this one on clearance, I thought I  I could use a darker wash too.  That's the thing about denim…whatever you buy in denim,  whether it's jeans, jackets, skirts, or shirts….you need it in several different washes to go with the other items in your closet.  I found that's especially true with denim jackets.  I own three of those in different washes.
My necklace is old, I can't even remember what store I picked it up at.  It's a pretty, flat, iridescent shell with several strands of silver chain and more iridescent beads.   It is one of my favorites.
The back of the chambray top has a couple of little darts to create more fullness and shape where I need it most.

My silver bracelet I picked up while on vacation from a store that was going out of business.  We found the best deals at that store and made quite a haul!

My nude cross-body bag is from JCP (OLD).

The sparkly silver thongs were also a clearance item from a local shoe store.  I got them for less than $7.00 but they are horrible to walk in.  They have a hard sole, and I didn't realize that to effectively walk in thongs you have to have a rubber sole.  You need the material beneath your feet to bend a bit, otherwise your just sliding your feet.  I will never wear these when I need to walk a lot, that's for sure!
I'm still loving all the soft shorts that are available this season.  They are so much more comfortable to wear in the hot summer months than twill or denim shorts.  This is the third pair I've purchased this summer!  You can see the other two HERE and HERE, if you missed those posts.

These shorts are by Liz Claiborne and are made of 100% linen.  I think they are my favorite so far!  They were originally $44, and marked down to $14.99.  But I had both a $15.00 off coupon and $10.00 in rewards, so I bought them with another item that totaled my bill to $31.00, and when the deductions came off I got both items for less than $7.00.  SCORE!  

These shorts have a zipper, button, and a drawstring waist:  so super comfy!  There are very large pockets on the front.
So what about you?  Have you been picking up any summer clearance items, or have you already moved on to fall and back-to-school items?  I know this can be an expensive time of year purchasing all the school supplies and clothes the kiddos need for the new school year.  I'm glad those years are behind me!

Have a great day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Birthdays ROCK!

This is a fun card if you have a musical girl, tween, or gal in your life.  The images are from retired MFT "The Poppies" and the paper is from DCWV "Rock Star".
 I colored, then cut the main images out and popped them up on dimensionals.  I also stamped the images onto the circular panels so I could get the cord….kinda hard to cut something that thin!
 The sentiments were cut with MFT dies then sewn on using my sewing machine.
 The rest of the card stock colors are Pale Plum and Basic Grey.  The music notes were randomly stamped on the circular panel (cut with Spellbinders Nestabilities).  The stars are brads.

Have a great day!  Amy

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Our Colorado Adventure, Day Four, Part Three: Black Hawk, Colorado

This post is part of a series of travel posts about our May vacation to Colorado.  
Day four was filled with so much adventure I had to divide it into three posts.  Today is Part Three.  If you missed Part One and Two, start HERE.  If you need to start from the very beginning, go HERE.

In my first post of Day Four of our Colorado Adventure, I mentioned that we were planning on visiting a glacier that day.  Well, that didn't turn out as planned.  You see, I always use when planning vacations.  I searched for a hotel around St. Marys Glacier and discovered most of them were pretty pricey.  Then I discovered Ameristar and couldn't believe what a beautiful hotel it was and for such a great price.  So I booked it before actually checking the TIME distance from the hotel to the glacier.  On the map, the hotel looked very close to the glacier.  But in reality it was over an hour away (actually two hours away since we were coming from Ft. Collins) because there was a mountain in the way.  

We didn't want to drive that far to see a glacier, plus, we actually had enough snow and ice from our experience in Rocky Mountain National Park, that we decided to just head to our hotel and see what there was to do in the area.  On our way there, we stopped at the sweet city of Golden, Colorado and Look Out Mountain.  After those two detours, it was early afternoon by the time we got back into our car and we began the scenic drive to Black Hawk, Colorado.  

There were many oohs, and ahhs all the way there, for it was quite the amazing drive.  The road is nestled in on both sides by steep rocky cliffs, that winds and twists in scenic wonders.  We wanted to drive slow so that we could savor every moment.  However, the rest of the traffic wanted to drive fast and was not very patient with out touristy driving.

When we finally reached Black Hawk I couldn't believe my eyes.  I felt like I was seeing an oasis in the middle of the desert.  One minute I was in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but wilderness as far as the eye could see, and the next minute I was in the middle of a modern metropolis!  This beautiful 1.5 mile long town was a mix of modern high rise buildings and architecture with well-maintained, renovated historic buildings.  It was gorgeous!

The top and bottom pictures are views of the town of Black Hawk from the roof of our hotel.

Black Hawk is a historic mining settlement founded in 1859 during the Pike's Peak Gold Rush.  It is located along the north fork of Clear Creek and Gregory Gulch.   The area flourished during the mining boom, but declined, and even became a ghost town in the 20th Century.  But after the 1991 establishment of Casino Gambling, the town was revived.  Over 900 million dollars have been invested in land, casinos, and related development.  Today, this tiny, picturesque town generates over 84% of Colorado's Gaming Revenue and contributes 88 million annually in taxes to the state of Colorado for tourism, historical preservation, and higher education (source:  city of Black Hawk history)

Now, my husband and I are not gamblers.  We don't play cards, and have absolutely no idea how to even play a game of solitaire.  So what we were we going to do in a gambling town?  Well, the first thing we did was get out and take a walk and soak in the beauty!  The restoration of all the old, original buildings were amazing.  Most buildings, like the old train depot, hotel, and carriage house, were turned into casinos.  However, there were quite a few buildings and homes that seemed vacant…like no one was using or living in them.  But their facade's were given a fresh coat of paint and they were quite attractive and well-maintained.
I'm sure some of you might wonder if this is a family-friendly town.  I will admit, I did see a few questionable characters, but I never once worried about our safety.  The gambling crowd seemed far more interested in their 'game' than they did in me.  But we were also only outside during daylight hours, and stayed inside our hotel after dark.  We felt our hotel was very family-friendly.  Even though it was a casino, small children were eating with their parents inside the casino restaurants, and we saw many families checking into the hotel when we did.

Only 118 people claim Black Hawk as their home, making it the least populous city in Colorado.  The employees who work here most likely take one of the numerous buses from Denver or Boulder, or the same scenic drive we did.  Perhaps that was why all the drivers were in such a hurry?
The city is so CLEAN!  Everything feels fresh and new, even the buildings that are hundreds of years old.  They do an excellent job of keeping everything well maintained, and we also saw a lot of new construction going on too.
There were several sky walks connecting one casino to another so if you were in winter you would  never have to step outside if you didn't want too.
In addition to it's rich mining history, Black Hawk is also know for the Colorado and Central Railway being laid through the mountains and into Black Hawk.  This old train is on display as a memorial to that time period.
There is a beautiful, and peaceful river walk behind the casinos.  I swear, every town in Colorado has a beautiful river walk!
As much as I loved the mix of old and new in Black Hawk, this city is not without controversy.   There are many people who wish Black Hawk and it's sister city Central City, would have been left ghost towns.  They feel that the development has destroyed the towns history.   I understand where they are coming from, but I don't feel that way at all.  I love historic buildings.  I live in a house that is over one hundred years old myself!  It would be one thing if the developers leveled the town and destroyed all the old buildings to dust, but they didn't.  They restored them, and added beautiful new buildings to bring life back into a dead town.  If you've ever been to New York City you would see gorgeous old, historic buildings, standing on the same street as modern skyscrapers.  It is the same with Black Hawk.  In my opinion, they did an excellent job preserving the town's past, and giving it a future at the same time.
Ameristar Casino Resort and Spa is one of those modern buildings.  In fact, it's the largest and tallest casino, and the most popular.  This is where we stayed.  It was our very first stay at a luxury hotel and we had so much fun, it won't be the last!
Our room was absolutely beautiful!  We couldn't believe the tall ceilings, the crown moulding, the furniture/decor, and the bathroom!  The closet even had it's own light that came on automatically when you opened the door!  Can you tell I'm a country girl by that statement?
The bathroom had double sinks, a separate toilet room, a sunken tub that fit two comfortably (don't ask how I know that) and a glass shower.  It was the best bathroom I have ever used.  I wanted to take it home with me.  My husband was like "Uh, can we just live here?  We don't need anymore space than this for the two of us anyway."
I have no idea what thread count the sheets were, but they must have been high because even my husband noticed how soft they were!
The hot tub was outside on the hotel roof.  It was a little chilly out, but you didn't feel it when you were in the water.
They even had several fire pits on the roof that you could warm up by.
The pool was also on the roof, but inside.  It was absolutely huge for a hotel pool.

This hotel was so amazing, that after our walk, we spent the rest of the day (and night) in our hotel.  My husband went to use their amazing fitness facility, while I lounged pool side.  They had a spa, but I have never been to a spa before and I was nervous about going alone.  Someday I will have to try a spa treatment with a girlfriend.

After we both spent some time in the hot tub and drying off by the fires, we went out to dinner at the hotel's buffet. The casino had five restaurants inside.  We chose the buffet for dinner and did a restaurant for breakfast.   Like most casino buffets, they had everything you could imagine, but of course my favorite was the chocolate covered strawberries.

We enjoyed our experience at the Ameristar so much that we googled the resort when we got home and  found one in Missouri.  Were thinking of doing a short weekend trip or vacation to that one sometime soon.  I never thought I would be one to like luxury hotels,  I always feel uncomfortable in hoighty- toighty places.   But we had so much fun we decided to spend a little more money on hotels in our future trips instead of always staying in a modestly priced one.

So what about you?  Have you ever been to a gambling town before?  What do you think of mixing historic buildings with new architecture?  And/or, have you ever stayed in a luxury hotel before?

I'd love to hear from you!

Have a great day!  Amy

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Together is the Nicest Place to Be

The nicest thing about being married for a very long time is that you really don't care where you are as long as your together.  In the beginning of a relationship, one tends to want the fairytale:  the exotic honeymoon, the big ring, roses for every occasion.  But as life goes on, you realize how unimportant those things are, and how priceless quality time with each other is, and you just enjoy time spent with each other.

I created this card for a couple in my church who have been married almost as long as my husband and I have.  Knowing their busy lifestyle, I knew they would really connect with the sentiment and image.
 The main image is retired Stampin' Up!  "Summer by the Sea" and the sentiment is retired Stampin' Up! "Tender Toile".
 The entire card is stamped and colored on a white card base using Copics.  I then adhered it to a black base to make it pop more.
Have a great day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Fashion Over Fifty: The Little Black Skirt Revisited

I just wanted a simple, cool, comfy outfit to wear to church.  Something that didn't require a whole lot of planning, preparation, or spandex.  Something simple and sweet, yet dressy.  So out came That Little Black Skirt, my old reliable friend.

I picked up this little black skirt at Target two seasons ago and I am still madly in love with it.  It is so comfortable with the elastic waist band, it's the perfect length, and it goes with anything.  Just put on a top, any top, and it will work.  Don't believe me?  Check out THIS POST where I wore it with two different tops.
My top is new this season, but I showed it to you before in one of my Stitch Fix posts.  It's actually a hi-lo tee shirt.  I just tied the front in a knot and let the back hang down a bit.  I love this shirt because the material is so soft…it feels so cozy!  The emerald green color is so pretty, and it also has little specks of black in it which makes it even more interesting.  
My pointy toe flats are from Express (old).  They have a snakeskin print on one half, and black suede on the other half.  There is a also a pretty velvet bow on top.

Since I was driving to church with my husband I didn't need a big purse, so I pulled out a vintage black velvet clutch from my closet.  It was my mother's, and probably her mother's before that…so it's very old, but still in very good condition.  It is just large enough to hold my IPhone, a tube of lipstick, a small trial size bottle of hand lotion, and some breath mints.  What else does a girl need when her husband's around to pay for everything?

My black and gold necklace I picked up on a clearance sale when on our last vacation.

I continued the black and gold jewelry down onto my wrists as well.

As if the elastic waist wasn't enough of a comfy factor, this skirt also has pockets!  Nothing I like better than a skirt or dress with pockets…and these pockets even have cute little rhinestones on them!

Yes, I love my little, reliable, black skirt.  It never seems to fail me.  I'm sure this won't be the last time you've seen it either.

Have a great day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Country Porches and Scattered Flowers

Since I'm waiting for the Fall Finale to begin in my perennial gardens (yeah, it's almost that time of the year again, isn't it depressing?), I thought I'd show you the flowers I have displayed on my porches.

My house was built in the late 1800's.  In fact, it is so old that there really is no record of it.  The farthest back we could find was when a man built a flour mill on the river below us, so we assumed he built this house then too.  

Although the original brick house still stands, we've added four porches since we purchased the house over fifteen years ago.  For today's post, I'm showing you two of the porches.  They are located at the front of the house and therefore receive the most guests.

Pictured below is my front porch.  If you are a regular reader of my garden posts you will have often read "The view from my front porch" or "The view from my kitchen window".  My flower garden that I take the most pictures of lies right in front of this porch.  The kitchen window is the small one to the right of the porch.
 My husband recently ripped out a beautiful, but over grown spirea bush that was located where you see the pots are now.  It was too late to plant anything new in it's place, so I just put pots of annuals where the bush was.

Notice the moss growing on the stone on the bottom left of the picture?  This is the north side of our house, so I plant impatiens and hosta in that garden bed, and the moss grows beautifully on the rock.  My husband wanted to remove it and I screamed "Don't you dare!  Most people would pay to have moss like that!"

This is the side view of the front porch.  I have three different varieties of coral colored hanging baskets.  Shade happy ones on the north side, and sun happy ones on the west side.  I also have a wrought iron planter hanging on the wall that is filled with ivy, impatience, and some pansies left over from spring.  There is another wrought iron planter filled with ivy on the metal coffee table.
 This is my side porch where most of my visitors enter so I try to keep it the nicest.  I have a mix of wood and wicker furniture on it, but the only ones who ever sit on it are the neighborhood cats because there isn't much of a view from this porch.
 I change the pillow and the welcome sign out with the seasons.  This summer I went patriotic, but in the fall it will change to sunflowers and scarecrows and in the winter it becomes snowmen.
 I picked up this wooden wheelbarrow at an end of summer clearance sale years ago.  I lined it with landscaping fabric and moss, and filled it with soil and impatience.  I know someday it will probably rot, but my husband will fix it when it does.
 The four planters were on my south porch but the deer kept eating them so I moved them here.  This porch is right in front of my driveway where we park our three cars, so it is blocked from the deer at night.  I'm not sure how well they will grow here as they are sun plants, not shade plants, but I was growing so tired of never seeing any blooms that I had no other choice.
 I normally have a ton of sunflowers this time of the year, but the deer ate every last one of the them except for two.  In a few more years we will gate off the front of our house.  We decided the deer can have the entire yard, all I want is my porches and front garden.  I'm getting too old to care of it anymore anyway!
 This is 'the view from my front porch' that I talked about above.  I love my little, never used butterfly house!
 I planted this annual (cleome) in this garden this year.  I was hoping it would grow taller, but it only grew about two and half feet.  It did fill out nice and the deer have left it alone for the most part.  Hopefully, it will reseed for me.
 This is a late blooming daylily.  When it blooms, you know fall is near.   As much as I enjoy seeing it's golden face, I also fill with sadness for I know summer is coming to an end.
 Another sign of fall is the Black Eyed Susans.  They just barely started to open up.
 Here they are in front of the purple coneflowers.  They make such a nice contrast and pairing, don't they?
 And I'll leave you a close up of some bee balm that I spotted growing along my fence.
And that is the North and West porch.  If you want to see the South porch, check out my fashion post from Friday for I took pictures on that porch.  As for my East porch, I don't have many flowers there because no one really sees that area of the house (and the deer like to eat anything I put back there too). But I will take pictures and post them later because it is a pretty place we like to hang out as a family.

Have a great day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE.