Twinkle, twinkle little star baby shower

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


I had the privilege of hosting a baby shower this past weekend for my daughter who is expecting our first grandchild in January. I picked Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star as the theme.

I had so much fun!

Here I used Buffalo snow as "clouds" and little battery-operated twinkle lights as "stars" above the cute little onesies. Yes, he is a boy!

I hung gold stars from the curtain rods around the living and dining rooms as well.


The mom-to-be's chair was reserved right next to the present table.


I made these little centerpieces with more Buffalo snow, twinkle lights, a star pick, and some star garland. I also added a couple blue stars with blue ribbon streamers hot-glued onto shish kabob skewers (not shown in this pic).



I was actually thankful for a cloudy day. The twinkle lights had a chance to really sparkle! 



I had the shower catered, the first time I've done this. Let me tell you, it was a wonderful experience! I was able to relax and enjoy the shower so much more than if I had been serving and refilling coffee pots, etc.

The shower was at 11 a.m. on Saturday, so I served brunch. We had layered omelet, with zucchini and dried tomato, sour cream and chive potatoes, apple-flavored bacon and sausage skewers, fruit salad, and several types of breads, muffins, and scones. Oh, and salmon quesadillas.




 I set up a candy and cookie bar. The little ceramic bootie planter with the It's a Boy! mints was once filled with a floral arrangement that I received after my daughter was born. It adds a sentimental touch.



The only thing I made were these chocolate-covered pretzels. It was so fun to just work on the decorating and not worry about preparing food for 35 people.


When I was planning the shower, I googled blue candy, and found lots of fun and festive options. I had to rein myself in after I started filling my online shopping cart with blue lollipops, blue gummy bears, blue twizzlers, and more!



I couldn't resist these blue and white sugar swizzle sticks.


These little star cookies, found at our local grocery store, fit in perfectly with the Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star theme.


I love these cookies! I saw some like this on etsy and knew they would be perfect for the shower. I asked at our local bakery if they could make something similar and I was thrilled at what a beautiful job they did.



Instead of the traditional punch, I decided to have a juice bar. I had five different kinds of juices, with sparkling water, and slices of lemon and lime and some raspberries for garnish. (Forgot to get a picture of that.)

When people arrived they were greeted by this sign and asked to guess how many candies in the baby bottle.



The winner got to take home the baby bottle. How many candies do you think are in there?**

A friend of my daughter's brought little cans of play-doh for everyone and we had a contest to see who could make the cutest baby! So much fun. Here are a few of the prizes -- an insulated coffee mug with coffee, a bath and body pampering gift, and a package containing pencils, notebook, sticky notes, etc., all in blue of course.


The little guy is going to be so cute in all the little outfits he received. Here is my daughter with her dear friend who flew up from Alabama for the weekend.


Each guest went home with a little soap labelled "**from Jessica's shower to yours**." I purchased these organic coconut oil soaps from etsy and then dipped them in gold stars and put them in little gold organza drawstring bags.



And then the next day, Sunday, we celebrated at another shower hosted by Jessica's mother-in-law. What a special weekend. We are so thankful and looking forward to welcoming this little one. He is already so loved.


**316 candies

Maybe I never was a "Summer" -- color season switch

Friday, October 12, 2018


I've been experimenting with a radically different look for me.

Just as the natural world has gone from summer to fall, I have been making the same transition, from Summer to Autumn.

Way back in the '80s (remember Color Me Beautiful?) someone told me I was a Summer.  So Summer I've been. Cool, dusty shades of pink, lavender, blue. Lots of soft grays, dove, rose. Soft, elegant, lovely. I loved it.

But did it love me? A couple things happened recently that made me wonder.

I was with some friends buying silk scarves last year when we were together in China. I held up a lovely soft pink scarf and turned to show my friends.

"That color does nothing for you," one remarked. I was taken aback. Pink is my favorite color! Reluctantly, I put the scarf back, feeling a little miffed. But I did file that bit of information away and wondered.

Then, on three -- three -- separate occasions this summer when I was in Sephora and MAC, salespeople mentioned my light olive or warm skin coloring.

What?! Summers (like Winters) have cool coloring.

But come to think of it, I do have a greenish cast to my veins and gold in my eyes, two indicators of a warm coloring. And my natural brown hair had reddish-gold highlights in it, not ashy highlights (a cooler coloring). Because I've always liked the Summer colors I think I just ignored these things.

Now I'm not saying you shouldn't wear what you love. But again, does it love you? I started testing colors against my skin and realized that the cooler Summer colors were washing me out.

After doing some research, I decided I might really be an Autumn, probably a Deep Autumn because of my gray hair. (Your season doesn't change when you go gray, but you may move to one or the other end of that season, introducing a little coolness. So I think I'm a True Autumn, but I'm trying out the Deep Autumn because it's a little cooler, closer to Winter. I'm going to that end of the Autumn spectrum rather than closer to Summer, a Soft Autumn, because that season includes lighter colors. I think the darker colors look better with the gray hair. Hope I haven't confused you!)

Anyway, what all this means is that I'm all of a sudden wearing all the colors I never thought I could wear. Rust, olive, and goldenrod. I never thought I'd see the day when I'd wear any shade of yellow! And red, another color I've never worn.

from Pinterest

I've even switched out my nude/pink lipsticks for red and raisin. Now that's a huge change.

And pulling out my old gold jewelry and wearing that rather than the silver I've worn for years and years.

I haven't spent a lot of money. I just went to Target and picked up some solid color tees in Autumn colors just to try them out. I wanted to test out this new season before investing too much in it. I picked up some warmer and darker lipstick from CVS.

I feel like I look more alive. And I've been getting compliments.

And do you remember my last post about how I'm tired of being "nice?"

Well, all of this color change kind of fits into this idea. Bear with me here.

Pink and pastels and soft colors (the Summer season colors) seem so "nice," don't they? Red and rust and olive and yellow seem a little stronger, a little more assertive. Food for thought, right?

Now, I don't mean to say that if you wear pink you're a pushover. Or that "Summers" are too "nice." I just mean that maybe if you're dressing in the wrong colors it can affect you in a negative way. Maybe all those pastels just didn't quite fit me not only because of my coloring but because they didn't fit my personality. They were maybe tamping me down, draining not only color but strength from me.

Hopefully, this doesn't sound too out there, but I really think color affects us. And it could work the other way too. If you're wearing dark, dark colors and have a naturally buoyant personality, you may wonder why you feel tired and sad. Maybe you should be wearing bright, happy colors.

The lesson here I think is don't be afraid to shake things up. To question what you've always done. To think outside the box and do something different. Just to see. You might be surprised.

Just for fun, wear a color you've never worn. Try a very different color lipstick. See what happens.

For me, I'm sure liking this new look.

*******

And in super-happy news, I'm going to be a grandma (first time!) in January! Yay!

I'm tired of being nice

Thursday, September 20, 2018

I've been thinking about this for a long time. In fact, I think this is the title of my next book. It's such an important topic, and one that I suspect just about every woman can relate to in some way or another.

First, let me define what I mean by "nice."

I don't mean that I don't want to be kind, compassionate, or generous. I hope I am those things, and certainly want to continue to cultivate them in my life.

But I'm totally done with being "nice."

"Nice" is:

  • always acquiescing to others
  • not voicing your opinions because you're afraid of others' reactions
  • people pleasing
  • allowing others to dump on you; putting up with rudeness
  • not speaking up
  • being afraid to say "no"
  • always scanning the environment, making sure you aren't displeasing or offending anyone (and, of course, you don't want to be purposefully offensive; I think you know what I mean here)

Many of us, especially of my generation, were raised to be "good girls," expected to be nice and polite and accommodating. Of course, much has changed, but old habits and ways of thinking can be hard to change.  I'm way better than I used to be regarding all this. I had to be; being "nice" contributed, in part, to a worsening of depressive symptoms, leading to a major depressive episode I experienced some years ago.

Met this wonderful llama at a lavender festival this summer.
Do you think he cares what anyone thinks? No, he's not afraid to be his own, delightful self!

A lifetime of being "nice" can lead to all kinds of problems. Repressed anger, frustration, depression.

And we may end up squelching or tamping down all the wonderful, quirky, fun parts of our personality. The strong and ambitious parts. The creative and adventurous sides.

An interesting idea occurred to me recently. I've always thought I was an introvert. I based this on the fact that being with people usually wears me out. Instead of being renewed and refreshed after spending time with people, I'm usually exhausted and need some alone time. This, I've read, is characteristic of an introvert.

But what if I'm so busy trying to be "nice" and kind and understanding and a good listener, etc., etc., that I'm just worn out? What if I spend so much time worrying about what others are thinking and feeling that I don't just be myself? All this trying to be the "perfect" person, the person you think  people want you to be, is exhausting.

(Of course, this is why we all need close friends, friends that we can be ourselves with. Thank God for them!) 

So how do you counteract this tendency to be "nice?" Some ways to start could include: 1) start saying no to things you really don't feel called to do (remember that not every need is a call); 2) give yourself permission to express a differing opinion, respectfully; 3)learn to speak up when someone's being rude or taking advantage of you; and 4) walk and sit and talk with confidence (and fake it 'til you make it) -- you are greatly loved by the One who made you.

We may feel we are being rude, selfish, or bossy when we step out of the "good girl" role. No. We're just being reasonable, confident, adult people. It takes practice, but don't you think it's time?

What do you think? Is this a good book idea?

Finally (sadly) getting rid of my (high) heels

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Wedges are usually easier to wear than stilettos, but at 4 1/2 inches high,
this pair just isn't a good idea anymore. So sad.
I might have posted a while back about getting rid of my heels. I might have thought about it, but I just couldn't bear to part with them. I love heels. There are so many gorgeous ones out there, and I would wear them every day, even to the grocery store, if they didn't hurt so much.

But, facts are facts. They really are killing my feet. I was at a wedding this summer and was practically hobbling by the end of the evening.

Both have 3 1/2-inch heels. You'd think the block heel would be more comfortable, 
but I think the thin strap at the toes did me in at the wedding.

Then a couple weeks ago, I fell in our church parking lot. Thankfully, I wasn't hurt. I hit a patch of crumbly asphalt and down I went. I was wearing wedges (not the ones above), which you would think would be more stable, but they were tapered to the heel as I later discovered, and so more susceptible to wobbling.

So I came home, gritted my teeth, and packed up all my lovely heels (3 inches and higher). I'm not risking life and limb! 

So now what do I wear? I don't like athletic shoes. Or ugly old lady shoes. And flats hurt my feet (weird, huh?), so they're out.

I'm thankful fall is upon us, because I've always loved my booties, and I think they look great dressed up or down. They're super comfortable, flat or with a 1- or 2-inch heel, which I can handle.

I have found a couple pair of very comfortable and cute shoes from Jambu. I've been wearing them for the past three summers. Even walked the Great Wall in China in them as they were more comfortable than the walking shoes I brought.

The Jambu shoes are the red ones. I've had three pair of these shoes, one of which I completely wore out. Sadly, they don't seem to be making this style anymore. The boots are Lucky Brand. So comfortable and I think they're cute.

But what about a dressy shoe? The 1- to 2-inch block heels and the kitten heels out there can look matronly sometimes. Do you all have any suggestions?

I had a dozen or more pair of heels. But I don't need to replace all of those. I really only need a couple pair of dressy shoes, for events. Low-heeled sandals and booties will be my go-to for every day.

How about you? What do you wear on your feet?

How to prevent silver hair from yellowing

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

I've decided to try and grow my silver hair out -- long. I kind of want it to look like this:

from Pinterest

Of course, it's possible that I will end up looking like granny from The Beverly Hillbillies. Reality is often different from our dreams, haha.

But I don't have any big events coming up, like a family wedding, so I'm going to bite the bullet and embrace the long, painstaking process of growing it out. I don't plan on wearing it down; once it gets long enough I will wear it up, maybe like this:

from Pinterest

What's the point, you say? Well, I just want to. I've always loved long hair, but because shorter looks better on me, the solution is an updo. And if I end up with a tight little gray bun like granny instead of this gorgeous upswept look, I can always cut it again.

So, now the question is, how do I keep my hair, hair that could end up being two or three years old by the time it's long enough to put up, from turning yellow? Right now, it's so short that I probably get a new head of hair every six to eight months, with regular trims, so I don't worry too much about it. But if I want to keep it looking nice for up to three years, what to do?

If you're wondering the same about your beautiful silver hair, I've done the research for us.

*******

Gray or white hair contains very little pigment and will sometimes yellow from pigments picked up from the environment. Factors include:

  • chlorinated water from pools or showers
  • cigarette smoke and environmental pollution
  • heat styling tools such as hair dryers and curling and flat irons
  • hair products like gels or mousses that contain silicones or sulfates
  • the sun
  • water with a high iron content
  • some medications, such as those for malaria and chemotherapy drugs. The ingredients in sunless tanners and dandruff shampoos can also yellow hair.

Sometimes, genetics plays a role, but since there's nothing we can do about that, we'll focus on what we can do.

Install a shower filter. I'm looking at one on Amazon right now, but I'm going to do a little more research. I'll let you know. Unless anyone has some advice here? I don't swim in pools, but I guess you need to keep your hair dry or make sure you wash it well after swimming.

Don't smoke. Wash your hair if you've been around smokers or in a polluted or dusty environment.

Avoid using heat styling tools. Or turn them down to the lowest heat setting. Or use a heat protective spray. Be aware that the spray itself could cause yellowing (see below).

Avoid hair products with silicones or sulfates. I'm hoping longer hair will mean no more mousse or styling gels for me. In the meantime, I guess I'll have to figure out how to style my hair without them. Also, don't use a shampoo with a yellow-ish color to it. Try to use clear or white-colored shampoos.

Avoid mid-day sun and wear a hat if you'll be outside for an extended time.

I don't have any experience with high iron content in water or water softeners, so you'd have to check on this. And obviously, you need to take certain medications if needed. I was surprised about the sunless tanner. I put that on my legs after I get out of the shower. I guess I could still have it on my hands while drying my hair, so I need to either give that up or make sure I thoroughly wash my hands before touching my hair.

If you do notice some yellowing, use a blue shampoo. I am going to try and work it so I don't need to do this. A blue shampoo is only going to cover the yellow with a blue tint. I'd like to avoid the yellow in the first place or tinting my hair in the second place. But I'll definitely use one if I end up with any yellow. Just don't use it too often; I've ended up with a steely blue color. Once a week at most.

I've read conflicting reports about how often to shampoo your hair if you're trying to avoid yellowing. Some articles said wash it more often, even daily, to remove dust and environmental pollution. Others say less, to avoid chlorine in water and dulling shampoos and products. I think if you have a shower filter and use good products and avoid heat you could wash more often.

*******

I'd love to hear any tips you might have here. Also, do any of you lovelies with silver or gray or white hair wear it long?


Edited to add: I forgot to mention the strangest thing I read. Too much beta-carotene, as in carrots, can yellow your hair. So that daily carrot juice may be the culprit!

Decluttering so we can use only our best

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Roses from my niece's wedding in July.
I took a break from decluttering in June and July, but now I'm back in gear, with a pile of about 20 more boxes/bags on my front porch waiting for a donation pickup. This is probably the sixth such pickup this year, and one of the smaller ones. How in the world did we accumulate so much stuff?

I made a goal at the beginning of the year to declutter our house as if we were moving by the end of the year. We're not, but I have watched too many people completely overwhelmed and exhausted by the task of downsizing and moving that I thought I'd do a little preemptive strike here.

I have never been able to function with too much stuff around me, too much clutter clouding my vision and complicating my life, and after 37 years of marriage, 20 years in this house, three children, including all the extra books and paperwork from homeschooling them, things had reached a breaking point. We have the physical space. I just don't have the mental space anymore. 

The whole thing is emotional. Are we done with cross country skiing? Does letting go of the skiis mean letting go of the memories?  Can I let go of this handwriting sample from my youngest when he was five years old? Is that letting go of him? Am I getting to the point where four-inch stilettos are a thing of the past? Does that mean I'm getting old?

But the more I let go of, the easier I am breathing. The weight is lifting. It feels freeing. I can't drag around a lifetime's worth of stuff. And I can't drag around all that guilt. Yes, guilt. Because you have to fight the guilt about parting with things you spent good money on, or that somebody gave you. Or that evoke good memories.

(Now I'm not suggesting you cut all ties with your past. I'm certainly keeping some special letters and journals and pictures, some special heirlooms that I love. But the point is, we don't have to keep all of it, or even most of it.)

Anyway, to the title of this post.

One of the benefits of decluttering is that when we clear away the unnecessary, the unessential, the no-longer used or never used, we have space for, and breathing room for, the really beautiful things that are left. (Presumably, you are keeping the most beautiful, most loved items you have.)

For example, let's take dishes. I had 13 !!! sets of dishes at one point (I was saving three of them for my daughter and niece, but still . . . ). I'm now down to six (that doesn't count a couple of dessert sets, haha). I have plans to get rid of two more. One will be my set of Target Christmas dishes. Yes, it makes me feel kind of sad. We've eaten Christmas dinner on these plates for 20 years. But now that I've made up my mind, it feels right.  I have 16 Christmas dinner plates, dessert plates, bowls, and mugs. That takes up a lot of room. Whenever I want to use them, or my other dishes, I have to shift a whole bunch of stacks of plates and bowls to get to anything.

We use our Fitz and Floyd everyday white set every day and nothing else because it's too much work to shift everything around to get at it. I can't use my beautiful china because it's just too much work to  bring it out.

So if we want to live out the philosophy that every day is special and that we should use our special things every day, how do we do that if we can't access them?


These plates were stacked together, six of the large green dinner plates, four plates with fruit (one shown in blue), and six green dessert plates. They were all together in a pile on the top shelf of my china hutch and I never used them because it was too much work to get to them. What's the point?

So I'm giving the six green dessert plates to my niece because they belonged to her great-grandmother and because she said she'd like them, and moving the rest where I can use them. Why shouldn't I eat my lunch on a fancy plate?  If they fade (yes, I will put them in the dishwasher on my china setting) or break, oh well. Hopefully I will get years of pleasure out of using them rather than having them sitting there for 20 or 30 more years and then getting tossed.

Millennials, in case you haven't heard, don't want our stuff. So don't hold onto things thinking your kids will want them. (Having said that, I do double check with my children before parting with anything I think they may want. So far, no takers.)


Actually, this cute little teapot with sugar and creamer is going to a millennial who loves elephants. There's always exceptions to the rule.

I had a dozen Christmas glasses from Arby's taking up space in my cupboard. Gold band around top, pine trees and snow etched in the glass. Sentimental because I remember going to Arby's with my children and getting them, and then using them every year during the holiday season.

But now? They look kind of tacky and dated when I look at them with clear eyes. I don't like them all that much. And I certainly won't lose my special Christmas memories if I get rid of them. And they're certainly not as nice as the heirloom crystal glasses that I have that never see the light of day. They're going where the Arby's glasses sat, and I can easily reach for one when I want a glass of water. Why not? I don't like drinking my daily allotment of water, so why not try and make it special by using a pretty crystal goblet?

The point is, if you have so much stuff accumulated that you can't even get to it, you'll never be able to use and appreciate it. Once a year isn't good enough, in my book. Harden your heart, get rid of the things that you don't really love, and start using the good stuff. Every day is important and special. I have some beautiful china and glassware and I want to be able to use all of it, every day.

This theory applies to clothing and accessories and decor as well. Simple and elegant and beautiful is best.

Tea time

Thursday, July 12, 2018

If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you.  


Tea is for every season, even, as William Gladstone reminds us, for the hot, humid days of summer. A tall, cool glass of iced tea is always refreshing, but hot tea is lovely, too.

Our on recent cruise to Alaska, we were able to enjoy afternoon tea several times. It is offered every afternoon on the Princess cruise line. We enjoyed hot tea and a selection of tea sandwiches, scones, and tiny cakes and cookies. I think Queen Victoria was on to something when she instituted this custom back in the day.


Lovely to watch the scenery while sipping tea. This is the life!


We took a ferry to Vancouver Island after we landed in Vancouver. We stayed at The Fairmont Empress where the famous Empress Tea Room is. We weren't able to schedule tea, but we did go have a look at the tea room.


I bought this mug in the gift shop. All the china and teapots in the tea room are in this pattern.


Disappointed to miss tea at The Empress, I asked the concierge back at our hotel in Vancouver for the name of a good tea room. He directed us to TWG Tea. At first I thought it was an abbreviation of some sort for Twinings tea, but there's no connection. TWG Tea is based primarily in the Asia Pacific, with the Vancouver location their only one in Canada. 


Oh my goodness. I felt like a kid in a candy store when we walked in.




Can you believe I didn't buy any tea? I still have so much left from our trip to China. But if I had bought tea, it would have been this. I don't even know what kind it is, but who could resist?


I couldn't figure out what SFTGFOP1 meant. But there it is, right on the box -- Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Quality. Of course.


They had a huge selection of tea. (I think they said 200 varieties in the tea room; many, many more online.) I always like to try something new, but I had no idea where to start. The waitress helped me pick out a black tea, my favorite, but I can't remember now what I had. It was delicious.

My husband had a blue tea, which I liked even more than mine. I just looked it up and blue tea is also known as oolong tea. No wonder I liked it.



My husband actually ate this quail egg. I just can't eat a runny egg!



I had to open up this contraption. What a clever way to keep the teapot hot.


Next time I'm in the market for tea, I'm definitely visiting their website. So sad our local purveyor of tea has closed down.

When we were in Vancouver, I had to pick up a couple of these candy bars.


A Canadian blogger friend (can't remember who) mentioned how good these were. They're not available in the U.S. that I know of, and you have to buy a case of them if you buy them on Amazon. Which I'm now thinking isn't a bad idea. They're delicious. Light, crispy, nice chocolate and coffee flavor.

More flowers from the Butchart Gardens.
When we got home from our trip, I went with my book club to a lovely little tea room just north of us. It is housed in an old Victorian home, and filled with beautiful, vintage decor.



We shared three pots of tea, including a fruity blend and a chai. The menu included quiche and salad and individual mini loaves of pumpkin bread. We shared desserts and more tea. It was lovely.


Besides the two rooms set up for tea and the kitchen, all the rest of the rooms in this house were filled -- filled -- with jewelry, teacups, linens, and other pretty things to buy. Mostly jewelry. We took little baskets around and had fun filling them up and selecting from the bargains.



*******

 My friend Rita from Panoply blog just sent me the beautiful red bowl shown below to complete my vintage Pyrex bowl set. She has a booth in an antique mall in Charleston, West Virginia, and found this bowl while looking for items for her shop. Her blog is filled with wonderful antique finds and lovely home decor ideas.

I use my yellow bowl all the time (I have two of them) for mixing cookies and scones and breads. The other ones are in regular rotation. I'm excited to use the red one now. They look so happy together. Thank you Rita! 


I had a chance this past weekend to put these bowls to use. My sister and her husband and three boys came for a visit. These are white chocolate chip/cherry cookies.


And because one of my nephews is gluten free, I made some gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. These were from a Betty Crocker mix, and they were pretty good.


Thanks for stopping by friends. Don't forget to take time for yourself and enjoy a relaxing cup of tea.
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