Friday, March 18, 2016
I normally don't do product reviews. There's lots of other bloggers and web sites that take care of that, but if something really blows me away, of course I just have to put my two cents worth in and sing the products praise.
Such is the case of Bobbi Brown Stick Foundation. This was my first Bobbi Brown purchase. I've always been reluctant to spend money for premium makeup, but the older I get the more I go for quality. Its hard to know when you purchase makeup how it's gonna look when you are standing in the aisle at Walgreen's. It can get darn overwhelming. Normally I don't go to an actual makeup counter and get help with products. So on this particular day when I was with my friend Beverly we ventured into Sephora, the wonderland of all things beauty, and tried out a few products.
Being that I have rosacea I always have a hard time finding something that has great coverage. I wear foundation everyday so I have tried many brands and still was not satisfied. So that day at Sephora as my friend was finished sitting in the chair trying our several Bobbi products, I thought it was time to give Bobbi Brown a try. I explained my dilemma to the consultant and she promptly grabbed that stick foundation. Lets just say in the end I was a converted Bobbi customer.
I'll tell you my reasons for my new found devotion to this foundation. First this stick glides on and blends to perfection. I purchased the foundation brush, but I'm sure you can use another brush or just your fingers for the same result. You have total control over how much or how little you want to use. It even does an excellent job of covering my redness. If I need more coverage due to flare-ups, I just swipe more on and blend. The number one thing that has sold me is even though this stick cost $46, it will last probably at least 3 times longer than my previous liquid foundation. It ends up saving me money!!! Sometimes spending a little more makes total sense. So in the end on that day, I came home with a few great products and money well spent! On a side note, the particular Sephora that I was in was out of my color of Stick Foundation and the Bobbi Brown consultant sent me home with a vary generous amount in a small container! Great customer service!!
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
In November of 2014 when I went to Yallfest (the famous YA book festival hosted by Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston) in Charleston, South Carolina with my daughter. I left her at times to stand in line on her own for book signings while I went off and explored the city on my own. Charleston is a beautiful city. It reminded me of Europe in many ways. The beautiful iron gates, cobblestone alleys, and architecture just spoke to me while I was there.
I put on my most comfy shoes and took to the streets. We were lucky enough to have rented a villa right off of King Street listed on VRBO. It was a perfect location.
One late afternoon I visited the Aiken-Rhett Mansion. If you are a lover of history, this historic house is a must visit when in Charleston. This house had been in the family for 142 years and was built in 1820. William Aiken Sr. purchased the home in 1827 and it was a family residence until the mid twentieth century.
This is just one thing to see in Charleston. The city is full of things to see and famous King Street is a shopping Mecca.
You can read about my Yallfest experience here.
Sunday, March 6, 2016
This is a year full of changes for our family. The biggest change is to see our daughter's last year of High School end and sending her off to college in the fall. When your children are babies and you are waking up for 2 am feedings it seems like the time that they go out on their own is in the very distant future. Let me just say that that time goes very fast and before you know it you will be through the first day of school, through the adolescent years, and finally seeing them off to adulthood.
At this moment you may need to tell yourself over and over that this is what parenthood is all about. Everything leads up to the moment when you see them off into the world. All you can hope for is you helped to give them the tools to make decisions on their own that will have a positive impact on their young adult life.
Being a rather shy- afraid to do things kind of child myself, It took me many years to finally build up enough confidence to do things on my own. I still have a ways to go, but I wanted to bring up my daughter to have a solid sense of herself and enough independence to think for herself, and realize there is a big wide world out there. I wanted her to know that she can do anything she wants (within reason of course). That there is a level of fear in the unknown but each time you take a step to conquer that fear you build up a bit of confidence and the next thing you try, that is just a little bit more daunting, is within reach. After several baby steps, you really do believe you can do anything.
As a parent it is hard to accept that your child is at this point. Some parents suffer great anxiety when their kids go off on their own for the first time. You spend all these years nurturing them, making them the center of your world and then one day you find yourself looking around an empty house and the thought of "what do I do next" creeps in. Now is the time to immerse yourself in a favorite hobby, or get out and meet people. It truly is your time to shine. No matter what you never stop being a parent, but now it's their time to take the reins and steer themselves down their own path. I know I will never stop worrying and they know you are only a phone call away.
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Quite a few years ago I was lucky enough to spend a week working in England for my company. Thanks to some wonderful people that I worked with that week, I was able to see some beautiful sites. I stayed near Stratford-on-Avon so I was in a perfect area for some great site seeing. One place I toured was Warwick Castle. Although this picture comes from my point and shoot camera and I took a digital picture to post it here, the site of that village from the top of that castle was breathtaking. This was the first time I had ever traveled outside the US. I credit seeing the charm of England with giving me real wanderlust and planting a seed in my mind that it was possible to go anywhere.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
A few days ago I finished reading Meet Me In Paris by Juliette Sobanet and was blown away at this candid memoir from this romance writer about her divorce and her all consuming affair with a married man. You can read my review of that book here. In that book she shared a handful of poems she wrote to describe the feelings and thoughts she had during this painful period of her life.
I Loved You In Paris is her companion book that contains a collection of more of those poems she wrote during this time. The raw emotion in these poems shows through in each stanza. The book is divided into 3 parts representing each relationship at this time. The first is called A Mistress and Her Lover, the second is A Wife and Her Husband, and the final part is simply titled A Women. I could feel her pain, anger, love, depression, acceptance and finally the awakening where she finally realizes that the only place she can truly find happiness is within herself.
I Loved You In Paris is a must read if you have read Meet Me In Paris. In addition if you have been in a painful relationship or even if you have had your own awakening, you will enjoy this collection of poems. I have many favorite passages from these but I think one of my top ones is from the poem called Start Again
One day, your heart beats faster
And no longer does it feel
Like a blade has carved out the good parts
And left you for dead
Instead, this beating drum is so very alive
So very full of love
Not for the ones who broke your heart
Or for the ones who shattered it
But for yourself
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Art is absolutely everywhere in Paris. There is a reason Hemingway called Paris a movable feast. Turning the next corner can literally take your breath away because you never know what you will discover. A feast of the senses. This is just one of the reasons I love that city so much. Both these pictures I took while strolling in Montmartre. Six more months till my next trip to Paris. My camera will be ready!
Sunday, February 21, 2016
Since I can never get enough of reading about my favorite city either in fiction or non-fiction form, I decided to dig into Juliette Sobanet's telling memoir Meet Me In Paris. I have read a few of her books before-including Sleeping With Paris, Honeymoon In Paris, and Kissed In Paris and loved all of them. Juliette typically writes romance novels most set in the city of light which is why I have picked them up. You can just tell from reading them she loves that city like I do. It certainly shows in her writing which is rich in details. So much so that you feel like you are strolling the streets of Paris alongside her characters.
Meet Me In Paris is a beautifully written memoir, peppered with poems, about the authors decision to take a chance and live her French dream. Through a painful process of divorcing her husband and having a lengthy affair with a married man she finds what truly makes her happy. In the end she lets go of the things that are holding her back and decides to take a leap of faith. Along the way she has an incredible community of friends that are supportive and willing to offer advice (as well as incredible places to stay when she is in France).
From the first page I could not put it down! I too felt that I was French and lived in Paris in another life. I may have only been there once (my second trip there is coming in September), but the first time I set foot in Paris I felt at home. It was heartbreaking to read about the pain Juliette was in all through her decision to divorce her husband and her self destructive affair, but in the end she overcame all the pain to come to the decision to make the big move to France. I am so happy for her (and truthfully a tiny bit jealous!).
Fans of Juliette's books will love this look into the authors journey and others will love how revealing she is about her relationships. I'm sure it was not an easy thing to put her life in words for all to see. I sure am happy she did and I think it will bring inspiration to women who want to find their own happiness.
If you read this book and like the authors poems, you will love her new book of poems I Loved You In Paris
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
One year ago Hubby and I celebrated our 25th Anniversary cruising the Caribbean with stops at Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.
Stopped in port at Cozumel, our ship looked like a baby besides the massive Oasis Of The Seas
Rain clouds coming in at Grand Cayman. The cruise ships in the distance.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Since it is Mardi Gras time I thought I would share some pictures from last year's Mardi Gras when Hubby and I were in New Orleans before our Anniversary cruise. I never had experienced anything quite like Mardi Gras. Over the top costumes, partying, parades, and great food are a big part of the experience. We came home with bags of beads as souvenirs along with some awesome parade throws.
Friday, January 29, 2016
Maybe you are like me and love the process of planning for a trip, or maybe you would rather pay your money to a tour company and just show up at the airport and let someone else do all the planning.
Even though I have just took the first step in planning my trip to Paris, I have been doing research for quite awhile now. I only have about 5 Paris travel books on my bookshelf and have stared at the Google map of Paris till my eyes turned red. No, I'm not one bit obsessed!!
The first step in planning this trip was to find a place to stay. For me the decision on whether to stay in a hotel or renting an apartment was a relatively easy one. Economics did play a little part. I thought it would be a bit cheaper to pick up some groceries at the nearest market and fix some simple meals instead of eating every meal out. Most of all though, I wanted to have the whole experience of living like a local. So consulting my cousins wife, who is my travel partner and friend, Renee was agreeable to the idea of renting an apartment. I had changed my mind after talking to a French friend from thinking about staying in the 7th arrondissement near the Eiffel Tower to the 6th in the St, Germain neighborhood. We are more centrally located in this area where we can walk to many things we may want to see and do.
Like I said I had started doing research awhile ago, so I had looked at many apartments through various agencies. In fact I had 19 apartments saved to my favorites on VRBO. It was almost too confusing. Each one had good points and I finally narrowed it down to about 3 apartments. I think I went back and forth between those 3 about 20 times. Finally it was time to pick. I kept going to one apartment through Paris For Rent, an agency which is recommended by Rick Steves
Paris 2016 . When I made a price request Patrick promptly contacted me and told me this apartment was not available for the first 2 days I had requested. After a few email exchanges I changed my date so we could book that apartment. Renee gave the okay and I ended up making the 50% down payment. Patrick sent me all the info the next day and step one was complete.
With our apartment booked it finally is real that this will happen and I will be back in Paris in September!!
What's next? Searching for flights. Looks like this will take the biggest chunk of the travel budget. The question is, to hold out for a bargain, or just get it over with and book?
Sunday, January 24, 2016
For the next seven years I kept building up that account until I had saved $3500. Mind you my hubby had no desire to share my dream with me and being that I was determined to go I started researching going by myself. I started searching for info on traveling to Paris solo and found that there is a whole lot of people my age that go it alone. There are lots of bloggers and other websites out there just geared to solo travel. I also did a lot of reading on the Paris forums on the Foder's website for about every bit of information geared toward Paris travel. The more I researched the more obsessed I became.
I had resorted to the fact that I would have to go it alone until my hubby saw a TV spot featuring a week long tour of Paris with a local tour company hosted by a local news celebrity. Maybe this was my ticket!! Why I never thought of this before I will never know. I was afraid to go it totally by myself. After all going to a foreign country where you don't speak the language is a little intimidating, but I was desperate to go and had the money all saved up! Could this be the answer?
I ended up going to an informational meeting about this trip and I had found my answer. That night I paid my deposit and made my Paris dream a reality. In the end I went on that trip not knowing a single soul and ended up having the time of my life. Going on a group tour is the perfect way to see a place you dream about. It turned out I was not the only solo person on that trip and in the end I made a few friends too.
I'm here to tell you that you should not let your fears stand in your way. Life is too short for having any regrets. Just because you have no one in your circle that shares your dream, does not mean that you can't go for it on your own. Check out the tour companies in your area. I'm from Wisconsin and this trip was trough Holiday Vacations. There is a ton of info out there on solo travel. One of the best blogs for solo travel is the Solo Traveler blog. Or just do a Google search for solo travel and go from there.
Don't let fear hold you back from fulfilling your dreams. One way or another you can find a way to get there. You just need to believe you can do it and you have to want it bad enough.
Sunday, January 17, 2016
Winter.....I could definitely live without it. I don't mind a little snow to keep the winter enthusiasts happy, but this -25 degree wind chill stuff is for the birds. In fact I'm pretty sure that the birds don't like it either. OK so maybe I should't say that since I'm not a bird.
Anyway, as I'm sitting in my nice cozy house writing this post I thought about my favorite non- device things I do when I'm stuck in the house on such a cold day like today. There's probably 100 things I could be doing like maybe cleaning the basement, but those are just not fun and require WAY too much ambition. No, a day like today should require as little ambition as possible.
Here's my list in random order
1) Bake some cookies- I know what your thinking, you thought I said little ambition here, I'm not talking about made from scratch flour and the messy kitchen type of cookies. I'm talking about the frozen ready to bake kind that you bought in fall from the kid down the street who was raising money for new shoulder pads for the school football team. Or maybe you have about 10 containers in your freezer from your own child cause your child didn't want to go door to door and you had to sell 15 containers. Bonus-your house smells fabulous!!
2) Get out your new adult coloring books and color-I love this adult version activity. If you have kids this is a great thing to do together. It helps me to stay out of the kitchen and not eat those cookies I just spent all that time baking. Plus it is really meditative to zone out and focus on staying in those intricate lines on the page. I have four books that I rotate depending on whatever mood I'm in. Some are not so easy and very detailed and some are easy to create a masterpiece in a half hour. Bonus-some books come with the pages perforated so you can frame and display your works of art all over the house!! Perfect for no talent artists like me.
3) Pick up an actual book and read-This is kinda a no-brainer in our house. I LOVE to read and so does my daughter so I usually have at least one book from either the library, second hand store, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon within reach. If I run out of books I can always raid my daughter's collection. Bonus-even though you don't want to go outside, reading a book can take you anywhere you want to go.
4) Start or write in your journal-If you journal already this is just a friendly reminder to write a post today. If you don't, start. It doesn't have to be five pages long. Even if you write one sentence to describe your day or one thing you are grateful for that's all you need. Along the lines of this you could try a vision board or work on those Soul Collage cards. If you've never heard of these, just do a google or Pinterest search for more info. Bonus-you may learn something about yourself.
5) Take a nap-By now if you did all the things mentioned above you will need one. If not take one anyway. A short nap is a perfect thing to do on a cold day. It feels good to crawl under the covers in the middle of the day. This can be combined with number 3. If number 3 makes you sleepy then don't feel guilty about putting that book down and catching some zzzz's. Bonus-a little recharging never hurt anyone.
I know it's not easy to carve some time for yourself, especially if you have kids, but sometimes it's okay to have days like today. So maybe I've changed my mind about cold frigid days like today...Ah maybe not. I think I would rather be lounging outside my tiki hut in Bora Bora. Heck, I can always bring along my coloring books and pencils, journal, and a book or two. As far as the cookies go, well who the heck needs cookies when you're in Bora Bora!!
What do you like to do on those cold winter days? If you live in Florida and have no idea what I'm talking about, this post is not for you! Just kidding!!
Sunday, January 10, 2016
I love Chicago! There's tons of stuff to do and see, It's easily accessible to me, and mostly I feel like a different person when I'm there. Something about the big city appeals to me. I guess it's the fast pace of life and the fact that I can strap on my most comfy shoes and walk all over the center of the city. After all the best way to explore a city is on foot.
So for any of you that have never been to the Windy City and want ideas on the best things to do while there, I've made a list of my top 5 things I like to do when I'm in Chicago. I've been there several times and I'll admit I haven't done it all, but of all the things I have done these are my favorite. Keep in mind these are not in any particular order.
1). The 90 minute Architectural boat tour. There are a few of these, but I have done the one by Wendella Boat Tours every time. It truly is a must do for the first time visitor. It gives you a little orientation of the city. The information provided by the guides is interesting and the plus to doing the 90 minute tour is you go out into Lake Michigan for a great view of the Chicago skyline.
2). The view from the 360 Chicago Observation Deck at the top of the John Hancock building. In my opinion this is the best place to take in a sweeping view of Chicago and beyond.
3). Visiting the animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo. A short bus ride form the center of the city in the Lincoln Park neighborhood is the free Lincoln Park Zoo. I was incredibly impressed with this zoo. It's the perfect size and perfect for the kiddos. What's my favorite thing there? Hands down watching the Meerkats play is a treat. They always bring a smile to my face cause they are so darn cute!
4). Art Institute Of Chicago. If you love art you have to go to the Art Institute. The special expeditions are always changing, so there is something new to see. I am especially waiting for the special Van Gogh 3 Bedrooms exhibit that will begin in February and run through May.
5). Millenium Park. After (or before) visiting the Art Institute, as long as you are in the neighborhood, take a stroll through Millenium Park. An oasis in the middle of the city, the park always has something going on. Visit Cloud Gate (aka the bean), the Crown Fountain, and Lurie Garden in the summer. In the winter you can lace up your skates and take a spin at the McCormic Tribune Ice Rink.
6). Shopping alone the Magnificent Mile and State Street. Ok I know I said my top 5 things, but I cannot leave out something for those of us who love to shop! Really, Michigan Avenue is world famous for shopping and I love the mix of designer stores on the North end, but I love State Street shopping just as much. Most people think that shopping downtown is not for the budget conscience, but really with the great mix of discount retailers such as TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack, you really can find a bargain! I know, because while I do splurge once in a while, I am always looking for the biggest bang for my buck. There's something for everyone on these 2 streets.
I hope this helps those of you that are going to Chicago for the first time, or maybe you've been before but never seen something on my list. Chicago is a great city to visit with world class theater, eating, sporting events, shopping, and art. Put Chicago on you list of places to visit and you will not be sorry. Oh, and don't forget to find one of the many Garrett Popcorn shops throughout the city and go stand in line to pick up some of that famous Chicago mix. After all, you need some refueling after all that shopping!!
Friday, January 8, 2016
Your home is suppose to be your sanctuary. The place where you go to after a long stressful day and you can kick you shoes off and be yourself. You open your house up to the people you love the most. I always felt your home is a reflection of the people living inside. Maybe that is why I have always wanted a home that was clean and clutter free. Mostly because I want to feel comfortable when I am there.
Which is why I like to put things in my home that I love. My hubby has his " man cave" where he has things he loves like his prized deer mounts, metal vintage signs, sports memorabilia, and other things he has collected through the years. Might I mention his huge life sized indoor scoreboard complete with buzzer. I must say when he fires that baby it heats the whole basement!!! Our daughter has her room where she has all the posters from movies she loves, two huge bookcases filled to the brim with books she buys, one wall is completely covered with pictures of friends and places she's been to. Even a Clint Eastwood poster!!
Which pretty much leaves the rest of the house for me. First time visitors to my house notice as they walk in the front door immediately that I may have a slight obsession with Paris. After all I have my mini Eiffel Tower right inside the front door. My house is filled with pictures, posters and other Paris things. Some, like the framed drawing of my daughter that was done by an artist in the Place du Tertre (I know, I know, but I am after all a tourist), and my personal pictures I took while there are some of my prizes possessions. I don't think there is a room in my house where there is not something from Paris in it. These are things I love. I even have my small walk in closet decorated with a poster from the Louvre, and pictures I bought while in Versailles, not to mention all my Bono and U2 pictures and momentos.
I do have one non Paris thing that I love and that is my child sized China hutch that I bought from my Aunts estate when she passed away last year. That little piece had great memories for me. Growing up the 2 things that remained from when my Family had a small farm was the empty barn and chicken coop. As a child I played in that chicken coop and I had it cleaned out and it was a playhouse for us and the neighbor kids. It was mostly me and the neighbor girls that used it. Anyway my aunt had this China hutch when she was little and it ended up in that chicken coop, so we used to play with it and put our dishes inside. Eventually my Dad sold that chicken coop and my Aunt brought that hutch in her house until I bought it from my cousins after she passed away. I took it home, bought some chalk paint and brought it back to life. It sits by my front door with a Fenton glass basket from my Aunt and some other momentos inside. My Mom had a child's tea set from Germany she gave me so that is in there too.
I think it is important to have things you love in your home. For awhile I collected various things Only realizing later they really had no meaning to me and I didn't really love them. I started to weed out all those things. You can fill up your life with stuff, but in the end you can't take it with you. Does it really matter to have all that stuff that you just like around? A house is only a home when the people you love live there and the things you put inside it show your personality.
As spring will roll around eventually it will be time to clean out and unclutter. Take a look at the things in your home. What do you love and what do you look at and think "not really loving this" or " you know I thought this had meaning, but it really just takes up space" ? Get rid of it. Surround yourself with only things you love.
Saturday, January 2, 2016
It's been 5 years since I went to Paris for the first time. Having never gone before and since I was going to be solo, I went with a tour group. Traveling with 40 other people was great for a first time destination. I got to see all the major sights. It would have been hard to plan all that on my own. Traveling with a tour is pretty much stress free. You just pretty much show up at the airport and just sit back and enjoy!
This time however I am really going to live out my dream. I finally made my decision to go this year after meeting a women from France that now lives in Kentucky at a Holiday Market the week before Thanksgiving. Talking to her just got me so excited about going back that I decided I'm done TALKING about going back and actually doing it!! This time I am going to do all the planning on my own. This makes me a little nervous. Mostly because of the language barrier. I do know basic phrases though and hope to learn more. I will not be going solo, I will be going with my cousins wife. I am so excited that she is going with me. I will be doing most of the research and we will be getting together to discuss details. I want to make this a great trip for her and want to make sure she gets to check off her list of things she would like to see while there.
So far I've been checking out airfares (wow! Expensive) and since I am leaning towards renting an apartment vs going the hotel route, I've been checking out various apartment rental agencies. I have traveled before using VRBO and AirBNB for rentals and have been very satisfied with the process. Anyway, there are so many choices out there it's overwhelming. I am thinking I'd like to stay in the 5th or 6th arrondissement so we are pretty central to all the main things. Being this is the first time doing this on our own I have about a million concerns such as, what kind of transportation should we take to get from CDG airport to to the city, train, taxi, or hire a service? I guess it's mostly the fear of the unknown.
So now that the holidays are over, it is time to start the planning process. First thing to figure out is a date, then a place to stay, then the rest will come later. A million decisions to be made. I'm open to any and all advice. I'd love to hear any Paris experiences or suggestions. I'm going to be documenting the planning process all the way through. My goal is to help make it easier on those that really have dreamed about going to Paris, but are afraid to plan a trip on their own.
Oh and by the way, Thank you to my new French friend for giving me the push to finally make this happen!! Merci!
Friday, January 1, 2016
I've never considered myself a creative person, but I love to write. Once I find something to write about, I am in my "zone". Where I stumble is finding something to write about. I always had this big road block in my mind that who really cares about what I have to say. Even though I write basically for myself my hope is that maybe one other person in the universe might like what I have to say.
This is why Big Magic spoke to me. Whatever you passion is, painting, writing, interior decorating, ice skating, or finding passion in your everyday life, you can find those hidden jewels of creativity within yourself. When you do find them-that's big magic. Elizabeth Gilbert shows us how to dig deep, encouraging like a cheerleader to work hard, practice your craft, and let go of the fear that is holding us back. I honestly am able to let go of the idea that my writing does not have to be perfect, after all I'm not giving up my day job....at least not yet!