Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bluebirds of Happiness

Flitting around our backyard for days now have been these sweet creatures.

Looking for the perfect grub to dine on.

They always make me smile!

Wishing you each a lovely weekend ahead! :)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

That Time Again

The packages have all been opened...

The snacks have all been eaten...

And Christmas 2014 is now just a happy memory.

2014 has been a good year for us, and I'm hoping 2015 will be even better...we have much to be grateful for and many things to look forward to in the coming year.

I hope you've had a lovely holiday so far, and that the New Year will bring you Health, Happiness, and Joy!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Green Beauty Gift Ideas

Can you believe that Hanukkah started yesterday and it's nearly Christmas already?!!!  Honestly, I don't know where the time goes, but here we are, knee deep in one of the most hectic times of the year.

During the holidays, we are often so focused on giving to others that we completely forget to take care of ourselves, leaving us tired and sometimes even a little cranky when it's all said and done.

This year I have made sure to not only focus on those I love, and those in need, but to also do a little self loving along the way.

After years of eating green and as healthful as possible, it finally dawned on me that maybe what I was putting "on" me wasn't helping me to feel my best.  About six months ago, I started my quest into the world of green beauty, and for those of you who haven't gone there yet, be prepared, it's a happy rabbit hole to fall into, but also a confusing one.

I decided that for my birthday, which was on the 8th, and for Christmas, I would ask for products that keep me sane and feeling my best.  Listed in this post are just a few of the beautiful products available to green beauty conscious consumers, but I feel like they deserve a special shout out because of their wonderful ingredients, amazing results, and incredible customer service.

Stark Skincare's White Willow Bark Perfecting Tonic will be a mainstay in my green beauty arsenal for many years to come.  It's my first foray into this wonderful company which is based in Canada.  White Willow has many healing properties and when  I apply this toner after washing my face, both morning and night, I love the way it tightens my skin ever so slightly and helps combat oiliness throughout the day.

It may be my first product by Stark, but it surely won't be my last!  I have my eye on their Neroli Midnight Oil!

Another great green beauty company I've come to depend on is Annmarie Gianni.  I dipped my toe into this company with their great sample kits awhile back.  You can order a small sample kit for $10 to see which one works best for you (I ordered 2) and then if you decide to order more of their products, they give you a $10 off coupon towards your purchase...score!  For each kit you order, you get a $10 off coupon, which is great!

I ended up mixing and matching full size items from each of the kits I purchased.  I picked the Herbal Facial Oil for acne prone skin...yes, I still have hormonal acne to deal with, but this oil is making that issue a thing of the past!  Some may not love the smell, it's a bit earthy, but I don't mind it at all, and the results are well worth it.

When I looked into green beauty, I found that nearly everyone was touting oils for pretty much any skin type.  For those of us with combination skin, or who are acne prone, the idea of putting oil on your face is a frightening concept, but I'm here to tell you that it works!  Some oils work better than others for certain skin types, so having the ability to sample products is a great way of not making a costly mistake.

The herbal facial oil is my go to after I cleanse and tone, and it is a perfect moisturizer for both day and night.

My daughter gave me an Annmarie Gianni gift card for my birthday, so I indulged in two more products I'd had my eye on.  The Annmarie Dead Sea Facial Scrub seemed to get high praise from beauty bloggers and regular folks like me alike, so I ordered it.  Let's just say that I've been a little remiss in exfoliating with scrubs, but that is now a thing of the past.  This stuff is amazing!

It leaves my face feeling like buttah!!!...smooth, hydrated, and oh so touchable.  Really, I balked at the price, but after looking at the ingredient list, and trying to source stuff on my own, it just  made sense to order it, and I haven't regretted it for one minute.  It's another must have for me now.

I also ordered the Annmarie Gianni Neroli Toning Mist. I had received it in one of the sample kits and I was really sad when it ran out.  The smell alone is worth the ticket of admission.  Neroli is supposed to be wonderful for smoothing fine lines and has aromatherapy properties which bring about a sense of calm and well being.  I can attest to the calm and well being, and I'll keep you posted about the reduction in wrinkles and fine lines as I haven't been using it long enough to comment on that.

If you want to indulge your senses, and you love the smell of orange blossoms, this is the toner for you!

When it comes to make up, I am like a stick in the mud, using the same products for years.  It also seems like it takes me years to go through the make up I buy as I don't wear a ton of it, so mineral make up had always appealed to me for that reason.  The issue I've had with mineral make up is that it can often leave you looking dry (yet oily if that makes sense?!), cracked and it can emphasize fine lines if you're a bit older, but that issue has been solved with Alima Pure Mineral Make Up.

I found this company while searching for green foundations through the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep site...can I tell you how much I love and have referred to this site?!  Alima Pure kept coming up as one of the best make up companies out there for using clean, green ingredients, and very few of them.

I love both their mineral foundation (I have a sample of the Magnolia and plan to buy the full size after the holidays), and their satin finishing powder.  They are both light, and give you a polished look without looking like you have on make up, my favorite.  I also have a sample of their eye shadow, and when funds allow, I'll be buying a full size of that as well.

But on top of producing great products, this company has it all going on from a customer service standpoint.  Before my daughter got married back in early October I was in desperate need of their products and I had a serious time crunch I was dealing with.  I called Alima Pure and they walked me through which product I needed, which color would best suit me, they sent me samples, AND they hand walked it through the shipping process to make sure it arrived in time for her special day!!!  I truly can't say enough good things about the way they treated me, and they have created a customer for life.

Ok, now onto one of my holy grail products!  Can you love a product so much that you want to buy it by the case?!  Yes, yes you can!

I stumbled upon Indigo Wild's line of ZUM products late at night while surfing the internet.  Their quirky line of products, with names like Dragon's Blood and Frankincense and Myrrh intrigued me, and I ordered several of their products.

This cost conscience line has a little something for everyone, but their gentle cleanser and rubs had me at hello.  The frankincense and myrrh Zum Rub is amazing.  I had read that it was really wonderful for preventing and controlling breakouts due to the healing powers of both of these special ingredients, but I worried about putting such a rich butter on my face.  That worry was quickly dispelled, and I now wear this every night and as a spot treatment over my face oil and under my make up.

The smell is rich and exotic, and even borders on a little bit masculine (if there is such a thing) but I love it, and feel like I'm missing something if I don't slather it on before bedtime.  I have been using this for quite awhile now and I've barely put a dent into the tub...a little goes a long way!  P.S. they also sell cleaning products and pet products.

Last but certainly not least is a little bit of heaven in a tube!

R. L. linden & Co. is one of those special companies that you expect to only find in a European spa or high end beauty boutique.  I haven't tried many of their products, but their handcrafted lip balms are the bomb!  Filled with only the best ingredients and with the most delicate rose scent, their balms are a healthy treat for lips, especially this time of year.  I bought several to use as stocking stuffers!

Their La Balmba Rosa Healing Rose balm isn't just for lips either.  You can also buy it in a jar and slather it wherever you need a little extra moisture.  The scent is heavenly and just look at that beautiful pale pink color.

R.L. linden & Co. is another company which ranks high up on the customer service scale.  I had the happy opportunity to speak to the owner Robin, and she was not only helpful, but incredibly friendly.  I plan to definitely check out more of their products very soon...especially their teas, since you know I have a thing for tea!

So, that is my green beauty gift guide, the short list.  I will share more about green beauty soaps, detergents, and shampoos in another post after the holidays.

None of the companies in the post have compensated me in any way, I truly just believe in their products and in their philosophy that people deserve healthy and natural products to use on their skin.

Now hurry up and let those around you know that you still have a few things on your holiday wish list!  Be sure to let me know if you buy any of these and if you love them as much as I do!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Changing Seasons

The past few days have felt more like spring than fall, with temps in the high 60s and low 70s.  I have been running around in t-shirts and jeans, but with booties just to remind me that it is in fact autumn.  Today, mother nature gave me a gentle reminder that as much as I would like it to be springtime, it is in fact just a few weeks from Thanksgiving, and colder weather is on its way.

I can't believe we are in the middle of November, and as the falling leaves so vividly remind me, I can't do anything to turn back the clock, or hang each leaf back upon their branches.

I am a huge tea drinker, with my current flavor obsession being green ginger, and on days like this I grab a mug not long after I roll out of bed.  I have never been a coffee drinker, except when I was very little and my grandmother would fix me a cup which consisted mostly of milk and a healthy helping of sugar I am sure!

Even though the weather has been playing tricks on me, I did break out all of my turkey day regalia last week.  And though I don't like decorating for Christmas until after Thanksgiving has come and gone, I am strangely excited to put out Christmas, but I will fight that feeling until Tom Turkey above has had his day in the sun. :)

I am working on a story at the moment, it's a lovely home located in California.  I will keep you posted on when it will be out, and in which mag, I know you will love it!

Whenever I am working, I always have company of the 4 legged sort.  Whether I am working, processing pictures, or just surfing the web, I almost always have a furry foot warmer.  Quinn and Misty take turns at laying under my desk, and as you can see from the picture above, Quinn leaves me very little space for my tootsies.  Misty is more generous with leg room, but Quinn seems to think this is his spot and I should work around him!

Our border collie Kylee used to have this spot all to herself, no one dared take her place at my feet, but Quinn and Misty have managed to work it out so that both of them get a turn.

Even if it's not her turn under the desk, Misty Belle manages to settle in not too far away from her mama.  I love these two, even if they bark too much sometimes!  

I used a grunge overlay on the pictures in this post, I love how it creates contrast, adds grungy texture, and really makes things pop.

Along with tea, I listen to lots of music while I am working, so since I haven't shared any music with you lately, I've linked one of my favorite songs below.  It is sort of melancholy, but reminds us that we really can't slow down the days, the seasons, or the years as they fly by, but we can learn to love every moment as it is happening.

I hope you have lots of wonderful moments to cherish each day!


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Begin at the Beginning

Another month has flown by, and it was jam packed as all months seem to be these days.

I am officially a great aunt, and oh how great it is!!!  And I swear, these gluten free cupcakes I made are not burned...they just look like it in this pic?! :)  I should share the recipe sometime, they are delish!

Just a couple of days after these pics were taken at my niece's baby shower, sweet blueberry (the name we have all called her since she was conceived), decided to make a surprise appearance...6 weeks early!

Thankfully Momma and Baby K, aka Baby Blueberry, are both doing well.  Baby K will spend some time in the NICU, but only to gain a bit more weight and to learn to regulate her body temp without the aide of an incubator, so we are thankful and overjoyed that she is with us and healthy.  And did I mention adorable?!  She looks so much like my niece did when she was born.

Along with a new baby, we have a new car.  Our faithful Jetta bit the dust shortly after our daughter's wedding, and I have to admit that I got teary when we traded her in.

I even got choked up while driving the new car, which I have named Pearl, because it's not a stick.  I've never been without a manual transmission vehicle since I started driving tractors at the age of 6 or 7!!!  I then told myself to get over myself...I mean, I am driving a brand spank'n new car for gosh sake, I should be feeling grateful!  Sometimes I need a little kick in the pants to remind myself of how lucky I am!

If March can go out like a lion, then November can surely come in like a tiger!  We had ferocious winds last night, and I was sure the bird feeder outside my bedroom window was going to come through the window at about 2 am...thankfully I have a wild imagination and that didn't happen.

We had gusts of over 55 mph, and most of the leaves are gone from the trees now, signaling that fall is officially here to stay.

Somehow, this little guy is flying around today.  I love the way his shadow shows up on this desaturated pic.

The winds are still howling, but not as badly as overnight, and even the pups don't really want to be outside.  The leaves on our maple have been blown to bits, though a few still cling to their branches in defiance.  And the field is decked out in muted shades of amber, wheat, burnt umber, and even a little amethyst.  It makes me want to wear clothing in these exact's that time of year after all.

In other news, Fifi O'Neill told me that her new wedding book, Prairie Style Weddings, will be out December 2, just in time for Christmas, and it is available for pre-order on Amazon.  For all you romantic, nature loving brides, or mother's of the bride, who are looking for great rustic, chic ideas, this is a must have!

To learn more you can watch this charming video about how she discovered her love for prairie style, and how these books came to fruition.

Wishing you all a very happy and cozy week! xoxo

Monday, October 13, 2014

Winding Down

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments on my last post!  It makes my heart sing to see so many beautiful comments about our daughter's special day!

We have spent the last week catching up and relaxing.  The new phone I bought is a Galaxy S5, and I am starting to take some pictures with it.  The image above was taken last Monday, as we all were getting back into the swing of things following the festivities.  What better way to unwind than a paddle in the kayaks right?!  Those are my in-laws, chilling out after a hectic few days.

So far I have to say that my new phone does an amazing job of taking photos, and I'm wondering why I waited so long to replace my old one!

Of course I can't ever really imagine relying solely on a cell phone for all of my photography needs, but who knows, it could happen!

The cosmos we planted are putting on a pretty spectacular show now that the weather is cooler.  I took both of the flower images with my regular camera, and then added a texture to each pic.

It's amazing how $20 worth of seed can bring us so much happiness, but it's true that these flowers provide us joy every single time we pull into our driveway or look out the front door.

I know their days are numbered as our nights edge ever closer toward the freezing mark, but for now I will drink in their bright color and devil may care attitude towards the weather.

As I type this, the windows are open and we are enjoying a bit of an Indian summer...oh to be able to bottle up these days and break them out come mid-January or February.  I guess even Mother Nature deserves a little winding down after her hectic spring and summer.

Enjoy your week! xo

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Wedded Bliss

So, it is Tuesday and the weekend is behind us, but the memories we made will last a lifetime!

There were paper lanterns...

And AMAZING flowers thanks to my dear friend Doug Vogel...(and his wife Joan and son Brian), who transformed the outdoor venue with his beautiful arrangements!!!

A yummy gluten free spice cake, complete with fondant leaves and two foxes on top, made by a truly talented and very sweet woman named Janice Kuhn!  She even left homemade jam as a gift to US!

The guest book was actually a wall canvas people could sign.  How cool is it that they can now hang this on their wall and enjoy the well wishes compared to the guest book we had at our wedding which hasn't seen the light of day for years!

There were babies...

And something really interesting on the ground. ;-)

And there was family...young love...

And love that has stood the test of time...

There was a beautiful setting at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

And it was proudly shared by many generations.

There was a fiddler.

But what every wedding needs, more than anything, is a happy couple...

One that loves each other unconditionally...

One who can laugh with one another...

One who can comfort one another and wipe away their tears...

One we can ALL celebrate!

It was a perfect day topped off by a perfect sunset.

We wish these two many, many years of love, joy and happiness as they begin their journey.

Wishing you all a wonderful week.  All of our company has left town, and we will now officially be taking a nap! :)