Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Minute to Pin It - Pinterest Party!

Are you hooked on Pinterest yet?  No?  Get over there!  It is amazing - I wish that I had something like it when I was planning weddings and events!  You can create your own "boards" for any topic you like (see a few of mine below).  You can also follow friend's boards, so you can see what they like.  It's a great way to organize a menu, a party, a room, an evening out (or in!), an outfit...  Just about anything you want to be able to see!

I'm so happy I found this great party!  Visit with me over at 7 On A Shoestring!

Follow me on Pinterest too!

Happy Pinning :)

Gold Canyon ScentMate Review

Gold Canyon's ScentMate

When I received my Consultant's kit in the Fall of 2010, this little contraption was included.  I didn't think that I would get much use out of it (I was more interested in the candles!)

Here's the "official" description:

"At the touch of a button, instantly transform your personal space with 'The World's Finest fragrance. No plug or flame required. A quiet, yet powerful fan streams long-lasting fragrance into the air. Includes personal fan diffuser and 3 ScentMate Pads." 
Scent Mate Dimensions: 4 L x 3 1/4 W x 2 3/4  
ScentMate Pads Material:  Each pad is made from cotton and designed exclusively for the ScentMate™ Personal Fan Diffuser  
I opened it up, scrounged around for some batteries and put some Pomegranate Home Fragrance Oil on the ScentMate Pad.  (actually, I WAY overdid the fragrance oil!  The instructions say to use 100 drops.  I recommend that you start with 15-20 and add more if you want a stronger fragrance throw!  Fortunately it comes with 3 pads, so I was able to trade it out!  LOL)

I was surprised at how powerful it was!  I put it on the piano in the living room and could smell it in all the surrounding rooms (With 20 drops of oil.  With 100 drops I could smell it at the curb outside!)  The other thing that was immediately noticed by the testosterone bearers of the house is that it was "cool".  It's a gadget.  It's black.  It's small.  It's got a button.  The button lights up!

I had promised my 2 older kids that I would order something especially for them (since they were very upset that I packed it all up every-time I had a party somewhere else!)  My oldest son chose the ScentMate with Clean Sheets oil (I would later find out that is one of the most popular fragrances for men!)

My husband wanted something for his desk at the office, so he took my ScentMate to try it out.  He likes the Fresh Orange scent (retired in Home Fragrance Oil, discounted and still available as of this writing), so that's what he took.  He was amazed at how many people commented that they smelled oranges, even when he had turned it off!

Needless to say, I had to order another ScentMate for myself.  I've taken to carrying it in my car, it makes a great instant freshener wherever I am.  I confess, I often use it in my car too!

If you use it non-stop (and who wouldn't want to?) I do recommend that you purchase a 3V power adapter or USB adapter so that you're not replacing the batteries all the time!  You can pick them up at Radio Shack or online at Amazon or E-Bay.

Another accessory that makes your ScentMate more valuable is the picture post:

I'm excited about the new addition coming in the Spring (January 15th) - ScentMate in BLUE!

UPDATED:  Gold Canyon just released an "Inside Scoop" video:

Disclosure: I am a Fragrance Consultant for Gold Canyon.  I do sell this Scent Mate product!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Random WW Wordless Wednesday (yeah right!)

Valentine's Wreath
a book I want to read
love this!
a contest, coming soon...
a contest, coming soon...
"May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge." Ruth 2:12

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Market Me: People Style Watch 2012 Page 86

To read the rest of the series, click here.

It's interesting, I took this pic and uploaded it to my Facebook page so that I could download it to my computer (being too lazy to connect my USB cable! LOL).  I added the caption "Ignore this photo" - truly intending to just delete it after I downloaded it for the blog series.  I left it because I was so amused by how many could not ignore it.  You know, not one person said anything about the Everything under $100?  I was given several drink recipes, fond recollections of commercials and other fun comments - all about the Kahlua advertisement!
I sat my laptop on top of the magazine while opened to this page spread and when I picked it up, the right page tor out.  As I placed it back in the magazine, I decided to flip it over to see what the other side looked like:
This is what I expected to see when I turned to the article!  So I'm going to pretend that's what I found :)
I really like the picks from Forever 21 - earrings for $6.80?  Yes please! The only other item on the page that comes close to impressing me is the Minuet "Gold Sequin Vintage-Inspired Dress" for $92  It's classically styled and could get several season's uses.  I'm thinking that it will probably be too short, so I want to check it out.  It's hard to find though - I've spent a while searching online, can't come up with a website for it.  Hmmm?  (duh - I re-read it, it's at  I went to check it out, they don't have it anymore.  And the rest of their stock, let's just say hoochie-momma inappropriate.

The rest of the page communicates to me "a subtle shimmer in mono-chromatic tones is popular right now."  This I like.  What I don't like is that the pricepoint on everything else, purported to be "bargains" is so high!  The 2 pair of shoes are $98 & $99.  Yes, they are beautiful.  Yes, I would wear them if someone gave them to me.  I've only spent that kind of money on shoes that are comfortable. Durable. Versatile.

Which brings me to my next thought "how versatile are the items on this page?"  I don't want things that have only one use.  I don't want to maintain storage space for that type of wardrobe (or household for that matter!)  If it's a one-time shot, it's gotta be very inexpensive (like the Forever 21 earrings).  If it's gonna be expensive, I'd better be able to use it a lot.  Maybe everyday.

The White Belted Trousers from XOXO on the next page would fall into a category I'd call "investment pieces".  This is where I would put a little more money for wardrobe items that fit perfectly (or are high enough quality to have altered) and will last through many years.  I have several pair of pants and jeans that I spent $40-60 on that have lasted me 4 years with no sign of letting me down!

CAGED BIRDS NecklaceThere's another Forever 21 jewelry item on page 91 for only $5.80.  A good deal, but it reminds me that I've committed to purchase from local, small business and handmade artisans.  Which makes me do a quick search on etsy (purely for your benefit, mind you!)  I came up with a few options, but I thought this one was really cute!
Caged Birds Necklace by Twisted Vintage

And, then I realized that I would probably rather have something of quality, rather than the $5.80 chandelier earrings, so I looked again (OK, I admit, I'm a big fan of etsy!) I found these cute freshwater pearl earrings  but they don't have the sparkle (and they ship from Greece, which is cool, but not really local)
Freshwater Pearl Earrings, Vintage Wedding Jewelry, Silver Chandelier Earrings, Bridesmaid Jewelry

Freshwater Pearl Earrings

So I shopped again and found:
Wire wrapped chandelier earrings handmade yellow citrine and swarovski crystals

 earrings handmade yellow 
citrine and swarovski crystals

Rhinestone and Crystal Drop Earrings

Rhinestone and Crystal Drop Earrings

Chain Chandelier Earrings with Rhinestones

Chain Chandelier Earrings with Rhinestones

I have chosen a simpler lifestyle (although it's still not simple enough!)  Living with less doesn't mean that you have to be deprived, it just means that you are more selective.  The jewelry items that I have have been carefully selected, or are gifts.  I don't wear something just because it's trendy.  I don't own enough jewelry to fill my jewelry armoir, nor do I want to!

So anyway, that's my take on this article - I'll be back with more observations as I continue to blog my way through the People Magazine StyleWatch 2011-2012 edition!  Follow along!

Market Me: People Style Watch 2010 TOC

To read the whole series, click here.
TOC - that's Table of Contents.  You know - they used to be right in the front of the magazine, so you could go right to the article for which you made your purchase in the first place?  Now it's on page 15, you have to wade through many pages of advertisements to find it.  This is great for the magazine, as I'm sure they charge top-dollar to the advertisers to guarantee that you'll put your finger on their page at least once!

Here's my run down of what I saw:
Ralph Lauren Romance:  A beautiful ad, heart warming and clean.  I like it!  I wish it had a sample though :)
Banana Republic: Fresh and clean, a beautiful ad.  The underlying message here: be classy!
Tresor Midnight Rose by Lancome: seems to be trying to capitalize on Twilight fame - was Emma Watson in that movie?  No wait, she was in the Harry Potter movies, that might explain the dark violets.  I am actually more intrigued by the necklace that she is wearing LOL
Guess: You can always count on Guess to not make you guess about anything.  Their ads are always driven by sex, this one is no different.  Although the ad is for a nice bag, we have a model sprawled across abed or couch with hot pants and a too-small white blouse almost tied over a black bra.  This ad says "you need to be sexy. it's ok to wear your underwear where it can be seen.  If you carry our bag, you'll be sexy too."  No thank you!
Ann Taylor:  I like this ad.  Even though I'm not a big fan of Demi Moore and her movies, I like the way the ad is subtle and classy.  This ad says "you are elegant, and we honor your time by putting the details right on the page."
H&M: This is a clean and classy ad, although I do think the skirt is too short - it barely covers her hind-quarters!  It says "girlfriends are important - have fun with your mom and sisters. and be frugal!"  The price for one item is right there on the page.  I love that!
Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel: This ad is sultry, but not over the top.

Normally, I would have flipped right past all of those ads, and would have gotten an overall impression of "more makeup, perfume and stuff I don't need - where are the articles?"

Finally the Table of Contents! Well, sort of, because there are 2 full 2-page spread ads between the 2 pages of TOC.  I skim past all the offerings and decide to turn to page 86 - everything under $100.
Watch for more...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Market Me: People Style Watch 2012 Cover

To see the whole series, click here!
The front cover is great!  The colors are good for when the magazine hits the newstand (Christmas season = red) and eye catching!  The headline is "476 HOT HOLIDAY LOOKS!" My initial response is "why HOT?" I think that word is overused and gets on my nerves (thanks Paris Hilton).  I don't like to be told that I look hot by anyone other than my husband.  Or sexy, but I digress.  Oh wait - there it is, on the left panel "sexy shoes" LOL.

I am impressed by the straightforward and beautiful picture of actress Ashley Greene (although I must confess I've not seen any of movies!).  The hairstyle is elegant and makes me think that I could achieve it at home.

I'm a little suspicious of the "Amazing finds under $100", since I'm thrifty and rarely spend more than $100 on anything!  But, it's balanced on the other side with "100 + great gifts (25 Under $25) as well as 50 easy (which to me reads inexpensive too) hair and makeup ideas.

As I open the magazine there is a beautiful 2 page spread for L'Oreal Voluminous False Fibre Lashes.  It's visually appealing with soft colors and a pop of black. There's a quote from the model, Gwen Stefani:
The more outrageous the better!
My first thought is "well that depends on what we're talking about!"  It is clear that here we are talking about eyes, and I wonder what we are telling ourselves about our eyes when we seek out products like this to get an "outrageous false lash look".  I don't have a problem with wearing makeup to enhance what God gave me.  I think that it is honoring to my husband to look put together (not that I always achieve that!)

When I think of false eyelashes, here's what comes to mind:

Drag Queens
Dress Up
Porn "Stars"

Fake, False, Made-Up, Artificial - certainly not terms that I would want to apply to myself, but when I see these ads all the time, I question my own beauty.

This ad (and others like it) says "You are not enough.  You need to get their attention.  You need to go outrageous.  You need to be fake."

It takes an act of my will to say "No thank you!  I am perfect just the way God created me.  I don't need to be outrageous with my eyes."

Market Me: People Style Watch 2012

I'm not a professional marketer.  I don't have any marketing classes under my belt, I've worked in the marketing departments of several consulting firms, but that doesn't really qualify me to critique advertising campaigns.  I have participated in market research, as a consumer panelist, answering questions and testing out products.

Having said that, I have noticed that when I see a product's advertising, I tend to see through it.  I don't think everyone's brain works like mine (which is probably a good thing, because a good deal of the rest of the world sleeps just fine at night while I am uncovering the mysteries of the universe!)  So I've decided to share my gift with the world (or at least the few of you who stumble upon my humble blog!)

Right now, I'm in the hospital.  A friend brought by a goody bag with some yummy treats and a magazine!  I don't normally treat myself to magazines, I'm frugal and busy and don't have time to justify the expense (isn't that sad?  I can't spend $4 on myself?  LOL)  So, I'm going to blog through the January 2012 issue of People Magazine, The Style Watch Edition!
If you're new to my blog, here's a snapshot of me: Married for 16 years, 5 children: 1 teen, 1 pre-teen, 1 in heaven, 1 toddler, 1 special needs (down's syndrome) baby.  I was raised in a middle class family in Texas, Christian, private school, then public school, then home-schooled.  I graduated from a private university, volunteer in my local church and community and am a stay at home mom.  All of this to say that the opinions expressed here are mine, from the lens that only I have access to.  I encourage each reader to clean off their own lens and use it!

If you'd like to follow my journey through this magazine, click here!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

When Traditions Change...

This is a re-post of my guest post yesterday over at Chelsey's Journey.  Chelsey is a dear friend of mine, even in real life!
As a child, I enjoyed many Christmas traditions – but the main one was Christmas at Gramma’s House. The traditions actually began at Thanksgiving, when Gramma passed out the Sears catalog, markers and pens and each of the kids “shopped” by circling the things that we wanted and putting our initials by them. You always wanted to be one of the first ones to the book, otherwise the pages were wrinkled, torn and circled with such vengeance that the coveted items literally fell right off of the page!

On Christmas Eve, after dinner the adults had a grand conspiracy to drive us mad with anticipation – insisting on eating dessert and talking around the table. Finally, granddaddy would say “you wanna open presents?” and we would all rush to the living room. Before we could open presents – there were the endless pictures. Always a picture of each family unit, all the grandkids together, all the grown children (my dad, his brothers and sister) and others sprinkled in just for fun. When we did get to presents, one of the kids was bestowed the honor of being “Santa Clause” and passing out presents, one to each person. Once everyone had a gift, then we would all open in turns – each taking time to admire and comment on the gifts (and take more endless pictures!) We would continue until all the presents were opened (with at least one of the adults cleaning up the papers as we went – or letting us put them on the fire – and neatly stacking all the gifts so that nothing got confused or lost) This tradition was so consistent that 2 years ago I put together a photo album to commemorate all those Christmases!

Having such wonderful Christmas memories from childhood – I anticipated continuing the trend when I was married and had children. What I did not take into account is that my future husband would be different. Very different. William grew up in a military family, traveling frequently and almost always away from family at the holidays. In different towns, even different countries, his family’s Christmas experience was much different! (Did I mention that his family is different? Good, ‘cause I didn’t want to lose you!) The youngest of 3 boys, Christmas was always “done” Christmas morning – really early! There was a mad dash, paper flying, get it all unwrapped quick and play, play, play!

Needless to say, we had a LOT of work ahead of us to forge our own Christmas traditions. After several kids, several years of making the Christmas rounds, several fights, several tearful conversations, and several icy stares… we decided that we would rotate Thanksgivings between the extended families and not travel on Christmas, that our kids would have Christmas memories of waking up in their own beds and having Christmas on Christmas morning. (Someone give me the Nobel Peace Prize for this brokered deal!)

In 2004 we moved into our dream home, large enough to accommodate both sides of our family for Christmas. My parents joined us the first year – I was so happy to have a fireplace, now Christmas would be PERFECT!

In 2005, William was recuperating from a car accident and I didn’t have help to get the tree out of the attic, so we improvised a tree with Manzanita branches left-over from a wedding I had just done. The kids were not impressed! I think this was the beginning of our slide into non-traditional Christmas.

Then in 2006, our slide into non-traditional became a full-stop. We were blessed with and kissed goodbye our third child, Ian Wesley. In October, I was busy preparing outfits for a family picture for the Christmas card. We were to wear black and red and white, with matching newsboy-style caps. I finally found the perfect outfit for Ian and planned pictures for the first Saturday in November. On November 5th, we returned our precious gift to Heaven. Our family pictures were in the hospital – not suitable for a Christmas card at all!
A funeral, a few weeks until Thanksgiving and then the “season” was upon us. It felt like an all-out attack. The stores were filled with babies, pregnant women and endless supplies of merchandise touting “baby’s first Christmas”. I started having panic attacks whenever I was in public, so I resorted to online shopping. My husband kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas – my singular wish. “I want my baby back!” I finally told him to stop asking me, because I couldn’t get past that thought to form a reasonable answer.
I didn't even want to put up a tree! My favorite season, the month of Jesus’ birth, my birthday and my first-born child’s birthday – I just wanted to hit fast-forward and skip it. I couldn’t bear to put up the stockings and see a gaping hole where Ian’s should hang, nor could I bear to see a drooping, flat, empty stocking on Christmas morning. Every tradition seemed pointless, meaningless, empty, and useless. I had already begun to question tradition, now I was questioning everything. The “whys” and “what if’s” will drive you stark-raving-mad! We did put up a tree. We did buy baby’s first Christmas ornaments. We did buy everything that had his name on it. We decided to get new stockings for the whole family and a matching ornament and stand to put on the mantle to honor Ian. Now we have a new tradition – We always put up the stockings and his ornament (even when we have no tree, like last year!)

Another tradition that came out of this questioning was born from a desire to re-direct us all to the true meaning of the season. When we decorate (at whatever point that may be) we save the nativity for last. We let each of the kids choose a figure (one at a time until they are all gone – yes, Jesus goes first!) and as we read the Christmas story from Luke 2, then the wise men part from Matthew, each person places their figure into the crèche. The first time we did this, we got to the part about the star and our oldest exclaimed “we don’t have a star!” So he stopped and made one! This is a new tradition that we love.
Last year, we were blessed to have both sets of parents with us for Christmas. Christmas, for us, was on December 22nd last year. {William was having back surgery on the 23rd, so we celebrated early.} Since he had surgery and I was having a baby, and we were planning a move, we didn’t put up a tree, we made one out of boxes instead!

The evening of the 22nd, we gathered in the living room. The big kids had been learning to play some Christmas songs on the piano, so we had a little concert and then watched a short clip of the Christmas story told in today’s modern language.

My dad read the Christmas story, the kids placed the nativity together, William’s mom read a poem and my mom shared a story she had heard. I loved this intimate time of worship and remembrance as a family! This, to, is bound to become a tradition.

So often follow traditions “just because”. We send the Christmas Letter, dress the kids in matching outfits, buy the latest toys and gems, wrap everything in pristine paper, stuff the stockings, run up the credit cards, attend company parties, eat fruitcake, cook way too much food, make so many sugary delights that we have to share, light up our house to rival the neighbors’…

What if we didn’t? What’s the worst that would happen if you didn’t send Christmas cards or put up the lights outside? What if you didn’t put up a tree? What if you didn’t have matching outfits, what if you gave less gifts? What if you ditched a few parties and spent time with your kids instead?
Only you and your family can design your family traditions. If old ones are holding you back from creating lasting and memorable traditions – LOSE THEM! Even if it’s for a season – there is no rule that you can’t pick them back up again later! Be flexible; be sensitive to your family’s needs and the Savior’s leading.

PLEASE, don’t just survive another Christmas season. Take a moment to question, to savor, to experience the wonder! Maybe, just maybe, it will feel like it did when you were a kid – free of obligations, full of anticipation!

Don't stop - there's lots more good stuff...

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