REFLECTING ON THE SEASON AT HAND~

Christmas is more than a week behind us and the New Year is a but a few days old.  We’ll soon move on to the continued work of winter, plowing snow, clearing the walks, and weeding through the seed penquinscatalogues as we dream of spring’s thaw and those first buds that will blossom.  For me, the end of the holiday season is just the beginning of a new adventure.  My birthday will soon be here and I’ll have the opportunity to celebrate via my traditional day trip with Mr. LucyLoves, some lunch dates with girlfriends and a gathering with family.  Spring will bring clean up and colorful blooms in the yard, followed by the heat of summer, walks on the beach, hikes in the park, and a road trip or two.  Then fall will roll around again and we will start the preparations for this joyous season once again.  That’s not enough for me however.  I like to reflect on the year that has past, the beauty and newness of our most recent holiday season and find a way to keep it alive in all the months to come. 

 

red p pI’ve cleared the tree and packed most of the decorations away but there are still reminders throughout my home of the happiness my family is still enjoying.  There are still Christmas fragranced candles burning, poinsettias around and about, and a couple of my favorite ornaments that I maintain on display for the entire year as a reminder of the beauty of the season.  My holiday china remains in use until winter’s end and comfort foods remain a staple.  All of these things and more help me to maintain the joy in my heart that is so very full this time of year. 

 

But the absolute best way to maintain the holiday spirit is to practice gratitude.  In my family, we are so very blessed and so very grateful.  Not a day passes that I don’t think my higher power for the gifts in my life, from family and friends, to animals, to a few cherished items that bring me elation.  Being grateful for what you have is the key to being happy no matter what your current situation may be.  Grateful people don’t want more, they want to give more.  And that brings a joy that many have yet to grasp.

 

Of course I maintain holiday spirit by enjoying my material gifts to the fullest.  My family goes to great effort to share truly meaningful presents which I cherish the entire year through.  And not only my own, but those giftsMr. LucyLoves receives as well.  Every time I wear my new cashmere sweaters, which are quite a treat, I will think of Christmas morning.  Listening to music on Mr. LucyLoves new, long wished-for BOSE will absolutely fill our home with joy.  The new hot pink leather gloves I received from my niece and the puzzles we so love that Santa left under the tree will make me happy long after the wrapping paper is stowed away.  Gifts should be shared and enjoyed and bring pleasure when you see and use them.  But gifts received are not the spirit of Christmas, it’s the joy in sharing gifts that sustains true meaning.

 

My favorite way to keep the holiday spirit alive is through the act of giving throughout the year to come.  We all tend to consider giving more generously during the winter holidays.  Who can resist the bell ringers and the food collection bins, the children’s toy charities and the coat and blanket donationcookies sites when we are vividly reminded of them each time we go out?  Yet, once the weather begins to warm, many tend to slip back into life routines without a second thought to charities in need.  I make a conscientious effort to continue giving throughout the year, be it a few dollars at the grocery store fund drive, purchasing and delivering extra pet supplies to a local shelter or even buying fundraiser items from the children in our local schools and scouting troupes.  The need of our local charitable foundations doesn’t stop when the holidays fade and often the need increases.  I may not always be able to contribute as much as I would like but there is no amount too small, be it a few coins or just thirty minutes of time.  There are always people, and animals, who are living in strife and I can make some bit of difference.  Doing so has become a pleasure.

 

Perhaps the liveliest way I maintain the Christmas spirit year-round is to keep a few reminders withincandles.jpg eye’s view in my home.  I have a lovely cloisonné bird ornament that sits in my dining room to remind me of holiday joy.  A miniature snowman wind chime hangs in my stairwell and smiles at me every time I climb passed.  Even the bright blooms on my orchids have me recalling the wonder of Christmas and the New Year long after the normal décor has been restored. These few reminders are all I need to keep Christmas alive and the spirit soaring with me.  I am Christmas-time happy all the time.  I am filled with the joy of the New Year the entire year long.  My journey is living in this snow-globe season and we can all live happier, more bliss-filled lives with a little effort.  And a little effort leads to a lot of ease. 

 

Whichever way you choose to keep the holiday spirit alive, share your blessings and ideas with those around you.  Make your home a holiday haven, twelve months out of the year, by living every moment like it is as special and meaningful as it is and be grateful for the same.  You won’t be disappointed.

 

Live a beautiful, holiday life.

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A RURAL AMERICAN NEW YEAR~

Not much happens here in rural America on New Year’s Eve. Truth be told, if you are up at midnight it is probably because you have farm chores to do or you’re basting the pork roast for your family’s New Year’s Day brunch.

tree 2017.jpgWhen I was a child, ringing in the New Year in rural America consisted of a card and game party at my parent’s house while the kids watched the ball drop in Time’s Square on TV. Not much has changed since I was a child. Mr. LucyLoves and I prefer a movie or music to today’s televised ringing in, as New Year’s Day is our holiday to host our family for a traditional pork and sauerkraut dinner so we are usually busy making preparations on New Year’s Eve. But on occasion we have ventured out, when the weather wasn’t terribly bad and a few others wanted to meet up for a night on the town at a local pub. If my eldest niece isn’t on duty, she has hosted a family gathering at her house. Otherwise, Mr. LucyLoves and I celebrate at home in cozy pajamas with a glass in hand. And so, this is life in the middle of nowhere.

zoo lights 2.jpgI imagine the city dwellers attending street parties or dining with friends, wearing their sparkly garb and clinking champagne glasses while music blares in the background. I see couples attending the theatre or a museum event that promises some wonderment or another. I envision families walking through city center light displays and buying cocoa and roasted chestnuts from the street vendor. None of these are a reality here in rural America. We have a few restaurants and bars that stay open late and serve New Year’s Eve drinks while the zoo lights.jpgbig screen TVs are emblazoned with a variety of events. Churches open their doors for evening services. The local community theatre sometimes hosts a New Year’s Eve matinee. Little else happens here in the small town. If you are lucky, you might get invited to a friend’s house for dinner or host a party of your own. Otherwise, New Year’s Eve is like any other eve. Quiet and down to earth. And I love that.

After the bustle of Christmas preparations, celebrating for two days with family, and puzzle.jpgbeing relieved of the anticipation of Christmas morning, it’s nice to have a laid-back holiday. A quiet evening of cooking and setting the table for the next day’s feast. When New Year’s Day arrives, we can then enjoy a hot, cozy meal, talk, play a game or solve a puzzle with the kids and just be at peace. It is a joy to appreciate all the gifts we have in each other and relish life in our home. There is no chore in doing the dishes together after everyone has left, cookies.jpgand to savor the peace of a hot cup of coffee and some leftover Christmas cookies. This is our rural American New Year.

The New Year holiday always puzzled me. As I child I wondered why everyone was so anxious to see the old year die. What was wrong with the old year? What is going to be so great about the new one? Perhaps that’s why I still appreciate a quiet ringing in. I don’t understand the excitement surrounding the transition. alpaca.jpgNonetheless, I love this quiet, undisturbed holiday in my remote country house on a dark, dirt road. I love the only light coming from the stars overhead instead of a sparkling disco ball. I prefer the warmth of the fireplace over the blare of fireworks. This is what New Year’s means to me: a joyous but down-to-earth celebration of our future, just the way I want the future to be—quietly joyful and graciously blessed.

However you celebrate your New Year, live a beautiful life.

A RURAL AMERICAN CHRISTMAS~

sitting rm 2.jpgPrepping for the holidays in rural America provides a spectacular kind of fun. In my family, it starts with a late fall girl’s trip, including my sister and eldest niece and this year, my sister-in-law and younger niece who have recently moved back to the area. We usually spend a weekend in a community within a few hour’s drive or less from home where we can visit Christmas themed shops and events. This trip is a time to do a little girl bonding, pick up a few decorative baubles for home, and perhaps a gift or two as well. As for family gifts, my siblings and our families have spent the last few years enjoying what we refer to as a “white elephant” Christmas. Because we are all well into our secure good shop.jpgmiddle years, none of us truly wants or needs anything but we still enjoy giving to one another. Our rules for gifting are to give something we already own, something that we made or purchased from a community crafter, or from a resale store. That being said, the gift must have meaning to the recipient and not just be something that we wanted to rid ourselves of. This is a great way to share our blessings and perhaps ‘trade’ for things we would like to have or even to share an artistic skill.

After girl’s weekend, hubby and I can start to prepare our home for the holidays. We used to go to one of several local tree farms, take a horse driven cart ride through acres of woodlands, and dig or cut our own fresh tree every year. Now that we are a bit older, tree 2.jpgwe prefer to skip traipsing through the snow in the bitter cold and head instead to a local garden and landscaping center to select a fresh tree that they have cut from their own fields. We then stop for lunch at a local restaurant and enjoy a hot cup of coffee to warm our chilly hands and toes. The tree is my favorite part of Christmas so getting it set up and decorated the next day is something I always look forward to. Listening to ‘White Christmas’ or ‘Christmas in Connecticut’ in the background really puts me in the holiday mood.

Over the years, I have tired of some of the interior decorations we have accumulated so I have started decorating more with live plants and flowers throughout my house, including Poinsettias, Christmas Cacti and Rosemary shrubs. The colorful blooms and aromas throughout the house, accompanied by a balsam candle or two really make our home look and smell of holiday joy. I do still like to decorate but I have pared down the pre-made decorations that I have to clean and store and I find that I do enjoy the environment more. After Christmas, any plants that do not survive are relegated to the compost pile while others are placed in my greenhouse for another season.

While Mr. LucyLoves used to light the exterior of our house with so many jeweled lights we used to tease him about airliners approaching, we have cut back in that area of décor as well. In our younger days, we spent a weekend climbing ladders, maneuvering across the roofline and around windows and doors and covering every limb on our wooded acres with beautiful lights. Now in our middle years, the prospect of climbing and candles.jpgtraversing the rooftop in icy weather from dawn til dusk for two straight days has lost appeal. We have settled for decorating our rural home with a less artistic but still tasteful presentation, succumbing to the pre-lit spiral trees, roaming reindeer and a giant frosty to grace our frontage, with a fresh wreath from the garden center that I decorate with miniature lights. Oh, and my electric bill is much lower in January, too.

While we love to celebrate, life here in rural America doesn’t afford us a lot of opportunities to do so. Aside from a couple of family events, we spend most of our time enjoying our own tree, snuggled up with cocoa and a good book or working a jigsaw puzzle together. There are no block parties or museum galas, no disco nights or tree lighting events. If we had those things within driving distance we would love to attend but alas, getting to the few events we do have is always ‘hit-or-miss’ depending on the weather conditions and the distance we have to drive. No, the majority of our party experience is watching the birds at the feeders we maintain through one of many windows or listening to classic Christmas music while we play a couple rounds of snowman 1.jpgScrabble at the dining room table. It may not sound very exciting but it’s cozy, warm and stress-free. When I get the urge to dress to the nines in holiday attire, we head out to a restaurant and make a night of it, indulging in a favorite desert and a second glass of wine. There is the occasional low-key dinner party with friends and the sleigh ride with one of my horse riding pals that we always look forward to. Our town does host a fundraising light display at the park where Mr. LucyLoves and I got married and the county seat decorates to the hilt, complete with playing Christmas music over the town loudspeakers by day. There’s a Christmas tree decorating contest sponsored by the local Rotary Club for the local businesses and of course, every church and school has some sort of concert or pageant that all are welcome to attend. Rural Americans also seem to love their craft shows and we have dozens of them leading up to the holidays where you can buy everything from hand carved wood bowels, to maple syrup from local farms, to beach glass jewelry and sand castle figurines made of Lake Erie’s treasures. If you like a quiet life, you’ll find plenty of low-key, low-stress, low-commercial events to attend.

Here in rural America, we are content with family feasts, horseback rides under the moonlight wearing our coveralls, and bonfires on the lake shore. We cook and drink and we’re merry. If I could change one thing, it would be accessibility to all the festive light displays, theatre productions and public party events that the city has to offer. But I

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wouldn’t change my country cottage Christmas for all the riches in the world nor would I wish for a different life. Christmas is about being grateful for our many gifts and appreciating the wonders at our disposal.

Wherever you live, live a beautiful life.

 

 

 

BEATING BEAUTY-BREAK TEMPTATION~

I’ve decided to take a ‘beauty break’ this winter to spend the coming months using up a lot of what I already have in my vanity and bath before splurging on new products to try. After all, one woman can only truly use so many conditioners, moisturizers and blushers in a reasonable period of time. This doesn’t mean I don’t still love all things beauty, it just means I am indulging in making the best use of products I’ve purchased, taking a look at what I want to continue to use and, considering what new things I might really like to buy and try.

becca.jpgBeauty junkies know that the temptation to stray from what you already own is more than great as Ulta, Sephora and even your chain drug stores are forever advertising the latest, greatest and newly released or limited-edition items, along with a coupon code or a free luxury sample. And too often we fall for it. What arrived in yesterday’s mail? The latest Ulta advertisement with a $5.00 coupon on the back, loaded with glossy photos of cheerfully, sometimes sparkly packaged beauty buys that are as pretty as the decorations on your Christmas tree. Then there’s the ‘BOGOHO’ sales, the beauty gift sets that may contain one or two products you use, and maybe even sales on your best kept beauty steals. So how can one resist?

I like to browse the ads but I also like to save money. As in, ‘I need to recoup the ten sparkle 1.jpggrand I spent on my last trip to Europe so I can start planning for my safari trip’ sort of saving money. Yes, I love to take care of my skin and skincare is my most favorite personal extravagance. I’m as lured by new skincare science as the next gal or guy but there comes a point when we all need to say ‘enough is enough’ and truly concentrate on the actual ‘care’ we are taking of ourselves.  And this includes our financial care.  Just because something says ‘new’ or ‘innovative’ doesn’t mean it’s better or even necessary. I found a skincare routine that works for me and I’m sticking to it until it no longer produces results. This doesn’t mean I have to use the same exact brand of product or that I can’t try new ones, but it does mean getting my money’s worth and BOGO.jpgnot wasting what I have invested in. And the same certainly holds true for makeup, which seems to be a bigger temptation for some. After all, it no only graces our faces, but it looks pretty in our handbags and reflecting back at us in bathroom mirrors.

But, like Kimberly Clark, I have to ask myself, “Do I NEED this?” If the answer is no, then it goes on my “What I’m not gonna buy” list. And most things I stumble across go on that list. Yes, there are some things that need replacing on a fairly regular basis like mascara or potted lip balm. Don’t use old mascara or product that has ‘gone off’. Replace it upon expiration, when it gets dirty or just doesn’t seem right for some reason. But another eye shadow pallet, as pretty as it may be, isn’t on my “needs” list if I already have the same or similar colors in pallets at home. And so much of marketing is convincing us that we do “need” another eye shadow pallet, or highlighter or blusher because newer is somehow equivalent to us being ‘prettier’ pretty new.jpgor—egads—more fulfilled. In reality, a trip to the Bahamas or a new BMW you’ve saved a decade for will bring you far more joy in the long run than yet another travel friendly face pallet, no matter how much glitter is glued to the top.

Just looking at this week’s Ulta ad has me drooling. Look at those sparkling iT! Holiday releases. Check out your reflection in that new Becca highlighter. Oooohhhh…and $10 off on a NYX Professional purchase of $25.00 or more! What’s not to love? Well…I already have most of those colors in my collection, in some pallet, somewhere. And if I don’t, I’ll figure out another look. Yes, the glittery cases are pretty to look at on your vanity top, but how long until they are relegated to the drawer for the next glittery find? Nope, I’d rather decorate my dressing table with a pretty crystal bauble and save my money for when I run low on retinol or I’m truly ready to try a new vitamin C day cream. And only when I truly need it.

So, what might I buy that I don’t really need right now? Maybe a new nail polish or two. Or–three–since they are on sale here in this week’s ad. A fun purchase that won’t break the bannails.jpgk and will serve me well this holiday season since, I actually only have a few festive winter polishes left in my manicure kit as of now. As for the new Park Avenue Princess pallet that I’ve always wanted to try, well, I still have a lot of glimmer and shimmer, PAP.jpgcontouring and rouging products in my vanity yet to be used so we’ll have to pass on that one. Again. I almost hear someone welcoming me to Nairobi National Forest now.

Live a beautiful life!

A CASUAL HOLIDAY OUTFIT~jjill

Finding casual outfits that are comfortable and chic can be a challenge but I was lucky to stumble upon this pretty ensemble while strolling through one of my favorite shopping meccas this fall. It’s perfect for low key holiday occasions and well beyond, as the season turns to the long winter.

 
While I am not at all a fan of leggings, these looser fitting, slim leg, heavy-weight knit slacks from jjill are just the ticket for casual comfort and style. You will stay cozy and look far more put together than any pair of leggings could ever make you appear. Top it off with a festive cotton sweater in a holiday color, add a few jeweled baubles and you are set for a day of gift giving and family games or a quiet dinner date by the fire at your favorite pub.

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The pretty spruce green can serve as a neutral to pair with other colors as well, and either piece can be easily adapted into other outfits with different separates you no doubt own. I’ve shopped at jjill on a few occasions over the past couple of years and have found a couple of clothing items I have enjoyed. Their niche is casual clothing in primarily solid colors, that mix and match as well as travel well. While pants are always a very difficult find for me, this particular pair of knit pull-ons fits better than most. Paired with a pretty sweater or a silk blouse, they are dressier than jeans or cords but not so formal as to feel ‘too dressy’. The cotton sweater is a mid-weight yarn with a bit of a loose cut that would allow you slip on a lightweight tee underneath if you need a bit of added warmth.
Regardless of what you wear for your holiday festivities, live a beautiful life!

 

HOLIDAY EMPLOYEES~thank you!

I am in awe of holiday workers.  From the gas station attendant to the nurse and his floor aids to the chemical technician and her subjects, I thank you. While the rest of us are at home enjoying a feast with family or a party with friends, you are hard at work, across America.  While we are celebrating in the couple-on-vacation-1427848.jpgwarmth of our homes, aromas wafting from the kitchen and joyous clatter filling the air, you are slinging coffee from a drive-thru window, tending the injured and infirm, and changing the hotel bed linen.  Our trees are lit, the menorahs standing in their places of honor and the turkey is safely basted and tucked in the oven as you dash from your warm beds, head out into the mean streets of Consumerville, USA and set to work leaving your own families and friends behind.  And for that, I am grateful.

 

Here in rural America, farm life waits for no one.  Cows need to be corralled into their parlors, liverooster-1248500.jpgstock need to be fed and barns need to be cleaned.  Across the nation, hospitals will be staffed, pharmacies will be manned and even the seemingly necessary, 24-hour mini-marts and liquor stores will open their doors.  And what would America do without ‘Wally-Mart’ seven days a week?  Travelers will continue to stop for hot meals and restroom breaks that waiters and attendants make possible, while emergency personnel will be there to try to insure it is all done safely.  Steam will still pour from the towers of power stations and trains will still run towards their destinations while church bells chime in the background.  Cruise ship attendants and taxi drivers will greet their customers and see they have what they need to enjoy their trips while emergency room providers treat the latest drug overdose and check in the stroke patient from the local nursing home.  It seems holidays are no cause  to rest and relax for many.  

 

In my own family we will have a few empty seats at our upcoming holiday feasts as the nurses work 539989668their assigned shifts, the chemical technician mans his research station and even the fast-food peddling teenager fulfills his work obligation.  And I am grateful to each of them.  They are doing what they do for their paycheck but also for you and me.

 

No, I won’t be up at 12:01 A.M. on black Friday to fight the crowds in your customer service line.  I won’t even be out at noon to bid you well while you wrap up your shift and await your afternoon relief.  539668126Instead I will be nursing a cup of cocoa, reading a good book, and staying out of your way so you can make it safely home to your own rest and relaxation.  With the grace of God, no one I–or any of you–love will be in need of the emergency pharmacist in town, or the local E.D., but I’m happy they will be there for those who do.  I try my hardest to prepare for the holidays in advance–gassing up my car a day early, ensuring I have everything I need from the grocery store, filling my prescriptions on time–so that you have one less burden on your holiday.  For those who must stop for coffee, pick up breakfast or grab a windshield wiper refill to make it safely to their own place of employment or, perhaps home to grandma, I am grateful you are there for them.  Know that some of us are thinking of you and the sacrifice you’re making so that the rest of the world can go on.  Some won’t think twice about stopping for that daily donut on their own day off, commenting that if you didn’t want to work this holiday, you should picked have a different job.–as though that’s always a reality.  But most of us are aware of the demands of modern life and its refusal to stop just because the rest of the world 531309386.jpgrejoices.  We know that the holidays don’t mean a ban on emergencies and the infirmities of life, or even shopping for new shoes.  The world will continue to turn and all of you holiday employees will be the ones who keep the cogs well oiled as it does.  For that, I say THANK YOU.  

 

Live a beautiful life. 

 

PANTS THAT F.I.T.~l.l.bean

I abhor stretch denim. You know, those ‘jeans’ that contain lycra, that stick to you like…well…paste? They are hot in the summer and provide no warmth in the winter. Midway through the day, they are sagging in all the wrong places. When you stand up, your pants don’t stand with you. Yep. Stretch denim. Ugh. Yet, we are nearly forced into wearing them. Over the past six or so years, I found one all-cotton, Wrangler jean on the market that I pay top dollar for, in order to have ‘barn jeans’ and as of two years ago, they were redesigned with a ‘stretch’ waistband. And they still don’t fit. What ever happened to old-fashioned Levi’s made of 100% denim? Jeans that got softer and more naturally faded as the years wore on? Those beloved jeans that stayed in our closet for years on end? It’s no wonder the women of the world have resorted to leggings as ‘pants’. pants cover.jpg

Yesterday, Mr. LucyLoves and I went to one of our favorite shopping meccas on the quest for pants—any style pants—for yours truly. Now, pants have always been a challenge because while I have a slim figure, I have always carried what weight I do have in my hips and derriere. This means to get pants to fit in the ‘bottom’, the legs and waist always ran a bit loose. Easy enough to deal with—wear a belt. But today it seems pants are made in one width, from top to bottom. Not only do I have a ‘little’ extra room in the waist but I could fit an entire second body into the waistband with me! Even those hard to find ‘drawstring’ summer linen trousers I long for to take on vacations are no slimmer in the waistline than anything else on the rack. What’s with that? Why on earth do clothing manufacturers think we are all one width, from head to toe? Despite knowing a few ladies with a little extra around the middle, very few of us have a belly the width of our arse. I’m sure it’s exasperating for the majority of us. Thus, the fascination with the absolutely horrendous leggings. In my humble opinion, leggings are not pants. And yes, that is my opinion. Leggings do nothing to accentuate the positives of a gal’s figure and go above and beyond at showing every aspect that one would probably be better off to conceal after about the age of 27.

pants inset 2.jpgAfter five hours of searching and trying on every pair of pants in 11 different stores, we went to lunch. While we waited twenty minutes for our table, we decided to look at what other women were wearing. Of the 24 ladies in all age groups who passed by, all but three were wearing leggings. THREE! One very elderly woman was in sweat pants and another senior aged lady was in a pair of nylon slacks that she has probably owned since the ‘70’s. The third gal, middle aged, was rather tomboyish, dressed in a hoodie and what looked like a pair of her husband’s jeans. Probably because she can’t find any gal’s jeans to fit. Admittedly, a handful of those legging clad dames looked great. The teens with their stylish ponchos and Hunter boots. The two-middle aged, made-up, ladies who obviously lunch in their tasteful Eileen Fischer tunics. I get that. I can even see the point of the pregnant mom chasing her two toddlers in leggings and an oversized parka. Understood. But everyone else? Let’s just say I have seen better looking attire on sweat-laden women at the gym. And much less of some things I didn’t care to see.     

As our search continued, Mr. LucyLoves wanted to go into L. L. Bean to search for a new winter jacket and he suggested I head to the ladies’ section to look for, what else, pants. I snickered, thinking they couldn’t possibly have anything that anyone else didn’t have but off I went, to waste some time while he shopped in coats. When what did appear before my wandering eyes but…could it be…COTTON jeans? Well, no, they were the usual stretch denim variety that everyone else pedals. But hanging next to them were casually styled corduroy pants. No, they couldn’t possibly fit any better than jeans and I was exhausted from changing in and out of my clothes already. Sigh. I had time to spend so I grabbed a few pair in three different sizes and headed for the changing room. OK, no luck. Then I saw another pair on the way out of the changing room that I hadn’t pants inset 6.jpgpreviously noticed so I went to take a look. Sigh again. An elastic backed waistband. “Well”, I said to myself, “how much worse can that be than leggings?” So off I went again to the changing room, armed with yet more corduroy, ‘relaxed fit jean’ style pants. When I zipped up the first pair, I nearly fainted! I was sure I grabbed on to the handle bar on the wall! Fit? Fit. FIT! The angels broke out in a rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ that was so loud, I feared I would be ejected from the store!

I did not walk, I ran to the nearest sales associate to ask if they had these pants in other colors. “Only two I’m afraid, but I do have more in different styles,” she replied. “No, I want THESE” and she broke out laughing, then informing me that they were one of their best sellers. I told her that while I was not a fan of the elastic backed waist I would take as many colors as were available and that’s when she told me she wished she’d had more because they were flying out of the store. It seems there are a multitude of women in all age groups looking for pants that actually fit, without the Lycra assistance. This lovely young thing also reassured me that the elastic waistband, while looking rather ‘dowdy’ was not deterring even younger gals from their phenomenal cut and, as people are used to complete elastic waist leggings, no one seems to care as they are covered by a top anyway. Best of all, no belt required!

I asked about other pants for those of us gals with a bigger behind and a tiny waste and she pointed me to L.L.Bean’s version of the straight-leg fitting winter legging—a heavy knit pant that can double as a casual date night trouser or slacks with a blazer for a more professional look. I had my doubts but she assured me I would not be disappointed. Bring on the second near faint. Not only did they fit my body, but they curved in to hug my waist and the length was long enough for a mid-heal boot but not too long for a low winter shoe. I don’t think I have ever been so overjoyed by a shopping find in my entire life. Even a new designer handbag purchase that I had saved for months to buy wasn’t as thrilling. I felt an elation like no other.

pants inset 4.jpgI no sooner dressed, bundled up my find and headed out of the dressing room when Mr. LucyLoves came wandering over. He asked me if I had any luck and I handed him four pair of pants. I kid you not, his jaw hit the cold tile floor. “They fit? They really fit?”
“Yes, babe, they really fit”.
“She’ll take one in every color.”

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Live a beautiful life!

 

 

TOO FACED HANGOVER 3-in-1 PRIMER & SETTING SPRAY

I think the first review I saw of this product was by Angie at Hot &Flashy at least a couple months ago but I am seldom one to jump on a product as soon as it’s launched. But as I was recently in the market for a face primer, and I like products that are multi-functional, I was intrigued by the premise of a primer that also served as a setting spray.

too faced bottle 1.jpgFor my now mostly normal complexion, what I want most from a primer is a product that will prevent my makeup colors from fading and will help keep any bit of shine at bay long enough to get through my holiday soirees and date nights. And I want one that is suitable under powder makeup that won’t feel heavy. My expectations from a setting spray aren’t all that high as I don’t find them to provide that much staying power as to warrant a huge investment. But having both factors in this one product would be an added bonus if it worked and I liked it.

And I liked it. This spray truly leaves a ‘dry’ feel to my skin and all my makeup goes on smoothly immediately thereafter. I didn’t feel parched, just like I didn’t have on anything else under my powder makeup. It also didn’t disturb my powder products in any way when used as a setting spray. I felt my makeup products held up and stayed in place for several hours before I had to touch anything up and was quite pleased with the appearance through a day of wear. It seems like a suitable product for any skin time or makeup preference and you get a good amount of product for the price.

too faced hangover in a glass.jpgToo Faced makes some great cosmetic products in the mid-price point range of the high end cosmetic world. Their packaging is sturdy and durable as well as being cute and eye catching. Their lipsticks are my favorite and now I can add another Too Faced product to my ‘favorites’ list. Best of all, of course: Too Faced is cruelty-free.

As always, live beautifully!

SAMPLE SIZING IT~strivectin tl advanced tightening neck cream

OK, I’m not one for gimmicks and I know it’s probably an old-fashioned idea, but to me, neck creams are ‘gimmicky’. After all, what could possibly be different between a neck cream and the products we use on our face?

I received this sample size StriVectin TL Advanced Tightening Neck Cream in a GWP and packed it in my travel bag when I went on vacation a few months ago. I figured three weeks of excess sun exposure would be the perfect time to pamper my neck and decollate a few times. And pamper it did.  Now I wish I’d still had this little sample to alleStrivectin neck 2.jpgviate some of my dry, winter skin irritation.

This cream is thick and rich, and you need a very small amount per application. It takes a good rub in to get the product to fully absorb but it’s lush, moisturizing feel is worth the extra few minutes of massaging. I agree with the packaging in that it does provide a ‘tightening’, smooth effect but only temporarily. Perhaps with long-term use it would have a real impact, as the product advertising claims. As for me and my short-term use, I loved it after spending long days in the sun and the heat and I’m sure I’d appreciate as much today. It was a lush product to enjoy while it lasted.

Did I notice any real difference? Do I think it’s worth the price tag? If you indulge in a good skincare routine already and treat your neck to the same product pampering, then no, I don’t think a neck cream is necessary. If you have the funds and find it a pleasure to indulge, then by all means go ahead and put your money in this Strivectin version. Unless I happen upon another deluxe sample, I likely won’t be enjoying this product again. But it was certainly a nice treat.neck cover.jpg

StriVectin TL Advanced Tightening Neck Cream retails for $95.00 for a 1.7 oz. jar. On the plus side, it is cruelty-free.

As always, live beautifully!

WINTER READS~

Now that warm, outdoor activity weather is behind us, I’ve been continuing to read the latest books for two series as well as a few new finds over the last several weeks. As always, I’m enamored with mysteries and these did not disappoint.

GUILT IN THE COTSWOLDS by Rebecca Tope

RT book 2 coverThe latest in the Thea Osborne series, Thea is now engaged to undertaker Drew, a character from Ms. Tope’s Drew Slocombe Series. Thea once again finds herself thrown into the depths of a suspicious murder billed as a suicide and is left to find the truth of the matter on her own accord. With a little help from Drew, she pieces together the truth and but not without rubbing a few folks the wrong way. Thea’s strong character has continued to develop throughout this series and I enjoy the plot twists in these albeit silly cozies. The latest in the series, Peril in the Cotswolds was released in September and I’m looking forward to my library securing a copy.

RT book 3 cover.jpgTHE TROUTBECK TESTIMONY by Rebecca Tope

The fourth book in the Lake District Mystery Series finds florist Persimmon Brown struggling to keep up with the orders for funeral flowers for a local popular resident and ends with her solving another murder. Dog lovers will delight in this episode as ‘Simmy’ must break up a dog napping ring in order to track down the murderer stalking the village. While all of Ms. Tope’s books are rich in historical knowledge and colorful scenery, I find the Lake District Series to be the most vividly descriptive. A great bedtime read for mystery fans.

DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW by Maureen JenningsMJ book cover.jpg

Fans of the Murdock Mystery Series, now a popular long-running TV show, will love Jennings’ other books set in both World War II Germany and present-day Canada. I started with DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW, which follows former police detective and now criminal profiler Christine Morris, on a journey from Canada to Scotland where she solves more than just one mystery. Called upon when her mother disappears from the scene of a murder, Christine is also pulled into a family mystery that will leave her reeling. Jennings characters are rich and descriptive and you are quickly pulled into the events of their lives. I’ve already reserved the next in the Christine Morris series and look forward to starting it soon.

THE CROSSING PLACES by Elly Griffiths

I discovered this mystery series through a google search and quickly found my library was in possession of the entire lot via e-book. It took me no time to breeze through the first thr51eh9UCxTUL._AC_US327_QL65_ee installments and I’m chomping at the bit for more—nine thus far. From the get-go, Gritthith’s builds interesting, well-rounded characters who draw you in to her stories and give you the impression that you could really get to know and like these people. Her mysteries are compelling and realistic, starting with the very first murder mystery set in a seaside town near Norfolk, England. Ruth Galloway is delightfully modern woman—a ‘bone’ expert, facing the same perils and challenges of all single professional women her age in curent times. And she finds herself in the same boat as many a gal when the sometimes cantankerous, never-the-less charming, DCI Harry Nelson enters her life. This duo teams up to solve some not only new, but sometimes age-old murders, with an archeological twist. Entertaining and educating, I’m anxious to spend more time with Ruth and her vast array of friends.

I hope you enjoy some of your winter hours cozied up in front of the fire, cocoa in hand, reading some much loved literature, be it from a mystery collection or another genre. Books can make the best of friends for us all.

Live beautifully.