Category Archives: plain and simple

My life is not filled with death defying feats or exceptional talents. I am simply a regular girl with hopes and dreams of a simple life. A life filled with faith, hope and love!

Homemade Gifts; vanilla extract, terrariums and clay tags to name a few

Homemade gifts are what makes Christmas fun and memorable for me.  I have a few different gifts in mind for this year. None of them are expensive or elaborate.  Just some things I have read about this past year as I have surfed through a myriad of blogs and tweets.

The first homemade gift I am going to try to create is vanilla extract.  I read a post from Chef and Steward on making vanilla extract from scratch and I immediately added it to my Christmas gift making list.  Then the same week I saw an episode of Barefoot Contessa and she was making vanilla extract.  The cosmos collided and I knew this was a homemade gift I just needed to make.

This particular creation takes time to steep and mature…I have combined the ingredients; vanilla beans and vodka or rum, its your choice, into a  mason jar .  Actually I have a concoction of each steeping in the cupboard.  I hope I can pick up some vintage jars at the auction house tag sale this weekend that will make my homemade gift complete.

Also over the past year I have noticed in nearly every magazine I pickup and scan through there is a terrarium tucked into the decor.  I have collected several containers from tag sales and now I am ready to make a few of these adorable tiny gardens of my own.  I will make them over the next several days to make sure they remain healthy enough to give as gifts.  I certainly don’t want to give someone a dead plant for Christmas.  If that’s the case I may as well give them a fruit cake…

I have also been smitten by the crafters who are making clay tags.  There are a couple of crafting bloggers who are touting the ease of using air dry clay to make handmade inspirational tags.  I plan on giving this a try…think I will use them as gift tags or maybe even make them in sets to be used as Christmas tree decorations.  I also love the simplicity of a clay tag tied around a simple mason jar filled with a fresh bunch of flowers.

I have gathered the supplies for the terrariums and the clay tags…now it’s time to  jump in and enjoy making my homemade Christmas gifts.  I will post pictures and updates as the projects take shape.

Wishing you and yours a very joyful Chirstmas season!

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free shoes….did someone say free shoes?

Click here to find out more!

 Did you hear about the shoe giveaway?  Saks Fifth Avenue has a little giveaway going on.  The Grand Prize is a free pair of designer shoes from Saks Fifth Avenue every week for a year…worth up to $20,000. 

So I registered!  Wouldn’t you?  And then I decided to pre-shop just in case I get the call.  A girl can dream, right? 

All photographs and descriptions are from InStyle.com …Megan Deem, the fashion features editor has the most incredible job.  I imagine her office is like a giant closet filled with the most incredible things from the most creative designers in the world.  The shoes I have chosen are my favorites from her feature “We’re Obsessed! …if money were no object”.  You can jump over to InStyle to see all of the obsessions.  Enjoy!!!

These shoes are spectacular, sexy works of art and I would love a pair of each!  The first three are my absolute favorites, the others are randomly listed.  (just in case Megan Deem needed to make space in her office for the new arrivals she would know which ones she could send my way..wink)

Roger Vivier Nouvelle Vague Pumps

Roger Vivier Nouvelle Vague Pumps

Straw may seem an interesting selection in January, when rubber (in the form of boots) is usually the footwear material of choice. But the fluid curves of these peep-toes are just so elegant, and the flower accent, divine. Neither beachy casual nor boring practical, these heels will make you want to put some extra effort into your outfit and help you forget that spring is still at least two months away.

$4,250

Gucci Lola Boots

Gucci Lola Boots
Is it a cozy pair of knee-high socks or a sturdy set of motorcycle boots? Why, it’s both! In a very Flashdance meets Harley Davidson Milano sort of way, this platform style pulls on like leg warmers while giving you the street cred of black leather harness straps.

$990

Diego Dolcini T-strap Wedges

Diego Dolcini T-strap Wedges

Five inches of iridescent python fabulousness would be enough to convince me these are the peep-toes of the moment. But add to that the adorable flower detail on the front (with leaves of the same mesmerizing green skin and petals of blue suede and metallic black velvet) and this is a pair I can’t wait to get on my feet.

$1,310

Réne Caovilla Rose Sandals

Réne Caovilla Rose Sandals

These delicate black satin flats are just the thing for elegant lawn parties and other summer situations at which sinking heels would be a hindrance. Even more delightful, the front strap boasts a few well-placed leather thorns, to serve as a warning to anyone who might dare step on your toes.

$975

Giuseppe Zanotti Design Sandals

Giuseppe Zanotti Design Sandals

The stacked bangle look has made its way from wrists to ankles. If you loved the effect of mixing multiple bracelets up and down your arms, these black suede spikes and their shiny bands of gold and silver beads will bring you (and your feet) much joy. Now you just need to figure out the rest of your jewelry.

$1,360

Brian Atwood Farrah heels

Brian Atwood Farrah heels

They always say you should treat your feet. With their puffy silk chiffon bows, these gorgeous peep-toe stilettos turn your feet into the present. The entire shoe is covered in a black-and-white floral-print chiffon. Then those small buds are enlarged on the ankle ties, which wrap gracefully up the leg. Truly, these are a gift to yourself in more ways than one.

$915

Prada Thong Sandals with Crystals

Prada Thong Sandals with Crystals

Seeing these sleek, sparkly shoes makes me want to be on vacation right this very second. Preferably somewhere chic, on a yacht. The opulent-minimalist vibe of the dove-grey satin mixed with loads of marquise-cut crystals is right up my alley. And the clear Plexiglas heel is a definite conversation-starter (so that’s how a shoe is made!), always handy if there’s a lull during cocktail hour.

$1,150

Jil Sander Lizard and Wood Wedges

Jil Sander Lizard and Wood Wedges

This is what I imagine a George Nakashima table would look like if it were turned into the heel of a shoe. The delicate, cobweb-like cut of the leather upper just reinforces the sprung-from-natureness of the organically shaped wooden sole beneath it.

$1,955

Yves Saint Laurent Leopard-Print Ankle Boots

Yves Saint Laurent Leopard-Print Ankle Boots

Like any Manhattan resident, I wear a lot of black—especially during fall and winter, specifically dresses and opaque tights. And I like a practical shoe for negotiating the subway. These ponyskin ankle boots will add enough visual oomph to my uniform to make it clear I’m not a mime. And say what you will about the 5.5 inch heel, is there really anything more utilitarian (read: practical) than boots? I thought not.

$1,525

Balmain Suede Buckled Ankle Boots

Balmain Suede Buckled Ankle Boots

The word “fierce” has become a tad overused (Christian Siriano, we’re talking to you), but I can’t think of a better way to describe these cherry red beauties. Don’t let the profusion of straps deter you—there’s a back zip above those 4.5 inch heels, so you can slide your boots on or kick ’em off at will.

$1,195

Pedro Garcia Feather Ballet Flat

Pedro Garcia Indira Feather Ballet Flat

As much as I love a fabulous heel, sometimes you just need a flat. Comfort is not an excuse for frumpiness, however. Give your feet a break, sure, but don’t embarrass them. These Pedro García flats are exquisitely amazing for many reasons. For starters, the iridescent green pheasant feathers covering each shoe are individually placed by hand—believe it. And there’s the chic grosgrain bow and pearl-topped pin, inspired “by the elegance of 1950s hats,” according to the designer. (And why shouldn’t your shoes have their own jewelry?) That happy sigh just came from your feet, who say, Thank you.

$725

Tod's Pointy Décolleté Pumps

Tod’s Pointy Décolleté Pumps

I’m barely behind the wheel of a car anymore, but I still have a soft spot for Tod’s iconic driving shoes and their nubby soles, designed to keep feet from slipping off gas and clutch pedals. These high heels play on the nub idea and are perfect for my usual mode of transportation—my feet. The rubber bottoms grip the sidewalk, and the concealed platforms make dashing around in 3.5 inch heels a comfortable proposition.

$495

Christian Louboutin Straratata Glitter Sandals

Christian Louboutin Straratata Glitter Sandals

I’m usually not a tremendous glitter fan, primarily because weeks after one wears anything (clothing, makeup) with a glitter component, such a person finds renegade metallic flakes in her hairline or a stray sparkle on her coat sleeve. But when glitter is nicely contained, as it is in these leather-edged straps, I can be persuaded. The red, green, blue, and silver flecks decorating these 5.5 inch heels are eye-catching and stay put—just the way I like it.

$1,045

Maloles Zoe Flats with Fur

Maloles Zoe Flats with Fur

You’ve probably resolved to spend this month on a party hiatus and detox with quiet nights in (except for trips to the gym, natch). So be it. While you’re puttering around the house, munching on raw vegetables and gearing up to restart that classic you always swore you’d finish (Ulysses), slide your feet into a pair of these cozy flats. They’re made of lizard lined in fluffy chinchilla—a deliciously soft nest for your tootsies (which deserve some R&R as well). And should the mood strike and you absolutely have to get out of the house (to pick up some ice cream and a DVD, perhaps), you won’t need to waste precious time changing your shoes.

$450

Nicholas Kirkwood Fluro Python Lace-up Sandals

Nicholas Kirkwood Fluro Python Lace-up Sandals

For proof that an insanely sexy shoe needn’t always be a strappy stiletto, see left. Utterly brilliant footwear designer Nicholas Kirkwood just goes from strength to strength. Here, he combines neon lime leather with violet python skin for a caged bootie that manages to be scandalous, seductive, and slightly covered up.

$1,218

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Resolutions vs. Habits

A RESOLUTION is a resolve or determination to make a firm resolution to do something.
A HABIT is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.
I admit that I have made the occasional New Years Resolution only to be forgotten within days.  Years ago I decided to forgo the guilt and feelings of failure by not making resolutions.  This decision proved to be just as disappointing as making a resolution and not following through.  So,   I decided that if nothing else I would resolve to become a better person every year.   This particular “resolution” has been my stand by for several years.     This has been an easy one to accomplish.  To be better means to not be as bad.  All that I have to do is be “nicer” this year than I was last year.  Or, not to be mean or ugly to one person who more than likely deserved an earful for cutting me off on the freeway, or hogging the isle in Wal-Mart, or even borrowing something and not returning it. 
 
This year, after reading a new blog I stumbled upon, I decided to try something new.  Instead of resolving to do something that requires major life changes and probably comes with an expensive price tag and a big fat I told you so at the end when it didn’t happen.  How about developing new habits.  Healthy Habits!  I don’t know about you but this past year I developed new habits without so much as a second thought.  Most of which are not bad for my health but they aren’t especially good either. 
 
How long does it take to develop a new habit?  The experts say it takes 21 days to develop a habit.  Also, the goal should be to develop only good habits or replace bad habits with good habits.  I have chosen to develop a new habit of drinking more water.  I will achieve this by always having a glass of water with me when I am on the computer, which is most of the day.
If in fact I fail to follow through with this plan it will get chalked up to another failed New Years Resolution.  But if I succeed I will have developed a new healthy habit.  Just so you know I am not off to a very good start. 

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my to do list…

It is the day before Thanksgiving and I have a “to do” list.  Not necessarily in this order. 

  1. off to the grocery store for 2 items; chipotle seasoning and almond bark.  NO they aren’t for the same recipe.  but come to think of it that might be interesting.
  2. general house cleaning
  3. laundry, make sure everyone has their clothes together for turkey day. 
  4. make my mother’s famous peanut butter clusters.  I wouldn’t hear the end of it if i showed up with out them.
  5. make chipotle pecans , new recipe via a WordPress foodie, she said. she said.
  6. make lemon ginger sugar cookies, recipe posted this morning by one of my favorite WordPress foodies
  7. attempt to make paper ribbon garland for the christmas tree similar to the one in the pottery barn catalog.
  8. make dinner, oh i need to get something from the grocery store for that
  9. bathe the dogs, they really need it
  10. sort the Christmas decorations, there are so many to go through
  11. check my email, it continually pings at me
  12. check/comment on Facebook, so i can keep up with all of my fb friends and their holiday festivities
  13. tweet something
  14. post this to my blog, not sure why but here goes
  15. get moving. ok. OKAY!
  16. stop by the church
  17. OUCH!  now I have to go to the nail salon, that’s gonna eat up a good chunk of my day.
  18. and the list continues to grow……………….

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HGTV dream home inspired…dream come true

I love the annual HGTV Dream Home Special!  The first dream home I fell in love with was the 2005 Dream Home built in Tyler Texas.  That home encompassed almost every idea of what I envisioned a Grand Texas home would have.  And it was built on a beautiful lake!  Bonus!!!  The creamy Texas Limestone inside and out as well as the impressive cedar pillars and the stone garden wall have all found their way into the design elements of our new home, just on a smaller scale.  

The 2006 Dream Home was breathtaking.  It was built on beautiful Lake Lure in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.  The design team for the 2006 house really took the surrounding mountain views into consideration when laying out the house.  There appears to be a view from every room. Between my husband and our architect they were able to give us a beautiful view from every room of our house.  We don’t live in the mountains or even the Texas Hill Country, but we do live in a very secluded wooded area in our ranch style neighborhood surrounded by large oak trees!  The views are exceptional if I do say so myself!

The interior decor of the 2006 dream home is as cozy as a mountain retreat could possibly be.  My favorite space is the eat-in seating area in the kitchen.  I have worked this design element into our new home and I love it.  It needs a little bit of work to get the really cozy feel that I am looking for but that is half the fun.

I hope the next HGTV dream home has a great greenhouse that will inspire me!

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it’s just like riding a bike…how hard can that be? Right?

You’ve heard that old saying, “it’s like riding a bike, you never forget”.  Well I am here to set the record straight.   First of all, remembering how to ride a bike is a lot different from actually riding a bike.  Speaking from experience I can remember how to do a lot of things.  That does not mean that they I can actually do them currently.   I remember I used to be pretty good on the uneven parallel bars, but I wouldn’t try doing that these days. 

Even professional athletes, which I am not one of, get a little rusty when they have been on the DL for a couple of months.  It takes a little while to knock the rust off and get back into the groove. 

Well for me, it has been years since I have ridden a bike.  So there is a more than a little rust here and this could take quite sometime to get back in the groove.  Oh don’t get me wrong, I can still ride a bike.  I am just not as sure of my self as a once was, at least not when it comes to riding the bike.  Which is really kind of annoying. 

You see, I remember as a kid we rode our bikes everyday all day.  We would ride around the same neighborhood streets for hours and hours.  We would do crazy things like ride with no hands or put our feet over the handlebars or even stand up on the seat.  I know what your thinking, those crazy kids what were they thinking?  That’s just it!  We weren’t thinking!  We were just riding! 

I think that may be the biggest part of my problem with getting back into the groove of riding my bike.  It’s my stinkin thinkin.  Before, I even leave the driveway I am already thinking about getting back.  I am not just heading out for a joy ride, I am thinking of it as getting some exercise.  I know I need to get some exercise but I don’t enjoy exercising.  That’s why I got a bike.  Because I remember riding a bike when I was a kid…and it was great and I loved it and how hard could it be to ride a bike.  Take my word for it, getting back on a bike after years of not riding a bike it’s easy to get on, it’s the getting going part that’s gonna take some time.  But I am up for it…it’s just like riding a bike…Right?

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

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free as a bird…

I knew they were coming…it happens every year…today was the day! They probably number in the thousands.  It’s THE BIRDS!!!(no not those BIRDS) The activity in our yard resembles an aerial aviation convention.  Complete with precision formations and aerial stunts and dive bombers.  The colors span the rainbow.   And our otherwise peaceful neighborhood has been transformed into the Bird Convention!  And the conventioneers are busy chatting it up with their neighbors. 

I read once, sorry I  don’t remember where, that the area of Texas we live in has the largest variety of birds in the United States.  Originally I thought that’s one of those BIG Texas stories the natives like to tell.  However, this morning I believe it may actually be true. 

The birds in our yard this morning, numbering in the hundreds,  as far as I could tell, were the common grackle, sparrows or finches, its possible the smaller birds were house wrens as well as  a downy woodpecker or a red bellied woodpecker.  We already have had the pleasure of being visited by the hummingbirds and Owls are common in our neck of the woods. But, When I saw the flash of blue out of the corner of my eye I immediately knew what it was.  The Eastern Bluebirds!! They have always been my favorite!    There are several pairs flitting about searching for their nesting spot. 

I immediately called my Dad to share my excitement.  He reciprocated with his own enthusiasm and instructions on how to build and place the nesting boxes for the bluebirds.  Should they find suitable accommodations they will return every year.  Oh, how wonderful would that be!

I am not a birder but Ido  share my Dad’s love for the feathered creatures.  My dad is a bird man.  He has raised birds his entire life, all kinds.  At one time I think he had 75 parakeets, green, yellow, blue and violet.  He has also raised and shown fancy pigeons.  He even used homing pigeons to arrange dates with my Mom when they were in highschool.  Really!

I am on the lookout for a little bird my Dad calls a POP!  I have only seen them twice in my life.  It was either during the fall or spring migration.  They are small like wrens and each are a different color.  If you happen to know anything about this little bird we call a POP please drop me a line or a link. 

I always enjoy my Saturday mornings out here in the country but this morning as been truly delightful!

Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

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c r u i s i n … o n m y c r u i s e r…

 

Our new home is located in a neighborhood that is perfect for outdoor activity.  The neighborhood has been developed in area that was once a plantation where  roses,citrus, fig and chinaberry trees were grown.  There are hundred year old live oak trees as well as water oaks, post oaks, pecan and other native trees and shrubs.  The neighborhood is also home to countless deer, rabbits, armadillo, owls, hawks, hogs and hummingbirds as well as dozens of other birds I have yet to identify.  The air is clean and the sounds come from the birds and the wind in the trees. 

The neighborhood is still relatively new with fewer than 100 homes.  This makes it a great place to walk, jog or ride.  So on my husbands suggestion we purchased new bikes.  Nothing fancy.  He picked out a Mongoose Off Road bike.  I think he may be planning to take off into the woods and track a deer or something. 

My bike is a c r u i s e r …it has a great paint job, mahogany and tan with 26″ white wall cruiser tires.  It has a wide comfy stitched seat and a steel basket and a rear rack.  There are no fancy hand brakes and the only bell and whistle is the bell my husband added on the handlebar at my request.  I can hardly wait to cruise the neighborhood on my c r u i s e r…

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one of my favorite things…

Today…my absolute favorite catalog arrived in the mail.  It’s not just any edition of the catalog, it’s the Christmas catalog!  The cover is absolutely beautiful! The cover says it all!  It calls out to me from the honey colored paint on the wall in the background to the tastefully scripted subtitle scrawled across the bottom of the page, “It’s almost time to decorate for Christmas“!!!

Which catalog, you ask, is she so excited about…it is none other than PotteryBarn!!

As I am typing this little post my favorite catalog is laying next to me on the sofa.  I have yet to turn the first page.  I have waited until there will be no chance of distractions.  I want to be able to enjoy savor the experience that is waiting on each page. 

I also wanted to think about why these 100+ pages excite me so much before I feverishly start turning the pages.  I love every design detail that has gone into each layout.  I look at the placement of the pillows and the wall hangings.  I love how an over sized mirror is placed in an otherwise forgotten corner.  I study the details that have gone into wrapping the Christmas gifts.   I love the variety of textures, the mixture of old and new as well as the familiar feeling that PotteryBarn feels like home.  The layouts on each page capture the essence of Christmas with grace and elegance.  The only place where caution is thrown to the wind is when it comes to decorating the tree.  There is no holding back when it comes to the tree.  The tree is the focal point!  It’s all about the Tree!!! 

 

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our unconvential convential home…and its opportunities for adjustment

As you many know we recently moved into our new home.  My husband and I made every single decision throughout the process.  Good or Bad we can only point the proverbial finger at one another. 

There were long drawn out thoughtful decisions.  There were decisions made on the fly.  There were decisions made with a singular thought in mind.  Which now that we are moved in have created what I like to call, opportunities for adjustment. 

First up on the list is our open concept game room.  We didn’t want the game room/man cave to be shut off from the rest of the house as it is already located down the back hallway.  So we decided to leave the room open, no door.  There is a little bit more to it than just no door.  But for simplicity sake, trust me, it’s open.  The challenge comes when my husband cranks up the blu-ray player and surround sound extraordinaire and the sound fills the entire house.  Kinda wishing we had thought a little more about the DOOR. 

Our second challenge is the sitting area in the kitchen.  Let me just say this is not a problem at all for me as I am not much on watching TV.  However, my husband likes to have the TV on at all times and of course this means he needs to be able to see it.  The sitting area in the kitchen was designed to be an intimate conversation area.  I did not realize that we would gather there to eat as much as we have since moving in.  The TV is not visible from this area. (smiling) 

 

The third challenge is more of the visual aesthetic kind.  The living and dining area is one large room.  I absolutely love this room!  The dining room has me a bit perplexed with the placement of the furniture.  Our Builder has built us a beautiful home.  The crown molding with little “birdhouse” type finials in the corners, double ceiling tray over the dining room table, eye lights for the artwork.  However,  I didn’t own the dining room furniture when the house designs were drawn up and I didn’t think through the placement of the eye lights in relation to the chandelier.  I now have furniture and lighting that are at odds with one another.  My challenge is to make it all work without having the electrician come in and move the eye lights which of course does not address the entire challenge.  So I have taken the designer challenge and set the dining room table at an angle.  We are having friends over this evening for a little dinner/birthday celebration.  Can hardly wait to get feedback from my peers. 

Tell me what you think of our un-conventional choices in our otherwise conventional home.

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