Same Color, Different Dress

“Always a bridesmaid and never a bride” – was a phrase I heard and lived for many years.  After being in and attending over 20 weddings by the time I got married, I pretty much knew exactly what I wanted and what I did not want for my husband, myself, my girls, his guys and our guests.

I think our wedding was fabulous and I have never felt so much love from so many people in one room.  It was by far, the greatest day of my life, not only because I was marrying the man of my dreams who has exceeded every expectation I had for a spouse, but because all of the people I loved from my old friends and family to my new friends and family were all together.

I loved planning my wedding, but am certainly not a professional, but there are certain things that I think went extremely well.  Based on my many years as a wedding guest, bridesmaid, maid of honor and of course, bride, here are some thoughts:

1You and your husband should make the decisions.  While we greatly respected our parents’ opinions, what they wanted/suggested, was not always what we did. One of the issues we had early on when planning our wedding was deciding to invite children.  Many of our cousins and close friends had little ones and we had to decide whether or not we should invite them.  In the end, no kids under the age of 13 were in attendance other than our nieces and nephew who were in the wedding.  Our wedding, our choice. Done.

2. Choose a reception venue that lets you walk through their kitchen. I had never thought about this before, but the owner of Perona Farms, where we had our reception, invited us into the kitchen on a day when they were having a wedding.  In other words, it was cooking in action. It was not specially cleaned for our visit. The floors were not greasy, it was extremely clean and there were inspirational signs hanging above from the ceilings reminding the serves to smile and to treat their customers like they were family.   We were sold.

3. Let your bridesmaids choose the style of dress after you choose the color.   We’ve all been there as bridesmaids – feeling horrible uncomfortable in a dress that makes your butt look big or is totally not your style.  It makes for an uncomfortable day to say the least and it shows – in person and in all of the pictures you try and smile sweetly for.   I did not want that for my girls.  My girlfriends are incredible. They are from all different eras in my life and come from all different backgrounds.  My thought was – they are all different as people, so why couldn’t they be different as bridesmaids?  I chose a beautiful royal blue for my color and let the girls try on  different styles so they would be comfortable.  After all, I want them to have fun and feel good about themselves.  My only request was that their dresses were long and to the floor. The girls were very happy that they were able to choose the style and shape that fit their bodies. I also let them choose their shoes.  One of my girls does not ever wear heels and she was relieved when I told her that flats were fine, as long as they were silver.

4 Skip the bouquet and garter toss, especially if most of the crowd is older.  I will never forget my ex-sister-in-law telling me of a wedding she and my brother attended where a heavier, unattractive girl caught the bouquet and the DJ had to practically beg the single guys to come out and catch the garter.  I felt awful for her and I was not even there!  Once I heard that, it was out. No way someone was going to feel badly at my wedding.

5. Enjoy cocktail hour with your guests. My husband and I truly love and enjoy our family and friends and wanted to spend as much time as we could with them on our wedding day. We skipped the traditional cocktail hour with the bridal party and enjoyed it with our guests.  This also made it more comfortable for the dates of those in the bridal party who might not have known many other guests. We did get introduced before dinner which worked out great.

6.  Get the traditional dances out of the way first.   Right after you are announced, go right into the first dance and the dances with the father and mother.  It’s less painful for the guests and the dancing later on does not need to be interrupted.

7.  Play slow music when dinner is served.  There is nothing worse than when guests are asked to be seated for dinner and a great dance tune from the 80s gets played.  I am not going to lie, I have gotten right up from the table to go out and bust a move, much to the dismay of the waiters and waitresses who are trying to serve the food.  Make sure the DJ/band holds the best dance songs before or after the food is served.

8.  Dance! My husband and I enjoyed our wedding to the fullest. We were out dancing with everyone and did not go to the tables until towards the end of the night. Enjoy the party.  Dance to the songs you so meticulously chose! It’s your day!

9.  Step back a moment and take it all in.  This was a piece of advice given to me by several people before I got married and I am glad I took it! Take a minute and stop everything to look around at the people in the room. It is so amazing to see your guests smiling, laughing, dancing, drinking and enjoying themselves.  To know that they were all there for us made my heart swell.

10.  Know that something, inevitably, will not go as planned.  My florist forgot to put the three while calla lilies in my bouquet, there was a major screw up at my hairdresser and cocktail hour had to be held inside since the heat lamps were not working. Even the DJ played a song we specifically asked him not to play. Guess what?  Our day was still perfect for us and all of those little things were just that – little things.  They did not take away from or ruin our day by any means.  Do not let them ruin yours!

 

Too Casual?

“Clothes allow you to see yourself in a different light. They can transform you instantly and have a very real, visceral impact. Clothes become symbolic of who we are.” – Stacy London

 

Jeans. Most everyone loves them and they are probably one of the most commonly owned pieces of clothing by Americans.

Here are two interesting facts about jeans:

1.  In 1873, Levi Strauss and Company received a patent for blue jeans.  A durable pant was needed for gold and silver miners and so they were created.  The material was called “dungarees” (which is what my grandfather used to call them!) Later on, mostly Cowboys wore jeans working the cattle ranches since they lasted much longer than cotton pants.  Since then, jeans have evolved into many different cuts including boot cut, low waist, skinny, boyfriend, straight leg, etc. Everyone in America owns a pair of jeans.

2.  Elvis Presley could only afford dungarees when he was a child because his family was so poor. As an adult, he rarely ever wore them because of that.

While jeans are great to wear for comfort or working (as originally intended), I think we have gone a bit overboard on when it is appropriate to wear jeans and there are times when more formal attire is appropriate.

 

This is totally my opinion, but I really don’t feel that jeans should be worn if:

1.  You are attending viewing or funeral.  Yes, I have seen it. To me, it is terribly disrespectful that the time could not be taken to dress up to honor a person’s life.

2.  You are attending a wedding. I don’t care if you have a button down shirt and tie on as well.  Unless the invitation states that it is very casual, a wedding is not the place to sport your Levi’s.

3.  You are a teacher – Now, wait. Don’t get angry! By all means, participate in dress down Fridays and Jeans Days (I always did!), but please do this only on Fridays. I cannot tell you how many teachers I see wearing jeans during the week. And the ones I have seen wearing jeans pair them with sweatshirts, dingy sweaters or t-shirts and old sneakers. After being in education for almost 20 years, I can say with certainty that dressing too casually affects how students treat you and perceive you as a teacher.  It can affect the whole mood of the class. If you are going to wear jeans, remember two things – you are not going to be working outside (wear nice jeans and shoes) and you are not going clubbing (lose the hoochie-mama tops and skin tight skinnies).  You are still a teacher and a professional who deserves respect. You are a role model for your students and reflection of your school. Dress like it!

4. If you are the first person a customer/client/patient sees – You are making a first impression of the office, store, doctor, etc.  I remember taking my mother to her orthopedic therapist one time and the receptionist was dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt. And it was a Wednesday. I immediately questioned my mother about what  type of office this was and the credibility of the physician. It did not seem very professional to me and I immediately thought negatively about the doctor, whom I had not yet met.  As it turns out, I did not care for the doctor, but my mom liked her and she got better, so I might have judged her wrong. But I did judge her and I have not forgotten that. Most people do not easily forget first impressions…

5.  If you are going to church – I know some churches say that it does not matter what you wear, as long as you are there, but I just don’t think it’s right to wear old jeans and sweatshirts to church.  Black or colored jeans or corduroys with a nice sweater and boots – yes, but not old, faded, ripped ones.  And don’t even get me started on those wearing SWEATPANTS to church! AHHH!!  I think that God deserves more!

People form opinions about us based on our appearances.  We can’t help it. It’s human nature.  And clothes are usually the first thing people notice, even before your face. Doubt me? Go to the mall and people watch.  The clothes that we wear are more powerful than we might think.

Friday Favorite – Alex and Ani Bangle Bracelets!

A and A 001

 

I have always loved all kinds of jewelry. You will always see me with earrings, a necklace and at least one bracelet on. Without jewelry, I feel naked.  Lately, I have become slightly obsessed with Alex and Ani bracelets.  I first saw them on my friend, Terri. She had all different ones in silver and a few in gold and wore them together. They looked fabulous!! They are bangles with charms on them and are very unique.  So far, I have a shark fin, seashell, pineapple, feather and starfish.  I picked out the shark fin and my husband chose the rest. Can you tell I love the beach??  They make great gifts, too, because there is something for everyone.  Alex and Ani also make rings, necklaces, earrings and special collections.

Here is why I love them:

1.  They are bangles with charms on them, not just a charm bracelet.  I love the look of stacked bangles (arm candy, as some call it) with the charms hanging down for the dangling effect. So cool!

2.  Many of the proceeds from the bangles go to charity. The first one I purchased is the shark fin for balance and up to 20% of the proceeds will go help support children with cystic fibrosis.

3. They are MADE IN THE USA. That’s correct.  The main headquarters is located in Rhode Island, but have stores in many states in the Northeast.  A lot of boutiques carry their products and there is a store locator on their website so you can see where you can buy them.

4. They are made from recycled material.

5.  They are adjustable, so they will fit big or small wrists.

Go to their website for more info – http://www.alexandani.com,  but I must warn you that they are addicting!

Friday Favorite – Two Kinds of Nail Polish!

 

Pics 3-1 001

 

Happy March!! Spring is in the air and that means flip-flops and open-toed shoes! Yippeeee!! For me, the warmer weather and exposure of my tootsies also means getting a pedicure on a regular basis and keeping my nails looking nice and fresh.

I have always worn nail polish. I take after my grandmother and mother in that you will always see me with a color on my nails and some sort of jewelry on my body.  I can’t help it. They are my security blankets!  For many years, Monday nights were Nail Nights for my mom and me.  We would watch “Melrose Place” and do our nails so they would look good for the week.  At that time, my favorite brand and color was Cover Girl’s Thunderbird Red.  Most of the time, I remember the nail polish lasting for the better part of the week.  Some of today’s nail polishes, however, seem to only last a few days, which is very disappointing.  One kind I tried chipped THE NEXT DAY.  I was not happy.

After trying many different types of nail polishes over the last six months, I found these to be the best ones – Revlon Colorstay and Zoya (Sally Hansen’s Complete Manicure is not too far behind).  Both go on nicely, though I think I like the brush with the Zoya better. It is smaller and the color seems to go on smoother.  Both are around $8.00 though the Revlon will go on sale for “buy one get one half off” which is when I stock up.  The Revlon can be found almost any place that carries nail polish. Make sure you get the Colorstay.  I’ve tried the other Revlon types of polish and they do not last as long.  As for the Zoya, I had to go to Harmon’s to get it.  I am not sure if they are sold outside of beauty stores, but they have a website (www.zoya.com) and are also available on Amazon.  Both of these polishes usually last around 4-6 days for me.  This week, I did my nails using a new Revlon Colorstay shade of hot pink on Tuesday. My nails look great and are just starting to lightly fade at the tips, but I think this is because I type a lot.  I really only notice the slight fading because I am looking at them closely.

Here are a few tips when polishing your nails no matter what kind you use:

1.  Use a base coat. It will protect your nails against staining.  Last year, I polished my nails a beautiful orangy-coral color and did not use a base coat because I was in a rush. When I removed the polish, my nails had a yellowy-orange tint to them that looked gross.  I had to wear darker colors to cover up that unflattering tint for about a month.

2.  Put two to three THIN layers on.  If you put on thick layers, they tend to take longer to dry and smear easier.

3. Use a top coat.

4.  Give yourself time to let the polish dry. After about 20 minutes, I will sometimes run cold water on my nails to help them set.  However, the nail polish and top coat must feel smooth and be relatively dry before you do this.  Tap the nail and if it feels smooth, try the cold water on them.  If they feel a little tacky, they’re not ready.

5.  One of the biggest enemies of nail polish is cleaning products.  Always wear gloves when doing the dishes, dusting or doing everyday cleaning using chemicals.

Good luck with these and think spring!!!

Friday Favorites – Avon Anew Rejuvenate Cream

Anew

I hate to admit it, but a few months ago, I started noticing little lines around my eyes and on my forehead.  I kept telling myself that these lines were the results of all the smiling I had done over the years and that I should be grateful to have had so many happy times in my life.  Yeah. Whatever. It didn’t make me feel better. I wanted those lines GONE. As it was, I started going gray in my 20s and did not want these lines to remind me that I was about to hit the big 4-0.

I was always very good about taking care of my skin thanks to my mother who does not look anywhere near her age.  I remember she and I standing in the bathroom mirror in our nightgowns, washing our faces and putting on lotion every night before bed.  Mom used “The Magic of Aloe” routine of washing, exfoliating and moisturizing and would let me use it as well. I felt so grown up!  Later, my mom discovered Keri lotion.  It is wonderful and she still swears by it, but it is a bit heavy and looks greasy.  I think I actually scared my husband with it on a few times because it makes my face shiny. Very shiny. It is a great product, but I felt like I needed something different that wouldn’t make my husband have to squint to look at me and I found it.  It’s Avon’s Anew Rejuvenate Cream and it truly has made my skin look better.

I’ve been using it for about 6 months now and I really do see a difference.   When I apply the cream (using the tip of my ring finger as my mom taught me), I can feel my skin tightening, but not like a mask and not in an uncomfortable way.  It makes my skin feel firm and smooth. Since I began using it, I actually do see fewer lines around my eyes and some have faded altogether. Plus, it’s made in the USA and there is absolutely no animal testing with Avon products.  Those are two more benefits.

One more tip – I read that if you apply cream on damp skin, it absorbs better and deeper than on dry skin.  So, my routine at night is to wash my face with Oil of Olay’s Daily Cleanser, lightly pat my face dry, and put on the Anew.  And let me tell you, I feel like a-new person (sorry, couldn’t resist).  I highly recommend this cream to help tighten your skin and fill in those darned smile lines. I hopefully have many more smiles ahead of me, but my face does not need to show it!

Friday Favorite – VS Cotton Pajamas in Petite!

pjs

Yes, it’s true.  Victoria’s Secret makes petite pajamas that are actually petite!! Praise the Lord! There are not many brands of pajamas for those of us who are vertically challenged. Several brands say they are petite, but I still end up having to roll up the pants and/or sleeves.  Not with this one! Even if you are not petite, keep reading!  VS also has regular and tall lengths as well.

I know those of us whose height is not considered “average” or “regular” often have trouble finding pajamas that are either too long (me) or too short (never happened).  Well, Victoria’s Secret makes a two piece cotton pajama that is perfect for lounging and sleeping  and the arms and legs are the right length!  No more rolling up the pants or sleeves! Yay! And, the fabric is so light and comfortable, it’s great.  It also washes well.  I chose an animal print (which, by the way, I was wearing long before Snooki!), but there are a ton of other options.  And, for you tall girls, they have a special size for you, too! So, if you are looking for some new pajamas, I highly recommend these.  And guys, this could be a great gift for Valentine’s Day! A girl needs to be comfy and sexy!  Sleep tight!

 

Don’t Sweat It????

velour suit

New York and Company’s Velour Outfit

By “Don’t Sweat It,” I am referring to not wearing sweatpants “unless you are going to the gym” – a piece of advice given to viewers on TLC’s “What Not to Wear.”  I love that show and have watched it for several years.  If you have not seen the show, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly (the stylists) teach people how to dress for their body shape and size. For example, many of the guests are women who have recently had children and are still carrying extra baby weight.  Stacy and Clinton will offer them tips on what style shirts and blouses to wear to help camouflage their tummies without looking baggy or frumpy.  The guest is also given a new hairstyle and make up look and most of them look like completely different people with their new clothes, look and confidence. It’s very uplifting and inspiring to me.  I always want to go shopping after I see the show!

Now, I am not a major fashionista, but I do try to wear trends and prints that fit my body.  I cannot wear all trends, as I am only a little over 5 feet tall and slightly curvy.  The recent trend of wearing long shirts and skinny jeans/leggins is something I cannot do. I will look like a tree stump.  As a petite woman, I am not supposed to wear anything that is lower than my crotch or it will make my legs look even shorter than they already are (thank you, Clinton).  And, I have large, um, girls. When shopping for tops, I often have to shop in both misses and petites, which is something Stacy and Clinton recommend if you are bigger on top and smaller on the bottom or vice-versa. My point is, the show has taught me that dressing for your current size and shape is more important than dressing in trends.

I learned a lot from watching the show, but then heard the statement of not wearing sweatpants unless you are going to the gym and my mouth dropped. WHAT?!?!  Try as I may, that is one piece of advice that I cannot take.  I see nothing wrong with wearing sweatpants if you are out running errands.  Could I put on a pair of jeans? Sure, but why?  And, as you see in the picture above, there are some cute matching outfits that do not look sloppy or ratty.   I would not wear them to a function or out to a restaurant, but for running around town, I think they’re fine. Plus, a monochromatic look makes you look taller, or so they say.  Throw on a necklace and put in some earrings and I feel and look presentable.  I think…

Sorry, Stacy and Clinton. I love you both and enjoy your show, but sweats are a must in my life.  Now, I have to go run some errands…which pair will I wear today???

Role Reversal – Mom and Me

Sorry that my post is late today.  My mom and I took mental health days and gave ourselves the best therapy we could think of – shopping and lunch. And then a second treatment of shopping!  We were both smiling and laughing the entire time, so it was definitely successful!

Shopping is something I have always enjoyed doing with my mom.  She does not really partake in any of my other hobbies (she has no time), but shopping is something we have done together for as long as I can remember. And it was not until I was older when I realized that she was teaching me lifelong lessons that I still use to this day.

My earliest memories of us shopping together are on Saturday mornings at the grocery store. She would make the shopping list and we would hop in the car, blast some Bon Jovi tapes on her cassette player and head off to Shop Rite.  While we were shopping, my mom would teach me how to compare prices, select the best fruits, vegetables and meats and to “always check the date on everything, especially dairy!”  These little lessons have proven to be essential now that I am an adult.  I love to look at my receipt to see how much I have saved by using her comparison shopping calculations.  Our fruits and veggies are always delicious and her advice about checking the date is priceless.  (I’ve grabbed yogurt and milk several times with expired or soon-to-be expired dates  and put them right back!  Thanks, Mom!) Finally, we would get in line and Mom would say that we really should get a little something for the ride home. Ya, know. For energy.  That usually meant Rolos or a Chunky bar that we’d split.  It was our reward for shopping and it was just for us. My father and brother never saw a morsel of our “energy for the ride home.”

Then, we began clothes shopping together. This is something we both love and try to do every few months.  Today, we were specifically looking for work clothes for her and today, I was giving the lessons. I advised her to branch out a little in terms of colors, length of pants, fit and the new styles.  My mom is still working, though she should be retired by now, and has always been pretty trendy…as long as I shopped with her.  I am not sure what went wrong those few times she ventured out on her own and came home with patterns that were way too old for her.  There came a point where I had to tell her to either take me shopping at all times or to not take the tags off anything she bought alone until I saw them.  Thank God that was short-lived. Since I moved, she and I don’t get to get together as much as we would like to and she has been doing very well choosing great patterns, prints and colors.  I like to think that my voice is in her head in the mall, much like her voice is in my head in the grocery store.

Today, she hit the jackpot.  She has very thin legs and we finally found pants for her at JC Penney.  Yay!  Our last stop was the make-up counter at Macy’s.  And, yes, I bought ANOTHER Bobbi Brown eye-liner gel (this is becoming an obsession). She bought the same colored gel, eye shadow and make-up remover.  These were based on my recommendations (along with the beauty consultant).  We took the consultant’s card and decided that the next Mental Health Day will also involve make-overs.

I love my mom very, very much. She was a mom to me growing up, not a friend and I appreciate that more and more as I get older.  The memories I have of us together during our shopping trips are in a special place in my heart and my mom’s advice is always in my head, especially in the stores.  I am glad we made the time to shop and spend time together today and cannot wait for our next excursion!!!

 

 

Friday Favorite – Norwegian Formula Hand Cream

Friday Favorite - hand lotion 005

 

I like winter.  I enjoy the cold air and snow, mainly when I am able to enjoy it by going snowboarding, snowtubing or on the back of a snowmobile.  I do not, however, like having to bundle up just to go put the garbage out!

As much as I love winter, my body does not, especially my lips and hands.  When the air is cold and dry, even gloves do not seem to protect my hands.  They start to get that white look to them, hurt and then begin to look like an 80 year old woman’s hands.  AHHH!! Dried up hands do not go well with a nice manicure or when you like to wear rings, like I do.  This is one thing I despise about winter.  My poor dry hands.

When I was a teacher, I would wash my hands often to try and prevent getting sick, but the high quality soap in the school bathroom really left my hands dry and cracky.  (Is that a word?) Over the years, I have tried numerous hand lotions and found this one to be my absolute favorite.  My friend who is a nurse at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center recommended it to me about 10 years ago and I have been using it ever since.  You only need to put on a little bit and it will keep your hands soft and moist for hours.  It is a little thick, but once it’s rubbed in, it seems to form a protective layer. I always have one tube in my purse and another on my nightstand.  If you do have dry hands or feet, try putting this on before you go to bed and your hands will wake up nice and soft the next day. You’ll pay about $4.50 a tube, but if you belong to BJs, you can buy the 4 pack and it works out to a little over $2.00 a tube. That is a huge bargain!  So go bundle up with your scarves and gloves and boots and get to a drug store and try this lotion. Your hands will thank you!

 

My Addiction to Pinterest

My cousin introduced me to Pinterest about three months ago.  I kept hearing people talking about how great it was for sharing all kinds of ideas.  If you are not familiar with it, it is “an online pin board” where you basically browse a category and when you find something you like, you “pin” it to a board and then you’ll have it for later to do or make or see. For example, if you see a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, you can pin it to a board called, “Desserts” and when you want to make it, you pull it up and voila!  There’s the recipe for you to follow.  I absolutely LOVE IT.

Introducing me to Pinterest, however, proved to be a bit of a mistake for me.  Ever since, I have been addicted to all the “Pinteresting” things that people do, make, say and want to achieve.  Once I started with Pinterest, I was obsessed.  The food, drinks, crafts, pictures of places I’d like to visit, fashion ideas, make up tips, shoes…I was in heaven!! What  great ideas!! I can do that! I can make that! I can look like that!

I even had a routine with Pinterest.  After logging in, I would search the categories in this order:

1.  Popular

2.  Food and Drink

3. DIY and Crafts

4. Hair and Beauty

5. Women’s Fashion

I was creating boards and pinning ideas like a crazy woman. I made a few wreaths for myself and others after seeing some ideas and made some new desserts and main meals.  It was wonderful!  But then, I began to think I had a slight problem.  An hour or two would pass and I would realize that I was on Pinterest the entire time.  Anytime I made a new dish or did a craft people started saying, “Pinterest, right?”  If my husband could not find me, he would call out, “Pinterest?” and come towards our office where the computer was to find me staring at the screen. I would talk about things I saw on Pinterest.  To everyone.  Non-stop.   I am sure I was annoying to some. (sorry!)

What was happening? I decided to look up some questions that possible addicts should ask themselves.  And I got some disturbing answers.  It went as follows:

1.  Do you wake up in the morning and think about Pinterest?

Answer – YES

2. Do you feel the need to go on Pinterest every day?

Answer – YES

3. Do your thoughts and actions revolve around Pinterest?

Answer – YES

4. Have people started to associate you with Pinterest?

Answer – YES

5. Do you spend more than 30 minutes a day on Pinterest?

Answer – YES

6. Can you go one day without checking Pinterest?

Answer – NO!

Well, that’s it. I decided that I am officially addicted to Pinterest.  Since there is no treatment center that I know of, I figured I had better come up with my own recovery plan. It is a three-step program and is as follows:

1.  I will go on Pinterest every other day for no more than 30 minutes.

2.  I will only pin things I will  actually make, do, see, etc.

3. Since my food boards contain the most pins, I will use them.  I will make a minimum of one new dish a week  and not just let the pictures  sit on the boards looking pretty. And yummy.

And there it is. My new recovery plan.  I will start this tomorrow.   Or maybe Monday. I like to start things on Mondays.  Let’s see…that means I have three days to binge on Pinterest…have to go.  I am feeling crafty and need some more ideas…