Friday, September 23, 2011 |

The Star Factor - Fall Edition

Today marks the first day of fall and with it I think of pumpkins, hot cider, cooler nights and the time falling forward to bring on longer nights. Things that I look forward to every year. When summer comes on, I look forward to seeing the green buds of pumpkins growing at the local pumpkin patch and when I start to see orange peek through the leaves, I know that I don't have much longer to wait. This season we see some new trends from clothing and makeup to design, fashion. There are are also some things that are always classic and timeless and in the Star Factor I am going to cover what's the latest and greatest.

Color - The word in color this season is three little words R - E - D! Everything from brights like Vermilion and Chinese Lantern, to darker Burgundies and wine colors; red is the fashion and design statement of the season. Find a beat-up great piece of furniture at a yard sale, bring it home and paint it red.  Want to re-do your bedroom find a neutral dark base like black, grey, and cocoa brown and than throw in different shades of red as accents. Same goes with any of your styles. Pick a neutral color, and add a pop of red with your accessories and or shoes. Animal prints are still a hot ticket item for both fashion and decorating as well as boots of all shapes and sizes. Spice up your fall accessories by combining your summer necklaces and bracelets with coordinating fall colors and styles.
click on the links to take you to the websites that feature these fashions and colors for more ideas and inspiration Fashion and  Color Palette)

Makeup - Everyone is using makeup these days to enhance their outer beauty but don't confuse fashionable with tacky. Watching TLC's What Not to Wear, I learned that playing up one feature of yourself is better than trying to over do it. The fun thing about this is you can highlight a different feature everyday, or just play up your best feature. So if you have really great eyes, play them up with smokey hues and than leave your lips with a more natural look. Same goes if you want a great red lip color, leave your eyes more neutral. Here are a couple of great looks from the Mary Kay website on each side. See how the eyes are really played up, but not overly so and the lips are left in more neutral colors. A color palette that looks great on everyone is Caramel. Shades of browns can go on any skin tone and can be found from creamy flat lipstick to a nice shiny gloss that's great for an evening out.

I read a month or so ago that the cat eye look is in. I consider this the Cleopatra look to a point and have seen it done in various mediums. This look can be highly over done. I know, I have done it myself. The girls at Saphora's loved it on me, but when I got home I think I looked like I was trying to hard and it had to go. If you want to add a little fun in the evening with this look I say go for it, but when applying to the upper lid go out about a 1/4 of an inch from the eye and bring it down to blend with your lower lid eye liner. Still classy and sophisticated and won't make you look like your going for the freak of the year award. Angelina Jolie here makes a great impression with her eyes while the other model looks great for her, but how many of us can get away with not only the extreme colors but the intensity of the cat eye. This look is better left on the runway. (taken from Google Images) Also don't be afraid of cream eye shadows. While they come in a variety of intense colors, there are a lot of neutrals and with some careful blending can give you a stunning look. Cream eye shadow also eliminates the need to apply a base on to your eyes because it already gives you long wear. You don't have a lot of time to blend, but enough time that you can play around with it and achieve the look you want. Practice makes perfect on this, but it's really worth the effort.

More ideas from  HGTV 
Entertaining - Being that it's fall there is a whole new world of entertaining out there to explore. For most of us in the Midwest to the Pacific ocean we can still enjoy some great times out of doors even during the cooler weather. A fire pit of any size and shape makes for a great way to spend a cool evening outside. So don't cover up your patio furniture and barbecues just yet. If you never have done any outdoor entertaining in the fall your really missing out of the greatest part of the year. Our family has a Halloween tradition with a portable Webber fire pit placed out in the front and we set up a table or two and have a crock pot filled with stew, carafes of coffee and plates of doughnuts and my husbands favorite, pigs in a poke. (Kids will love them) Some years it's colder than others so depending on the weather we either don't have to wear jackets or just light ones with the fire on. I even had a fire pit going for a Christmas party last year and while being outside was optional I found that most of the party goers found there way outside to sit around and enjoy the company and the warmth. 

From for a ton of different and simple ideas that won't cost you a lot.

Gardening - Now is the perfect time to plant your spring bulbs. They must be planted before the ground freezes which here in California, still gives you a little more time, but don't procrastinate. Bulbs should be planted in holes that are three times their height and be facing upwards. This means the fat end of the bulb needs to be sitting on the dirt while the stem or tips face up.

Fountain Grass
Silver Grass

If your like me, I sometimes don't have a clue as to what to plant. I have done the hibiscus plants because I love their beautiful colors, but the flowers and the bushes fade in the winter. I also am not really fond of alot of the dry arid plants that come with living in California, and honestly while we have a variety of things to choose from they don't always appeal to me. There is a solution my's grass! Now I'm not talking about the short green stuff that you have to mow every week, but the ornamental grasses that can give height, variety, flow and movement in a garden bed.  They stay good all year long and even in frost can bounce right back. These grasses come in a variety of colors, and heights. They can be used in the back of a bed or there are grasses that are great for bed borders. Talk to your local nursery about what's available and what would be best for your space. Some grasses can grow very large and may need to be divided every couple of years.

Food - Well we can't have a Star Factor, without highlighting some seasonal foods now can we? One of my favorite all time recipes for fall is Maple Pork Chops! Nothing says fall like a big plate of steaming hot pork chops stuffed with stuffing and topped with apples and seasoned sauteed onions. The recipe comes from Goose Berry Patch cookbooks. My mother has given me a collection of these books over the years and I love them for not only the great recipe ideas, but also for the great decorating tips and last year found a ton of really great cookie recipes for my Christmas baking. They can be found various stores including Joann's, but in case you can't find them, go to their website at My Recipe is from the Cozy Home Cookbook and I have added a variation of it to make it mine.
Maple Pork Chops

4 pork Chops                        
1 t. fresh thyme, chopped (dried is OK)
 2 T. oil                                       
salt and pepper to taste
 1 apple chopped                        
 1/2 c. chicken broth
1/4 C. golden Raisin (I omit)    
2 T. maple syrup
2 onions, sliced                       
1 T. all-purpose flour

Brown pork chops in oil over medium heat. Place in a single layer in a casserole dish and top with apple and raisins. Combine butter, onions, thyme, salt and pepper in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until onions are transparent; transfer to baking dish. Whisk together chicken broth, maple syrup and flour until well blended. Pour chicken broth and onion mixture over pork chops. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 4. (My variation) Make up a bag of stuffing mix, I prefer Mrs. Cubinsons and I add onions, celery, pecans, and apples to the mixture. Before cooking the pork chops put them on their side and slice it through like your going to make two chops, but don't cut all the way through. Than cook them in the skillet. When completed stuff the pork chops with the stuffing. Don't be afraid to really load them up. Place in the casserole dish and top with the onions and the maple mixture. Any left over stuffing can be tucked around the pork chops in the casserole dish. with the stuffing you need to bake a little longer than 30 minutes. I usually just look to see when the top of the stuffing and onions are starting to brown, but not burnt. With the stuffing you can double the maple mixture and depending on how much you like onions, you can limit that to one or the two. This recipe is great for company because it can be doubled and tripled. It was a huge hit last year at my Fall dinner and other times that I have fixed it. Always a crowd pleaser!

Another crowd pleaser this time of year is chili. It can be made with beans, no beans, vegetarian style, hot, spicy, sweet. Go to for some fantastic ideas on your next get together or family dinner. For the Football fanatics out there, my husband and I came up with a great game day snack. My husband loves tater tots, which aren't my favorite, but I was fixing them with our Sunday night hot dogs while we watch the game. We came up with a brilliant idea to take the tots add Tostitos nacho cheese (medium) and the hot dog chili sauce and topped that with some shredded cheddar cheese. WOW, what a combination of flavor. I only ate one hot dog because I kept eating our tater tot nachos. Great thing to put out if you have a group over for the game. You can add sour cream, onions, jalapenos, and other condiments as you choose. I picked up the Tostitos cheese at my local Fresh and Easy Market for 2 for 5, which is a great price.

Lastly this months Better Homes and Gardens magazines has some great coupons in it. To promote Fall season clean up and home Improvement there is a $5 off a $25 purchase at the local True Value Hardware. There is a 40% off coupon for one regular priced Martha Steward craft product redeemable at Michael's. There is also a fairly large tear out insert with $1 or more savings for cleaning products like Scrubbing Bubbles, Pledge, Glade air fresheners, Zip lock baggies, Ocean Spray juice, and C&H Sugars. They are also promoting Carving for a cause go to BHG to download anyone of their pumpkin stencils and for every download you do they will donate $2 to charity. Up to $5000 per charity which include; The Humane Society of the Unites States, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Rebuilding Together, and the March of Dimes. It costs nothing for you to download and these great organizations benefit!

I hope you all enjoyed this edition of the Star Factor. Stay tuned for additional fall ideas and projects. I'm also going to start walking you through my own gardening make-over here at my own home. I'm starting with basically some great structure, but bare bones and I am so anxious to start making the outside of my home look as beautiful as the inside. Will love to have you join me. Till next time.
Saturday, September 17, 2011 |

My First Layouts in Months

     Well today is beginning to feel like fall, and for me I have actually been pretty busy in the scrap room the last week or so. For me doing the party invitations and other projects has finally inspired me to start up my scrapbooking again! I still had pictures to scrap from January! I have a few from last year still as well, but I'm definitely into scrapping the current stuff, or at least pictures that are from this current year!
     I'm curious how most people scrap these days. I know looking at magazines there are a lot of women who scrap one picture and than focus on all of the embellishments. Realistically though, there are always more than one picture of an event. After months of deliberating on this issue, I have come to realize that I do take to many pictures of an event. How many Christmas's, New Year's, Halloween, can one person do. While I have pages scrapped of friends and other events, I find that my albums are filled with just the same thing, different year. I do like scrapping vacation albums, especially if it's some place I have never been before. So now I want to focus on the quality of the pictures, not quantity.
     So here are the couple of layouts that I have completed in the last week. Most of them are scrapped with BoBunny products and embellishments that I have on hand.

I have a fascination with clocks. I love clocks stickers, stamps, and embellishments. I can't get enough of them. I think I have even used clocks for a New Year's layout before, but I wanted this to be a whole new take, by using colors other than black, red, gold, and silver.

I don't know how it really fit into the scheme of things, but I had to try out my new Sew-it by We are Memory Makers. I love that little gadget. Have to be really careful that you make the line straight, but it beats trying to learn how to work a sewing machine, or trying to individually punch each hole. Last tool I had that you just punch the holes broke within 5 minutes.

This one was a fun one. Paul's Birthday. We had a great time with friends, and I had been anxious to use the BoBunny photo papers and embellishments. My Cricut supplied the film strips from the Wall Decor cartridge, except for the one in the very corner was a Sizzix die cut. This was a great way to showcase everybody! I also used the Tim Holtz grunge letters. Instead of painting them I just used my cat eye pads to make the black and silver on the lettering.

     I'm happy to say that I have been inspired again. I don't know if it's the weather, or whether or not I have gone past my scrappers block that I have had for almost the last year. It's actually sad to think that I have had a year to do everything I had wanted to and yet have nothing to show for it. I still have a heritage album that I am working on, a cookbook project that I have been collecting for and haven't even begun yet, and a Christmas mini album that got way out of hand and is now sitting unfinished in a little bin. Maybe I will get around to it this Christmas when I am back in the jingle bells mode.
     I hope you enjoy these layouts and I hope they give you as much inspiration to you as they do to me. I would love for you to share how you scrap your events. Would help me get more ideas!
Monday, September 12, 2011 |

Wine Party Invitations

     I am so excited for my upcoming Wine Tasting Party here at the end of the month. I made sure that I did a save the date of my guest list on Facebook, because I didn't know how long it was going to take me to make my invitations. I had to order some stamps online and knew it could take a couple of weeks to get them, but amazingly they came within a week! I was so excited to get these stamps and I'm hoping I find more uses for them than just invitations and for the party.

 So here are my invitations. I debated about buying a pre-made set that included the invites, and rating cards for the different wines and they were only $11.99, but wouldn't have been as much fun. At least I don't think. These actually were surprisingly simple to make once I got going.
      For my invitations I used: Paperhouse Productions Wine Country Collage paper, Stampin up Green and Burgundy solid papers, Celebrate with Flourish Cricut Cartridge (available only at Walmart), Glossy Accents, Recollection Invitation Stamp, and Crafty Secrets Clear Art Stamps - Wine Lovers.

   1. First I cut out the shadow of the wine bottle and glasses in a 9 inch size from the Burgundy paper. There was some flourish on them so I trimmed all of those so they could fit easily into a business envelope.
     2. Than I cut the underneath shadow from the green paper, also trimming off the flourish design.       
     3. Lastly I used the Wine Country Collage paper to do the final layer on the top.
     4. I completed the layers by using adhesive. Any kind that your comfortable with will do.
     5. I wanted the green paper to look like a bottle so where it shows I applied the Glossy Accents and let dry thoroughly.
      6. With the extra green paper I stamped out the invitation and cut around them trimming off all the access green. I than stamped the decorative piece from the Wine Lovers set.
     7. Apply the invitation piece on the back side of the invitation.
     8. I used a Fiskars flower punch to create the flower on the back of the small tag attached to the bottle which was perfect for a 2 inch circle that I cut with the Cricut using the Plantin School Book, but can just as easily be done with a craft punch.
    9. Using my Crop-a-Dial Big Bite, I punched a hole in the tag and inserted a eyelet. Using just some gold colored floss thread I attached the tag around the neck of the bottle lifting up the layers on the front side so as to not interfere with the look of the invitation.
     Again, I am so glad that I made my own invitations. Really set the tone immediately for what the invitation is all about. I have to admit that at first I felt a little embarrassed about asking each of the attendees to bring a bottle of wine, but I am on a budget and I am supplying wine and all the munchies to go with it. While I will have a brief demonstration on how the wine should be tasted, this gathering is more about bringing my friends together. We all haven't seen each other in a while and I wanted just a great evening of wine, food, fun, and laughter. There's definitely no embarrassment in that!

Thursday, September 8, 2011 |

Fall is in the Air?

     It's September, and I know that I am thinking about falling leaves, hot apple cider, fresh caramel apples, pumpkins, and cooler weather. However, California is serving up 100 degree temperatures and fall is looking like it won't get here till the New Year! Despite all of that, I still look forward to September and even though it's not officially fall yet, I do like to start getting my fall related stuff out early. I honestly haven't bought anything new for my fall decor in years. My latest acquisitions have been from yard sales over the last 6 months. A metal pumpkin that holds a candle which was never used, still had the tag on it and was identical to one I did buy last year at Ross. While the one at Ross was cheap, this one was even cheaper!
     Because I love the fall so much I am continuously looking for people that are selling their fall decor and I have been able to pick up some really nice things for just pennies of what the originally cost. Ceramic pumpkins, cream and sugar sets, salt and pepper shakers never in their original box completely unused. Yard sales if you aren't a firm believer in, can be a gold mine of decorative supplies, especially holiday decor. Though I am very picky about what I get. I normally do not pick up any type of fake vegetation. I know with mine they can get very dusty being out year to year, but it's my dust and I know that every year I store them away in a completely sealed plastic bag to keep all the bugs and spiders out. I normally do not get any type of linens unless the are of course in pristine condition. I like to be able to thoroughly wash anything that I purchase just to be safe. So if it's not washable or it's in questionable condition I will pass. Also it must be something that I really love. That the minute I see it I have to have it!
     Also the thing about seasonal decorating is that you don't want to feel that your house is cluttered with extras all of the time. I'm sure like me your big decorating comes around at Christmas, so the last thing you want is to have to strip away a lot of fall decorations to make way for Christmas ones. With some planning and coordinating you can plan some decorations like wreaths and garlands to be interchangeable for the seasons. For Fall you can stick picks of pumpkins and leaves in and than replace with fun decorative Christmas picks. Items like berries, pine cones, and even some neutral colored leaves can be left in for decor for both seasons; making it only necessary to replace a few of the pics depending on the season.
     I have decided that if I can swing it, I would like a few new items for my collection this year that I may purchase new. I have moved a few times since collecting some of my decorations and there are a few new places that I would like to beef up on color and seasonal fun. I have some pictures that I took of what I have so far. It doesn't take a lot in order for your room to be a reflexion of the season as you can see.

Here just used a couple of real life like but Styrofoam pumpkins, 1 pic and just mixed them in with my grapes that are already there for my everyday decor.

 My fireplace mantel

 Close up picture of a ceramic pumpkin that I added one deluxe pic to to make it fuller looking.

 Another ceramic pumpkin with a pic

This is the area below the mantel where my everyday decor is a brass vase. Filled with some berries, Cat-o-nine-tails, this makes for a nice quick but elegant arrangement. add the pumpkins and you have a little bit of fall.

Here is an example of a project that you can add in different pics for the different holidays. This is just a very basic straight branch garland that can fit in so many different places and have so many uses!

Not every container needs to contain something. Here I have just put in a couple of thick branches that contain berries. Let them hang wild and free.

As you can see it's just enough fall decor to make these two cases stand out from the everyday.

     As you can see a well placed pumpkin, pic, or garland can add just enough color and flavor of the season. Doesn't have to cost a lot and you don't need a lot to show off your elegant decorating style. Sometime a lot is to much. I like to maintain the integrity of my everyday living and just add in some interest for the season. For me it's a way to celebrate the end of summer. I get my pumpkin mug out and fix my pumpkin spice latte and when I feel the first nips of cooler days ahead I smile and know that I am ready for all the wonders the fall has to offer. How do you like to celebrate the end of summer? Would love to hear from you!
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