Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Fashion

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is finding the perfect {vintage} pretties to wear for the festivities. 

New pajamas and robes are a must for meeting Santa under the tree!  And dresses are a must for everything in my world, especially holiday celebrating.  Richly colored velvets and sumptuous silks make the most festive of frocks for those special occasions.  I can hardly wait to start dressing!

Do you use clothing to invoke your holiday spirit?  I would love to hear!

xoxo, Anita

Monday, November 28, 2011

Positive Affirmations / Indie Artists

Welcome, first official week of the Christmas season!  Ready or not, it's here.  I'm doing my best to get all of my decorating and shopping done by the end of the week because ~ a) we have family visiting for the weekend, and b) the mister heads to the hospital on Tuesday for the first part of his surgery, which will finish with a brand new hip.

So {cyber} shopping I went!  I made some purchases on Etsy today, from artists who share positivity with their creations.  If you've ever been to my house, you know that I love for my walls to talk!  "There's no place like home", "Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be" and "Live well, Laugh often, Love much" are just a few of the messages on them.  And because the best gifts given are the ones we love ourselves, I picked up a few positive pretties for some of the names on my list.  You really should check these artists out; their talents are amazing!

As you may have noticed or heard, I am a fan of Liv Lane of Choosing Beauty, so much so that I've enrolled in her blogging class for a second time!  I can't show you what I bought as gifts, but this pretty is one that I picked up a while ago in her Etsy shop:

Liv's post today led me to a page called The Feel Good Deal, a site where she posts super sweet deals every Monday.  Check it out!  My favorite part is the handmade section; while there, I discovered Volume 25, a shop filled with awesome art prints like this one:

One of my favorite quotes, ever.

My last share today is one of my favorite people in blog land, Jennifer of Ripplespeak.  I met her in Liv's blog class this summer, and both she and her blog are just beautiful.  This is just one of the offerings in her shop; in addition to prints, she makes the most beautiful note cards, all the better to share the joy with.

Stop by her blog and say "hi" when you have a moment; you'll love it!

Peace and joy to you this holiday season, dear reader.

xoxo, Anita

Sunday, November 27, 2011

On Cyber Monday, Click For RAINN

Every 2 Minutes

A message from RAINN Founder and President, Scott Berkowitz:

As holiday shopping season goes into high gear, I wanted to let you know of a way to support
RAINN, without it costing a cent. With just one click, 700 retailers - including Amazon, Target and Macy's - will donate part of your online purchase to RAINN.

Just visit the RAINN Mall, click on your favorite store, buy whatever you want and the retailer will donate a portion to RAINN. That one click won't cost you a penny - you will still have full access to holiday sales prices.

Dear friends,

If you know me in day to day life, you probably know why this charity is so important to me.  If you are a blog friend, you may have read my story here

In any event, please take a moment to consider making that extra click to tell retailers that you would like your purchase to benefit RAINN. 

eBay, Uncommon Goods, Dancing Deer Baking Co. (all natural treats!),, Groupon and Red Envelope are just a few of the retailers participating.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post.

xo, Anita

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Small Business {Everyday}

I've had a few conversations recently with friends about their dissatisfaction with shopping experiences at department and chain stores.  For one person it was the observation that the friendly and helpful salesperson is all but extinct.  I hear over and over about the poor quality of much of the women's clothing offerings.  And everyone seems tired of the hunt for the best price.  Why can't a manufacturer just offer it all the time, in every store?  And I am sure that this is being talked about quite a bit right now, thanks to the story on the news about customers using mace on each other to get at the best priced electronic offering at a retailer on Black Friday.  To me, that's just sad.

While I can't say that I never shop at those stores, I will tell you that I have worked very hard over the last year to discover as many alternatives as I can.  Virtually everything that I need to run my home is purchased within a few miles of it, from small local establishments.  I go to a farmers market, a fish market and an independent organic market for everything I can, and fill in the rest at a chain store. 

And I can't even tell you the last time I was at a mall!  Discovering Etsy opened a whole new world of shopping for me, and I've dedicated quite a bit of time to learning the ins and outs of the virtual world of independent sellers.  Today, I am going to introduce you to a few of my favorites.  These are the shops that I have bought from and will again, places where your money would be well spent, with people who work hard to earn it.  {{Please know that I have not been compensated for these recommendations; in fact the shops I am featuring here have no idea that I'm even doing it.  I simply wish to provide options that I personally believe in.}}

First up is my favorite natural and organic fibers clothing line, Sandmaiden

Amanda makes clothes that you can live in comfortably and look good doing it.  From jerseys to woolens, pants to jackets, there is something for everyone.  And the best part?  Everything is custom made to your measurements.  Heaven!

Also by Amanda is Sandmaiden Sleepwear, a line of lingerie to live in and lounge clothes you'll want to wear everywhere.

There is a sale code right now, (good through November 28) and orders are being taken for holiday delivery until December 5.

For Jewelery, I love Moorea Seal.   Her shop is full of pieces made with leather, mixed metals, crystals and stones.  They are well made, packaged beautifully, and sure to please.  She is also offering a discount code, through Sunday, November 27. 

What lover of books wouldn't love a book necklace?  And be sure to check out the customizable leather bracelets; so many choices!

Last up is one that I've mentioned before, Red Velvet.  They've recently launched a line of bow accessories, just perfect for gift giving.


I wouldn't wait long if you want one though; things there tend to disappear fast!

I hope that your holiday season is off to a wonderful start, dear friends!  I have about a weeks worth of decking the halls to look forward to; I'd better get started!  Fa la la la la!!

xoxo, Anita

Thursday, November 24, 2011

giving thanks

for friends near and far.  for love in my heart and my home.  for the wonderful family God gave me.  for the three beautiful children that were in my life for a season, in my heart forever.  for puppy kisses.  for warm sun and cool breezes.   for hand me downs.  for fabric, needle and thread.  for pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day.  for the opportunity to learn and grow.  for discovering blogging, making friends and sharing stories. and most of all, for this day.

xoxo, Anita

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday Travel ?

As much as I love to plan, prepare and entertain for a holiday, sometimes it ends up being about traveling, so that loved ones have an opportunity to play host once in a while.  Lucky thing for the list maker in me, travel requires a bit of planning as well!

Where to go and how to get there require consideration, of course.

But even more important is what to bring!

I'm not very familiar with the "travel light" concept, however.  This is really are much more me ~

Car trips with the {fur} kids are the most fun of all!  How do you like to travel; with just the necessities, or with everything you could possibly need?  I would love to hear!

xoxo, Anita

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday {Game Day} Sipping and Snacking

Game day kickoff is the perfect time for a Bloody Mary, I think.  After much experimentation, I have finally perfected the blend that is a hit with my team.  I would love for you to try it and tell me what you think!

Assemble the ingredients:  Vodka, V-8 Original Vegetable Juice, fresh lemons, celery salt, horseradish, Worcester sauce, hot sauce and black pepper.  Celery stalks, along with a lemon wedge, are a lovely garnish.

Blend together in a cocktail shaker over ice:  8 ounces of V-8, 3 ounces of vodka, 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcester, 8-10 drops hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon horseradish, a shake or two of celery salt and a few twists of black pepper.  Squeeze the juice from a lemon wedge on top, and shake well.  Strain into a glass, garnish with a lemon slice and some celery, and enjoy!

Today we are enjoying these with another Sunday favorite, smoked salmon.

We're topping bagel crisps with whipped cream cheese, green onion, capers and thinly sliced smoked salmon.  Delicious!

I hope that you are having a wonderful Sunday, filled with food, friends and the enjoyments of your choosing.  I'm off to cheer for my Ravens!

xoxo, Anita

Friday, November 18, 2011

What did you learn today?

After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn't mean leaning
and company doesn't mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren't contracts
and presents aren't promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes open
with the grace of a woman,
not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow's ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth,
ad that with every new tomorrow comes the dawn.

~Veronica A. Shoffscal

I found this poem some years ago during a difficult time in my life.  I love the powerful simplicity of the words as much now as I did then, when both they and the message they formed were new to me.

I hope that a wonderful Friday is had by all!

xoxo, Anita

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Helen Keller Is My Hero

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces towards change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable." -Helen Keller

I have been a witness to the struggle facing the deaf. My sister was born with a partial deafness in one ear, and close to full deafness in the other. She has worn a hearing aid for as long as I can remember. Even with the aid, her hearing was not strong enough so that she could learn to speak like most of us do; by listening and repeating. She had to be taught how to make every sound, form every vowel and consonant, one at a time. She had a fabulous teacher by the name of Mrs. Sullivan. (I am not lying; that was her name!) She worked with my sister almost every day. She spelled the letters in her hand and formed them with her voice, placing my sisters hand on her throat. It was a long and drawn out process over many years. This teacher did not come to us, so we had to go to her. My mother would walk my sister to the door, then return to the car where she and I did crosswords while my sister had her lesson.  I love doing crosswords to this day; they remind me of that time together and our small family.  When my sister was done, she would teach me what she learned while mom drove us home. I would then help my sister with her lessons. She would read to me at night for hours to practice, or I would read to her; her hand on my throat so that she could feel the words. Eventually she learned how to read lips, and passed that skill to me as well. That has come in handy at many a party!

It was a tough road for my little sister, and I was fiercely protective when we were out in the world. When I was in third grade and my sister was in second we were living in Vestal, New York and attending a school called African Road Elementary. This was a progressive, or OPEN, school with no classrooms--we had teams. The teams were O, P, E and N and each team was made up of students from all 6 grades. The idea was that the younger students would learn as much from the older students as from their teachers. In reality though, grade school students are not always the best role models. You have probably never heard of this type of school, because the format was never widely used, and is no longer in use at all. This explanation was given so that you understand how my sister and I found ourselves in the same class and in the presence of older bullies. One day I grew so tired of one particular bully who had made a habit of mimicking how my sister spoke, and making fun of the thick lenses in her glasses, that I hauled off and punched him in the face. My teacher, Mrs. Matthews, grabbed me by one arm and the boy by the other and took us to the Principal's office, my sister trailing behind. I thought for sure that I would be kicked out, disgraced,in trouble. But Mrs. Matthews told the principal that if I had not punched the boy she would have. (That's probably not exactly what she said, but it's how I like to remember it.)  How I loved her for that! He looked at me for what seemed like forever and then said "young lady, I assume that this will not happen again?" It was not really a question, but I answered "no sir". He said "well then, I certainly admire your loyalty to your sister, and I apologize to both of you for this young man's actions. You two go back to class now and let me deal with him." (Again, perhaps a child's memory.)  Whew! I was not in trouble! He was not going to call my mother! What I did was wrong and I broke the rules, but the world was now a better place for my sister, by just a little. 

As we grew up, her speech improved to the point that you could barely tell she had a hearing problem. Hearing aids grew smaller, lenses in glasses grew thinner, and her life became normal, whatever that is.

We owe so much of this to Helen Keller. She spent the first half of her life seeking knowledge and education at every level and in some of the best institutions, including Radcliffe College at Harvard University . She then devoted the second half of her life as a world famous speaker and author, advocating for people with disabilities of all types. She put a face to something that was once treated with shame. She lived each day with strength and pride. She made this world a better place for people like my sister, and not just by a little. Her example makes me regret my days of self pity and weakness. That is why the quote above is posted on my wall. It serves as a wake up call during those moments that I wallow.

Do you have a hero, dear friend?  Is there someone special that you are grateful to for making the world better?  I would love to hear!

xoxo, Anita

Monday, November 14, 2011

Let's Talk Turkey {Day}

I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving is almost here!  It is my favorite holiday I think; food and family ~ what's not to love? 

A big part of the fun for me is in the planning ~

           ~to brine or not to brine? 

           ~my (mothers) stuffing recipe or the misters (mothers)? 

           ~cranberry sauce or relish, or both?

          ~ how many vegetable dishes, and which ones? 

           ~will apple pie and pumpkin pie suffice, or should I add a third? 

And did you ever think about all of the different ways to mash potatoes?  Craziness!   Which way is best? sticking with the hand masher, using a ricer, an immersion blender or a mixer perhaps?  milk and butter? sour cream? heavy cream? so many choices!

I'm off to read some cookbooks and make some lists.  Happy Monday, friends!

xo, Anita

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Snacks ~ Vintage Style

Football game watching is always better with special game day food!  I like to try new recipes while the games are on, since I usually only half watch anyway.  (Don't tell anyone, but I don't know that much about football.)  {wink}

Some of these actually sound pretty good, and I have a special weakness for  things made with cheese.  Bologna, not so much!

I'm not sure about the frozen pineapple either, but the Tee Balls are on my "must try" list.

What is your relationship with football?  Do you watch, half watch like I do, or skip it all together?  I would love to hear.

Happy Sunday, friends!

xoxo, Anita

Friday, November 11, 2011

On Forgiveness

One of the items on my 101 In 1001 list is to work through A Course In Miracles again.  The Course is a self study program of spiritual psychotherapy, first published by the Foundation For Inner Peace in 1975.  At its center is the universal truth that love is all there is.  The course offers but one path to this universal truth, however if it is yours, you will know it immediately.

I first gained knowledge of the Course while wandering through a bookstore one day.  A copy of Marianne Williamson's book, A Return To Love, Reflections on the Principals of A Course in Miracles, was on display along with several recordings of her lectures on the subject.  One of the lectures in particular, On Death And Dying, was impossible for me to walk away from.  I had just lost my best friend to a car accident, had lost my mother a few years earlier, and I was a bit mad at the universe.  Listening to that lecture, then all of them, reading the book and studying the course, saved me.  This perhaps sounds dramatic, but it was the opposite.  The miracle for me was a simple shift in perception, a surrender of fear and an acceptance of love. 

As I wrote about last week in my post about The Four Agreements, I sometimes struggle with taking things personally.  I realized that was why reworking the course made my list; it shouldn't be something that is done and set aside, but rather an ongoing process. 

And this brings us to forgiveness.  The course teaches that forgiveness is the key to inner peace because it is the mental technique we use to transform our thoughts from fear to love.  Forgiveness is selective remembering ~ a conscious decision to focus on love and let the rest go.  As written in the course, "Forgiveness takes away what stands between your brother and yourself."

With the holidays fast approaching, the practice of forgiveness is just what I need to get into the spirit.  How about you ~ is there room for forgiveness in your life?

xoxo, Anita

{The picture above is another shot for the tree project on my 101 in 1001 list, that I shot earlier today.  I'm going to have an album of tree photos by the time I'm done!}

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Olive Juice = Dirty

Whether you are hosting a Mad Men themed cocktail party or just mixing yourself a drink at the end of a long day, a martini is an excellent choice. 

No one is quite sure of it's origin, but it is assumed to have been invented around 1860 to 1870, and the first published recipe is reported to have been in 1887.  It is considered to be both classic and trendy, and you would be hard pressed to find a bartender that did not know how to make a good one.

Traditionally, a martini is made with gin or vodka (my preference) and dry French vermouth in a cocktail shaker with ice.  It is then stirred or shaken (The James Bond way) and strained into a martini glass.  For a dirty martini, add 1/2 part olive juice to the mix.

The proportion of gin or vodka to vermouth varies according to taste, but the general taste spectrum is from 3 to 1 (wet) to 8 to 1 (dry).  It is suggested by connoisseurs that you determine your preference this way ~ start off at either end of the spectrum, and over a period of several days move toward the other end (if you start at 3 to 1, make your next one 4 to 1 and so on), until you get to the mix that tastes "right" to you. 

I prefer mine very dry, somewhere between 8 to 1 with a good quality vodka like Absolut, to 10 to 1 with a premium vodka like Grey Goose. 

Finally, we come to the much talked about garnish, the olive.  Martini aficionados suggest that one or three is the correct number.  Further, while one olive may be dropped into the glass, three must be speared.  An even number of two or four is considered a faux pas, and five is considered excessive. 

Wow!  That's a lot of rules for one little drink!  How do you like yours?  Do you measure or free pour?  Shake or stir?  Vodka or gin, wet or dry, olives or a twist?  I would love to hear!

xo, Anita

Monday, November 7, 2011

Felt Pumpkins {Wreath}

What a lovely weekend it was in my corner of the world!  I hope that yours was equally so.

Thanks to the suggestions in the comments on my post about my felt pumpkins, I was inspired to make a few in a smaller size, and add them to a wreath.

I wrapped a foam wreath form in 5 yards of 1" grosgrain ribbon, using straight  pins to hold it in place.

Then I used a 1 yard piece of crocheted lace to fashion a bow and a hanging loop.  I like the way that the lace ends decorate the top of the wreath.  The lace and pumpkins are both attached with straight pins as well.  This is one of my favorite ways of making a wreath to use in my own home, because I can always take it apart and reinvent it in another way.  If I was making it as a gift (or to sell!) I would have used my trusty glue gun.

In other news, the after Halloween costume party we had planned to attend was canceled, due to a death in the family of the host.  (Condolences and love to our friends.) 

We entertained the idea of going out anyway, but in the end spent the time at home.  The down time is good for the mister; it lessens impact on his hip as we wait patiently for the approaching surgery date. 

I filled the time with crafting, and assembling items for some Christmas crafts.  I was so inspired with holiday craft ideas that I even signed up for the gift exchange at Craftaholics Anonymous.  Although I had great fun with the summer edition (see my posts here and here), I wasn't sure that I would have the time for the fall edition.  I am thrilled that I changed my mind in time!  There is still time if you want to join; sign ups close today.  I would love it if I was partnered with a blog friend!  (No felt pumpkins, I promise!)

xoxo, Anita