Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Long, Tall Fall - Indeed!

Mr. P. and I walk almost every day.  I've been snapping photos along our path of various things that strike me for whatever reason.  It's been a long, tall fall - indeed!

Shadows are long as the sun sits further south.  Someone told me we look like the blow up thingies at car dealerships in this photo below.:)
We've got lots of neighbors who've been decorating the heck out of their yards for Halloween.
Neighborhood Halloween yard decor
Sometimes it's the way the sun is hitting something along our path that just screams "picture this!"
Neighborhood fall flora
I've also been continuously journaling last looks in the garden, as it's being put to bed before going dormant for winter. With colors at peak, you never know which wind or rain will cause all the leaves to drop.

Sunrise (L) and sunset (R) through the maple and sassafras, respectively. See the squirrel's nest high up in the sassafras?
Things are finally completely sheared in my landscape beds. Only a few remain to be pruned next spring.
Shearing in the garden:  roses, spireas, lavender, otto luyken, 
My pansies are now in the front beds, and some were left over for a few of the containers.
Toned down porch decor, pansies planted in front beds
The front porch has been toned down to just a few pumpkins now, and rearranged in and around the cast iron urn.  The fern previously in the urn was tossed, and the mums in containers were planted in the ground in the back landscape.
Final flora in the garden containers, landscape
Indeed, it's been a long, tall fall.  A beautiful fall. I'll be sorry to see the color go. We're expecting a hard freeze this weekend, and it could be 'the one' that makes the hydrangea leaves wither, and most of the tree leaves to drop.  

Will you be sad to see fall fall by the wayside too?


Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Whirlwind Fall Trip: Canada, NE Maine

Mr. P. and I just returned from a fantabulous trip in Northeastern US and parts of Canada, and it all started with a desire to see this (below).
Ft. Kent, Maine: Rt. 1, mm 0
We literally built our trip around seeing this northernmost mile marker zero on US Rt. 1.  Inspired by previous trips to Rt. 1's southernmost mile marker 0 in Key West, FL in 2006, 2446 miles south, and a New England trip in 2006 that only covered the lower half of Maine, we set our sights on going back north. This stop was hilariously anticlimactic but, thank goodness, we had plenty of other greatness on our itinerary.

Twelve days, 2700 miles, 10 states and 3 provinces later - a whirlwind trip - we are home!  Without further ado, I present you with photo collages of all the highlights of our trip.

Niagara Falls: from both the US and Canadian perspectives - powerful, amazing force of water in the most spectacular, jaw-dropping visuals. It is an unforgettable site, one I haven't seen since I was a child, but will never forget. Mr. P. was equally impressed. We would definitely go back again.
Niagara Falls
Below are a couple of very brief videos (each a half minute or less) which I shot at the Falls and posted on my YouTube account. You can read the descriptions there for a little more detail of each.
From Table Rock (Canadian side):
And from the Cave of the Winds (US side):

Montreal: a sleepover and brief passage through this town, with a few hours to hit the high spots of the Parc du Mont Royal, and the port near the Bonsecours Market.
Montreal Fall Flora and Foliage
Quebec City: a city that exceeded my expectations!  We were fortunate to secure two nights at the famous Le Chateau Frontenac (pictured below), which is often sold out.
Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City
We were able to not only view much of the city right from our hotel windows...
Architectural sites in Quebec City
...but we easily walked throughout the town and explored for two days. A city rich with history and architecture, we took in many of the top sites listed on the web as must-sees.
Statuary in Quebec City
We then headed back to the US.  After crossing the border at Ft. Kent, we slept over in Bangor, then headed straight for Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor.
Acadia National Park / Bar Harbor, Maine:
Acadia National Park splendor: trees, granite, water
Oh, the pink granite rock in such great abundance (so much so they make their curbs and fence posts out of this rock)!  The splendid colors of the maples, white birch, firs and ash trees against the rocks, water and sky!
By the way, did you know if you are 62 or older (as Mr. P. is), you can obtain a Senior Park Pass that's good for the remainder of your lifetime to access over 2000 recreation sites nationwide? Yep, all for just $10.  Normal (7 day) fee for an automobile in Acadia was $20. Worth it!
Acadia National Park, Otter Point sinking fishing boat, October 7, 2014
Oh no!  A sinking charter boat (above photo, bottom R)! Yes, we just happened upon that as we were driving on the 26 mile Park Loop Road. (No one was injured, only one person was aboard, and rescued by the Coast Guard boat, pictured).
Bubble Rock peak, Acadia National Park
We hiked to the top of the 'Bubble Rock' trail (above photo) where, from the peak, we had 360° views of the park below us! The climb is labeled moderate (some steep grades, some level stretches), but the views were incredible.

We spent three nights in the adjacent park town of Bar Harbor (2010 population: 5235). Such a quaint town, albeit a tourist port with 2-3 daily cruise vessels (we stayed away at peak hours).
Bar Harbor, Maine port and shore walk
We took in lots of great, local foods, including Maine lobster and blueberries....
Good grub in Bar Harbor, Maine
We just enjoyed ourselves, leisurely, throughout the town's side streets, the shore walk, and the national park.
Flora and foliage of Bar Harbor, Maine
Our trip delightfully extended the seasonal display of fall color in our world.  Colors were near peak in the areas we traveled, and they're now nearing their peak here, back in our hometown, capital city.
Charleston, WV capitol building, Fall 2014
In the destination cities, I mostly window-shopped. We had one day of rain while in Bar Harbor, so I antiqued in nearby Ellsworth.  We also made a stopover in Lemoyne, PA on the trip home and I did some antiquing there.  I'll share the shopping in another post, another day..and while shopping wasn't the focus, it's always a fun piece of any trip in new places.

I hope you enjoyed our trip recap.  Feel free to comment on your travels to any of these places and mention any highlights. I'm always open to finding new inspiration for road trips!

Sunday's Best

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Impromptu Merriment Table - Fall Flourishes

Let's (rock 'n) roll back in time, circa 1977, for just a little while.  I've set the table with some fall flourishes, including Lenox Temperware in the "Merriment" pattern.
This was my pattern of choice in 1977 (in a former life).  We were not fine china people, and Lenox had come out with this line in many patterns, starting in 1972. Two of my older siblings who married in 1976 and 1978 also picked Temperware (different patterns). It was one of the first ceramic tablewares that could go from freezer to oven to table safely. This was back in the day of bell-bottoms and earth shoes, and I was also into houseplants in a big way, so Merriment was a good, natural pattern choice for me.

The stemware chosen to complement the Merriment at registry was Lenox "Impromptu", a chocolate brown wavy, hand-blown glass. In setting this table, I've displayed a take on fall's final flower fling. With pops of yellow from the sunflower pillow in the background, the miniature Indian corn on the table, and the Fiesta square yellow chargers in Sunflower, the table mimics a typical garden pallet as it fades from summer throughout fall.
The tabletop salt and pepper are pewter, a pear and apple, a gift contemporary to that time and relevant to fall's bounty.  The touches of Indian Summer in the Sunroom are still a fitting decor, as seen in the feather centerpiece bouquet, the Indian corn, the pallet art, and the floor rug just beyond the table.
Feather centerpiece, Indian corn, fall fruit shakers, and sunroom decor still hint at Indian Summer
Flatware is vintage Oneida, purchased at an estate sale in July.
Native American woven rug visible in upper right corner of floor
Feather centerpiece mimics Indian headdress, while woven rug blends in the background
The table linens are a drop cloth base, with vintage 1970s placemats and napkins. I guess if you could say my old china came to the marriage as part of my dowry, then the placemats and napkins came from from Mr. P.'s dowry, lol. Speaking of the china, I didn't complete my service for 8 until after my marriage to Mr. P.  It was then that I scoured both Replacements and eBay to finish my service. I added a few serving pieces also, including a gravy boat, oval roasting platter, sugar/creamer, and a covered vegetable dish.
The fact that I'm using a trophy as my feather centerpiece vessel has no inference whatsoever to either marriage, trophy husband or wife. Let's just say it's a metal that coordinates well with the rest of the tablescape and leave it at that.
Thank you for joining me as I indulged in my throwback.  Shall we move forward now?

Sharing with any number of these fine hosts:
Melissa's ThriftyFinds Friday

Sunday, October 19, 2014

From Prim(itive) to Proper: Booth Space Flips

My sister and I made some big furniture moves this past week in our booth spaces, flipping some items from our "primitive booth" into our "proper" (dressier) booth, and vice versa.  The following photos show the changes.
Primitive pieces moved to the 'proper' booth space
You may recognize the marble-top sideboard in the photo above, from a previous post, Sleuth Decorating, where I was trying to decide if I should put it in my bath or kitchen. I decided to try to sell it as I was purging my basement this past summer. This kitchenette display was in our other booth space, along with the primitive green wooden cabinet on the left.
Primitive cabinet paired with kitchenette
The pairing of the cabinet with the kitchenette has lasted a month or so (two tables sold before this sideboard was placed). We know it's not really designed as an eating table, but it looked good styled with the ladderback chairs and green cabinet, we thought.
The set up you see in the photo above is what came from the 'proper' booth into the dark side (primitive). We added the shelving unit we had taken to the barn sale, and used it to create a pseudo wall/space-within-space.
We pulled hats and other smalls already in our spaces to fill the voids, but convinced ourselves more things can now be brought in to overload it. :)
There are still primitives on the back side of the shelving unit, but it creates a nice flow through our area and lightens the space up. Here's a look at the space overall, as viewed from the 'proper' space (below). Those glass cases with the glaring lights you see on the far right against the stairs (vintage toys) are one of the mall owners' many spaces.
Primitive booth space, lightened up.
Here's an overview of the dressier side space (below).
We're ready to change the wall in back - to what, we're not sure yet, but - we're tired of it. We recently sold one of our room dividing screens that are must-haves in this area. It was the anchor piece in the far back corner in the photo below, where there is now a louvered divider.
The two photos below are the before and after (split) shots of how these spaces morphed with our latest changes.
The dressier booth: before (top) blue chairs; after (bottom) rustic dining.
The more primitive booth: before (left) rustic dining; after (right) blue chairs with shelving unit.
Having just returned from a two-week vacation, things at the antique mall were in need of some attention. My sister and I had been coasting, insofar as re-styling our spaces goes, for the last couple of months, knowing we had the barn sale and each of us a few personal obligations. That, btw, is a benefit of renting space instead of keeping a brick and mortar shop - you can work your space when you want to.

It won't be long - in fact, we need to focus on it now - Christmas decor. That will likely transpire in the next couple of weeks. Right now, it's all about fall.

We Call It Junkin'
Ivy and Elephants

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

2014 Final Garden Blooms and WV Bridge Day

Just two weeks ago, this is how my garden appeared. I'll spare you the details of each photo, but you can click on the collage photo below to enlarge and see more detail. My husband and I were headed out for a vacation, chasing fall color in the northeastern part of US and a bit of Canada, so I snapped several images of what were likely to be my last garden blooms and remnants thereof.
2014 Final Garden Blooms
The yearly cleanup has begun in the yard. The perennial hibiscus, hostas, and irises have already been cut down, as have the tree butterfly bushes and snowflake viburnum. More plants will be cut back in the days to come, and soon the frost will come, and the hydrangea bushes will drop their leaves.
Side lawn with central maple. Hibiscus, hostas and butterfly bushes are cut, and spirea (L, foreground) soon to be sheared. Hydrangeas (back right) will drop their leaves after frost.
Annual summer beds have been cleaned out, and are now ready for the pansies. The liriope has been cut to the ground this year, although in previous years we have left it through winter, or left an outer edge and cut the inside mounds. It seems to help keep blowing leaves out when left at the edges, but this year we opted for the crew cut. After ten years, the mounds have merged into one, large mass.
Front beds, annual flowers removed and liriope cut to ground.  Kousa dogwoods will soon change and drop their leaves.
On the river property across the street, our huge sassafras tree is turning color at the top. Leaves seem to be darker in tone this year, overall.
Sassafras tree (tallest), beginning to turn color.
This Saturday (October 18th), West Virginia celebrates the 35th anniversary of  Bridge Day at the New River Gorge Bridge in the town of Fayetteville, where base jumping from the bridge is allowed on this one day only. The weather looks promising, and it should be a great day in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia.
New River Bridge, WV, world's 4th longest steel, single-span arch at 1700', on a 3030' foot long bridge
Base jumping is not for the faint of heart, especially when all you've got is a skinny river with lots of rocks nearly 900 feet below you. I'll take the tourist approach and just watch - for the time being. But, skydiving is on my bucket list.
New River Gorge lookout at Hawks Nest, WV
It's all good here in homeland, and I say that after returning from a great trip to some great places. I love all the seasons (well, okay, I only like winter up until Christmas Day, which is, what, about four days worth?), and am happy we live in a climate with a fairly equal share of each season.

How's your fall shaping up?

Sharing with any number of these fine hosts:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Low Maintenance Health, Beauty Arsenal

I am a low-maintenance kind of gal when it comes to health and beauty aids.  There is a HUGE market in health and beauty aids, and there has been for a long, long time.  I love looking at advertising in vintage magazines, along with all the claims of marketing gimmicks written for products.  Many magazines now have annual write-ups of the "Best of _____", with blank as varied a category as the marketers who slap their advertising budgets on those magazines to get published in whatever "best of"  they push.

One of the things I love best about shopping these days is the ability to research customer reviews prior to making a purchase.  While I am suspicious that even some of those reviews are written by people paid to do it, I am not one of those people.  I still read them when I'm interested in a product, though, and, for what it's worth, I am going to offer my two cents worth of my consumer-tested, tried-and-true health and beauty aids, here, all in one post.  You can take it or leave it, but they're all part of my personal arsenal for health and beauty.  Let me make clear that this post is in no way a sponsored post - all opinions are solely mine, uncompensated.

A little background info on me:  I am 50+ (or 60-, depending on the half-full / half-empty view), have a freckled, less than smooth skin which has been exposed to more rays of sun than I care to admit. My skin and hair used to be oily, but are now much less so (sometimes downright dry).  I generally don't have skin breakouts, but certainly had my share before age 40.  Although I regret not taking better care of my skin before age 20, I've done fairly well most of my adult life.

I broke the photos into product uses of logical steps I take each day in my personal care.  I placed a number on each product, and links for each and their availability are located at the end of the post. Note that some brands have updated their packaging since I wrote this post (another marketing gimmick).
My regimen is basic:  wash and protect.  I use a locally made and internet available [goat] milk soap with lavender (1), and I purchase it in long bars (cheaper), and cut it myself.  I simply wrap the slices in brown [craft] paper and tape closed.  The bars double as drawer & shelf fresheners / insect repellents (lavender is a natural insect repellent) - hence, the paper wrap to ensure no oil stains on textiles.  I have used CLINIQUE products for years, and the dramatically different moisturizing lotion (2) is just fantastic. It does not interfere with contact lens use when applied to eyes, and it's available in a gel for oily skin types.  Neutrogena Age Shield face (3) works wonderfully, even when you sweat, or use scuba gear and do not want issues with [prescription] goggle lenses.

Olay makes a variety of different soap blends, but I prefer the subtle fragrance of the age defying blend soap (4).

I am not a big investor in facial makeup; in fact, I do not wear foundation - never have (with the exception of stage) - and only wear blush occasionally.  These products pictured above are my regular regime lineup.  CLINIQUE khol shaper for eyes (5) gives a precise line (sharpener is built in), stays intact all day, yet can easily be 'smudged', if desired, with fingertip or Q-tip.  Maybelline's Great Lash mascara (6) has been a staple of mine since 9th grade, when I first started wearing it. I layer it with 2-3 coats, but prefer a brownish-black for my fair skin coloring.  CLINIQUE high impact mascara (7) is what I use on lower lashes, for a no-smudge effect.  After receiving it in a 'gift with purchase' package many years ago, I preferred it over Maybelline for lower lashes.  Although the Lancome photogenic skin-illuminating concealer (8, pictured) is no longer readily available with a working link to be able to provide, I have to list it for its properties I covet in a concealer:  it's silky smooth to apply (creamy), it smells wonderful, it has staying power, and it works.  Obviously, it also lasts forever - into obsolescence, apparently.  I looked at current Lancome concealer products available, but will refrain from reviewing anything I have not tried.  My lip conditioner, Blistex DCT (daily conditioning treatment, (9) is my ONE AND ONLY beauty product I would have to have if stranded on a desert island.  Especially if stranded on a desert island, as it is the ONLY lip gloss I use that really works to protect from sunburn (SPF 20), and doesn't make my lips feel irritated, as so many lip balms and lipsticks do.  Last, but certainly not least in my facial makeup, is my preference in lipsticks.  Again, I am partial to CLINIQUE, as they do not make my lips feel irritated, they are affordable (often free in 'gift with purchase' promos), and the color choices are great.  Two of my favorite lipsticks are pictured here: Long-lasting lipstick (10), (sugar bean is my preferred color) and Butter Shine lipstick (11), (pink toffee is my color choice in this line).

I color treat my hair, and the one luxury / high maintenance I allow myself is professional cut and color, every three weeks, so my ends are trimmed regularly and I keep one, consistent color (vs. the caught-in-the-wind grey roots look).  Pantene's color preserve shampoo (12) blend works well for me, but there are a slew of other blends for your hair type.  I used to use the conditioner of the same line when my hair was longer, but generally go without it now that my hair is short, unless I'm at the beach.  Before drying my hair, I use a dollop of Pantene's triple action volume mousse (13) at my crown.  All I do each morning to style my hair is dampen the crown to remove any bed-head parting, and fluff with my fingers.  The mousse helps keep the shaping in my hair between washings (every 2-3 days), but I only apply it after washing, not in between washings.  Kenra's matte texture putty (14) is sometimes used on my crown while the hair is just damp and almost dry, (after washing), to put a little staying power to styling (a more sporty, spiky appearance vs. soft and rounded).  A little dab will do ya (about the size of a dime).

People, we should all wear sunscreen, and I'll be the last to preach the dangers of not wearing it (guilty), but when I do wear it, Neutrogena's ultra-sheer dry-touch sunblock (15) is the BEST!  When vacationing near the equator, it is hard NOT to get burned, even with just fifteen minutes exposure.  But with this and my Blistex DCT (#9, above), I am good to go, without burning.  I guess this should be tops on my list if stranded on a desert island, but I'll still hold to the DCT as my number one pick, then the Neutrogena sunblock.   Bath and Body Works True Blue Spa super softening hand lotion (16) is the best in my book.  It protects hands, yet doesn't leave a greasy feeling on the palms, and smells great (a light citrusy fragrance).  I love it after I've been in the kitchen with hands in water, or when I've been gardening and hands are dry.  Cerave moisturizing cream (17) was first recommended to my husband for his extremely dry, itchy ankles (where his socks rub), especially during winter months.  What I have found in using this is that the protection lingers from shower to shower.  It really is amazing stuff, especially during winter months, or if your skin tends to be dry most of the time.

Even though I am keenly aware of the sensitivity of those with asthma (my husband is borderline), or the fact that I cannot stand wearing someone else's perfume, either from standing near them or passing them, I still enjoy a fragrance, and generally choose soft ones.  I personally like a floral undertone, not real spicy or woodsy.  CLEAN brand makes this line, Skin (18), which is a wonderful blend.  Here's how Sephora's website describes it:
"hints of dewy flower petals wrap around notes of pure creaminess and warm musk to evoke the simple scent of touchable skin. Enticing, fresh, pure: clean skin at its best."
"Notes: Honeydew, Lotus Blossom and Fresh Air Accord, Dewy Petals, Aquatic Notes, Blue Rose, Musks, Amber Wood, Vanilla"
I also enjoy the fragrance of the soft body lotion (19) with the eau de parfum spray.  

Although I listed sources for each of these products below, there are several more beyond the links I provided.  I generally will shop as frugally as I can, but sometimes items are hard to find (e.g., Blistex DCT). Then, when I find it, I will literally buy out the store's stock, just so I don't run out.  As for CLINIQUE, I take advantage of their 'gift with purchase' promotions which vary with department stores, but are generally in February/August or April/October, staggered every six months.  I stock up on what I normally use, then test the freebies received for other products, use them as travel sizes, or gift them to my daughters, sisters and/or nieces.  Using Sephora with a registered account is a great way to accumulate reward points and score bonus items for less (or free), and receive 15% sale notices on occasion. Their online website is great for reading reviews of new products also.  I use several other fragrances, most of them purchased from Sephora, and/or received as samples (you get to select three with most orders), all of which I read descriptions and reviews of first.  Here's an example of one of the bonus packages I received by redeeming points, (20) a Laura Mercier Flawless Face package set :  
While I would not routinely allow myself the luxury of Laura Mercier products ($$$$), this was a great opportunity to try a few items.  The tinted moisturizer (nude) with SPF 20 is silky, and the lip glace in rose doesn't irritate - always a plus for me.  There are less pricey products out there that accomplish the same results, just sayin'.

Last but not least, I am sharing my latest finds, as recommended by two of my older sisters (who shall remain unnamed): (21) Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair serum (for daytime) and (22) Neutrogena Rapid Repair Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer (night).  I've only recently started using these last two products (daily), and can already see fading in freckling from recent, tropical sun exposure (which is hard to avoid, even with sunblock). Generally, I find Neutrogena products consumer-friendly both in purpose and cost.  I am applying these onto my skin after washing, before moisturizing, then sunscreen and/or tinted moisturizer last.

We all have our arsenals of products we love, and if you had to choose just one for that desert island, which would it be?  For me, it's been made pretty obvious here.  It doesn't matter what you wear on your lips, just wear something!  

Here's the source list roundup of all the products mentioned in this post, none of which sponsored me or my mention of them.  I just like the products and use them.
8 Lancome skin-illuminating concealer SPF 15 - sorry, no longer available