A Valentine's Day Gift Idea

If the man in your life likes gifts of the practical sort, I have an idea for you.  

Eddie Bauer shearling driving moccasins


What I Wore to Work (+ shopping tips)

I work in a very traditional, conservative environment.

Regarding my work wardrobe, my goals are:

To look nice and professional;

To be stylish, yet classic; and

To not spend my entire salary on clothing. 


Here are a few shots of an outfit I recently wore to work.    


Monday Musings: An Icing Set

I am planning to make homemade delights to give as Valentine's Day treats this year.*  

While not giving away too many secrets to those who may be recipients, I will say that these delights involve icing. 

When we were growing up, Mama was quite the cake decorator.  

I am borrowing her icing set.  

As many of you probably know, Ateco is still a leader in the field of cake decorating tools.

Many of their products are still made in the U.S.A.

Here is a peek inside:


Sunday Snapshot

"There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you.... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself."

                                                                   - Ruth Stout on Winter                                   


What I'm Wearing: A Wintry Frock

Is there anything that makes you feel more like a lady than the perfect dress?

Especially, the perfect cocktail dress?

I have been on a hunt for a black lace cocktail dress.  While I have found several contenders, they were all outside of the budget I had set for myself.

My obsession interest started around mid-November.

I believe it directly correlates to all the hype surrounding the film, Anna Karenina.  The film was released to select screens (read: nowhere nearby) at that time.

Have you seen these costumes?  Swoon.  Worthy.

Perhaps you're wondering how my mind translated the above images  into:

I have no idea.  I don't understand the workings of the human brain. 

What I do know is that I found the dress.


It is also available in teal and deep coral.

I am shorter than this model.  The under layer hits right above my knee, the lace just covering the knee...so,  the dress is a bit more conservative on me.  Which is my style.  

It is by Blaque Label, and my first purchase from that company. 

For a dress this well made, it is a great price point.  

I get a lot of mileage out a black cocktail dresses, so I think this one is a good value.  I love the high neck.   And the detailing is beautiful. Some reviewers on the site complained that the shell is polyester and, therefore, sub-par.  In this case, I think you get what you pay for.  This dress does not cost $400.00+.

Here are a few details:

The hem. 

Blaque Label's website includes a Press Blog, so if you're interested, you can see how others (read: those more famous than this author) have styled the dress. 

 Including this gal, who took a more avant-garde approach:

I plan to make full use of the included slip.  

I will be wearing the frock to a party celebrating the local historic preservation society in the town where I labor.  The guest of honor is photographer Ben Martin.

While working for TIME Magazine, he captured this image of the Kennedy family, which was cleverly incorporated into the invitation.

He has had an amazing career.  Do look him up if you aren't familiar.

Although the event will take place at the historic depot, I doubt I will hop a train back to St. Petersburg at the conclusion of the party, nor will Count Vronsky whisk me away for a sleigh ride...I also doubt this dress will inspire two Russian nobles to fight for my attention.*

Have any of you seen the film, Anna Karenina?  Or read the novel?  I am currently making my way through the novel at the approximate speed of smell.

I think it deserves to be savored. 

Wishing you the loveliest of weekends...

*Although I haven't finished the book, I do know (roughly) how it ends, so I'm not really all that jealous of AK. 

Shopping note:  Shopbop has great customer service, free shipping and free returns.  



Things are generally quiet around the farm this time of year.

So I thought it would be a good time to share a few bits of the farm.   

It has been unseasonably warm here during the past few weeks.  Everyone (and everything) has been enjoying the sunshine.  

This beautiful boy seemed to savor his lazy Sunday afternoon stroll...

Heirloom Flower Bulbs

These little guys are confused...

My grandmother called this type of flower a jonquil.  I have heard others refer to them by other names.  

 I transplanted these bulbs to their current location a few years ago.  The original "home place" on this farm is long gone.  However, in the Spring, it is possible to see where the flower beds and gardens and walkways were located, thanks to the old flower bulbs.  

One Spring while they were still in bloom, I journeyed to hilltop where the old home place once stood, and flagged the flowers I liked.  I returned in the Fall, dug around the staked flags, located bulbs, dug them up, and transplanted them to my flower beds. (Perhaps I'll do a tutorial on transplanting bulbs in the Fall...)

The flower bulbs were originally planted over 100 years ago.  

Return to winter

The jonquil photo was taken two days ago, when it was 60 degrees.  Today is a different story.  According to the local weather expert, winter is here to stay. 

 I don't know about you, but I'm secretly hoping it snows.  


Monday Musings: Raw Honey Skincare Regimen

For the past several weeks, I have been washing my face with raw, local honey. 

It has totally transformed  my skin.

No moisturizer necessary, even in January, when my skin is the driest.

Generally speaking, I'm a big fan of honey...in the same way this guy is a "big fan"...

I buy honey from my neighbor (to use primarily in cooking, tea, and battling seasonal allergies).  Honey is basically a superfood in that it will never spoil and it does not require synthetic preservatives.  While I could go on and on about the glories of honey, it never occurred to me to slather globs of it all over my face in the name of cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing.  Until recently.

The search for decent natural skincare

(read: does not smell like oatmeal and actually removes makeup)

As you probably know, the cosmetics industry is not well regulated as far as labeling is concerned.  Many products have plants on the bottles or contain "natural ingredients", but also contain harmful ingredients that are absorbed into the bloodstream through the body's largest organ--our skin.  Google "ingredients to avoid in cosmetics" and you'll find several lists ranging from this to this.

For the past 7 years, I have used a skincare line available at Whole Foods.  While I really enjoyed the products, because of the high quality of the ingredients and glass packaging, the products weren't cheap (prices comparable to the higher end of Estee Lauder).

All you need is honey.  

Raw Honey.

Raw honey is perfectly unprocessed.  It has not been heated, filtered, strained or altered in any way.    I keep this jar in my bathroom and just scoop out a blob bit with my fingers and massage on my face.  Then rinse with water.  It melts off with warm water.  When I first read about this, I thought "what a sticky mess".  By some miracle, it isn't.

I find that it has balanced my combination skin.  I do not use a separate moisturizer.  Honey has natural properties that gently exfoliate.  Additionally, I find that it is an effective daily makeup remover.  (For reference, I primarily wear bareMinerals makeup.  If an extra boost is needed to remove eye makeup, I use a touch of oil on a cotton pad).

I store honey in this airtight glass jar.

I hope you decide to try this.  It was a strange idea for me, too.  It is inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and non-toxic.  As with any change in skin care regimen, it may take your skin a couple days (or weeks) to adjust.

 I have read that adding cinnamon does certain things, as does adding baking soda or nutmeg or vinegar.  I have found that plain honey is perfection for my combination skin.  I encourage you to do your own research and experiment to find what suits you.  Please let me know how it turns out!

 Rumor has it that Cleopatra used honey as an integral part of her skincare regimen.  Isn't that reason enough to give it a try?  If it's good enough for the Queen of the Nile, it's certainly good enough for me.

Note: I'm a honey superfan, not an expert.  If something above is incorrect, do let me know.