Friday, December 19, 2014

Fashion Over Fifty: Holiday Wear, Fantasy Style

Hello!  As we begin to enter our biggest holiday week (now through New Years) I wanted to showcase two different holiday outfits:  One is my fantasy holiday outfit, and the other (which will be posted separately next week) is what I will actually be wearing for Christmas.

Everyone celebrates Christmas differently.  Some people have lots of formal, cocktail parties to attend, or maybe their family just gets dressed to the nines for a Christmas gathering.  Other's celebrate very informally wearing 'ugly Christmas sweaters' or pretty casual holiday attire.  We tend to celebrate Christmas as home, with just our nuclear family, and I'm usually in the kitchen half the time, so a Christmas sweater (or tee shirt if the kitchen is too hot) with a pair of leggings is about as dressed up as I usually get.  I do wear something 'Christmassy' to church and if we happen to have friends over sometime during that week, but  that's about it.  Usually it's just a pretty sweater with some sparkle in it and I add some glam with accessories, or it's a traditional Christmas color, like red, combined with black.

But because my reader's vary, I wanted to show you two different holiday outfits.  First up, my fantasy outfit.  What I would wear if I had a fancy party to attend.  This dress was borrowed from my daughter just for the photo shoot.  We shot these pictures when she was home for Thanksgiving.  You can read about the fun we had that day HERE if you missed that post.  Ashley is a professional singer and has lots of formal wear that she wears for her performances, and various galas and events she has to attend. I don't have her glamorous life, so I don't need dresses like these, but it's fun to try them on and play dress up for a little while.
This dress is by Ralph Lauren and it is very similar in style to the dress I showed you in THIS post, only it's blue, not red.  When I put this dress on, I said to Ashley 'Boy, this guy sure knows how to dress a woman with curves!' and Ashley replied, 'Yes, but it also works with women without curves because the way it is cut accentuates and flatters a woman's curves, and it gives curves to women who have more boyish figures.'.  I couldn't agree more.  His dresses suck you in where they need to, yet drape and adorn your figure at just the right spot to make any figure thinner and curvier.  Sounds impossible right?  But it's true. Go to a store and try one of his dresses on, and you will see for yourself!
The dress just seems so romantic to me and would work well for a special Anniversary date too.

This outfit, as fun as it is to try it on and play dress up, couldn't be less 'me'.  I absolutely love this look,  I just don't feel comfortable wearing clothes like this.  If I had to go to a formal event, I would probably wear dark pants with flats or a mid-heel, and a fancy top and lots of jewelry.  I like to feel comfortable (and warm) no matter what I wear or where I go, and I always feel more comfortable in pants than dresses.  But that, is another reason, why this is a fantasy post.  It is not my real life, nor the real me. But if I had to wear a formal dress, this is the style of dress I would wear.

My shoes I bought in the spring, they are by 9 West.

To accessorize this outfit, I kept it simple with a double strand pearl necklace, a crystal blue bracelet, and I carried a vintage silver metallic clutch from one of Ashley's thrift store hunts.
If you'd like to see what I wore last year for our church's Christmas service, click HERE.

And here are more Christmas outfits to be inspired by:
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I love this outfit.  I adore the soft, relaxed sweater,  and the  sparkly skirt.  It's just a too short for me.

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This one I'd wear in a heartbeat, but with different shoes.  I could never wear those heels.

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I love this one, but I would never wear it.  Definitely a fantasy outfit.

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I could definitely see myself wearing this on Christmas Day curled up with the hubby near the fire!
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It would be fun watching Christmas movies with the family wearing these pajamas!
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Now these look cozy!

So what about you?  How do you celebrate the holidays and what do you wear?  Which one of the outfits from Pinterest most represent you?  I'd love to hear from you!

Have a great day!  Amy

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Our Road Trip Out West: Day Seven, Historic Manitou Springs

Hello!  This week's travel post is the morning of our last day of our vacation before we make the two day drive home.  The last day of every vacation is always the saddest, because I never want my vacations to end.  The only vacation I ever wanted to leave was our Springfield, Missouri vacation.  We actually talked about going home early because none of us wanted to stay there anymore, but our hotel room was already paid in advance so we thought it was a waste of money to leave early.  It's never a good sign when you want to go home early from a vacation.

The morning of our last day in Colorado Springs was gorgeous!  The sun was shining brightly, the temperatures were in the mid sixties,  and all the trees were exhibiting all their fall glory.  We had tickets to take a cog train up to Pike's Peak later that afternoon and needed a little something to do in the morning before our train ride.  The lovely town of Manitou Springs is located right at the base of Pike's Peak and only minutes away from the train station, so we decided to check it out.  This is what you see when you first drive towards the town:
The entire town has beautiful views of the snow capped Pike's Peak.  All the streets are lined with mature, beautiful trees.

We stopped at the Visitor's Center just outside of town and we were quite glad we did, because if we didn't we might have missed the best reason to visit Manitou Springs:  the natural spring water.  The worker at the Visitor Center was so nice and sweet.   We explained that we were taking the train at 1:00 p.m and only had a few hours to kill and wondered what there was to do in Manitou Springs in that limited time frame.  He then told us a little bit about the history of the town and explained that it was known for their natural, carbonated mineral water and then gave us a map and two plastic cups and set us about on a town hike in search of the springs.
We found the first spring right away.  It is located inside a park called 7 Minute Spring Park.  I eagerly put my cup under the ever-flowing stream of water, tasted it, and said 'It's CARBONATED!'.  My husband then told me that the worker at the Visitor Center said the water was naturally carbonated and if someone would have told him that water can come up out of the earth naturally carbonated he would have thought they were nuts.  But it's true!  It tastes just like seltzer water!  There is an underground system of cavernous aquifers.  As the water erodes the limestone, carbonic acid is created.  The natural carbonation forces the water back to the surface through cracks in the rocks where it absorbs high concentrations of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda to you and I), and other healthy minerals.  When we received our map of the the locations of the springs, we also received a pamphlet listing all the mineral contents of each spring.
After we tasted our first spring water, we began out trek into the historic town of Manitou Springs.  The first thing we saw was this cafe.  My husband loves Israel and studies the biblical history and keeps an eye on all the current events of this country too, so we had to take a picture of him standing underneath the sign.
We came back later for lunch and split this sandwich:
It was a little different than a traditional gyro that's usually smothered in white sauce and onions, but it was delicious!  The restaurant serves lots of authentic Middle Eastern cuisine dishes, but we don't know much about their food, so we played it safe and ordered a gyro.

Manitou Springs is often referred to as a 'Storybook Town', and one short visit there I could easily see why.  The combination of the natural view of Pike's Peak, with all the mature trees and historic buildings makes it absolute perfection.  It is a paradise for shoppers who love to browse quaint gift shops and boutiques searching for unique, one-of-a-kind items.  But of course, like most tourist towns, it is expensive to shop there.  I didn't buy anything for that reason, and because I also bought a ton the day before in Old Colorado City, so I was already shopped out.  I was here just to enjoy the view, the walk, and drink some water!

Like many quaint towns, there were lots of alleys and winding paths that could easily take you off course.  This alley had a penny arcade for kids (and adults) to play modern and vintage games for only a quarter each!
Our next spring we had to walk a bit out of the buisness district and into a residential area to find.  It was actually kind of fun searching for all these springs.  Even with a map, they weren't easy to find.  They blend in so much with their natural surroundings, that you don't recognize them immediately.  This one is called the Wheeler Spring, named after the original owner of the estate beyond  this site.  Jerome B. Wheeler is best known for building the Manitou Mineral Water Co. bottling plant.
There were a lot of beautiful homes in the residential district.  I only took a picture of one, because this would be my dream house.  I would love to live a tiny, quaint little cottage like this.  Isn't it sweet?
This is a view of the town as we walked back into the business district.  We took a big arch on our hike;  we first headed into town on one end, arched out into a residential district, then came back into town on the other end.
This spring was located downtown and is called Cheyenne Spring.    Several of the springs have Native American names because they viewed the waters as sacred, a gift from the Great Spirt, with medicinal qualities.
Of course we had to stop and take a picture of this view!  Gorgeous, isn't it?
The Stratton Spring is located directly in front of some shops right on the sidewalk….so we couldn't miss this one!  At one time, this was a stop for a trolley system.  I said to my husband that if I lived in this town I'd never have to buy bottled water again.  I would simply be filling up my water bottles at the springs everyday!
This stone staircase reminded me of my travels in Italy.  It was gorgeous!  I wish we would have had time to go up the staircase to see what was on top, but we didn't.  The base of the staircase was located right off the sidewalk of the main business street.  What a spot for a photograph!

And for those of you interested in my fashion posts, I am wearing my striped hoodie from Stitch Fix,  an army green jacket (old) from Dress Barn, dark skinny jeans, combat boots (last year) from Famous Footwear, and a burgundy scarf from T.J. Maxx.  The bucket bag is from Express.
This beautiful stone walled river runs right through town.  It is so picturesque, but unfortunately also dangerous.  Because Manitou Springs is at the base of a mountain, it is prone to floods.  The town has a long history of deadly floods.  One of their worst floods was in 2013 and you can still the damage of that flood in the town today.  They deal with flooding issues constantly in this town, and on our visit, we saw sandbags piled everywhere, and it was fall when floods don't normally occur!  Click HERE if you'd like to see a video of this area during a flood.  Pretty scary!  It still hasn't been repaired since this flood and it's been over a year.  They had more floods and violent storms this past summer as well, resulting in some businesses moving out of town.
The Navajo Spring was the hardest one for us to find.  We kept seeing signs for it, we knew we were right on top of it because we were looking at the map, but we just couldn't find it.  Why?  It's located right on a wall in a restaurant's eating area where your not allowed to sit down unless your a paying customer.  It literally is on the back side of a store:  Patsy's Popcorn and Candy Store!  It was a favorite of the Native American and early settlers.
This building was one of my favorites of Manitou Springs.  I loved the color, the way its shape echoes the street corner, and all it's haunting dormer windows.  It has an interesting history too.  Apparently the original owner of this building was reprimanded by his father for building in an area prone to floods.  Ha!  He may have been right, but the building still stands after lots, and lots, of floods!
What a backdrop for this chocolate shop.  I wish I was hungry for chocolate when I came across this place, but I wasn't, so we didn't check it out.
I absolutely love the colors of these buildings.  Who would ever think of painting the exterior of a downtown historic building purple?  But it works!

This gorgeous church is called St. Andrews Episcopal Church and it was founded in 1870.

More beautiful, vintage building for your eyes!  I have no idea what that metal light bulb is in the picture.  I do not recall seeing it when I was in Manitou Springs.  I don't know if my eyes are playing tricks on me, or it really is a light bulb.  What do you see?
Other than the flooding worries, wouldn't you just love to live here?  It's like the fictional town of Mayberry.

Well after we walked through most of the town we were practically floating from all the water we drank.  We tasted the water from six springs.  Two springs we couldn't find, and one was sealed off after it was damaged in the last flood.  Each spring had a distinctive flavor due to the differences in mineral content.  We certainly had our favorites, and we went back to the car for our water jugs to fill up!

I hope you enjoyed reading about our visit to this sweet town.  Next week will be my final fall vacation post as I finish up the series with our ride to the top of Pike's Peak.

Till then, have a great day!  Amy

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Celebrate Your Anniversary!

 Hello!  Anniversaries are so important to celebrate.  Too often couples get wrapped up in the busyness of life and treat their anniversary as 'just another day.'.  But it's not just another day.  It's a special day to remember the day you were united by God as couple.  It's a day to reflect on what you mean to each other, where you have been, and also to dream and look forward to your future as a couple.  You don't have to spend a lot of money on expensive gifts, eat at a fancy restaurant, or try to plan something super romantic that you know you don't have the time or creativity to execute.  Just take some time, any time, to honor your mate, give them a card with a special note, sit down at the table and eat a meal together and have a real conversation.  You marriage will be richer for it.

I made the card below for a couple in my church as part of my card ministry.  I chose vintage, romantic paper from Crafty Secrets and a Martha Stewart tag.  All I did to make my card was stamp a sentiment on my tag and adhere everything together.  It was super easy and quick;  as my ministry cards have to be since I have so many church members to make cards for.
 I added some heart trim that I bought at a fabric and crafts store to the bottom of my card and them I glued a string of pink rhinestones above the trim.

So what about you?  Have you celebrated an anniversary lately, and what do you do to honor your special day?  I'd love to hear from you!

Have a great day!  Amy