Friday, November 21, 2014

Fashion Over Fifty: Wearing Animal Prints

Hello!  For this week's Fashion Over Fifty post I'm back with more animal prints.  But first, I have a confession to make.  The top I'm wearing was suppose to be a possible Christmas gift to my daughter.  Sorry if you really like it Ashley. You can borrow it if you want.   I told all my kids I wanted to cut back on holiday shopping this year because I want to quit my very stressful job,  and to therefore limit the dollar amount spent to only $100.00 per child and to give me their Christmas wish list based on that.  So Ashley told me she wanted a pair of Cognac boots, well, those alone almost cost her entire budget, so I could only get her one more small item to stick to my budget.  I was shopping at Macy's for my winter coat and I spotted this animal print sweatshirt (sorry, I couldn't find an on-line link), and a couple of other items.  I wasn't sure which of the three items Ashley would like the best, so I just bought all three thinking I'll give her a choice which one she wants the most, and I'll either keep or return the other two items.  Well, the other day when I was trying to get dressed for the day, I must have tried EVERYTHING on in my closet, and couldn't seem to find anything I liked or that looked good on me:  you know those days, when you have a closet full of clothes, and you still can't find ANYTHING to wear?  And then I saw it.  The cute animal print sweatshirt.  'Boy, that's cute.  I'd love to wear that!  No, I have to save that one.  Oh, but it's soooooo cute!  Maybe I should just try it on and see what it looks like?'  So I gave in to temptation and tried it on.  It was love at first sight.  It was so warm, and comfy, and oh…..I loved the length and how slimming it was.  I usually don't like sweatshirts cause they are too thick and they stop at your waist line and therefore make you look fat because you have all this extra material bunching up at your tummy.  But the material of this sweatshirt is thinner, and I loved the quilted detail in the shoulders and the sparkle in the animal print.  It was perfect.  So I wore it.  But I felt guilty.  Oh well, there are still two unused items hanging in my closet.  Now I just need to keep my hands off those or I will be going shopping again.

 Even though animal prints are timeless and never really go out of fashion, they have been especially on  trend the past two seasons and I own many animal print items already:  a leopard clutch, two leopard scarves, leopard and snakeskin flats, and a couple of leopard shirts.  For someone over fifty, wearing animal prints can be tricky because they do age you.  Older women are notoriously known for wearing animal prints, and I didn't want to look older than I already am,  so I've always used animal prints in small doses:  like accessories or shoes because of that.  Another way to keep from dating yourself when wearing animal prints is to wear it in a more trendy way, like this sweatshirt.  It is fresh, and young looking because of the cut and the material.
 Because there is so much detail and sparkle in the sweatshirt, I kept my jewelry minimal by wearing a black and silver sparkly bracelet, a black and silver watch, and simple silver drop earrings.
The grey skinny jeans that I'm wearing I picked up at Target at the end of the season for only $3.99.  The score of the year!  They are one of my favorite pairs of jeans that I own.  They are so soft and comfy, and fit like a glove.
 For shoes I wore black suede booties.

Because I got some inquiries on my new winter coat that I showed last week, I decided to include some more pictures of it this week too.  This time, I closed the zipper!  I bought my coat at Macy's, it does not appear to be available on-line.  The inside of the label says Laundry by Shelli Segal if you want to try searching for it on-line at another store other than Macy's.
 The coat has a beautiful, lush fur trim that extends all the way down the inside of the coat.  It zips and snaps shut and it also has a tie at the waist to give the appearance of a waist line when your wearing a big puffy coat!  I love the over sized, fur trim hood.  I don't like hats because they ruin my hairdo and cause static electricity, but on very cold days, when I have to cover my head, a great hood like this does the trick.
 So how do you like all our snow?  Great, isn't it?  NOT!  It is has been miserably bitter cold here in Northern Wisconsin for a couple of weeks now.  Today, it's only in the single digits.  Unbelievable.  It's not even Thanksgiving yet, and the temperatures were experiencing are more like what we see in January or February.  It's so sad.  Pity party here.
Taking pictures in these cold temperatures has been anything but fun.  I'm thinking if this continues, I might have to set up a photography studio in my house because it isn't fun being outside without a coat on in this weather!

To those of you who live in warmer states, count your blessings!  I wish I were you!

Have a great day!  Amy

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Our Road Trip Out West: Day Five, The Sandia Mountains

Hello!  I'm back with another travel post of Our Road Trip Out West.  Today's post starts with the morning of Day Five, our trip up the Sandia Mountains.  If you missed my other travel posts,  just scroll down.

On the morning of Day Five we woke up early in our Albuquerque hotel excited to take a tram ride up to the top of the Sandia Mountains.  This was hands down my absolute favorite part of our trip.  The Sandia Peak Tramway takes you on a 2.7 mile ride to the top of a mountain 10,378 feet above sea level.  The views up are absolutely amazing as the tram can get so close to the magnificent rock formations.

Now for those of you who have been faithful readers of my blog for years are probably wondering how did I handle my fear of heights?  I was not afraid one bit on this ride, and I felt very safe and secure.  I've learned when it comes to my fear of heights it's all about open space vs. closed space for me.  I'm not afraid to fly in an airplane, or go up to the top of the Willis Tower in Chicago.  If the space is enclosed, I feel just fine.  When the space is open:  such as the side of a cliff (more on that later), a balcony, or open staircases, that's when I start to freak out a little.
The tram ascends up about 4000 feet in about 15 minutes, with views of 11,000 square miles once up at the top.  The tram has large glass windows from the waist up, so you can see these gorgeous views.  I advise getting there very early in the morning however, because they can pack people in like sardines and you won't get a window seat like we did if you take a later tram.  We had unobstructed views on our way up and down, which was wonderful!
As you can tell from our yawning tour guide, it was the first tram of the day.  I had to chuckle at this guy at how horrible of a tour guide he was.  I swear he took a big yawn every thirty seconds.  I'm sure he's been up and down this mountain a billion times and is bored to tears about it, but he should at least show some excitement considering for most people it was their first time.  He told all about the history of the tram, it's construction, the distances you see, the heights you climb, and everything you need to know about the geology of the mountains and surrounding areas.  He just needed to be a little more entertaining.  I told my husband later, I would love to switch jobs with him and ride up and down this mountain everyday, seeing these gorgeous views instead of what I have to do for a living now.  Talk about a dream job!
As you can see, there was hardly anyone in our tram.  It is capable of holding 50 passengers, and I think there were only six in our car.

 Just look at these views:  I fell in love with the terrain of New Mexico on this vacation.  I don't know what it was about this magical landscape:  was it  because I had never seen terrain like this before in my life, or was it the color of the landscape and the endless blue skies unblocked by trees or human habitation?  I don't know, I just loved it.
When you get off the tram there are multiple observation decks with panoramic views of the Sandia Mountain Range.  In this picture, I was nervous.  Of course the deck has a railing and it is stable, but it's very windy on the top of a mountain, and the deck overhangs the cliff, so I was uncomfortable in my surroundings and only stayed long enough for a quick peak and picture.  If your wondering why I have a winter coat on, it's because it's 20 to 30 degrees colder at the top of the mountain than it is below.  It was in the sixties before we got on the tram, and 15 minutes later, we were in need of our winter coats. We were well prepared this time after our North Carolina and New Hampshire mountain adventures, where we had no idea of the extreme temperature changes and FROZE, so we had the foresight to bring our winter coats with us to New Mexico!
Another view from one of the observation decks.
Here is another observation deck and also a ski lift.  Yes, they do ski in New Mexico.
Here's a picture of my hubby and I that a friendly tourist offered to take of the two of us.  I love it when people offer to take our picture.  So often our vacation pictures are solo shots, and it's so nice when someone offers to take a couple shot for us.
The cost of the tram is $20.00 for an adult ticket, less for children, teens, and seniors citizens.  I thought that was such a reasonable and affordable cost for such an amazing attraction.  My favorite part about the tram (other than the views) was that there was no time limit for how long you stayed at the top.  You just had to be sure to be on the last tram for the day (if you wanted a ride down) or you would be spending the night up there or hiking down!
The Sandia Mountain range is largely within the Cibola National Forest and is protected as the Sandia Mountain Forest.  It is home to mule deer, black bears, cougars, and other small forest animals.
There are multiple hiking trails you can enjoy in this forest.  We started out taking a trail that was on the edge of the mountain.  The views were spectacular, as you can imagine any view would be when your standing on the edge of a cliff, but we didn't go far on this trail because I was such a nervous wreck that I or my husband would lose our footing and plummet 4000 feet to our deaths.  This trail also started to descend the mountain because we were already at the top, and we knew if we didn't turn around at some point, we'd either have to hike the rest of the way down, or hike back up to catch the tram.
My husband made me sit on this rock to capture this view.  Where you see the end of the rock behind me is a steep drop off the mountain side.  This was as close as I would get to the edge.  I will say that the trails in this forest were very well maintained and well marked.  I was not nervous at all about getting lost in the forest, unlike our New Hampshire hiking adventures of last summer.  The only thing I was nervous about was running across a bear or large cat.  But the only animal life we encountered was a fox, some very friendly squirrels, and lots of birds.  I recognized the bird calls of the finches, because we use to have finches as pets in our home.  They make a 'beep, beep' sound.  We don't have them in Wisconsin, so I never heard them in mass in the wild before.  It was quite interesting.
What we really loved about this mountain range was all the beautiful trees of the forest:  the hardy pines, aspens, oak, fir, and spruce trees.  Most mountain summits don't have a lot of trees because the climate is too severe for them to sustain life.  In North Carolina when we were up in the Smokey Mountains, we saw a lot of trees that had no needles, they looked more like tree stumps than trees.   We were told it was because of damage done by acid rain.  Then in New Hampshire,  there were lots of trees until you got to the top of the White Mountains, but then it was just solid rock and no life whatsoever because the winds were so strong and the temperatures were bitter cold.  The Sandia Mountains do not get quite as cold because it is a warmer state and the elevation isn't quite as high because the entire state's altitude is higher than it's eastern counterparts.
In the picture below there is a very tiny stone structure built on the very tip of this mountain.  Do you see it?  It's on the top edge, right in the middle?  We saw this house on the tram ride up so my husband wanted to hike to it and take a closer look.  It is called The Kiwanis Cabin and is built on a slanted slab of nearly bare rock.  It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936.

The trail is to the cabin is about a mile and a half and you walk mostly on a level path through beautiful shaded forests to get there.  We loved to just walk quietly and listen to the sounds of the forest such as the beep-beeps of the finches, and the scampering of squirrels through the leaves.  The squirrels seemed extremely friendly, and even ran right across my path.  I had the feeling they were use to being fed by tourists as there is a dining establishment on top of mountain with both indoor and outdoor seating.

Here's a picture of me walking on the hiking trail.  This is my old winter coat by the way.  The one I told you I wanted to replace with my new one in THIS POST because it was too short and didn't keep my legs warm.

After walking through the forest, you eventually come to a sunny meadow where mule deer are often spotted.  Unfortunately, we didn't see any on the day of our visit.

We were so excited we finally reached our destination:  it seemed like a long walk and although we would have loved to have spent the entire day up on the mountain exploring all the trails, we were scheduled to meet our son-in-law in Albuquerque in the afternoon, so we only had the morning to explore.
The picture above is the outside of the structure.  You can go inside and look out the windows.
This is my husband standing proudly outside the cabin.  The views from this spot are spectacular!
 After a brief stay at the cabin, we knew we running out of time for our afternoon appointment, so we hiked quickly back to the tram and began the descent down the mountain.

Again, we were blessed with gorgeous mountain views and we loved how close the tram came to the rock formations.  Do you see the shadow of the tram in the picture below?  The shadow really helps  give perspective of the size of these mountains.

 At the base of the mountains, near the tram station, are these adobe style homes.  I told my husband I would love to live here.  What a view these home owners have!  My only fear would be rock slides.  We have that problem here in the bluffs of Buffalo County, and entire homes have been crushed by falling rock.
And that concludes the morning of our fifth day of vacation.  Next week's travel post will be about our afternoon visit to the Albuquerque Zoo and a historic restaurant in downtown Albuquerque.

Have a great day!  Amy

Monday, November 17, 2014


Hello!  What is it about Hot Air Balloons that the sight of one evokes thoughts of romance?  When we were in New Mexico last month, every morning the sky was filled with beautiful hot air balloons.  It was so romantic to wake up and look out our hotel's windows, and see these gorgeous, colorful flying wonders.  So what better image to use for an anniversary card right?

There are no stamps used on this card.  They are all images cut out from a DCWV stack and mounted up on dimensionals and placed an another sheet of designer paper.  A really quick and easy card.
We didn't take any hot air balloon rides while in New Mexico because I'm deathly afraid of heights and I feared I wouldn't be able to handle the instability.  We did take a tram ride up to the Sandia Mountains and I really enjoyed that.  I felt very safe and secure inside the tram, and it ended up being my favorite part of our vacation.  I will share more about that in my next travel post.

So what about you?  Have you ever taken a hot air balloon ride?  Would you like to?  I'd love to hear from you!

Have a great day!  Amy