Friday, October 24, 2014

My Brush with Bullying

I was an awkward pre-teen, teen, and maybe sometimes even an awkward adult.  I've struggled with self-esteem most of my life.  It's better now, but the monster still whispers ugly nothings from time to time.  I grew up in a sheltered place away from what young people today face with the Internet and 24 hour media.  It is hard to imagine the stress and pressure that instant photos and cell phone videos provide to bring attention to blunders or missteps.  I'm so grateful that I am not a teen today.  Unfortunately still, I do understand the pain caused from being the brunt of bullying.  It is hard being the target of Mean Girls.  Actually, it changed my life.  I have never, ever talked or written about this so forgive me for a long post, but I feel a cathartic moment coming at the end.

The Hair + Shoulder Pads....
In the seventh grade I was at a new school.  Our county integrated the smaller elementary schools with a larger middle school.  I was eleven and then turned twelve.  It was scary being in the bigger school with bigger kids.  Each morning before school, my stomach churned and ached.  Fridays were a real celebration because I knew that I would have a two day respite from my fear.  I had some friends from my elementary group and met some new girls.  I knew that I didn't fit completely in.  I begged my mom for makeup and help with my hair.  She helped me put together "cool" outfits to wear to school.  With four children in my family, we didn't have a ton of extra money to spend on things like clothes for Julie, but my super-mom was crafty. Eventually I settled in, sort of, at the school.  

The bullying started with comments here and there or notes passed that I wasn't meant to see in the group of girls that were my "friends."  Friend is a funny word in middle school.

I was invited to a sleep over one Friday night.  I remember it like yesterday.  I was so excited, overly excited, because I was finally invited to something by girls that wanted to be "friends" with me.  My mom helped me pack my overnight bag because I was stressed and wanted my stuff to be perfect.  I should've never gone to that party.

Unbeknownst to me, the girls had been planning the "party" for weeks.  There were only two at the sleepover, but about 5-6 girls had input into what took place.  Upon arriving at the sleep over, the premise was to make me feel like the "main" girl at the sleepover.  It was so stupid, but I would've done ANYTHING for these girls to befriend me.  The two girls served me food, unpacked my clothes, and brought me things to wear.  

They unpacked my clothes because they did inappropriate things with my undergarments and other things in my bag.  They fed me food with additives to make me sleepy.  It was bullshit.  I noticed the girls acting funny, but convinced myself all was well because I was after all invited to this sleepover.  Why would they invite me if they didn't want me there?

The party began to turn.  I wouldn't eat anymore of the weird tasting food or drink, and I wanted my nightgown.  My underclothes were in the freezer in a solid block of ice and the rest of my clothes were missing.  My stomach began to hurt from the demented concoction of herbs or drugs or both that these stupid girls gave me.

I called my mom and went home.  I wanted to be dead.   I considered suicide at 12 years old but I wasn't sure how to do it.

My mother demanded answers and the details began to emerge.  Another mom of an unrelated girl called the next day because her daughter (not in the group) had overheard the "planning" conversations and she said there were lists of the things that the girls wanted to do.  The lists were eventually produced and more embarrassment was on the way for me.

I never got an apology.  

The humiliation was overwhelming.  I developed a bleeding ulcer in my stomach.  I begged my mother to let me live with my aunt in Georgia.  I NEVER wanted to go to school again...I retreated into myself.  

I began to separate myself from these girls.  They continued in differing degrees through middle school.  It slowed down in high school, but it never really stopped.  In my self-esteem crisis, I would've done anything during any point in those years for those girls to be my friends.  I became very numb.  I didn't trust anyone anymore.

My point in writing this is to reiterate what an impact bullying has - even years later.  I felt a physical reaction typing this post.  Some things you try and stuff down and hope to never remember, maybe.  I don't know the answer for bullying other than sympathy and kindness.  I believe that parents play a major role.  If you don't raise your kids to be assholes and don't tolerate unkind behavior, kids probably will be less likely to bully others.  Maybe not.  I don't know.  My hope is that someone going through a tough time may read this and know that it may or may not get better in the short term.  Once you get older, everything changes.  In the mean time, keep your head up, talk to your parents, and know that this blog is a safe place to comment and reach out.  

Bullying is not okay.  If you are a bully, you are impacting someone probably for the rest of their life.  You are causing sometimes irreparable damage.  Shame on you.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Winter Jewelry Trend: Off The Chain!

When it comes to jewelry, Winter 2014/2015 is following my favorite rule: Bigger is better!  Whether it's earrings, necklaces, bracelets, or rings, the same rule applies. Statement necklaces have doubled in size, earrings now rival the size of one's head, rings are in a serious war with gravity, and bracelets are stacked to the hilt. My favorite aspect of this season's trend is mixed materials with an emphasis on chains. Chains, chains, chains. Added to everything. And (obvi!) the more, the merrier! Chains added to delicate pieces like pearls create a bohemian rocker-chic vibe, a perfect balance of beautiful and bold.

I'm. In. Love. Available from Goldbarr $198.

Necklace available on for $3.67 (Yes, you read that correctly. $3.67)

Necklace available at TideBuy for $11.99.

There are tons of places online to find fun, affordable jewelry. Amazon, Overstock, TideBuy, ModCloth, Macy's, and Anthropologie to name a few. In addition to online stores, eBay is always a great option for finding great pieces at low prices. For local shopping, I have a new favorite obsession... B'dazzled in Blowing Rock at South Marke shopping center. It's right beside my sunglasses store (Made In The Shade). I have fallen in love with the owner, Lynn Hines, EVERYTHING in the store, and the prices! All jewelry is 50% off, all the time. I have to say I have added quite a few pieces of jewelry to my wardrobe this year, thanks to this little gem of a store (so punny).

An easy way to pull off this Winter's trend (and save money) is to layer and combine your existing pieces. Get crafty. Mix acrylics and polymers with metals and gems (and chains!). Braid a bunch of necklaces into one. Make one earring out of two. Wear a skinny belt as a wrap bracelet. Create a necklace out of brooches. The possibilities are endless. But know that you should pick out one area of concentration and allow the others to balance your look. If you're wearing a bulky necklace, wear smaller earrings.

Dolce & Gabbana definitely make a "statement" with this necklace!

Necklace available at TideBuy $11.99.

If you go with large earrings, skip the necklance or opt for a long single chain that won't compete.

Guess Earrings available at Macy's $29.50.

Earrings available at ModCloth $12.99.
Both necklaces available at Anthropologie $68 each.

Stack bracelets on one arm and decorate the opposite hand in rings.

Pile on the bracelets! (Bracelets courtesy of B'dazzled and my own.)
Chain cross bracelet available on Amazon $6.89. (Seriously.)

Ring available at Macy's $32.

Ring available at ModCloth $12.99.

If you're brave enough, go with the newest runway jewelry trend, a single statement earring.

Single statement earring debut at Celine runway show (photo from Celine).

I'm all about jumping on the newest train, but I may wait this one out a while. In a town as small and remote as my own, instead of being seen as fashion-forward, I would just look like I lost an earring. Maybe we can avoid this misconception by wearing a small stud in the other ear? If you try it, I'd love to see a pic!

Overall, it's kind of hard to mess up this trend because everything goes. Everything you would never dare to pair has just been paired. So rock it. Just remember, go BIG and go BOLD. (And chains, y'all. Add chains!)

Chain bib necklace... Love!

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Party Pumpkins and Boo-tiful Bouquets!

I mostly like Halloween for the candy.  When I was little my Aunt Carolyn handed out giant candy bars and Tootsie Roll Lollipops to her trick-or-treaters.  She was everyone's favorite house in my community.  I thought it would be fun to create a twist on the typical trick-or-treat candy bowl.  What about a Party Pumpkin?  The idea is not entirely my own.  My crafty friend Karen Garland has the most creative "bouquet" in her office.  I visited the other day and when I saw it, I immediately needed to know how she made it and then I wanted to make one for myself.  So I give you Party Pumpkins and Boo-tiful Bouquets (thanks Karen!).  

This is Peter, the Party Pumpkin
The supplies are SO simple.  One pumpkin trick or treating bucket.  I like the old school kind that are actual jack-o-lanterns with a hole in the top.  **Note to self, they don't make them that much anymore and this one was HARD to find.  We dug through the basements of everyone I know to find this one...Thanks Guys!  Two bags of lollipops and a styrofoam ball that fits firmly in the hole of the bucket.  I bought large and small Tootsie Pops for a variation in sizing. You can paint the ball if you're really adventurous but you don't have to. The cost is about $6.

The supplies
Begin by pushing the ball onto the hole.  It needs to be a tad bigger than the hole or it will fall through.  If you use different sizes of lollipops, push the larger ones randomly into the ball across the entire exposed ball.  Next place the smaller ones in the gaps until the ball is fully covered.  It is that easy.  You are done.

Push the lollipops into the styrofoam
As your trick-or-treaters come over, allow everyone to pull from Peter's Candy Afro.  You'll be the coolest house on the block - fun times!

Peter and his candy afro hair!
My idea wouldn't be possible without Karen.  This is Karen and her super cool creation.  It is the most perfect Get Well Soon gift, Teacher gift, or a Pick-Me-Up present for a friend.  She is one creative lady!

Karen and her Boo-tiful Bouquet
Here is a closeup of her bouquet.  She painted a ceramic pot and used ribbon to finish the look.


I made a version of Karen's bouquet for those of us with ADD.  I didn't want to take the time to paint my pot, so I wrapped the bottom in tissue paper.  You need a pot, a styrofoam ball, tissue paper, and lollipops.  Smaller pots work better with Dum-Dums, but use what you like or what you have.  This cost about $3-4.  If you have the pot and a piece of styrofoam that will work, the candy is $2.  

Boo-tiful Supplies
I also didn't want to paint the ball so I wrapped it in a leftover piece of tissue paper.  Then repeated the same steps as above.  Push the Dum-Dums into the ball.  Because I was using lollipops that are all the same size, I made circles around the ball from the bottom to the top.

Push the Dum-Dums into the ball
Here is my bouquet.  I think it turned out great and kind of resembles flowers.  This is a lovely gift for that special friend!  

The Perfect Pick-Me-Up Present!

#candy #halloween #trickortreat #dumdum #tootsieroll #tootsierollpop #diy #easy #toocute #yummy
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Get A Leg Up On Fall & Winter's Biggest Trend

It's Fall, y'all! Know what that means? SWEATER SEASON!! My favorite season of the year!

Happy Sweaters & Leggings Season!
Leggings and sweaters, ladies. This Fall and Winter, it's ALL about leggings and sweaters. And the best part is that this is a trend for EVERY body type. Just make sure you're wearing them the right way. Otherwise, even the smallest among us is bound to look like...well, just that: bound. And not in a good way.

The first and most essential rule to remember while you're shopping for the perfect leggings is that LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS. Period. They're leggings. Likewise, tights are NOT leggings. Therefore, don't wear tights as leggings and don't wear leggings as pants. Both are a variation on traditional pantyhose, so the same rules apply. If you wouldn't leave home wearing a short top with pantyhose, don't do it with tights or leggings, either. Please. No one wants to see that. If you would leave home wearing a short top with pantyhose..... well..... I just can't help you.

Don't do this. EVER.

Secondly, make sure they fit. This means try them on if they're in a store or ask for the exact measurements if you're buying online. Many leggings claim to be “One Size Fits All” but let's be honest. When it comes to tight-fitting garments, OSFA is beyond the realm of reality. For instance, I recently purchased several pairs of leggings on eBay that were sized OSFA. I am by no means a big girl and it took great effort (and maybe a pair of pliers...and a winch) to get them over my hips. Which resulted in a prompt ripping of the crotch. In all three pairs. So seriously, ask for measurements. Material is also key. While leggings come in a vast array of materials, curvier girls should look for those that have a strong spandex blend for two reasons. It will allow for stretch in the fabric while also giving you good support. There are actually some great companies out there that cater to curves, offering such options as tummy panels, booty lift, etc. And according to the testimonials I've read, they work! If you want to add bulk to bony legs, look for leggings that have a fleece or fur lining (they'll keep you warmer, too!).

High waisted tummy control leggings

Fleece lined leggings

Now the fun part....prints! Leggings have come a long way this year and are available in a multitude of prints. I'm currently obsessed with fair isle leggings. You know... snowflakes, reindeer, etc. They're. Just. SO. Cute! Like an awesome ugly Christmas sweater, but for your legs (seriously, I'm on day 7 of only wearing leggings and sweaters, and this binge may last until Spring...). In addition to fair isle, you can find leggings in virtually any print you want. From Star Wars to Mickey Mouse to Crazy Cat Lady (hi, have you met me?) to famous paintings...
Fair Isle Leggings from $19.95
Star Wars leggings. How epic are these?? If only I were brave enough... $17.99 on

Mickey Mouse Leggings from $17.29

Cat Leggings from $27.99
Van Gogh's Starry Night Leggings from $19.99

When it comes to prints, however, size matters (your size, that is). I have adored many vertically printed leggings from afar but won't dare buy them because they'll only serve to accentuate the birdiness of my legs. You should do the same if your legs are on the skinny side. But if your legs are bigger, vertical prints are PERFECT for you, as they will elongate your legs (who doesn't want that, right?). Conversely, to add (the illusion of) size to smaller legs, go with horizontal prints. As far as print size, some fashion experts have cautioned curvier women against large prints like florals, etc., but my rule is simple. If you like it and it looks good, wear it! You're completely capable of determining whether or not a print is flattering on you. Try it on in the store and if you're unsure, ask the dressing room attendant what she thinks. If she is good at her job, she will be honest with you. If she wouldn't wear it, she'll let you know. Don't be offended if she says no... that only means that particular legging doesn't work for you. There are fabulous ones out there that will!

Abstract prints are great for curvy girls!

And finally, sweaters. I.LOVE.SWEATERS. Alllll the sweaters of the world. I want them. All.
But just like with leggings, there are rules to follow when picking out the perfect sweater to pair with them. Always, always, always make sure it covers your rear. If you opt for an open cardigan or poncho style sweater, make sure the shirt underneath it covers your rear. As I said earlier, no one wants to see that. Unless you're a size 0. Except for men, and who cares about them anyway? If you're wearing printed leggings, you should generally stick with a solid sweater and visa-versa. There are exceptions, of course, like a striped sweater with polka-dot leggings or a polka-dot sweater with plaid leggings (but make sure the colors match exactly). Sweater dresses with rushing at the bottom help disguise wider trunks (I'm a fan). Another way to disguise a curvy bum is a new trend this Fall; sweater dresses that flare at the bottom, like a skater dress. SUPER cute. Mid-thigh to knee-length is where you want the hem to fall. If you're on the skinny side, stick with mid- to upper-thigh length sweaters or else you may look like the sweater ate you. Shorter girls should do the same.

My favorite thing about this trend is the price. I have scored tons of adorbs leggings this fall and ALL for incredibly low prices! Several pairs were actually under $10 each. I literally felt like I was ripping off the store each time I walked out. And not only did I score on the leggings side, but all of the sweater dresses I bought to wear with them came in at under $30 each! I found several great long sweaters/sweater dresses at T.J. Maxx for only $9.99 each and scored a totes cute Kate Spade wool sweater dress for $34.99. Never underestimate the power of your local T.J.Maxx or Marshall's!

See what I did there? I heart Fall! (And my new sweaters & leggings!)
All that's left to do is pair your leggings / sweater combo with the perfect pair of boots, booties, pumps, or flats and BAM! Comfort AND cuteness. What more could a girl ask for?

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Scents for No Cents Giveaway - Holiday Edition!

With much excitement, we announce this week's giveaway courtesy of Candle Warmers Etc and City Creek Candles.  We are giving away a Candle Warming Lamp along with one candle from City Creek Candles to match the warmer!  Candle warmers are the latest trend in home decor.  Candle Warmers Etc has tons of decorative warmers to choose from so there is something for all tastes to complement your home.  

Christmas Cottage Warmer
Let's face it, candles can be dangerous.  The open flame coupled with an eager child, a careless roommate, or the cat (or both) can create a serious situation in a hurry.  It is a little alarming how many fires are started inadvertently with unattended or forgotten candles.  Scary stuff!  So Candle Warmers Etc came up with these crafty gadgets to circumvent the danger using decorative lamps that gently heat the candle wax.  I was skeptical that it would even heat the wax, but it does in just a few minutes and the scent is just like a candle without the smoke.  So you don't have to blow it out and spend the next 30 minutes smelling smoke in your room.  It is genius!  Also, the wax is warm, but not scalding - another safety plus.  

Candle Warmers Etc was kind enough to send a goodie box of seasonal items to test.  I tried the  Christmas Day Scented Wax Melts to go with the Holiday Collection Christmas Cottage Illumination Fragrance Warmer and the Santa's Cookies Candle to go with the Tin Punched Candle Warmer Lantern.  I don't always get excited about certain products and I'm hard to impress, but these products are top of the line.  They would make amazing gifts because I freaked out a little when I opened the boxes...!

First I assembled the Christmas Cottage.  That consisted of taking it out of the box and putting on the lid.  There were no parts, everything is ready to go.  All you have to do is break several squares of the wax melts to place in the warming tray.  The wax is scored into pieces already so that is super easy.  It is like breaking a candy bar.  Plug it in and enjoy the glow!

This was unabashedly my favorite.  The scent of this candle is described as, "a festive mix of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and juniper."  I say it smells like Christmas, Christmas, and more Christmas.  You know that smell that reminds you of Christmas when you were little?  This is that scent.  I wish my house smelled like this year round.  It's wonderful, really a candle you should sample.

Tin Punched Lantern
Next up was the Tin Punched Candle Warmer Lantern and Santa's Cookies candle.  The lantern comes out of the box ready to go.  It is fully assembled and carefully packed so nothing is broken.  Plug it in and set the candle under the lamp.

Love the Glow!
This lantern is gorgeous.  It is rustic chic.  The punched tin gives a beautiful glow to a dimly lit room and the design is perfectly on trend with popular antique industrial decor.  The candle heats up nicely for a slight fragrance addition to any room.  The Candle Warmer can be used with any City Creek Candle.  These candles are very large, you don't realize how substantial they are going to be by looking at the photo.  The candles are meant to last for a very long time.  They come with double wicks, so you may burn them, but I think the warmer will prolong the life.  It is just my opinion, but the warmer melts the wax very slowly.

Santa's Cookies
Santa's Cookies smells like sugar cookies baking in the oven.  I liked it, but nothing will ever beat Christmas Day scent, nothing, nothing ever.

I love having these products in my home.  I love the idea of the candle warmer too.  The Scents for No Cents Giveaway winners will be chosen on Monday, October 27th.  Remember, you must be a registered follower (sign up with your email address on the top right of our home page) to win.  Winners will be chosen from registered email addresses.  

Tell us your favorite candle scent below to get this giveaway started!  To learn more about Candle Warmers Etc and City Creek Candles check out their websites or find them on Facebook here and here.  You may follow on Twitter @candlewarmeretc and on Instagram @candlewarmers!  You must check out the product selection - but watch out, there are so many beautiful choices, you may find it difficult to make a decision on the scent, the warmer, the combo - you get my point.  Have fun and remember to follow this blog for a chance to win.  Good Luck!!

Scents for No Cents

#candles #fabulous #decor #interiordesign #candlewarmers #christmas #home

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Effortless "Hummus" - Less than 2 Dollars and Under 10 Minutes

Hummus is the new 'it' food.  It is all the rage with foodies, vegans, vegetarians, dieters, and snackers because it is delicious.  Hummus is made in many different flavors and lots of fun ingredients can be added to spice it up.  I love hummus but not all of the ingredients are readily available in a typical pantry, so I thought I would try a twist on the recipe.  For my "hummus," I used northern beans instead of chick peas and tahini.  This way you need four ingredients: beans, olive oil, one garlic clove, and salt.  The cost is less than $ 1.25 for a bowl and it literally takes 5 minutes - the kitchen is clean in 10!  The result is an inexpensive "hummus" bean spread that is great with toast or chips and delicious on sandwiches (especially roast beef).  It works very nicely as a low fat and extra fiber alternative to mayo on sandwiches and wraps too!

Serve with Bread, Crostini, Chips, or Crackers
Start with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, one can of northern beans, a pinch of salt, and a clove or two of garlic.  I purchased organic beans on sale for $.89 per can so the cost is minimal.  This is not an exact science.  If you like more garlic, add two cloves.  If you are on a low sodium diet, forget the salt.  

Easy Ingredients
Drain the beans into a colander in the sink.  I do this because even though I used organic beans, I don't like the liquid in which they are packed.

Drain beans in colander

I rinse the beans also.  I just like to, it doesn't matter if you do or not.

Rinse beans with cool water
Add beans to food processor.

Adding beans to Cuisinart
Next add garlic cloves - add two if you like a bit of a kick.

Peel garlic clove and put whole clove into processor
Next add a pinch of salt.  I use sea salt.

Salt into the processor
Place lid onto food processor and add olive oil through the top.  I estimate that I use a couple of tablespoons.  

Olive oil through the lid
Pulse the food processor several times.  I don't like to hold the button continuously because it blends very quickly and you want to monitor the consistency.

Pulse, pulse, pulse

The texture of the dip needs to look like this.  You may blend to suit your preferences.

Homemade "hummus"
Serve on a tray with toast, pita points, or chips.  It stores very well in the refrigerator for use on sandwiches, wraps, or salads.  It is also great for experimenting adding maybe onion, peppers, grated cheese, or herbs.  I love it because it is a low fat substitute to oils and mayo for lunches so you feel great about being healthy and saving money.

Pretty and Pretty Easy!

Share your idea or recipe try for hummus!

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