Friday, October 28, 2011

Find Your Face

There comes a time in every girl's life when she makes the leap to so-called 'big girl' makeup. You know, the expensive stuff you find in department stores such as, Macy's and Lord & Taylor.

I was lucky that at the age of 15 or 16 my mother introduced me to the wonders of Clinique.  It was not so much for the makeup, but for the skincare products to wash and moisturize with.

Growing up in the 1950's and 1960's as a teenager, my mom wore what every other girl at the sock hop was wearing - CoverGirl - and she loved it.  My mom's makeup always looked fresh and neat, that is, until she had three kids and her skin began to change.  More and more, she noticed sensitivities appear in the form of itchiness and blotchiness.  It was embarrassing for her because she always took great pride in her skin and makeup.  Her primary physician recommended a visit to a dermatologist and that changed everything.  The dermatologist told  her that it was the newer artificial ingredients in over-the-counter drugstore bought makeup that was causing her discomfort.  She recommended she try Clinique, a makeup formulated to be 100% allergy free, and see if her skin issues could resolve.

Within a few days, my mom visited the counter at a local department store and started on her regimen that is widely known as the Clinique 3-Step  - cleanse, clarify and moisturize.  After a couple weeks, my mom fell in love with Clinique and began to love her skin again.  Not only did she use the the skincare line, but she also switched to the Clinique makeup.  

So, when I was teenager and started to experiment with makeup, my mom asked me if I would like to try Clinique - and that she would buy the products I needed.  She explained that it would be worth it to start now and keep my skin looking young and bright without wasting gobs of cash on drugstore products I knew nothing about.

Fast forward 20 years and I am still using Clinique.  I have never used anything else on my skin, except for a weak moment when I tried a sample Philosophy cleanser in a gift bag and broke out on my cheeks - awful, I tell you.  I use the skincare and the makeup - right down the line.  The best part is Bonus time - when you spend a certain $$ amount and receive a free bag of Clinique goodies.  This is a great way to test new products and maybe discover something delightful.

If you have sensitive skin or are prone to environmental allergies like me, try Clinique.  The products are dermatologist made and tested and are 100% allergy free.  The line is formulated for 4 distinct skin types - Very Dry, Dry, Dry-Combination, and Oily.  Visit a Clinique counter and have them 'type' you skin.  I recommend you go bare-faced to get the most accurate information.  My biggest recommendation though is to find a Clinique specialist who has a 'look' similar to what you are trying to achieve - not only makeup, but overall style.  Most Clinique specialist's have been good, but a few I found are just plain fabulous.  Stick with whom you feel most comfortable and who listens to your needs and desires.   

Take the leap and switch to the Clinique line.  Try and see if you love it.  I guarantee you won't be disappointed.  

*My favorite newer product is the Even Better Skin Toning Corrector that I use every night after my 3-Step to help diminish sun spots and uneven skin tone.  Holy cowzers, this product is amazing!  My skin is brighter, smoother and even after 3 weeks of  using it religiously.  I am one happy girl!

Less is always more when it comes to makeup.  (Except for that fancy night out in a fabulous dress for dinner and dancing!)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Look Spiffy. Kid's Holiday Dresses Have Appeared!

I learned the year that my daughter was born that you have get your children's Christmas attire early.  And I am talking early as in October or early November.  Most stores I have visited at The Galleria Mall in Buffalo are already stocked with clothes for all those Christmas and Holiday parties.

I found some really classy and preppy holiday dresses at Crewcuts, Old Navy, Gap, and JCPenney, depending on your spending level.

Step back from the appliqué  sweater dress and feast your eyes on these show stoppers.

Crewcuts by JCrew

Old Navy



Don't think you have to stick to the usual red dresses.  Navy blue, silver, green and black are all enchanting and refreshing.  The JCPenney dress is traditional red with black, but with the striped skirt and polka top, it is both modern and preppy.  Pair it will simple ballet flats and hair, and viola, simply stunning.  I love this JCPenney holiday dress for the 1950's style and look, too.  If you have not guessed, this is one we bought for Christmas 2011.

The rest of these dresses are very festive holiday party wear.  Because each is a little embellished in its own right, there is no need to over accessorize.  Keep the focus on the dress by pairing with simple velvet flats and a simple barrette or headband.  If you absolutely need that touch of red, add a touch of red at the shoes, hair or tights.  Don't go all red, just one item with a little flair will add holiday cheer.

Rule of thumb - if a dress is neutral, add one item of color for pizazz,  if the dress is colorful, keep accessories neutral ( i.e., black, white, gray). 

Gymboree has their dresses out too, and are mostly the traditional plaid in various colors.  Target, which usually at least one winner in the classy and preppy category, has not released their holiday dress line yet.  Target is a great option for an inexpensive dress with high style.  

My top two dresses for the upcoming Christmas season of 2011 are:
  1. JCPenney's striped bottom with polka top in a modern twist of red and black.  Pair it with black ballet flats.  This is dress that will have her twirling all day and night! 
  2. Crewcuts by J.Crew.  The navy satin with rhinestone neckline is just stunning.  Pair it with black or silver ballet flats.  Simple and elegant. 
I know it is only October and our thinking is on Halloween costumes, not Christmas dresses, but these dresses go fast and furious.  Choose and purchase your holiday wear early and not only will you have the dress you want, but you won't be running around in the super busy holiday season.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Best Family Christmas Movies

I love the Christmas Season like no other. I especially love sitting down with a warm blanket, a peppermint mocha coffee, and a good snowy day or night to watch a festive holiday movie.  

My favorite Christmas/Holiday movies have one or all of the following qualities:
  • Distinct Christmas ambiance.
  • Feel good drama.
  • Humor
  • Fabulous acting
I start watching holiday movies when the weather starts to change and the days are cloudy and dreary.  Actually, that is my favorite type of day -the drearier and stormier the better!  

What movies have the most holiday cheer?

Here is my list (in no particular order)

Home Alone (1990)

I could watch Home Alone over and over and not get bored.  Macaulay Culkin was the cutest, sweetest little thing, and funny!  Who knew?  What a treasure he was.  This is great for family movie night (along with a delish pizza) during the holiday madness.  This will be a classic for many, many years to come.

Home Alone 2

Well, you should have seen this one coming.  I loved the first Home Alone and loved the second that was based in New York City.  Home Alone 2 has made NYC a future Christmas season destination for my family.  The Plaza Hotel, Central Park, Rockefeller Center and the famous Christmas Tree, I could go on.  I have been to NYC plenty of times, but not during the holiday season.  Macaulay Culkin was again wonderful in this sequel.  Great, great family 

The Santa Clause series

It seems the first movie of a sequel is always the best, and that holds true for this Tim Allen holiday classic.  The original The Santa Clause, with a young Charlie, is a little child's dream - that their dad is Santa!  The Santa Clause 2 finds Santa in need of a "Mrs. Claus" to stay Santa, and The Santa Clause 3 enters Martin Short as Jack Frost, who wants to be the new Santa.  This series is funny, yet loving, warm and magical - another family friendly Christmas show.

The Christmas List (1997)

This made for T.V. movie on ABC Family stars Mimi Rogers as Melody Parris in this sweet show about a retail perfume saleswoman who gets everything she wants after making a Christmas list and dropping it off in Santa's mailbox.  This is not available DVD, and is not aired as often as it was in the past during the 25 Days of Christmas, but it can be found here through independent sellers that copy the movie, with commercial editing.  I bought a copy and the quality is fantastic.  I watch it often, and can watch it ten times over. Don't miss this gem during the holiday season!

The Polar Express

This is a family favorite in our house come the holiday season.  The storyline, the ambiance, the music - all make this a wonderful, imaginative trip for both children and adults.  The bell still rings at our home!

Samantha: An American Girl Holiday

Having a daughter endears you to this American Girl Holiday featuring AnnaSophia Robb as Samantha, a girl who befriends a less privileged girl, Nellie, to forge a lifelong friendship and sisterhood.  Our whole family loves this feel-good drama based in 1904 America.  I realize the boys may not be thrilled to watch this, but its lessons are solid.  Give it a try.

A Christmas Story

It just would not be Christmas without watching little Ralphie!  If you don't own the movie, don't worry, you can always catch the 24 movie marathon on TBS on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Miracle on 34th Street

I like both the original black and white movie, and the remade version.  The message of believing in Santa Claus is still the same, so watch both and decide which one you enjoy more.    There is just something special about the old black and white that draws me every time.

It's A Wonderful Life

Another classic during the holiday season.  It is a long movie, so grab a toasty blanket and make some appetizers to enjoy while watching this movie.  Don't forget the tissues…..

Blizzard (2003)

This enchanting holiday movie focuses on the friendship of Katie and one of Santa's reindeer, Blizzard.  This is another gem of a movie for kids that teaches them lessons in trust, overcoming obstacles, and best of all, the gift of true friendship.  Again, bring the tissues for the happy tears!  

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Discover the laughs, holiday cheer and romance in this age old holiday film starring Barbara Stanwyck.  Life jet seemed less complicated and family oriented during this time.  I wish we could go back and live this way.


Those movies listed above are my all-time favorites.  Every year I enjoy these along with the new movies that appear every year (movie theater and made for TV) - always looking for a new one to add to my favorite column.

Without saying, these Christmas shows are also holiday season must see's:
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Frosty the Snowman (My personal favorite.  I still cry when he melts.)
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Jack Frost
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  • The Little Drummer Boy
The days are getting shorter, the days are cooler and the snow is coming.  Once Halloween is over, holiday movies are fair game in our home.  Grab the blanket, dim the lights, make a delicious warm dip and enjoy the coziness of the holiday season with the best Christmas movies ever made.

Hello to start of the holiday season!

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