Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holly Wreaths - Quick and Simple Idea for Gifts, Holiday Gatherings, and Cookie Exchanges!

 If you are anything like me (and if you are lucky- you are NOT), you are frantically running around shopping, wrapping, planning and attending to the last minute details of the holidays.

If you are looking for something different this year, try this very simple, very festive treat!

Holly Wreaths

 Pictured here on a platter but given as a gift, try buying festive paper plates- the wreath is the perfect size and can fit inside a gallon ziploc storage bag.  

This is the PERFECT solution for:

Teacher Gifts
Cookie Exchange Parties
Bus Driver/Postal Carrier Gifts
Holiday Parties

What you need:

Corn Flakes Cereal
1/4 Cup Salted Butter
Package of Large Marshmallows
Green Food Coloring
Cinnamon Imperials (aka Red Hots)

You will want a good amount of waxed paper on your counter ready to go

Warm the marshmallows and butter on the stove, be sure to be constantly stirring.  Once liquid- add 4-5 drops of food coloring.  Mix Well.  Add in 6-8 cups of corn flakes.  This is the tough part, mix and mix mix some more all while hot.  The more you work it, the better the syrup will cover the flakes.

This would be a good time to utilize an assistant (the tinier the fingers, the better).  Drop blobs of the mixture onto wax paper, quickly add 2-3 cinnimon imperials per "blob".  It helps to keep butter handy for your (CLEAN) fingers to keep from sticking to everything. 

Once cool, you can plate them as is or create wreaths by plating them in a circle.  I buy the red packaging bows to add a little flair when I plate them as wreaths.

And it's as simple as that!  Fast, easy and inexpensive.  These have always been a huge hit at cookie exchanges and as gifts if you need something small.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Mommy, is Santa Real?

I've dreaded this day from his very first Christmas.

There have been doubts over the last nine years, but now- after becoming a very intelligent, logical, inquisitive, young, man, my 9 year old son finally popped the question.

"Mommy, Santa isn't real.  I know he isn't  Everyone at school says he isn't.  Please tell me the truth".


Funny thing about that word, there is more than one version of the truth.  For an extremely literal and trusting child, this truth is what I would give.

I searched some of the Santa letters online and took some suggestions from good friends via Facebook and then composed my own version with a Christian spin.  I was raised Lutheran and my children have been baptized and raised the same.  I've always been concerned about "Santa" overshadowing the true meaning of Christmas and this was a perfect opportunity to express my own beliefs about both.

Each and every family will handle this situation different based on their own values.  Some parents continue the Santa story indefinitely like my own Mom.  "I still believe in Santa", she'll say.   Some say "I'm not sure but I know he only brings gifts to those who believe he's real"  *wink, wink, nudge, nudge* and some parents never bother pretending in the first place.  For us, this response is what felt right.  

Now, <insert deep breath>, I'm going to give it to him and I am hoping his sweet little heart will always believe in Santa the way I explained it.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

S'mores Bars! So Easy. So Yummy.

S'mores Bars

Why wait for summer and campfires to enjoy the yummy taste of s'mores?

It's very easy and a lot less messy to make these delicious treats!

What you need:
Golden Grahams (or the generic would work just fine)
1/4 C of Butter
4 Hershey's Chocolate Bars 

First, we started by chopping up the chocolate bar into chunks

Second, warm the bag of marshmallows and butter in a large pot until liquid.  Remember to stir frequently!

Next, add in about 5 or 6 cups of cereal

Press the mixture into a 9x13 greased pan, use wax paper to press it firmly into the pan.  Immediately spread the chocolate out over the mixture and press down with wax paper so it can melt slightly in to the top.

After the mixture cools completely, you can cut and serve… then all that is left to do is enjoy and hoard them before your family eats them all up!

It doesn't have to be expensive or complicated to be delicious!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Christmas Photo Cards on a Budget

It's that time again, which photo to choose for your Christmas Cards???  Remember the days of picking out stock cards from a drug store… finding something cute that had just the right sentiment?  
Sometimes I wish we wish could take a step back to when things were more simple.  Now it feels like a lot of pressure to have just the right picture, just the right card, even to have it printed with the proper gloss level.  

Never fear, there are many great sites out there offering discounts right now.  My cards, this year, were ordered through Snapfish.   Photos can be mail ordered or sent to a local drugstore for pick up in a matter of hours if you get pinched for time.

When I ordered my cards, there was a 50% off discount available with the Snapfish Coupon Code:


Many people chose to order professionally done cards or at least have a professional photographer shoot the picture for them.  If you just get creative with your shots and take a stab at many of the FREE photo editing websites out there, you might surprise yourself.  Two of my personal favorites are iPiccy and Picmonkey.  They are very easy to use, give it a try!

I took this photo with my iPhone and only used the very basic software on my phone to edit/enhance it.  

I'd already ordered my cards (I can't show you those because they haven't been sent out yet!) but I'm wishing I'd waited for this one.  I'll have to settle for framing this one!  I love my kids' profiles so I'm sure this will stay a favorite for years to come.

Sending out Christmas cards is not a requirement, so don't stress yourself out if you can avoid it.  If you send out cards, you don't have to break the bank to do so.  Take a quick picture or even choose one from a happy time during the past year.  Remember during the holidays, it truly is the thought that counts.  I do love receiving cards, especially ones with photos!  I look so forward to seeing them in my mailbox and displaying them in my kitchen throughout the season.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and good luck with everything on your holiday "To Do" lists!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pin Up Retro Make Up - Almost 40, so why not???

Why Not Have a Little Fun and Be a Little Bold?

Hey Everyone!  I know it's been a long, long time but I thought I'd share my recent attempt at a pin up look.  I see so many pretty looks on Pinterest and figured it was worth a try.  I'm no artist, just your typical stay-at-home mom but I'm trying to give myself more room to be creative and try new things.  I am working to let go of the fear of looking silly or making mistakes.  You fail at 100% of the stuff you never try right????

My husband and I are attending a black tie event in a few weeks, my dress is kind of a retro, sexy 50's housewife, look.  I wanted to try to match the make up with it so I've been practicing!  

Here's the finished product:

What I Used

After going through my skin care routine, I applied the following:

Benefit "The Porefessional" pore refiner in my large pore areas
Clinique Even Better Foundation- #04 Cream Chamois
Nars Orgasm Blush
Maybelline Dream Lumi Concealor in Light
Clinique Touch Base for Eyes (Canvas)
Clinique Eye Shadow Duo in Teddy Bear
Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner- Black (top)
Clinique Intense Chocolate Eye Liner (bottom)
L'Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara
Revlon Color Stay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick in Top Tomato
Clinique Loose Translucent Powder #4, neck and perimeter 
Clinique Loose Translucent Power Neutral in center/t-zone
Clinique Brow Shaper in Shaping Taupe

Step #1
 "Flawless" Skin Finish by exfoliation 1st, minimizing pores (using the Porefessional and by "patting" powder in with warm fingers vs. using a brush applicator).  Thorough and blended application of foundation.  Concealor can quickly hide any other freckles, sun damage or "flaws".  Blush is a light application on cheekbones but toward the temples, do not bring it too far into the center of your face.  It should not be applied in the area between your pupil and nose.  Apply bronzer or a darker powder around the perimeter of face, neck and sides of your nose.  Pat a lighter powder on the top of nose, entire t-zone and center of face.  Using your warm hands, press down moving quickly over all areas of application.  This helps to warm and melt the powder into your skin.  This method has the benefit of minimizing the look of your pores, giving better coverage and longer lasting results.

Step #2
Eyes!  I used a Clinique Touch Base (Canvas) to prime my eye lids from lash line to eye brow.  There are many lid primers out there including a new one from Clinique but this has been my favorite for as long as I can remember.  Gives the best results as far as wear, coverage and showcasing true pigments from your shadow.  I covered the lid lash line to brow bone in the lighter shade of the duo and then took the darker shade and followed just my crease.  Once applied I took a fluffy eye shadow brush and blended by sweeping it over the darker color back and forth several times with a light touch.  Eye liner application was with a brush on top (gel liner) and a pencil on the bottom which was then diffused using a thin eyeshadow brush.  

Step #3
LASHES ARE KEY!  I think truly for my night out I will use falsies, but for practice purposes I used my favorite, daily, big lash look.  I have used L'oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes for about 8 years now.  I have tried everything out there and this is my favorite for many reasons.  It comes with a primer/conditioner that helps to nourish your lashes and keep them healthy, prime your lashes and bulk them up before the color is applied.  The color itself is fibrous and with proper application tends to stretch out the length a bit beyond the tips.  This mascara does not flake, run or smudge.  It is warm water removal so when I hop in the shower I just let the warm water run over my face, then I pull them off.  They come off in goupy clumps which is unnerving at first.  SO WEIRD!  After time though, the benefits of not rubbing and pulling at your delicate eye area during removal add up.  This time I finished off the lashes with an additional coat of Benefit "They're Real" mascara just to plump and lengthen a bit more.  I feel like it made a difference.

Step #4
RED POUTY LIPS.  I lined my lips with concealor and blended.  I think its important to create a barrier so you can prevent bleeding and to make the outline of your lips "pop" a bit more.  I applied the lipstick with a  lip brush.  I applied and blotted with tissues 4x before I achieved the look I was going for.  This lipstick lasted all night, I used chap stick a few times to keep from drying out.

Step #5
BOLD BROWS!  You can't pull this off with wimpy or thin brows.  The brows are like the bow on the package, they tie it all together.  The look I used is a heavier look closer to the bridge of the nose, filled in on top and bottom of the natural brow line.  I tried to do a sharp arch starting just past my iris, leading out to a very thin end.  I applied the shaping powder with a stiff eye liner application brush and mist the brush with water beforehand to help pick up more pigment.

So that's my look!  Why leave all the fun stuff to the 20 year olds?????  I got a lot of compliments and will definitely try this look again.  :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Skinny on Skin Care - Time for one product or multiple, here's what you need to know!

Hope you all had a wonderful July 4th Holiday!  

So skin care, what's it all about?  Is it worth your time?  Your money?  What's really something to take note of and what's gimmicky?  

Whether you are on a tight time or financial budget I have some suggestions for you.  I will go over the how's and why's and then you can decide for yourself.

Of course I'm recommending Clinique because that's what I use and what I believe in.  Yes, I do work for the parent company, Estee Lauder but I've used Clinique for 20+ years and can confidently recommend them as a brand, the science behind their development, allergy testing and "claims" compares to no other line.

So here we go:  

The Full Routine (2x day)
(listed in order of use)

  • Rinse Off Eye Make Up Solvent - This is my favorite eye make up remover, I have very sensitive skin and this does the job without irritation.  (Clinique sells another option, Take the Day Off Make Up Remover for Lids, Lashes and Lips but I'm not a fan of the residue it leaves behind, I will say it does work better though!)  Let's be honest, there are a million ways to get eye make up off, cold cream, baby oil, make up wipes, tons of different choices out there.   This isn't something where you need to spend lots money to get the job done.
  • Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser - Great option to dissolve and remove make up before cleansing your skin.  Again, there are tons of options out there.  If you are on a budget choose whatever works for you.  Take the time to remove your make up.  Sleeping in makeup is horrible for your skin and will increase pore size over time.
  •  Liquid Facial Soap -  This is cleaning your skin, not removing make up.  You wouldn't take a shower with your clothes on, wash your body with soap, expecting to get your skin clean, right?  Take your make up off and then cleanse your skin.  It's two steps.  This formula will prepare the dead skin cells at the surface to be swept away by your next step.  ;)  I am sure there are drug store options that will work but I believe this is the best.
  • Clarifying Lotion (Level based on your skin type) -  This product is unique to the Clinique line and let me tell you WORTH EVERY PENNY.  It's NOT a lotion, its NOT a toner and its NOT an astringent.  It is a liquid exfoliant.  It is amazing and every thing you do for your skin will be more effective if you are using this consistently.  Wet a cotton ball and sweep this over your entire face excluding eye lids and lips. (You will immediately feel a clean, cool, tingling effect) This sweeps away dulling dead skin cells allowing your pores to stay smaller, prevent breakout, allow your skin to better accept moisture and treatment and give you a healthier, cleaner surface. 
  • Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion + or Gel -  Worth it?  Yes.  Buy it.  Buy it now.  Use it today.  This is not a traditional moisturizer, this replenishes the skin's moisture barrier, creating a balance between oil and water at the surface.  It improves the skins ability to hold moisture and prepares the skin to receive treatment products.  You can compare your skin to a sponge.  A damp sponge being healthy skin.  If you are trying to soak something up off the counter you would get the best results with a damp sponge.   If you used a dry sponge, you'd be pushing the liquid around.  When you are spending big bucks on treatment serums and creams you will get the most value if the skin is ready to be penetrated!
  • Serums - The big guns.  This is where it gets optional and personal.  In my case my two biggest concerns are lines/wrinkles and large pores so those serums gon on my skin right after my DDML.   I am not going to make this a commercial for Clinique power hitters but these have made a noticeable difference for me and measurable difference in lab testing on many women.  These are your power players and if you have serious concerns with lines and wrinkles, pores and/or dark spots and uneven skin tone, please stop by a counter and get educated on what you are missing out on.  The results compare to prescription ingredients and dermatological procedures.  Well worth the money if you have the concerns I mentioned above.
  • Booster Moisturizers -  This is where your skin gets the moisture if you need it.  Clinique has several to chose from with treatment formulas that both moisturize and treat issues.  I love the Youth Surge but this is something where you can spend or splurge, your choice!

 So there you have it.  That is my routine.  That is what I believe in.  Take the time, you deserve healthy skin.  You deserve to look younger than you are.

You can substitute many products but the Clinique 3-Step Skin Care System really is the best.  Read more about it by clicking here.

The non-negotiables, in my humble opinion are the Clarifying Lotion and the DDML+ or DDMG

If you have a concern or multiple concerns you want to be using a serum as the treatment.  This will give you maximum results in minimum amounts of time.  Many of us nearing the 40 year mark have concerns with lines and wrinkles so my top recommendation would be the Repairwear Laser Focus Wrinkle and UV Damage Corrector. 

From the Clinique Website:
Potent serum gives every skin a second chance against lines, wrinkles, sun damage. In 4 weeks, see obvious reduction in lines, wrinkles, improved texture. At 12 weeks, the visible wrinkle-reducing power is remarkably close to a dermatological laser procedure. 63%, to be exact.
Learn more about the serums Clinique offers by clicking here!
Of course I cannot say this enough.  If you buy ONE product, if you have time and money for only one thing make it SUNSCREEN.
There is no better way to prevent the signs of aging, don't leave the house without it.  Broad spectrum 30 or higher.  I don't care if you have a deeper skin tone, if it is winter, if your foundation has sunscreen in it- all invalid excuses.  Make it any brand, any price- just please USE IT EVERY SINGLE DAY and don't forget the tops of your ears!!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The "Listerine" Pedicure

- The "Listerine" Pedicure -

Well,  its that time again Ladies.  Flip flops, bare feet and sandals.  No more hiding our icky feet in fuzzy Uggs!


If you are anything like me, I cannot tolerate a pumice stone and don't even get me started on shavers and Pedi-Eggs.  Grrrrroooosssss!  I'm always the one that refuses it when I'm sitting in a pedicure spa chair.  Nooooo.  No thank you.  It just really icks me out.

So what's a janky footed gal to do?  I'd heard about this "Listerine" Pedicure as an alternative for sloughing off the dead skin we get on our pressure points like toes and heels.  Figured I'd give it a whirl.  Let me tell you, the smell is atrocious but well worth it in the end!

What you need:

Antiseptic Listerine (not the tastier or mild versions) Generic is fine!
Distilled White Vinegar
2 Gallon Ziploc bags
2 rubber bands
An old pair of socks (footies work best)

What you do:

Soak your socks in a mixture of 1 cup Listerine and 1/4 cup white vinegar.  When they are thoroughly soaked place them on your feet.  I put ziplock bags around my feet and secure with rubber bands so I could walk around.  Soak in your soggy socks for 25 minutes (longer probably couldn't hurt!).  Take off the socks and brush the dead skin away with a rough brush, I used the one below from Eco Tools (purchased at Meijer).

Really, that was it.  I took a shower right afterward and slathered my feet up with an intense moisturizer.  The tingly cool feeling lasted a good hour afterward.  So my feet not only felt soft but felt all fresh and clean.

I will definitely do this again, not nearly as fun as sitting in a spa pedicure chair and reading a magazine while someone else gets to do the honors but MUCH cheaper and really very easy.  

Hope it works for you too!
Take care of yourselves Ladies.  
XO  Jenni Rae

Monday, June 3, 2013

Nude XXX (Nude Lip that is! Kiss Kiss Kiss)

The Quest for the perfect Nude Lip 

I have some kind of sickness, a sickness that probably requires an intervention.

I've been on the hunt for a HG Nude Lip for approximately 15 years.  Sad right?  I just love the look of a smoky eye/nude lip.  I always struggle with looking too washed out, too grey or like the really popular "nude" lip is too Barbie pink for a more, ahem, "mature" woman such as myself.

I've tried everything, and its only been made worse by Pinterest.  I have a ginormous stock pile of nude lip sticks and glosses minus dozens I've given away to my Mom and my girlfriends over the years.  Nothing is ever quite right.

I'm going to share with you my favorite, although no where near "HG" (Holy Grail) its just the best I can find and my most complimented nude lip color.

MAC Lipstick ~ "Hue"

This is a creamy, pinky, peachy, nude.  Its not too pale, not too bright.  Just sort of perfect with my skin tone.  In these photos I used Clinique Lipliner in "Lipblush" with it, lightly lining the lips and blending it in and putting Hue all over lip.  I find its creamy enough not to need a gloss but if its for an evening look I normally will use Mac Lipglass in "Prrr" over the top of it.

The top photo is with the flash, bottom is without.  

The price through the Mac Cosmetics Website is $15.00 which is definitely pricy but probably your best option.  I've ordered a couple tubes through eBay and the color really can vary, not sure what you are actually getting!

So, that's my favorite (at least for now) and I certainly won't quit shopping for the perfect nude, at least until my husband threatens with divorce.  

Let me know what you think of Mac Hue if you've used it and I'd love to hear any dupes or suggestions!

Jenni Rae

Thursday, May 9, 2013


One very easy way to feel a little more put together is keeping those nails done.  Don't look at this as another chore to add to your "to do" list.  Painting nails for me is an escape, its a fun 30 minutes away from the craziness of my day.  Its relaxing.  I don't have patience for a lot of the tutorials out there (water marbling, ombre, etc).  I'm a fan of quick-n-easy! 

*OMBRE CHEAT* ~ I call it my "Glittered Gradient" look.  
Paint the bottom 1/2 one color and top another, press loose glitter along the line where the two colors meet to give that faux ombre look in a fraction of the time!  Below I used two of my favorite colors:  Bikini So Teeny by Essie and China Glaze Refresh-Mint.


 Candy Corn nails!  As simple as it looks, white, yellow and orange stripes with a glitter overlay (MY VERY VERY VERY fave is China Glaze Fairy Dust!!!)

 Gotta support the team!  Cheering on my son means Black-n-Yellow, all the time!
This is my Glittered gradient look with black and yellow, silver loose glitter that I bought from Claire's Boutique.

 This one gets a lot of compliments and is so fast.  Just a french manicure with white/sliver glitter pressed into the line.  Don't worry about being neat, the glitter forgives so much!!

Another favorite.  Essie Van'd'Goh with gold glitter.  Press glitter heavily at the bottom of the nail bed, let dry for about 30 seconds and sweep up with top coat.  Press with brush to spread out the glitter to your liking and top with clear coat.  Two if you want to smooth out even further.

 OK, this one did take a lot of time.  No special pattern, I just picked some favorite colors and used a toothpick to dot it out.  I'm not precise about my polka dots (as you can tell!) but really, who looks that close?  And if someone wants to be that critical, shame on them!  I'm a Mom,  time is limited!

 The ultimate FUN NAILS cheat.  Sally Hansen Nail Effects.  These are seriously STICKERS that go on very easily and dry immediately.  NO DRY TIME!  How awesome is that when you've got to pack lunches and do homework before dashing to the bus stop???

 Bring your patience with this one.  Just some favorite springy colors, I suggest painting your nail one of the lighter colors just to have coverage before you start your striping!

Again, China Glaze Refreshmint with loose glitter from Claire's.  By the way, I use an eyeshadow brush to dip in my glitter and press on to my nail.  Top with my favorite long last clear coat:  L'Oreal !

*  Fun Nails *
I consider painting my nails of my favorite hobbies (I find it really satisfying and relaxing to lock my kids out of the bathroom and take way too long to paint my nails)

I love natural, manicured, classic nails too but Pinterest has made me a nail painting junkie.  I have a cheapo camera so excuse the quality of the pics but I thought I'd share some of my favorite creations!  

Enjoy!  ;)