Thursday, November 12, 2015

Parchment and Old Lace by Laura Childs | Book Review

Parchment and Old Lace is another addition from Laura Childs that combines scrapbooking, crafting and a murder to solve.  This is an enjoyable read that draws the reader in with the colorful characters and fun crafting tips.

Laura Childs does such a wonderful job of making her characters likeable. I love the fun and independent nature of the main character, Carmella Bertrand.  Carmella owns and runs the "Memory Mine" scrapbooking store.  Memory Mine is described so realistically,  from the types of materials offered to clients in the store to the various classes offered by Carmella and her assistant Gabby.

I was so caught up in the story line, from the murder of Isabelle, to Carmellas'  often dangerous investigation of the various suspects in the book.  I had a hard time putting the book down to go to work. The author just kept me guessing as to who the true murderer could be.

I also enjoyed the fact that the author included so many useful crafting tips in this book.  My favorite tip is the use of a concept board in chapter 10.  The concept board is often used to help people plan their scrapbook pages, art projects, wedding decor, and so much more.  It can be applied to so many things.   I have always enjoyed using concept boards and found the inclusion of such a great source to have been a wonderful tip to offer readers in her book.  She gives the reader enough information in the story to afford the reader suffcient knowledge to be able to apply the use of a concept board to their own projects.

I love reading myteries and feel that this is such a fun read.  It was a great way for me to relax while drinking my tea.  I can't wait for her next book.

Note: I received my advance review copy (without corrections) for my honest review.  However I am huge fan of Laura Childs books (I own a lot of them), so I would have purchased this book anyway.  Thank you to Nancy Nally for the advance copy so I could get a jump on my reading.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dollar Store 1930 Style Bowler Hat Tutorial | Halloween Costume Ideas

I needed an affordable 1930s style hat for a simple woman's Halloween costume accessory, so I picked up a simple plastic bowler hat at the 99cent store.  This inexpensive hat was a pretty good choice because it was felted on the outside of the hat which provided me with a nice base to create a hat for my costume that did not look too cheesy.  Below is how I made this easy to decorate 1930s inspired bowler hat for my Halloween costume.

Materials Purchased at dollar store:
  • ·      Plastic Bowler Hat  
  • ·      Black tulle (4” wide)
  • ·      Grey burlap
  • ·      Fabric  flowers

Supplies Used:
  • ·      Glue gun
  • ·      Glue
  • ·      Twist tie
  • ·      Black Cotton Thread
  • ·      Sewing Needle

Step 1:
Cut the tulle fabric long enough to wrap around brim of the hat twice.  Glue or sew onto the brim of the hat.

Step 2:
The take a 6 inch square piece of fabric and gather it in the center, use a twist tie to hold it in place while you sew the gather.

Step 3:
To make the focal piece for the hat, use the glue gun to attach the flowers to the fabric square.  

Step 4:
To finish the hat, glue the focal piece onto the hat.

The total cost of materials was around $4 (plus tax).  I think that was a pretty good cost for a costume accessory and I was happy with the way it came out.

Note:  I prefer sewing the flowers to the hat so they won't fall off during the party.  However, you can easily use a hot glue gun to glue the decorations onto the hat.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Easy Halloween Gothic Hat Tutorial

If you are looking for a cheap and easy woman’s Halloween costume accessory that is easy to make, this Halloween Gothic Themed hat is so fun to make.  My daughter wanted a lightweight and easy to wear gothic styled hat.  Her budget was around $10.  So we went to the local dollar store Halloween costume department to see what would work.   They had some great pieces, which we put together to create this hat. We started with this cool hat blank we got at the 99 cents Store.

Materials Purchased:
  •       Felt Hat  
  • ·      Spider web patterned fabric square 
  • ·      Decorative Halloween Cape

  • ·      Floral spray with Plastic Spider (you can also find similar items separately at your local dollar store or Craft store)

Supplies Needed:
  • ·      Glue gun
  • ·      Glue
  • ·      Scissors
  • ·      Black Thread
  • ·      Needle
  • ·      Long nose pliers
  • ·      Wire cutters

Step 1:
Remove all the decorations from the hat.  If you have any residue left on the hat from the glue, just pop the hat into the freezer for an hour.  Then scrape off the glue.

Step 2:
To create the veil, using the needle and thread, loosely gather one end of the spider web fabric square.  Then pin it onto the front brim of the hat.  Once you lay it out and like the way it looks, you can either tack it down with a needle and thread or glue it down with a hot glue gun.  It is all a matter of preference.

Step 3:
Cut the cape in half, lengthwise so you end with a nice long piece.  Then either glue or sew this piece onto the crown (the area just above the brim) of the hat. 

Step 4:
Attach the flowers using a glue gun (or sew them) to one side of hat brim.

Step 5:
To finish just adhere the glitter spiders* to the hat. (If you cannot find any glitter spiders, they are pretty easy to make. You just put craft glue onto some plastic spiders and cover them with glitter. )

Since we already have an abundance of crafting supplies in our house.  We only needed to spend a total of $4 to make this hat and she got to personalize the hat to reflect her own vision.  I highly recommend checking out your local dollar stores for accessories to personalize your own costume pieces.  

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Sampling of Costumes From the Renaissance Faire

I thought I would share some fun costume images for those who are looking for Renaissance Faire or Halloween Costume Ideas.  These are just a few of costumes I encountered at my visit to my local Renaissance Faire.  These are only a few examples of some fun renfaire garb ideas.  Personally, I love the one above of a dog dressed as a pirate.  Many of the visitors with service dogs had really fun costumes for them.

There were all types of fun costumes to be found this year at faire. Including the "Three Sisters" who were witches of sorts.  They had a really fun gig they did throughout the faire.

I am not sure what these characters were supposed to be but they are fun costumes.

This zebra costume was an amazing makeup job and held up well during the 100 degree day.

The Fairy was very popular with the kids.

As was this performer who did mime and interacted with the various guests at the faire.

Some folks came dressed in their Wild West Gear.

The tree man was a great addition to the faire this year.  He was about 12 feet high and it was amazing that he could handle the hole filled terrain in those stilts.

Then of course there were more traditional renaissance faire costumes, like the Queens Guard Costumes.

And male and female peasant costumes.

These female Renaissance Faire performers had on more traditional costumes.

This child's Renaissance Faire costume was very meticulously made and held up well throughout the season filled with daily performances.

There were all types of interesting faire garb to be found at this event. I hope you enjoy this sampling.
Leave a comment below and let me know what types of costumes you see at your local faire or event.

Monday, September 21, 2015

My review of the Koi Assorted Coloring Brush Pen Set and the Tank Koi Water Brush in Medium

I love the 24 Piece Koi Coloring Brush Pens because they are so easy to travel with and yet the brush tips of these pens can be used to create some interesting effects just by changing the manner in which you press the tip onto the surface. These can also be used with the Koi Colorless Blending Pens for special effects and drawing texture on the project.

The tips are tapered which makes it easy to change the thickness of the brush strokes just by adjusting the pressure from the nib onto the paper, as well as the angle which you apply the nib.

 The Koi Coloring Brush Pens offer a great selection of bright colors in an easy to use pen form.

My favorite accessory to use with these pens is the Tank Koi Water Color Brush with the medium tip and/or  small tips.  They are great to pick up excess ink, as well as to create some fun affects on paper.

Tank Koi Water Color Brush Tutorial 
Using the Tank Koi Water Color Brushes with the Koi Assorted Coloring Brush Pens is pretty easy.   Below is a simple technique for using these pens.  You start by lettering the paper with pigment ink pens (waterproof) in a fun pattern.  Be sure to leave space on the letter for filling in with color.  Set aside to dry.

Step 1: Use your Koi Coloring Brush Pen to fill in the white open areas inside the letter.

Step 2: Using the Tank Koi Water Pen, add some water to the colored in area with the water pen.  Don't over saturate the area or it will make a mess.

Step 3:  Using the same  Tank Koi Water Pen , pick up some of the excess ink and use it to fill in areas on the paper around the letter.  

Step 4: To finish the project, just keep repeating the above steps with different colors of the brush pens.  You can use as much ink or as little as you want.  The fun is deciding which colors you like the best.

Below is a beautiful piece that one of my favorite artists, Lisa Engelbrecht,  made.  She used gold ink to draw the letters and then filled them in with some of her favorites pen colors.  I think it came out beautiful.

By the way, if you want to learn how to do some beautiful letter, the I recommend her book called "Modern Calligraphy" through which she shares her amazing talent for lettering and art.

Lisa Engelbrecht passed away a few years ago but her artwork constantly reminds me of what a wonderful and talented person she was.  I am so glad that I was able to purchase the pieces of her work that I have on my walls at home.

I really liked the ease of use of the Koi Assorted Coloring Brush Pen Set and the Tank Koi Water Brush in Medium and how pigmented the inks really were.  I would see these are a really good brush pens in the mid price range of $41 for the set of 24 colors.   I would love to read your personal experience in using these pens and how well they worked for you.  Just leave a comment below and share your experience.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Look at the 2015 Sephora Favorites Sun Safety Kit

Sun safety is really important to me and my family and the 2015 Sephora Favorites Sun Safety Kit offers a wide range of products to fit my needs.  The kit itself sells for $32 and for each kit sold,

Sephora donates $20 to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Having personally experience sun damaged skin and the less than fun experience of having a dermatologist remove potential melanoma cells from my

skin; I pay a lot of attention to sun safety for my family and myself.  I don't believe that a coat of sunscreen by itself is sufficient to protect my skin from the harsh California sun, so I do invest in quality products that provide additional protection to my skin.

There is an excellent selection of products in the bag and the products are mostly deluxe sized samples.

Here is a list of what came in the 2015 Sephora Favorites Sun Safety Kit:

  1. Amorepacific - Natural Protector spf 30 (.1 oz)
  2. Clarins UV Plus Anti-Pollution Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (.3 oz)
  3. Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (.5 oz)
  4. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Dark Spot Sun Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (.25 oz)
  5. Dr. Jar Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 (.17 oz)
  6. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 (.08 oz) 
  7. Josie Maran Cosmetics Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 (.5 oz)
  8. Korres Yoghurt Nourishing Fluid Veil Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (.34 oz)
  9. Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30 (.17 oz)
  10. Olehenriksen Eye Cream (.1 oz)
  11. Origins VitaZing Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Energy Boosting Moisturizer With Mangosteen (.5 oz)
  12. Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Defense Lotion SPF (.5 oz)
  13. Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 50 (.6 oz)
  14. St. Tropez One Night  in Light-Medium (1.69 oz)
  15. Supergoop City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30 (.34 oz)
  16. Vita Liberata Passion Flower & Argon Dry Oil Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (.34 oz)

I thought this was a really good selection of products for my investment of $30.  And since $20 of my investment went to the Skin Cancer Foundation, I felt really good about my purchase.  I not a fan of tiny samples (single use packets) because I can not use the product enough to form an opinion on it or not.  These deluxe samples were big enough that I was able to use them and decide which ones worked great for me and which did not.

Below are some of my favorite products that were included in my kit.  The sugar balm is just the right size to stick in my jean pocket and have it on hand.  It does have sun protection in it, so my lips get some protection as well as moisture.

The Josie Maran Cosmetics Argan Daily Moisturizer with SPF 47 works really well for me and does not cause my skin to break out.  It does have a light fragrance, so if you are sensitive to fragrance make sure you check out the tester at Sephora to make sure it won't cause you any problems.

I also am a fan of the Ole Henriksen line but had not tried the "Total Truth" eye cream before.  I usually use the Ultimate Lift Eye gel because it helps diminish my under eye bags but this product is really moisturizing and great for night time use.

Now for my least favorite product:

The Supergoop City Sunscreen Serum with SPF 30, did not provide me with sun protection. I wore it for a few hours and managed to get sunburn.  It also made my skin itch.  The cream does have a noticeable fragrance which could easily have caused the reaction.  However, since I still got sunburn I will not be purchasing the Supergoop product in the future.  I had better sun protection from other products.

When you consider that I only disliked 1 out of 16 products, this really was a great deal.   Most of the Sephora stores are sold out of the kit but I have still come across some kits in the bigger Sephora locations.  They are perfectly sized for travel.  I was really happy with my purchase and enjoyed trying out some of the newer products that I was not familiar with.  It is a great deal if you can still find them in the store.

They seem to release a different one each year, so if you missed out on the 2015 Sephora Favorites Sun Safety Kit then keep an eye for the 2016 which should be released around June 2016.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

My Review of SKII Facial Treatment Essence

The Sk-II Facial Treatment Essence and mask is a wonderful way to boost skin firmness and improve the overall texture of the skin.  I have so many friends who swear by their line that I was more than a little interested in trying the line. Since the SK-II Facial Product line has such an amazing reputation for its skin care products, I was excited to have the opportunity to test out one of their mini kits for BzzAgent.  

My kit had the following products in it:

SK-II Treatment Essence (1oz)
SK-II Treatment Mask (1)
SK-II Essential Power Cream  (.05 oz)

The SK-II company uses only the highest quality ingredients which is reflected in the price tag of their product line.  The SK-II Essential Power Moisturizing Cream, 2.71 fl. oz. sells for $215.00 at Amazon and Sephora.  So getting to try this tiny sample of the cream was really important for me before I would commit to purchasing such an expensive product.  The little jar holds a bit less than .05 oz of the cream but with this product a little goes a long way. I have really oily skin and suffer from break outs and wrinkles (what a combo) so I was a little bit afraid that the cream would break me out.  I used a pea size amount on the drier parts of my skin to see if I would break out.  I am happy to say that the cream did not break me out.  I was also surprised at how smooth the texture of the cream is. It spread out so easily so a little really went a long way.  I got about three weeks worth of use out of this little jar. That was enough time to get a good idea of its effectiveness for my skin.  

The cream is great and really moisturized my skin.  I found it a bit too heavy to use during the day since it has been really warm out here this summer.  I decided to use it only at night and got some great results.  I think this cream will be wonderful during the winter when my skin tends to be drier.  

According to the BzzAgent website the "SK-II Essential Power Cream contains Stem-Acanax and Pitera™ to radically improve firmness and reduce wrinkles".  This miracle ingredient is at the core of the revolutionary products SK-II offers. SK-II Facial Treatment Essence is a liquid concentrate with 90% Pitera™ in every bottle. SK-II Facial Treatment Masks deliver an indulgent concentration of Pitera™ in a single application."

The Pitera compound stimulates the skins natural cellular repair and promotes more efficient skin regeneration.  For those who do not know, Pitera is a type of fermented yeast that is supposed to speed up the skins rejuvenation process.  The yeast come from Saki. 

The SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, 2.5 fl. oz. was my favorite product.  It is enriched with more than 90% Pitera.  Additionally, the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence has vitamins, amino acids, minerals and some organic aides which are added to help promote health skin cells and aid in the skin cell renewal cycle.  The website states that with daily application the essence helps improve the texture of the skin.  I have to agree with it.  It also helped clear up my skin and improve the tone of my skin around my mouth and cheek area.  I found it easiest to use by pouring a very small amount onto the back of my hand and patting it onto my face.  That way I would not waste any of the product.  This product sells for $105 for the 2.5 oz size at Sephora.

The SK-II Facial Treatment Mask is a very high quality mask. The cotton mask fabric is thicker than some of the other masks that I use from Sephora.  If you are not familiar with this type of mask, it is a bit goey when removing it from the packaging.  This is good because it means that the company did not skimp on the liquid product.  

You just need to carefully unfold the mask and place onto your skin. SK-II does include directions in their packaging which make using their masks for the first time very easy.  I love the thick texture of the serum on the mask.  My skin was pretty dehydrated that morning and just sucked the serum right up.  I kept it on for about 30 minutes and then just patted the residual serum onto my neck and chest area.  My skin looked great.  Thanks to the serum my skin was so moisturized that it swelled up slightly for about 5 hours.  It actually made my fine lines and eye wrinkles disappear for most of the day.  I had a photo shoot that day and my skin looked amazing.  I know that I will be purchasing the mask when I need to attend special events and look my best. The glowing skin effect did last a few days which was amazing for a one time use mask.   The mask sells for about $17 for one on  

Overall, the price of these products may appear to be on the high side.  However, if you consider how well they work and how little of the product you use at each application, then the price is actually pretty reasonable.

Update, September 15, 2015:  Costco has the SK-II kits for under $175.  So if you are a fan of the product, you might want to visit your local Costco and pick it up before they sell out.

Thank you to BzzAgent and SK II for providing me with samples of these products to test out and give my honest review of my personal experience with the SK-II Facial Product line. If you like sampling new products then check out BzzAgent for yourself and sign up to test and review products

Great News for those of you who live in the UK, BzzAgent has a homepage just for you.  If you would like to review products and give your honest opinion on them, then check out their homepage.

NOTE: if you are sensitive to yeasts, you may have a different reaction to the product than I did. I imagine if you suffer from any type of yeast intolerance you may want to check with your doctor before using this product