Pretty Thought of the Day

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Instead of buying candy to hand out to your local kids this Halloween, make a batch of caramel apples, pop corn balls or other sweet treats! Home made is always better!

The History of Pumpkin Carving

Friday, October 29, 2010

When I was carving my Halloween pumpkin into a Jack o'Lantern yesterday, I looked right into his face and began pondering the history behind what I was doing. I wondered, "why the heck do we carve faces into pumpkins? When and where did this all start?" So, I became determined to get to the bottom of it all. However, this was not an easy task to accomplish! There is a lot of information that was consistent, however I also found a lot of stories which had similar bases but different details. So, I've gathered it all together and here is what I've discovered. I hope it helps you, your friends and your family better understand your time-honored tradition.

I found that the term "Jack O'Lantern" (or Jack of the lantern) originates from a mid-17th century Irish folklore about a man named Stingy Jack who tricked the devil into not taking his soul to hell. However, when Jack died he was not welcomed into heaven and was them forced to aimlessly roam the earth having only a small burning coal inside a carved out turnip to light his path and ward of evil spirits. The stories behind Stingy Jack tell different tales, but they all eventually settle on his turnip with a light inside.

You may be wondering how a turnip would turn into a pumpkin that we are accustomed to today. Well, once this legend became popular, the people of the British isles began carving scary faces into gourds and potatoes to ward off the evil spirits that roam the earth as well as Stingy Jack himself. Once the immigrants of these regions came to the United States they discovered the native pumpkin. They realized that pumpkins, being larger and easier to carve, would make a much better "Jack O'Lantern".

I then began to wonder why these Jack's were carved only in the Fall. However, I realized it really has to do with the history of Halloween itself. All across the world, the time which Halloween is celebrated has different origins and significances but they all seem to resolve themselves around the remembrances of the dead. Many cultures believe that during this time of year the spirits (harmful as well as harmless) are able to pass between the earth and the afterlife. There are religious beliefs that use jack's to not only ward of evil spirits but to welcome their deceased relatives.

In today's culture, we use them as a Halloween decoration and fun tradition for kids. So, grab that perfect pumpkin and get carvin'!

Wedding Trends: Groom's Attire

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Keeping with the spirit of men’s fashion, I’ve moved on to suits! The suit is a minor detail to the wedding overall, but probably the man’s greatest contribution to the wedding decisions. Everyone knows the main focus of the day is the bride. The relative insignificance may be why men’s suits have always just been a tuxedo or black suit with black tie. In recent years though, grooms have broken away from the static, simple black on white combination for new colors, patterns and overall designs. Groom’s attire is still typically a suit, but they now have flair, are less formal (sometimes with an antique feel) and each have their own twist. I love to see the new styles of groom’s garb and I’ve collected some of my favorites below.

The main shift of weddings (and suits) is towards a more carefree and comfortable feeling. Men’s outfits now seem to be tailored perfectly for the groom’s personality and their special day. Couples are truly taking over every detail of the wedding and doing exactly what they want. This includes having the suits match the theme and colors of the wedding. Black and white suits are no longer the standard for this special day.

Although the typical suit/tuxedo is rejected and weddings are becoming more casual, they’ll always be a classy event. As I’ve mentioned before, it seems that classic elegance with a casual twist is being opted for over a modern and formal motif. This fad seemed to be aimed at making guests more comfortable, which means less formality and a more sweet, homey feel.

One way to make the groom and his groomsmen more informal is by losing the suit jackets. This could mean settling on a vest or simply a button-up shirt. A vest is a more dressy and less common happening, which can make it appealing. If you want completely easy nuptials though, go for the button-up.

As the wedding now moves around the personalities of the couples, the wedding can really just become a reflection of them. This allows them to show off their goofiness, which may involve clothing :)

Having each detail of the wedding revolve around the bride and groom’s personalities also means that things will become more creative. Color schemes and patterns will be outfitted around the twosome. This could mean going very old-fashioned with top hats and intricate designs.....

….or offbeat with unexpected collages of color and retro outfits. Large doses of color is definitely a tremendous and fairly new trend. People now seem to want bright and sunny colors for their once in a lifetime occasion, if not, then simply an array of colors.

Unprecedented suits are a growing fad as well. Throwbacks from decades ago can be a good change of pace. This may include colors unseen in the modern age (such as brown and certain shades of grey) and the all too uncommon bow tie. This can great for showing off the groom's personality and giving off a down to earth feel.

Classic attire specific to certain regions, like the south, are uncommon, and never go out of style. Not only is it old-fahsioned, but it's also inherently casual. You can get the best of both worlds with something like this. Obviously though, it might be a little odd in New York or Seattle, but then again, this might be something you seek :)
The last fad of the increasingly casual and unique grooms' attire is of course the dismissal of the tie altogether. This may mean opting for a scarf, ascot or a bare collar. Scarves are ideal for colder weather and can add a nice voguish touch. Ascots are also making a fashion comeback. The detail of this simple, quaint article can offer plenty of charm and elegance to your wedding.
No matter what you or your groom chooses for his wedding attire, make it special for your personalities and your day. Hopefully some of these ideas can give a little direction in your planning and make the process just a bit easier for you.

Falling for Home Decor

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Though Fall is amongst us and you may have already decorated your home for this cool season, there still may be a few of you out there who did not have that decorating itch until now. I scratched that itch back in early October but only by displaying my Halloween decor. So, now that Halloween is only a week away and I will want to change the look and feel of my home, I began to scour the internet for classic and simple Fall adornment. Plus, I just think these images are pretty!

I really wish I had a fireplace because they keep you warm, but they are also a focal point in a room which allows you to showcase each seasons decorating trends. I am also a fan of creating a mini pumpkin patch with all sizes of pumpkins, gourds, squashes. The fireplace is the perfect location to exhibit this pumpkin collection! And like shown above, you can make it stand out even more with a bit of lighting and sparkling branches.

Since I've just mentioned branches, I will go into a little more detail about them. Fall is the time when nature begins to dry out and die. Sounds dreary, I know. But it can also make for beautiful vase arrangements. Consider plucking a few long, bare branches from a tree nearby and place them in a gorgeous vase. In order to give an appeal in this arrangement you must have a vase with at least, a bit of interest. But this route may not suite you, so my other suggestion is to find branches with a few sparse small flowers or dead/dying berries in fall colors to gather together for a luscious bouquet.

Candles are warm, inviting, usually smell lovely and their soft glowing light makes you - and your guests - feel cozy and relaxed. You can place candles anywhere in your home this fall, but I love to see candles in interesting centerpieces or grouped together for an alluring scene. You can place then on a table or shelf with fall leaves, branches and dried flowers surrounding it, or use levels. Gather together candles in different heights or place a candle on a tall platter with smaller candles around it.

And who doesn't love filling clear cylinders and bowls with you favorite fall fruits and vegetables? I know I really enjoy seeing them! In the above photo, you see different colored pumpkins, gourds ad squashes, but there are other options to filling your cylinders. Try using fall fruits and vegetables like apples, pears and indian corn. But acorns and sweet gum tree balls give an exceptional fall feel as well.

Wedding Trends: Boutonnieres

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Like most girls, I am a wedding fiend. I could almost be an expert in the field of wedding motifs and details. And as with every era, there are trends in weddings. I’ll be doing a few segments on popular trends in many of the important elements of a wedding. I’ve noted a few of my favorites below that you may consider if you are currently or about to plan to your day.

The main fad in weddings overall is the rejection of a formal and/or modern wedding. Most people are opting for a more laid back setting for comfort. This isn’t to say that it isn’t a dressy occasion; it’s just not a black tie affair anymore. And modern, understated themes and decorations are being ignored for antique, intricate, rustic elegance.

I’ve started this series out small with a simple, yet decisive detail for the groom. Considering that the groom doesn’t have much leeway in terms of fashion, the boutonniere is a major piece of his outfit. Usually for prom, weddings and pretty much any other occasion, a man’s boutonniere is usually the uber-traditional rose, maybe with some Baby’s Breath. This has been the standard method of operation of men’s formal fashion for decades and possibly a century. Gladly, this boring cycle has been broken :)

Grooms (and probably more specifically brides) are now going for unique boutonnieres that haven’t been done before. The trend is becoming a simple, unexpected flower that fits the suit perfectly (which is usually no longer black as well). If the groom does wear a rose, it commonly comes with a twist now. Original boutonnieres can include a small shrub, berries, a pretty non-flowering plant, cloth or paper. A very innovative (but modern) one is an origami boutonniere. Depending on your wedding design, it could work in a classic or modern setting.

My favorite one I’ve seen so far is a cloth wrapped in green wire to make the shape of a flower. This gives a homey, casual yet antique complement to the groom’s garb. Also, there is a shift from a plain pin to more intricate fasteners and accessories, such as ribbon, feathers or fabric in any design that can be managed.

Although the boutonniere is only a detail, hopefully you now have some inspiration to put a tiny new spin on an old tradition for wedding day.

Quick Halloween Costumes

Halloween is quickly approaching and if you are one of the indecisive individuals (like me), you still don’t know what you will be for Halloween. And if you’re above wearing trashy costumes, then last minute eye-catching costumes are difficult to find. Luckily, I have a few ideas for you lovely ladies :) There are a few ideas for only you and a some more couple costumes if you’ve convinced your boyfriend/husband to join in.

A simple classic for either a guy or girl is the nerd costume. Root through your closet for clothes about 2 sizes too small and make sure they don’t match. Wear a button-up shirt (every button buttoned) and get a pair of suspenders and very out of date shoes. Of course you must have glasses taped in the middle and complete with neck strap. To enhance the costume, you can use a pocket protector (full of pens), add fake zits to your face and use gel to mold your hair into some strange hairdo. This idea is an oldie but always a goodie.

A funny ensemble that also never goes out of style is the bag lady. Simply wear a skirt a flowing skirt with men’s longjohns underneath. Then, wear several different types of shirts layered in random order. It’s better if some of the them are dirty and/or ripped. Next, wear two different shoes, such as a men’s work boot and a women’s flat. Next, wear one glove with cut off finger holes on one hand and carry a plastic bag with a few bottles and cans in it. Lastly, use make up to dirty yourself up a bit, make your hair messy and wear a tattered hat of any kind.

A newer and underdone idea is the Orbit gum girl. Dress entirely in white, including a barrette. The only color in the outfit is a bright airy scarf of any color around the neck. A blonde wig will enhance the outfit. Lastly, speak with a British accent and use phrases such as ‘fabulous’ and ‘for a fresh clean feeling, no matter what’. Also, having Orbit gum to hand out is handy ;)

A simple yet brilliant costume is the stick figure. Get a black long sleeve shirt and black athletic pants. Next, glue glow sticks along the arms, legs and spine on the front and back of the outfit. This is an easy and unique outfit that will never go out style.

A cute and retro costume is the famous Charlie Brown ghost costume. Take a plain white sheet and cut about 20 holes in it. Make sure two of the holes are for your eyes. Then carry around a trick-or-treat bag full of rocks. This is a sweet throwback that will bring a smile to anyone’s face.

The easiest and cheapest costume is the Got Milk? Ensemble. Write ‘Got Milk?’ in black sharpie across a white t-shirt and put a milk mustache on your upper lip with Halloween make up. If you are willing to put in a little more effort, you can carry around a milk quart as well.

If your boyfriend/husband is game to dress up with you, here are a few ideas that he will probably go for. A superb retro outfit is Popeye and Olive Oyl. Each outfit can be made with some sewing and trips to the thrift store and army supply store. You can also buy them around $20-$30 each. Just remember that this costume isn’t complete without a can of spinach :)

A great and rarely done idea is Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat. These can also be made with some skillful sewing and of course blue wigs. They are also sold many place for around $30 each. To enhance the costume, you can paint your faces white. The great thing about this costume is that it gives you an excuse to act as goofy as you want.

Outfits perfect for Halloween are Morticia and Gomez Addams. They are romantic and creepy (and all together spooky). The man needs a black pinstripe suite a red tie. To complete his ensemble, make his hair black, add a pencil mustache and a cigar. For Morticia, wear a tight black dress with flared ends at the hands and feet. Wear heavy eye makeup and dark red lipstick and long straight black hair. If you can, polish this costume with the accents and demeanor Gomez and Morticia to make the costumes all the better :)

My last and favorite costume is the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square from Victory in Japan from World War II. A great thing about this one is that it is very simple to recreate. All you need is a sailor uniform and nurse uniform, which are common. It’s easy to rent/buy the outfits or to gather up parts for the ensembles from random places. The best part is that these costumes make for great pictures, and when people ask who you are, just reenact the kiss!

Now you have just enough time before Halloween and a few suggestions to make a spectacular costume. Enjoy your outfit hunting and the parties!