Monday, December 16, 2013

Atlanta Gift Guide

At this point, if you haven’t purchased something for your significant other for Christmas, you might be starting to panic. Or, perhaps you need something to make that certain someone feel extra special this year? You are in luck because I have a few great last minute gift ideas that will make you shine like a gifting star! Sorry folks, these suggestions mainly apply to Atlanta friends. However, there is likely something similar in your city.

For the Ladies:

Give the gift of PERFECT HAIR


A gift certificate to Dry Bar has been my go-to girlfriend gift for 2013. If your lady has never tried it, she may want to use this for a special occasion. However, I have girlfriends that use them quite frequently. So, consider making her feel like she has a personal hair artist with either a Membership or a Bar Tab. See website for pricing and, no, this isn’t going to be cheap. What? You’re the one that waited until the week before Christmas to shop!


Give the gift of THE CLOSET CLEANOUT

Most women I know find it difficult to find their own personal style. Being on trend yet wearing what works for our bodies is not always one in the same. What better place to start than a “closet cleanout” by a professional? And if all goes well, your lady may want to start building her wardrobe with perfect pieces for her. Now this is a GREAT gift!! See website for pricing. You can determine how much your lady is worth to you…ha ha! Just kidding!

 For the Gents:

Give the gift of a CUSTOM SHIRT
There is no doubt about it, preppy is “in” and it looks like it is here to stay. There is only one problem; my husband isn’t preppy, at all! That being said, he loves having a custom shirt made just for him since the fit is far superior to shirts purchased in department stores. Getting him to go to a boutique to get his measurements taken, pick out the fabric, etc. can be a hassle, (for both of us). I was recently introduced to a stylist at J. Hilburn. They come to your home with fabric swatches in hand, take measurements and place your order. Problem solved! Prices are around $100-$175, depending on the fabric chosen.

Atlanta Stylist: Neil Gressette,
Note: Stylists are located throughout the U.S. in most major cities

After breezing past the maƮtre d' with a knowing glance, you weave past the restaurant's patrons to the open-air kitchen, eyes furtively scanning the room, wondering if anyone noticed you. One sharp glance back as you slide your magnetic keycard through the reader and enter a classy speakeasy of the new Prohibition. This is The Club at Chops, a semi-private dining room in one of Atlanta's premier steak houses.

Annual dues for membership are $700 for individuals and $1,900 for corporate memberships, which grants access to four members of the same company. But there's a new way to score a spot at The Club, among the vivid hues of leather and mosaic tile, and that's to secure a one-day pass ($25) and a reservation. Though you probably won't be seated at the Frank Sinatra or the Ray Charles tables (the best seats in the house, named for the portraits on the walls above them), you'll still have access to the humidor with 10 different cigar brands for, the live jazz five nights a week, the top-shelf liquor and the extensive wine list, plus the full restaurant menu.

Mr. Bond would be proud.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Top Five Beauty Products of 2013

We all want to look our best year-round and there is no better time to spruce up your beauty routine than right before a new year. Every year I make it a personal goal to try new beauty products that I think sound interesting or fun. I shop everywhere from Nordstrom to Sephora to CVS.  There is always a drawer full of rejects (maybe I should compile that list for you sometime!), but what I want to share with you now are my favorites. Here are my Top 5 beauty products of 2013. Let me know if you try any of them!

Top 5 Beauty Products of 2013

1. Ear Plugs
2. Fabulous Eye Drops
3. Brightening Lid Liner
4. Color Mousse
5. At-Home Peel
You read correctly, my number one recommendation is ear plugs. I have been married for close to seven years and, not only have these saved my marriage (tee hee!), but they also let me have a full, restful night of sleep. There is nothing that will make you look better than a great night’s sleep. I buy them in bulk! You will thank me later.



Do any of you suffer from constant dry eyes? I look at a computer a lot, read quite a bit, wear contact and have allergies. These things combined make my eyes so dry that I actually once removed part of my cornea while taking out a contact. Yes, that can happen. I wore an eye patch for two weeks while my eye healed. Did you know that your eye is one of the fasting healing parts of your body? Pretty cool huh? I was thrilled to learn that little tidbit when I thought I had ripped out my eyeball. Anyway, I now have the best optometrist in the world and he had me start using these eye drops. I put them in before bed & in the morning before my contacts go in. Visine has been a  well-liked product for a long time but, trust me, these are head & shoulders about that brand. This product feels great in your eyes!



So, after a good night’s rest and perfectly moisturized eyes, I still want to make my eyes pop. Many, many years ago, I started using a white liner inside my lower lash line for special events. (MAC “Fascinating”) It truly works wonders in opening up your eyes. The problem is that the white can be very stark in daylight. So, if I need for my eyes to pop during the day, I use a neutral lip pencil in, (MAC “Naked”). MAC is the best stay-put brand I have found. Give it a shot!



A few months ago I posted about temporarily dying my hair red.

I could not believe how well it covered my color. I went back in to Sally Beauty Supply to get a mousse to match my everyday hair color to use in between highlight appointments. You know, for that last week before your appointment when you think the world will end if you don’t touch up your roots? It’s perfect for those days! I also have sparse grey hairs in my temple which this product totally covers. Seriously!



I make no secret of the fact that I make a big investment in my skin each year. It is important to me to have healthy, glowing skin that makes me feel more confident. My general feeling is that there are very few shortcuts when it comes to facials and face products in terms of pricing. If you have ever bought a Microderm off of Groupon, you know what I mean.  That being said, one of the aestheticians that I go to suggested that I try these towelettes in between appointments. Since they are $8, I agreed. I love getting “mini” peels since “big” peels have to be perfectly timed due to all the peeling and redness. (Mini peels typically do not make me  peel). My expectation was that the towelette was similar to a mini peel…I was wrong. This tiny, $8 solution-soaked towelette made my face peel like a major peel. Depending on the market you live in, this usually costs well over $200. I was a little caught off guard by the peeling since I normally plan around that sort of thing, but was majorly impressed by this product!! This isn’t for everyone, I will admit. But, if you are like me and have a BFF relationship with your aesthetician, ask him/her about these!

NOTE: This product is intended to be used in conjunction with the Vi Peel. It is my personal opinion that this is not entirely necessary. Please ask your dermatologist or aesthetician where to purchase in your area…and send me before & after pics!!


Honorable Mention:

Now that I am in my late 30’s, I have really started to pay more attention to the delicate skin on my neck. I had been hearing great things about Nectifirm so I decided to give it a shot. Honestly, I feel like I may be doing more preventative work than recovery but I do like the product. It is not too light or too heavy. I do find it hard to remember to use it which means that one jar has lasted about a year. The verdict it still out on whether or not I will continue but overall, I give this one a thumbs up.

In case you missed it, here is a review of my 2012 recommendations (I still use all of these products, except for the LeMer):





Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Great Holiday Neighbor Gift

I love dropping a little treat in my neighbor's mailboxes around the holidays. Who doesn't love a sweet surprise? This one is my favorite because it is so easy, very inexpensive and delicious!

Start with: Raisins, Craisins, Unsalted Peanuts, M&M's, Butterscotch Chip and anything else you have in your cabinet. I had dried cherries on hand so I threw those in as well.

Dump all ingredients into a bowl & mix well.

Spoon them into mason jars for fresh keeping
(these last much longer than cellophane bags)
You can tie a ribbon around the top or wrap them in a dinner napkin. I picked up these holiday dinner napkins at my local thrift store for $.50/each.
What a steal!

I never know how much I will need to fill my jars so I keep a spare jumbo mason jar on hand for any leftovers. This also makes it super simple to assemble a last minute gift or make an addition to a basket.

A Festive Santa Basket

I love buying baskets at Goodwill! Did you know that they are $1.00-$5.00? They are so cheap compared to other retailers that I usually go in & stock up for a rainy day. I got this little treasure for $2.50 & decided to make it festive for Christmas...Santa style!

You probably know how much I loved spray-painting this a glossy, bright red!
(no primer was needed)

I hot-glued fur around the top and folded it into the basket
I then added a simple, black satin ribbon


The final touch was to glue a masculine buckle in place

I filled it with some delicious treats and sprinkled in a few snowflakes



Monday, November 25, 2013


$10 Gift Idea- NAIL STICKERS
If you haven’t gotten into this craze, the holidays are a great time to start. I first tried these for Halloween last year, then for Mardi Gras. But, honestly, they aren’t just for unique celebrations. They come in an array of “normal” colors and they truly do last for about 5 days. If you are like me and never seem to have time for polish to dry, you will love these. Oh wait, this is supposed to be a gift blog so, um, buy one and try one?

Available at:
Everyone cooks with olive oil these days because it contains “good fat”. Sometime we, myself included, just pour on the good stuff without thinking about it. A dear friend of mine suggested this product to me and I think it is a brilliant and unique gift in that perfect price range!
Available at:
One of the best parts about the holidays is receiving tons of Christmas cards featuring everyone’s adorable kids (and pups) in the most beautiful, professional pictures. I think Olan Mills was the most professional shots I had done as a kid and I’m sure those entailed some horrific marble background but I digress. Truth be told, sometimes, the pictures that I see posted on Facebook are just as good and definitely more natural and fun. I love that Kinkos now has the ability to print your snapshots directly onto a canvas. This gift will have the” aww” affect you are searching for!
Available at:
$75 Gift Idea-BARK BOX (3-month subscription)
We all know that I am a tiny bit obsessed with my cute pups.  If you know of someone like me, you have to get them a subscription to BarkBox. It is just like BirchBox ( but for pets. Each month a new box arrives with treats and toys galore. This is a must for the pet lover in your life. They will LOVE it!
 Available at:
$100 Gift Idea- AGATE COASTERS
When I was a little girl growing up in the country, I collected rocks. Pretty exciting huh?  I always wanted to live in a neighborhood around other people but, the truth is that growing up isolated like that allowed my imagination to really flourish and grow. I thought that the rocks I found were little treasures and I would just sit and stare at them for hours. I still have my collection so, whenever I see something that features rocks, I am just naturally drawn to it.
And yes, I am listing coasters in the $100 range suggestion this year. What can I say? Sometimes you just have to go a little overboard for the person in your life that has everything.
Available at:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Headboard Project

My husband & I love a project that allows us to re-purpose something & make it better. About a year ago, we came across a booth at Scott Antique Market, (, that had headboards made out of old doors. We loved & it decided that we should consider making one ourselves. We have completed two previous "door" projects so I guess you could say this is our thing. In case you missed the first two door projects, here you go:

Some dear friend's of ours were renovating a historic 1920's home in Nashville which included replacing their interior doors. Never one to miss an opportunity for a project, my husband asked them if we could one of them. As luck would have it, they decided to move back to Atlanta shortly thereafter & brought the door to us. Thanks Betsy & Clay!

This project was very difficult to say the least. It took a lot of planning, materials, tools, tweaking and patience. My husband & I worked together to make this happen and we are so happy with the end result. Enjoy and rest-assured that all of my remaining projects for 2013 will be very light in nature ;)

The original door
We hired a very capable Project Manager (and he is cute to boot)
The first few weeks were handled by my husband & entailed things like this:
And this:
And this:
Gotta love a great sanders that your renter leaves behind...
At this point, we thought we had made progress:

It was my turn to fill in nail holes:
Sand a bit more:
Stain the posts (4 coats of grey stain):

Wax the posts (4 coats)
And apply the antiquing glaze:
After all that, the door looked like this. I went a little over-board with the antiquing glaze. Darn it..

So, I brought in a backup for advice:
Luckily, I had a nice acrylic paint on hand in a yummy buttermilk color:

I sponge-painted the entire door to soften the "dirty" look. I then went back & added more buttermilk paint just to the center of each piece to make the edges appear darker:
We're almost there:

This is the headboard we have been using for many years. It belonged to my husband's family so we wanted to incorporate it into our new headboard:
We carefully attached it to the back of the new headboard:
After up-righting it, we attached it to the wall:
And we LOVE it!! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A True Ghost Story: Finding Heifer

You may recall that a few months ago my dog, Mardi, went missing. We moved heaven & earth to try to find her and, thankfully, three days later, (on her birthday), we got her back. The whole experience, while devastating, actually showed us how compassionate the human race can be. 

In my quest to find her, I met a lot of interesting people, some of whom contacted me each day to see if I had found her and then followed up to see how she was doing once she was returned to us. I am not talking about friends or even friends of friends, I mean perfect strangers! One such new friend e-mailed me the day we got Mardi back to offer an unconventional method to find her. While I didn’t need any additional help, I was intrigued by her suggestion and wanted to learn more. Please enjoy this very true ghost story that was shared with me. I realize that it may seem a bit whacky but I was completely moved by it. Think what you want but, I hope that you have a lovely ghost encounter someday.

As told to me by my new friend "Amelia" whom I met via e-mail when Mardi was on her little adventure in the country last April. I have permission to share her story but she wanted her identity to remain anonymous.

Dear Jaime,
Have you ever had any contact with animal communicators?  I always worry a little when I tell people about this, but here we go:
About 11 years ago, we lost our Great Dane, Heifer. We live in a very rural area and Heifer had been asleep on the bed when I left for work, but was gone when we got home. She had just lost her front leg to surgery two weeks prior and was feeling better and decided to go out with the other dogs. She had been a stray with an injured paw, and after a few years of various surgeries, the doctor finally decided he needed to take the entire leg.  She was fine with it as she didn't have much use of the leg anyway. She was able to open our front door and though we have thousands of acres of timber land behind our 50 acres of property,  we never "dog fenced" our property until after this event. I searched for her daily in the woods for 4 months and never gave up on finding her; she had my heart! 

At the time, I worked at the Atlanta Humane Society and, one day, a lady who had been searching for her dog for months as well, came to the AHS and mentioned that she had been working with an animal communicator and that I should give her a try.  My husband thought I was crazy, but I desperately wanted to bring Heifer home so, I gave it a shot.  

After a couple of communications with Heifer, the animal communicator, Ilga, let us know that she had passed and that we would be looking for her body.  We were heartbroken but wanted to know more. She told us which direction Heifer traveled, when she left our home and let us know that one person "had moved" her.  As it turns out, that was the person that shot her and placed her against a tree.  As our communications with Ilga where coming to an end and we had not yet found her, she asked us if we could ask Heifer one thing that might help us find her, what would that be. I said to ask her what she sees around her since I knew those woods inside and out by this point. This is what Heifer came back with:

QUESTION: "Amelia" is out looking for your body or your collar. Help me describe exactly where you are and what it looks like around your physical body.
RESPONSE: I am on top of leaves, big ones. Close by is a bridge. Not the quaint, cute type but of slats of boards, weathered, scrappy and old. An old walking bridge across the water. There are dense trees and a clearing. There is an open sky above me where the trees part. A drive is close by, like a small, narrow road that's not used. A funny old shed falling apart where a house used to be. I crossed this narrow road after hitting the big road. It looks like a grass road where you see only tire tracks. I am on land that was once a home but now waits for someone to buy it. The property sits and waits.

Heifer gave the direction from which she left our house and said that she couldnt keep up with the other dogs when they crossed a small pond.  By the time she got to the other side, they were gone so she kept going.  She crossed a small wooden bridge and came across a barn that made her laugh.  She continued down a grassy path that had tire marks and came up on a fenced area that was once prosperous, but now sits and waits to be sold.  She then said that all at once, everything stopped. This was when she was shot.  I knew exactly where she was from her description and went straight to her body.  When we walked down the "grassy path with tire marks" we came up on a land-locked piece of land that had a"For Sale" sign and saw the house, power lines, field, tree and water. It was really an odd experience but we were so happy to have closure for our dear pet. We have since given her number to many other people and she was able to help many of them.

We were so thankful to be able to bring her home and although we had some initial reservations about the methodology. It was a life altering experience! We learned just how deeply animals do think, feel and love!  Heifer was touched by our quest to find her and told Ilga that she didn't know she had been that loved; that bothered me a bit because she was our world!  She also said that she wanted to say her goodbyes the day after she was found on the hilltop where she and I would often just sit and reflect on the beauty around us.  We built our home on that spot a few years later. Ilga actually came to Georgia shortly after working with us to give a class on intuition. She is amazing and you can look her up on-line:


 I hope you have enjoyed this unorthodox "ghost story". "Amelia" sent me many transcripts from Ilga's communication with Heifer but there was one particular communication that touched my heart:
QUESTION: Heifer, what would you like to tell your family?
RESPONSE: That my body was always week and now I have sacrificed it so others can be strong. The cows, the elk, the birds and even a cat have received a meal. I am sorry I died suddenly but I had purpose in my death. I am embarrassed that I was weak and couldn't return home. Tell the young one to keep my picture close and try not to be sad. Tell her to continue to help other animals. thank you for everything I had.
NOTE FROM ILGA: When I connect with Heifer I see a big smile. She is at peace. She tells me that in spirit she is stronger and freer than ever before. She wants you to know that she wasn't away from home long before she was shot. She was enjoying the day and was not fearful. She has lingered close by so that all could say their goodbyes, including your other dogs, who have come by to take a sniff. It has been a week and she says that tomorrow she would like to be fully released......
In case you missed the whole saga of Mardi going missing, here is a link to that original blog:

An Un-funny Tale of a Funny Tale Wager

Friday, October 18, 2013

Have Your "Me Time" and Eat it Too!

About once a year, my husband will go to a SEC football game without me. While I playfully protest, I am secretly excited for a little “me time”. I don’t know about you, but when my honey is out of town, I take that opportunity to eat all the girly things that he refuses to eat. Most items involve the word “salad”, (think broccoli salad, egg salad, etc.) and they all contain mayo, which he hates. That being said, it is probably a good thing that he hates these items so I don’t go through a jar of mayo a week. It is delicious, I don’t care what anyone says. Since I am one of those weird people that loves Greek yogurt, I decided to switch out the mayo in some of my favorite “me time” dishes to see how it compared. I have always heard that it is a great way to save on calories & fat while adding in protein. I was not disappointed!

I love Cobani or Fage plain Greek yogurt. Please do not confuse this with vanilla yogurt. For some reason so many people think vanilla is plain and I just don’t think these recipes swaps would work with a vanilla flavor.  ;)

Rating 6/10: The great thing about pasta salad is that you can throw in whatever is in your fridge, mix it up with noodles, seasonings & mayo & it will be delicious. This swap was a really good choice. When the noodles were warm, the yogurt was smooth, tangy & the perfect compliment to the veggies. However, when I refrigerated it, it congealed in a really bad way. I couldn’t get the noodles to spoon out of the container without breaking apart. So, going forward, I will either use ½ mayo & ½ yogurt or I will only use yogurt when I intend to serve the pasta salad immediately

Rating 8/10: This one is a no-brainer. Delicious, creamy & for some reason held up in the fridge so much better than the pasta salad. It was a tiny bit thick but I would definitely prepare it this way again. I think if I add just a spoonful of mayo, I will be in good shape.

(this is how we decided to grow lettuce this far so good....and "hi" to Marlin in the background)


Rating 10/10: I have literally watched the Bethany show a sum total of one time for a sum total of about 15 minutes. I guess I went for quality over quantity because the tip that she gave is wonderful! She suggested mixing a small amount of ranch dressing with a vinaigrette. I only had fig-infused balsamic vinaigrette on hand so that is what I used. It was out of this world! I do love my ranch dressing, probably a bit too much so this is going to be my go-to when I am craving a salad with regular ranch dressing.
ENJOY and Happy "Me Time" to you!!

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