Thursday, January 31, 2013

Do Our Color Preferences Say Something About Who We Are?

I had a lot of fun researching color for the House of Fifty Color Issueand was particularly interested in the idea that what colors we are drawn to present a clue to who we are!


What are your favorite colors from the list below, and do you fit their "personality description?"


A big thank you to Carin of Four Months in Paris, who provided photographs of a gorgeous collection of doors painted the most beautiful colors for this little article on color in the latest issue of HOF!

To see more visit here

(Or if you are reading on a mobile device, here.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Welcome to House of Fifty's First Color Issue!


Welcome to HOF's first Color Issue!

We are so excited to release HOF's first ever Color Issue, featuring an outstanding lineup of talent including an interview with color expert Tobi Fairley. Later in the issue Valorie Hart talks with her friends Brian Patrick Flynn and Bryan Batt, who have a lot to share on the topic of color! But it doesn't stop there... browse through the preview to see all the articles packed into this 190 page issue of sheer prettiness. 

Visit the House of Fifty Website for a Preview

And of course, a very big "thank you" to all the contributors, designers, photographers and talent featured in this issue, you've all been so great to work with!

To read on your computer click HERE
To read on iPads and iPhones click HERE

To purchase a print copy or read on android devices, click HERE


Enjoy and here's to all the ways we can brighten our days,

Thank you!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Latest & Long-Standing Favorite Beauty Products

When I recently posted the scene of my listening to a book on the iPad while getting ready in the morning, one reader commented, "I'm more excited about all your products and their cute little tray." Which of course gave me the idea for this post! 

First, the tray; an inexpensive frame that I spray painted, afterwards insertiing a mirror in lieu of a picture. It keeps all the products organized and looking pretty while set out on the bathroom countertop. As I'm not a big fan of stuff taking over surfaces, this contains the "mess!" 


And as for the products, some are old loves while others are new favorite finds. Entering into this arena called middle age - gasp, yes - it has become vital to take care of my skin to feel good about the way I look! I've also become a huge, (and I mean gigantic, large, over the top thrilled) fan of Sephora, where I can walk in week after week asking for advice on which products to consider for what issue, collecting sample upon sample to try prior to purchasing. Now if that isn't fabulous customer service, what is?! Many of my new favs where found there. But, here's the list: 

I had been looking for a cleanser that got the job done right, as strangely I've been breaking out of late. Seriously, do I really need to relive those years?! But at the same time I was tired of cleansers that over stripped the skin, leaving it dry. After testing this product I saw clearer skin without the dryness, so in my shopping cart it went a couple weeks later. It also works great with the Clarisonic brush, another fav.

This is one of the most gentle and yet effective "scrubs" I've found in a long time. And when your skin is "polished" it has the best chance of looking refreshed and glowing!

As you can see I quickly became a big fan after testing this line alongside other products I received samples of. Over the last year I've been noticing the fragile skin around my eyes become less perky with new wrinkles and dryness showing up, so I wanted something rich to address these issues. I even tested the ultra spendy and popular La Mer The Eye Balm Intense, but after trying both I decided on Algenist. Happily I'm noticing a nice difference.

I have a mixture of dry and oily skin and this lotion hydrates without leaving my skin feeling greasy. As with the entire line, it's not cheap, but the size of the jar is generous and it's lasting a long long time. So far I'm loving the results and my skin looks more "dewy" and refreshed.

After enjoying the results of the other Algenist products for a couple months I went back and picked up their night cream. I'd simply been using the day cream at night, but with the drying weather of winter my skin was telling me it could use something a little richer while I slept. Upon waking to gaze into the mirror as I brush my teeth in the morning, I'm not scaring myself to quite the extent I was a few months ago. So a thumbs up from me.

This is a new product category for me. Compliments of Sephora recently, due to becoming a VIP member through all my customer loyalty - ha, ha - I was treated to a makeover. Fun stuff! This was one of the products they used that day, and I was intrigued by it! Oil, on the face? Doesn't that create one icky mess? It went on first, prior to the moisturizer, with the promise it would dry and create a wonderful foundation for the lotion and makeup. Here's the info on the product:

"Specially formulated for the face and neck, premium Marula Oil is a naturally soothing treatment that provides intense hydration, protection, and rejuvenation to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for soft, radiant skin. It is suitable for all skin types and contains a high content of fatty acids, resulting in fast absorption to leave skin smooth with a matte finish.Clinically proven to contain a great deal of antioxidants and omega acids, it can be used alone as a highly effective antiaging moisturizer, added to other facial products to boost their efficiency, soothe skin after facial treatments or sunburn, or used as a perfect makeup primer."

The neck part got me. Ugh, can I even begin to share how mystified I am with what is going on with the skin on my neck?! So I left the appointment with a jar of Marula and I'm LOVING it! My neck and decolletage are loving it. It feels amazingly luxurious, and isn't a little bit of that what we all can use each day?

Is there anything that looks worse on a woman than poorly applied foundation? Lots of causes behind this issue, but using a primer goes a long way in alleviating them! I've been a long time fan of the primer from Bare Minerals, it does what it says it will.

8. GIORGIO ARMANI Luminous Silk Foundation
Building on the last point, finding the right foundation is absolutely key, if you are going to wear one. I didn't for years for this very reason; everything I tried went on too heavy and made me look like I was wearing foundation. Then my daughter, of all people, (she's 11 and a makeup guru already, reading up on everything makeup related) suggested I try this one. While passing through Nordstrom one day, a favorite thing of mine to do, seeing what new bags, shoes and garments are there for the offering, I decided to stop by the makeup counter and pick up a supply. I love it. It's light, goes on evenly and easily, evening out the skin tone without the heavy, caking coverage that kept me away from foundation for a very long time.

9. PETER THOMAS ROTH Uber-Dry Sunscreen SPF 30
This has been my go-to sunscreen for a few years now and I swear by it. Sunscreen in my opinion is a must in protecting the skin from premature signs of aging. If at times I skipped wearing it before, it was because I didn't care for how greasy it felt on my skin, particularly my face. So when I read the "uber-dry" bit on the tube of this sunscreen I decided to give it a try - and it delivered. Goes on and dries to a matte finish.

While I'm not a fan of this sunscreen for my face in most instances, for the above reason, it is my favorite for the body. I've spent days in scorching hot sun, (think Texas at 112 degrees) happily sipping on a cool drink poolside and with frequent applications (including the face in those situations!) could go to bed at night without a single pink spot anywhere. Love, love, love this sunscreen!

11. MOROCCANOIL MoroccanOil Treatment
Can we talk hair, and specifically graying hair? I'm not quite ready to go there, so coloring is a must these days and it begins to take its toll. Dryer hair with a lack of sheen can be a side effect. But putting a pearl of this oil into my palms and running it through my hair after styling gives back its shine and luster. A must have on my bathroom countertop.

12. CHANEL NO. 5
An old classic, I've been wearing it for years and have stories behind each new bottle I've gotten. Some as gifts and some from fancy locales (London and Paris.) I suppose you could say it is a fragrance that is becoming more befitting of me (the old classic part) as the years go by!

13. BOOTS BOTANICS Body Sculpting Cream
You just have to be a fan of a good line of products that are affordable and easily accessible at a Target store! And I don't really need to go into details, I think the name of this product says all I need to. A body appreciates a good lotion, and I'm liking this one with its Centella and Echinacea extracts to firm and tone the skin.

14. BOOTS BOTANICS Conditioning Clay Mask
This is another good Botanics product, reserved mainly for the summer months when I'm outside a lot. All the biking or running around has me feeling especially grimy, particularly my face, and from time to time it needs a nice deep cleansing! This does the trick.

And so that is what sits on my bathroom countertop. What sits on yours?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Perfect Way to Get to More Books!

There are so many books I'd love to find the time to read, and yet I had never really considered listening to books until I was talking with Mimi Inman the other day - my dear friend and Beauty Editor at HOF. When she mentioned how much she had been enjoying fitting books into her day, listening to them while cleaning up the kitchen or driving...I had a light bulb moment! 


So home I went and downloaded audible and started listening; 
a perfect way make the best use of the time spent getting ready in the morning, for example!


There are so many apps out there to use, I just happen to be a big fan of Amazon, 
so their version called audible was a logical choice for me.


(And no I'm not getting paid to say any of this...just excited to get some more books into my days!)

Do you listen to books? Which app are you using and what is your favorite book to date?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. - Strong Words to Learn By


"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at time of challenge and controversy."

"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."

"We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies."

"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

What a great man whose words we can all learn by and teach our children...

Friday, January 18, 2013

5 Minute Fingerling Potatoes....Delish!

In the cold months of winter I'm drawn to heartier foods, and a side dish I'm loving these days is roasted fingerling potatoes (or whatever options I have on hand) with mushrooms and parsley. Super easy to prepare, it takes just five minutes to get this dish into the oven.



Place the potatoes into a roasting dish and cover with cropped parsley (I use a ton of it as it is just so tasty roasted in the olive oil) and mushrooms - I'm particularly liking crimini and shiitake these days.


Drizzle about 1/3 cup olive oil over the ingredients (more or less depending on how many potatoes are being roasted) and sprinkle with sea salt. Place in the oven at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the skins of the potatoes are slightly crispy. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes and serve.


The kitchen will smell inviting, luring people from the corners of the house to the dinner table. Perfect served with a simple greens salad and grilled fish or chicken. 

What's cooking at your house this weekend?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Little Sneak Peek: The Next Issue of HOF Magazine

eek!  I'm loving all the prettiness which fills the pages of the new issue of HOF.
{due out real soon


Subscribe here to receive notice when it's released.

And, in advance, a big thank you to all the contributors to this issue. You did good.

Monday, January 14, 2013

10 Tips For Aging Happily




1. Don't Let Go of Your Youthful Spirit

Just because our body ages it doesn't mean our soul does...

2. I've Said it Before and I'll Say it Again, Take Care of Your Skin!

Sun screen, sun screen, sun screen. 

3. Enjoy Friendships with People of All Ages

I'm very fortunate in live in a large neighborhood with a great group of women representing the many stages of life. At our LNO and other gatherings you'll find women from their 20's to 70's and it's anyone's guess who's conversation I'll be most intrigued by. And the friends falling on the  younger range of the scale challenge me to participate in activities I wouldn't naturally gravitate towards on my own - it keeps me from limiting the ideas I have for myself.

4. Keep Moving & Exercise!

A doctor I know who is approaching her late 50's recently shared how it is interesting to watch many of her patients age along with her. She says there is one single thing in common with the patients who are aging happily and well: they stay active!

5. You are What You Eat

When we are younger it's easier to get away with eating and drinking the junk... and while that may appear to be the case, in reality it will eventually catch up with you! The body does not lie.

6. Have Strong Opinions and Beliefs, But Keep an Open Mind

One of the best things anyone can do to stay young is to be open to new ideas, the different ways of looking at nearly anything you may encounter in life, and being open to the beliefs of others. This keeps the heart and mind from becoming brittle.

7. Have Extensive Blood Work Done

It's important to know the facts of what is going on in your body. Knowing the exact numbers can help identify any deficiencies in your diet. These facts will help you know what foods you need to add or increase to your daily diet and what supplements might be beneficial.

8. Dream

It doesn't matter what your age, if you stop dreaming about the possibilities of something that matters to you, you instantly become old.

9. Defy Society's Definition and Expectations of What it Means to Be the Age You Currently Are

Be true to yourself rather than outside expectations of what it means to be you at your age. If I believed what society keeps telling me about my age I'm be looking in the mirror at a senior citizen. Now seriously, that cracks me up. I was in amused shock the day I turned 50 and my AARP card came in the mail, and I've begun to notice the various commercials that target "seniors" of my age and what we should be doing. Okay, there is a point to some of it, but if the 50's mean senior to the advertisers of products and the expectations of our society as a whole, then there needs to be some serious rethinking the way these numbers are set. The only way to reset the numbers is to refuse to buy into the message as we age; one that is often not empowering, particularly to women. 

10. Love Someone or Something Dearly

Love keeps you young. Period.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Need Help Decorating in 2013?

What is it about the arrival of a new year that brings the urge to give our homes a refresh or to make the time to finally tackle a room that has long been neglected or been on our wish list to make into exactly what we have envisioned for it? Even I get the urge... and my house is basically done!

For those that are timid to jump in without some assistance, I think turning to a designer who offers services virtually can be a real help. The rates are very affordable and simply avoiding missteps in the design process easily pays for the cost of this help!

There are many designers who offer this service who I'm fans of, and I often get emails asking if I can recommend anyone and happily pass on the list of my favs. I'm currently liking services of Design Pretty, who recently expanded their range of services from custom draperies and pillows, along with accessories and furniture available through their online store, to include an E-Decorating service.



"E-Decorating is a design option from Design Pretty that gives virtual clients the opportunity to retain out interior design services , even if they live outside of the New York area. E-Decorating is ideal for residential and commercial projects large and small. All you need to take advantage of E-Decorating is access to a computer."  
Oneka at Design Pretty


Transitional Bedroom 


Playrooms and Nurseries



or...a Bohemian Living Room and more.

Looking back several years ago when my family moved into our first home, I was overwhelmed with figuring out how to do an entire home when the most I'd ever done in the home decor department was to select one sofa and a mattress. Period. Really. I could have used some help like this! (Perhaps then I wouldn't have ended up selling nearly all of my first selections on Craigslist over the next few years as I learned about furniture quality, the range of options available and what it was I really was drawn to!)

Learn more about the possibilities by giving Design Pretty a visit here!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Oh So Pretty! Oh So Practical!

A home is at its best when it is both pretty and practical! 

For the pretty, oh me oh my.
What do you have to say about this chair?


Upholstered in a fabulous mix of prints designed by Richard Smith,
could this chair be any more cheerful?

On the side is a print named 'Time Out'
and for the remainder of the chair a print called 'Bambozzel' is used.

{ha, isn't that a fun word}


And for the practicality bit, how about a grand larder unit? 
I'm singing. Can you just imagine how convenient this would be in your kitchen!


My wishes for my own home aren't quite so grand, but what I've got it into my head I'd really like is a fun and chic jewelry box. Spotting these upcycled beauties at Happy Day Vintage has me thinking I need to go hit some vintage or resale shops for something to pretty up!


I guess one of these would fit into both the pretty and practical category. 

What would have you enjoying your home just a little bit more?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Best Intentions For The Year Ahead

Yes, I've been basically missing in action for the last week in the land of social media. With the kids on holiday break I did as little work as possible, and have to say... it was divine! I even could be caught sleeping in a few mornings, which had me wondering how on earth I'd be able to get back into the swing of things when this Monday morning arrived, forcing us to all get back on schedule!

But I'm back and looking forward to digging into this new year. I am never one to make specific New Year's resolutions, but I have been giving quite a bit of thought as to what success means to me at this point in my life. Right now I would define success as having enough time to take good care of myself and my family. And I will admit over the last couple of years my days have been busy to the extent that while I have been successful at checking off all the "to-do's" of each day, often I'm doing so by skimming or racing through tasks and activities. Things that to be done best, need to be given a bit more care and thoughtful attention. 

Two years ago I was counting down the few short months until turning 50, and my goal was to reach that birthday feeling physically great and to be busy involved in work I was loving. And yes, I reached that birthday feeling grand! It's funny how when you have a big event approaching, be it a major birthday, a big reunion, a wedding or similar major event how you can become inspired to be at your best. It becomes fairly easy to get motivated to make whatever changes are needed to feel fantastic when that event arrives. The hard part? Keeping it up! Over the last two years I've found myself cutting corners on working out, and a myriad of other priorities. As a result I know its time to check in again, re-prioritize and make any necessary changes accordingly...so I can say it like Maya!


What is most important to you these days and how does that effect how you would describe success?