Christmas Fluffing

Hello Lovelies!

I am an early fluffer this year! For Christmas decorating that is. It’s weird, most years not a single ornament makes an appearance until Dec. 5thish. Any earlier my neighbors start to talk. Yes, there is an agreement!  So, with shades drawn, not even a twinkle in sight, I began stringing lights on my silver tinsel tree. Some years I will have 3 trees up, and others, just this tiny tree. It packs the perfect balance of pretty, tiny, and just enough. I have never been an ‘over-the-river’ and ‘jingle all the way’ kinda holiday decorator. I like to complement my surroundings with festive touches but I never want to drown out what I already have with an over-load of bauble. Why? Age for one, I think the older I get the more my eyes want calm, and the less I want to put away. I mean all those boxes! And, the house looks so bare after the decorations come down, do you feel that too?  So, I balance my holiday trinkets with elegant things I love and know I won’t tire of by January 1st.

Real Simple

Here I added simple Christmas touches to my living room design that are affordable and interchangeable too.

  1. A faux fur rug and tree skirt from
  2. White & gold gift boxes from
  3. Silver tinsel tree from The Christmas Place
  4. White wool stocking from
  5. Silver & white bulbs from

This vignette is elegant, festive and easy to design. The gold Florentine tables were already in place so I added the silver tinsel tree and faux fur tree skirt. White and gold boxes adorned with fresh blush roses, eucalyptus and pink ribbon cascade from table to floor. The coffee table is celebratory with an ironstone vase of white roses and a glass dish of holiday bulbs. Everything here was purchased at #homegoods and #target.

Here we have the same look but in pink. See how easy it is to change the entire theme?

The pink chocolate boxes are an obsession for me, I adore them! I’ve been collecting them for quite some time and the truffles inside are as yummy as the packaging. I stock up on them at Christmastime when they are discounted at HomeGoods or Charbonnel et Walker Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles 

Special Jessy always finds the fluffiest and warmest spot in the house. The little Dickens!

A gift on the outside must be as lovely as the inside, don’t you think?

A box full of roses (cell phone image, sorry)

My foyer is very simple—3 pink glitter trees from Michael’s, a box of florals, a pink faux throw, and my favorite chocolate boxes. Took no fuss at all to do and looks charming.

Roses and ironstone is always a welcomed combination.

Here is my Thanksgiving table this year. I chose purple and gold for my color scheme and we had dinner by the fireplace in the gathering room. This room is in the center or middle of the house and is our sitting room but we like to switch it up. So we pushed the sofas aside and put in the table for dinner. I’ll keep it this way until Christmas. I do this a lot, change living rooms for dining. It feels like your in a different home. Do you do this too, switch things around for a new look?

Gold Flatware @homegoods #homegoods

I will have more holiday decorating as the month moves on…

Wishing you a beautiful week angels!


Pretty Is, What Pretty Does

Beauty is a reflection from within, would you agree?  It’s a subconscious thing, we just know this to be true. Our mother’s taught us this, and their mother’s and so on. I have talked to my boys about this too-“Now, you know honey, she may have a pretty face but it’s the inside that counts.”  “Ya, Ya, I know mom, you’ve only told me a thousand times.” And the beat goes on…

Beauty to me has nothing to do with you as a HUMAN, your outer shell. It is your BEING, your inner-self (your soul) that speaks volumes. You can tell when beauty enters a room. It’s a smile, a pretense, an aura that makes you feel invited and warm. To me, that is pretty. Something else that is pretty is self-care. No, it’s not a selfish thing to care about yourself. In fact, it’s vital that you do. You are more useful to others when you care about yourself. Self-love can’t help but radiate outward and gush all over the person next to you. It’s contagious!

So, what do I mean by caring for yourself? Lets start with the most basic.

  1. EAT HEALTHY FOOD. We all know what that means- shopping in the produce isle. Wholesome foods spell better health, less inflammation and feeling good.
  2. STRETCH AND MOVE! Yes, get up and move. Dance, take a walk in nature, join a gym, whatever it takes, but not moving and stretching as we age, your muscles will begin to shrink. Hence, pain and immobilization. I stretch a 1/2 hour twice a day. It has helped stiffness and pain immensely.
  3. DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE. Taking a few minutes to sit down and really enjoy a cup of coffee without your phone, or running yourself a nice bubble bath or taking good care of your skin. That’s one of my favorite ‘self-care’ things I enjoy, and I do it all in the comfort of my home. In fact, I look forward to it too. I have since I was 14 when my mom gave me a jar of ponds cold cream to wash my face. “Don’t use soap on your face dear, it’s too harsh,” she would say. My mother had the most beautiful, soft skin. She also taught me always to take my make-off before bed. And I never missed a night. Thanks mom!

So, what have you done for your skin lately? If you’re a skincare passionate like me, the answer is, everything! Because there is just about every potion out there claiming to fix anything. I remember my sister saying when we were younger, “I hope they find the fountain of youth before I’m 50”. While that may be a bit of a pipe-dream (there’s still gravity to deal with) there are ways to keep your skin looking fresh, less wrinkly, and prettier without breaking the bank. Let me explain.


First and foremost (and this is the deal breaker folks) consistency. If you know you’re not consistent about skincare, (and believe me, I’ve met many that couldn’t be bothered with potions and lotions) then this article is not for you. And please, you won’t hurt my feelings by moving on to another topic. But if you are dedicated and want to learn more, I would love to share with you my tried and true tips on wrinkles and fresher looking skin. You really do deserve it dolls? So, pour yourself something hot to drink and let’s get started!

In A Nut Shell

You’re covered in dead skin cells!  Sorry, it’s not pretty, but there’s no sweet talking out of this one. And they’ve been dead for at least a month. This is serious stuff. Not to mention, kinda gross too. Our body will naturally shed millions of dead skin cells a day allowing new ones to travel to the surface as the old flake off, but the process is slow (as we age it gets even slower) and the “buildup” we accumulate from the dead skin cells remaining on the surface, creates a substance called “keratin” –the body’s natural process of protection. We do need dead skin cells to protect us from the elements, but a buildup of this ‘protection’ is counterproductive. Without regular exfoliation, you’ll accumulate an abundance of dead surface skin cells which create clogged pores, discoloration and aging – and the most common is dull, lifeless looking skin. Who needs that, right!


Exfoliation removes dead surface skin cells which helps reveal the more luminous, younger looking skin beneath.

I use prescription strength Retin-A  0.1% (also known by its generic name, tretinoin)—potent derivative of vitamin A. You need a prescription for this. I started with the 0.5 about 15 years ago and worked my way up to the strongest strength. There really is no other topical agent out there with more scientific studies supporting its efficacy in terms of reducing fine lines and wrinkles. Tretinoin can be a little irritating when you first start using it —it’s not uncommon to experience some redness, peeling, and sun sensitivity. And that is the main reason so many stop using it. But, if you can bite the bullet, what I call, the ugly stage of dryness and peeling for the first few weeks, your skin will eventually adjust and the benefits will be amazing! Really!

How It Works

Tretinoin truly is the gold standard of anti-aging.  Prescription Retin-A first became popular more than 20 years ago as an acne treatment. But doctors and patients soon noticed another benefit, one with enormous impact on those who were looking for a way to keep skin vibrant and smooth.

Retin-A users reported improvements in skin texture, including diminished wrinkles and brown spots. Early studies soon confirmed its anti-aging effects. In 1988, Dr. Voorhees and his colleagues at Michigan published the first double-blind study of Retin-A’s effect on photo-damaged skin and found that all 30 patients who completed the 16-week study showed statistically significant improvement. “There is so much historical evidence that this ingredient works better than anything else, said Dr. Joel L. Cohen, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado, and the effects are more than superficial”. “It actually works to remodel skin on a cellular level,” Dr. Cohen said.

Need More Proof?

Skin cells contain retinoid receptors that help regulate how the cell functions. As people age, their cells behave more erratically. “But consistent use of Retin-A helps normalize the cells,” said Dr. Min-Wei Christine Lee, a dermatologist in Walnut Creek, Calif.

Retin-A can improve skin texture and fade dark spots and freckles because it causes skin cells to turn over more rapidly. It shrinks dilated pores and improves cell turnover within the pores so they are less likely to clog and become blackheads and whiteheads. But what has earned Retin-A its long-held reputation is its ability to affect the retention of collagen.


Collagen is what gives skin its structure, firmness and elasticity. Repeated sun exposure breaks down collagen and, with age, cells produce less and less collagen to repair the damage. Skin wrinkles, sags and loses fullness.

Retin-A does double duty in helping to boost collagen. According to research at Michigan, it has the potential to stop photoaging before it starts. “The retinoids prevent the rise of collagenase after UV exposure,” Dr. Voorhees said. Collagenase is what breaks down collagen. But regular use of a retinoid product also increases the amount of new collagen formed, research has found, and that new collagen will last for years.

Why Isn’t Everyone Using it?

So, if Retin-A is so effective and so well studied, why isn’t everyone using it? Many dermatologists blame a lack of patient education. “It’s one of the most misunderstood drugs,” said Dr. Kenneth Beer, a dermatologist in Palm Beach, Fla., and a clinical investigator for Allergan, the maker of prescription Avage and Tazorac. People use Retin-A too much, use it too often, experience negative side effects and then give up on it too soon, doctors say.

The problem with Retin-A is that it may actually make skin look worse — with redness, flakiness and peeling —for up to eight weeks. “But by 24 weeks, patients will see dramatic, marked improvements,” Dr. Lee said.

Don’t Give Up!

Manufacturers have come up with ways to make it more tolerable, less irritating and more effective. Brand-name prescription versions contain emollient moisturizers and have more-advanced delivery systems for getting the active ingredient into the skin. These additions are the main difference between generic Retin-A and the pricier name-brand versions (a large tube of a name brand will run about $150 versus about $80 for a generic). ( I google a Retin A coupon code and fill the prescription at Walmart for half the price).

But in every case, patience and common sense are required. “You need to take six weeks to ramp up very slowly, but people will glob it on every night from the start and then call their doctor in a panic that their skin is red and peeling,” Dr. Beer said.

Doctors generally recommend using no more than a pea-size dab for the entire face. They advise using the product once every three nights (or once a week if skin feels irritated) for a couple of weeks, then every other night, eventually working up to every night if the skin can handle it. (Seriously, no more than a pea size on a freshly washed clean, and dry face. I wait 20 minutes before I apply my Retin-A then I add my moisturizer).

Dr. Cohen cautions that Retin-A is not recommended for pregnant women or people with rosacea (a condition that causes skin redness). He said it is wise to limit its use with other potential irritants, like glycolic acids and vitamin C. Many doctors recommend applying a moisturizer over Retin-A (especially the generic versions) to help soothe skin, but suggest first waiting at least 20 minutes for the product to be absorbed.

Doctors also warn that newly irritated skin requires vigilant sun protection, and there are some concerns that waxing while using Retin-A may tear the skin.

OTC retinoid products include Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Intensive Eye Cream, RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15, Avon Anew Line Eliminator Neo-Retinol Line Plumper SPF 15, MD Skincare Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel and SkinCeuticals retinol 0.5 and 1.0 formulas, Paula’s Choice CLINICAL 1% Retinol Treatment.


Ever wonder why guys look much younger than women? Because they shave, and shaving is a form of exfoliation. And by the way ladies, Vellus hair—endearingly known as peach fuzz— we all have it, and if you took a zoom mirror and checked out your profile, you’ll know what I’m talking about. While it’s often barely noticeable, there is a pretty way to remove it. “WHAT ARE YOU SAYING, shave my face”?! I know, it freaked me out too, but even Marilyn Monroe shaved her Vellus hair. And no, it doesn’t grow back thicker or longer. That is a huge misconception. Trust me on this! I did a lot of research and I’ve worked in spa’s my whole life and watched all the girls doing this, and it grows back the same. Another reason why to rid your face of peach fuzz, (another spa girl beauty wonder) your make-up will go on flawlessly. Otherwise the foundation will just sit on top of the hair. Makes perfect sense, right? I buy the pastel blades online (link below) and the Finishing Touch Flawless available online or BedBathAndBeyond. GAME CHANGER LADIES!


Are they different? YES!

A AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) or BHA (beta hydroxy acid) exfoliate can make a world of difference in your skin’s appearance.

AHAs (alpha hydroxy acidsglycolic and lactic acids) and BHA (beta hydroxy/salicylic acid) act to “unglue” the bonds holding dull, dead skin on the surface. Once those bonds are broken—gently and evenly—skin naturally sheds. So, although you won’t actually see your skin exfoliating, you’ll soon see the smoother, younger-looking skin hiding beneath.

Retin-A and alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid, work to boost your skin’s natural collagen formation while increasing its elastic fibers to improve your skin tone and minimize wrinkles. Because they perform different functions, using the two together improves your skin more effectively than using either product on its own. For example, Retin-A irritates skin while alpha hydroxy acid is an anti-inflammatory that balances the effects of Retin-A.

The best AHA I have tried to date is the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial   This stuff is the Bomb! Check out the reviews, it really does what it claims. Pricey, yes. But, if you have a Sephora in your area, ask for a sample. Or, some of the kits from Sephora ‘Favorites’ will include the drunk elephant baby facial. I bought this kit, however, it’s no longer available online but might be in stores. It’s the ultimate for winterizing dry skin.

Drunk Elephant Baby Facial- Game Changer for fresh skin!


Timing is everything, and use your skin as your guide. I use my Retin-A at night (but not on the nights I use my AHA), and glycolic acid twice a week. (Never use them together, or any type of Vit C ingredient. It’s too irritating).  I love the  Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial. The nights I use the Drunk Elephant facial are Sunday and Wednesday evenings, and I apply a good moisturizer (I love the one by Lancer in this kit)  and a facial oil (in kit) afterwards. This facial does sting a bit, but that means it’s working.

Smiles from Jessy

Aging gracefully has never been more fun!  In fact, as an over-50 gal, I feel more confident now than ever! I’m having a blast!

Feel free to email me about any questions. I’m happy to help!

I hope you have fun trying my skin routine. I have much more to share but that will be on a later post.

Here’s to glowing skin!!!

Jo-Anne xo


Autumn in New England

Hello Angels!

It’s been written- without light, color does not exist. Whomever wrote that never experienced autumn in New England. Even on a dark, cloudy day, you couldn’t paint prettier hues. The exquisiteness of autumn is as close to heavenly visions you’ll find on earth, don’t you think?  I’m looking out my window at the display of golds, burnt umber and bright reds and my eyes are dazed. It’s that crisp, clean air coming down from Canada that makes autumn so vivid. It can be hypnotizing!


I always felt that summer was my favorite season, and as lovely as it is, summer is predictable. You know it’s going to get hot, that’s what summer does. Now fall, you never know what you’re gonna get. And Indian summer is the perfect example of that. You don’t expect it every year, but when it comes, it’s like OMGOSH, it’s soo nice out! Let’s do something! And the warmth feels soo good on your face, doesn’t it?

Photo credit Pinterest

My husband Mark and I travel up the east coast every October, and Vermont is the prettiest this time of year. Apple picking and antiquing is the plan with lots of pit stops in between—family-owned farms, fruit stands and century old general stores on charming country roads. Grocery list- tree-picked apples, cider donuts, and homemade apple pie. And the donuts are served warm! Need I say more?

So, I made an apple tart from the apples we picked over the weekend. I used the puff pastry sheets you get at the market and filled it with a mixture of Granny Smith and Cortland (wasn’t crazy over the Cortland) sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, flour and lemon juice. Most recipes call for a heaping amount of sugar but I only used a few tablespoons but lots of cinnamon. I love the taste of just the apples without too much sweetness. So, here it is and it was yummy! PS. I much prefer more of a tart apple like Granny Smith. The Cortland’s were a bit blasé. McIntosh are a softer apple, but tasty for baking.


First, I made the puff pastry version and since it’s much smaller than a pie, I cut the recipe in half. If you prefer to make the full pie, use the recipe as directed. 

  • Pie Filling- (for a puff pastry, cut recipe in half)
  • 2 pounds (4 to 6) McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and slice 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 1/2 pounds (3 to 4) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

Toss the apples with the sugar, flour, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and spices. Set aside at room temperature.

Roll out puff pastry and add filling mounding them in the middle. Brush egg white on all sides, (this acts as the glue) and loosely roll the dough over on all sides to cover apples. Now, mine was over-stuffed, so I got creative- using scissors, trim off a bit of the sides to make a crisscross pattern.

Seal the edge by pressing the top and bottom crusts together with your fingertips, then tuck the edges underneath. Crimp the edges, and cut 4 or so vent holes in the top crust. ( since I had a wide opening no venting was necessary.  Brush the crust with the egg white and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake as directed on the puff pastry package.

Source Recipe-

Now, put on the tea pot and snuggle up somewhere cozy and enjoy. But, before I close, I want to share with you a couple of photos I found on pinterest.

My kind of fall colors! Pink Lady apples!

Somewhere beautiful!

Rest awhile on this divine photo…the warm golden tones brings a feeling of peace to the soul.

Sweet blessing my friends!


Making Happy Monday’s

Hello Monday lovelies!

Monday’s are weird, aren’t they? I mean, I don’t think anyone really likes them— the beginning of the work week, the ‘I’m so tired’ conversation everywhere. Even the dog is yawning. And if it’s raining, (and you know it is) then forget it, no one’s getting to work on time. But, I have a solution and it’s quite simple really. Stay in bed! 🙂 YES!


But seriously, although as much as we want to pull the pieces right out of Monday’s, we must start somewhere. Here’s my happy Monday to-do-list.

First, I have two questions for you— (pay attention because it’s so easy not too, nowadays especially, right?) So, how important are your surroundings, and are you truly seeing what’s in front of you? It’s easy to forget, especially on a Monday. But if you’ve been in a space for a long period, you can over-look your blessings. Let me explain.


For me, my home is not only my visual art board but it alludes a feeling of goodness. And the ‘Good Life’ is not about riches, but rather living lavishly modest, in-the-moment and in a caring way. To care about your surroundings and to take pride in wherever you may call home-that is the ‘Good-Life’.

I know what you’re thinking, those clichés are so yesterday. It’s way too simple and everybody says that. They say it because it’s true!


So, what does this have to do with a hopelessly mundane Monday? It’s a day to count your blessings. Ya but shouldn’t we be doing that every day? Of course, but it’s the days that we feel a little sluggish, and blasé that we need that extra push, that extra feel good blessing.

How do you feel when the house is freshly cleaned and organized? It’s a great feeling, right? Or when you smell the sweet aroma of a homemade apple pie you just made from the apples you handpicked over the fall weekend? Or, yes there’s more, fresh laundry coming from the dryer, still warm and smelling like sweet lavender. And don’t forget the flowers you picked up from the market. Any vase will do, even a chipped teacup. We’re not fussy, if it holds a small drink, it’ll work.

On Monday’s, I bake and clean and fuss over the house like I was having company. It’s a feel good kinda thing!


Look at this! An apple tart I made from the recipe below. So yummy!


And this, there are no words!  Recipe by @CountryLivingmag

And I’ll even take special pictures of me and my Jess, just because it’s fun!

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So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, make everyday special. Yes, even a Monday! So, tell me, how do you perk up a Monday? Do you clean and bake too?