May 162015


When warm weather rolls into Northern Virginia,  I cannot resist the urge to get out in the garden.  I find, too, that I am an anomaly in this area, as people tend not to add much color to their landscapes. A few flowering trees, shrubs, carpet and knockout roses, and the occasional patch of wax begonias is about as imaginative as people get. It could be that people are busy and hire a lot of their landscaping needs out, which is fine. However landscaping companies in this area seem not to be able to tell a weed from a flower, which is decidedly NOT fine! I have had thousands of dollars of plants killed due to negligence and frank ignorance – it’s very frustrating, to say the least.  As a result, I’ve taken on a lot of this chore myself, and am finding it to be more of a labor of love. There is something very satisfying about watching a landscape flourish as a result of your own hard work.

Through trial and error, I’ve found that old-fashioned plants and flowers are often some of the best for the garden. There is a reason they have existed for centuries, and while some have been improved through hybridization, this process has not diminished their vintage beauty.

One of the most coveted garden plants is the rose, and with good reason. Color, fragrance, structure, all add to their beauty. While a lot of people tend toward tea roses, I find the antique roses some of the best for the garden, and one of the best places to purchase them is The Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas.  They have hundreds of roses to order online and have great search engines so you can find the perfect fit for your garden. Save your labels and receipts too, as if you lose a rose, they will replace for you for just $5!

Peonies are also an old-fashioned favorite! Their foliage adds structure to the garden all summer, and their blooms are simply glorious! As an added bonus, deer don’t touch them!  Try Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm as a mail-order source for great varieties you won’t find in your local garden center.

Have a damp spot? Try turtleheads, hardy orchids, astilbe, ladies mantle and primrose. Add some Canna for height and drama. All do well in moisture, do a great job absorbing all that extra water.

Clematis looks beautiful paired with roses, and also is a mannerly wanderer, intermingling with shrubs without killing them. In warmer areas (like mine) avoid sweet autumn clematis as it will become invasive. Wisteria and trumpet vine as well.

Don’t forget fruits! Add some fig trees in a hot, sunny area, and enhance with herbs such as lavender and thyme, which love drier soil.  Grow raspberry vines on small trellises or obelisks in your flower gardens, and grapevines and hardy kiwis on arbors. You can also now purchase columnar apple and pear trees to tuck into a corner, or rely on old-fashioned favorites if you have room. For those that live in colder climates, you can add wintergreen shrubs, which never seem to thrive in Virginia’s tropical summer climate. It’s a great shrub for shady areas.

Put in some raised gardens – there are great kits out there now! Grow some heirloom vegetables. Mix them with edible flowers such as violets, nasturtium, and calendula. Add some tender herbs – basil, cilantro, even some scented geranium

So get on out there and dig, folks!  You’ll feel better for it. I promise!

Signed VC (aka Vintage Chick)


Aug 282013

Vintage is a lovely thing – until WE begin to look vintage. Then, well, not so lovely anymore! Personally, I’m a firm believer in choice – if you choose to lift what sags, more power to you! I’ve done it and will do it again! Still, day-to-day maintenance is important, and often we are shy of time – who has hours to spend on beauty? What women need are products that are easy to apply, and that work. Here’s a list of my personal favorites:

First I want to guide you to The Austin-Weston Center for Cosmetic Surgery’s Medical Aesthetique website.    They have all sorts of great products, covering a range of skin types.  My favorites are their retinol and glycolic products, especially these Glycolic Treatment Pads. They gently exfoliate without excess drying:AW Gycolic

Another favorite of mine is Oil of Olay CC Cream! It has enough tint to use as a foundation, provides an SPF of 15, and contains an anti-aging moisturizer. It’s not too heavy and does not cause my t-zone skin to break out (what’s THAT about at 51, I ask you!):


cc cream for medium skin_265x265

Another favorite of mine, especially for healing fresh scars, is Creme de la Mer The Concentrate. Yes, it’s expensive, but you can ask for a sample size at the counter, or buy a small sample size on Ebay to try it out. NOTHING is better for traumatized skin than this formula! I used it post-surgery on my nose (with my doctor’s permission) and he actually asked me two days later  “What did you use again! Your scar looks great!” It’s wonderful stuff and worth having as part of your arsenal, especially for those times when clumsiness gets the better of us:

Creme de la Mer serumBreak out on occasion? This Almay Clear Complexion Concealer is amazing! Light, easy to use, and medicated to boot! Comes in a shade that’s perfect for your skin, and the price is certainly right. Find it at a retail store near you:

Almay Clear ComplexionLip products have always been an issue for me. Too gooey, too sticky, not enough color, too much color. What to do? Enter Tarte LipSurgence. What better than a range of chubby pencils with a creamy formula in a range of colors … that smell like peppermint?!  One of my personal favorites for everyday is ‘Glitzy’, a natural pink that’s great for everyday. Never sticky and very moisturizing, these are my go-to lip colors. Oh, did I mention they twist up so they never need sharpening? THAT, I love!  I always have a few of these in different shades in my purse:


Want a universal eye shadow? Enter Stila’s Oasis. Just enough sparkle without being overwhelming, this shade of peachy gold lights up your eyes without being obvious. I know everyone raves about Kitten, but I find Oasis to be much more subtle and a lot less shimmery:

Stila Oasis

No beauty review would be complete without adding hair products. Personally, I favor Bumble and Bumble for shampoos, because I love their Surf line. However they are pricey, so a go-to drugstore brand is a must-have. I really like John Freida! Their products have always left my hair clean and shiny without over-drying. I use their color-treated line for blondes and have been very happy.  But if I had to pick a hair product I can’t do without, it would be Phyto’s Phytomist Color Protect Radiance Mist. This leave-in conditioner makes my hair easy to comb through when wet, and really conditions well without weighing my fine hair down. It’s worth the $28 through Sephora – I get a month’s use (at least) out of the can!

Phyto lotus

So folk, that’s my line-up! Do you have a favorite product? Let me know so I can add a second chapter to this entry!


VC (aka Vintage Chick)