Felt board crafts for kids

Encourage Kids’ Creativity with a Fun Arts and Crafts Project

August 29, 2018

CraftsHere’s an easy arts and crafts project that will certainly entertain the grandkids on a Sunday after Church and brunch. And, you’ll be honing your storytelling skills at the same time! Create our educational felt board with a minimum of work, and plan a Bible story or favorite tale that your grandkids would enjoy.

Get Started!
Head to JoAnn’s Fabrics and pick up a canvas-style cork board.  (The 17×23-inch board works well.) Next, you’ll need a large piece of black Feltables felt. (It’s 36×36, so save the excess!) I also purchased an assorted package of colorful felt (9×12) for my story pieces.

Spread the black felt out on a table and place the cork board on top. Trim the fabric around the edges leaving about 3-4 inches of excess until later. Get out your Home Depot Stanley staple gun, and load the staples carefully. Then start stapling the felt to the trim on a horizontal side. Don’t go to the edges until later. Next pull the felt taut and staple the other horizontal side. Continue and staple the vertical sides as you pull the felt tightly. I simply folded over the corners as neatly as possible and stapled them down. (Yes, they are a bit thick but no one will see the back!) To finish, trim all of the extra felt with a scissor or X-Acto knife.

Be sure to decide on your book in advance so you can cut out shapes in the story from the colorful felt. If it’s a Sunday, a Bible story would be ideal. We chose the Story of Creation, and cut out shapes for each of the days of Creation. Each child had a few shapes that they added to the felt board scene as we read their part of the story from a children’s Bible. (We like the Paraclete Bible for Kids.) Bible topics might include Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, Moses, the Nativity and Easter.

When you sit the children down to read and act out the story, give each child a felt cutout before you begin, and tell them when it’s their turn to place the piece on the felt board as you tell the story.

Let Hello There 50 know if you’ve tried this project . . . and be sure to snap a photo and we’ll post to our Instagram page! Happy story telling!

home office

Creating a New Look with My Home Office Makeover

May 6, 2018

Last month, I had an “Aha” moment (Thank you, Oprah!), and made a decision to update my home office (which I call my “studio”). The office walls were a dark shade of red with some funky cross hatching. Interesting, but certainly not helpful to an artist when what I need to see is true color on a sheet of white watercolor paper.

So the research began. I spent time online reading opinions on the best color for an art studio. White or a light gray seemed to be the consensus and certainly made sense. I continued researching to find a white that would work best to give the room a bright and contemporary look. Then, it was off to Lowes’ Paint Department where I grabbed plenty of paint samples. (They are free, you know!) When I arrived back home, I held each color sample up against the wall both during daytime and at night.

My final decision was a white paint by HGTV HOME by Sherwin-Williams called Alabaster Interior Eggshell. I’ve heard that HGTV superstar Joanna Gaines of “Fixer Upper” fame is a big fan of this white, too, and that was good enough for me!

Now, let’s remember that we’re going from red to white in my home office. Paint Department guru Paul at Lowes insisted I start with a base coat of gray primer to cover the red and set the stage for the two coats of white. We were only painting the red walls so we carefully taped the trim and ceiling. Dropcloths were in place and we even used an old shower-curtain liner to protect furniture. (A little wine didn’t hurt, either!)

My job was to keep my Yorkshire Terrier out of the room while my wonderfully talented and artistic #hellothere30 daughter painted away.

The result was fantastic! The studio is now a bright and cheery work space, perfect for blogging, illustration and painting. Whether I’m designing illustrations for Jane Rader Designs or writing a blog post for Hello There 50, I’ve got a great new environment that really makes me happy. P.S. The dog likes it, too.

Take Note: Our Ten Best Tips on How to Help Your Older Parents

April 6, 2018

Many of us baby boomers are blessed to have our older parents with us. It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to help them in any way and bring joy into their lives. Both of my parents are 88-years old (Hello There 80), and I’m so grateful to have time to spend with them, laugh with them, and help them in any way. I’ve developed a list of my 10 favorite tips to help older parents.

Ten Best Tips to Start Right Now:

  1. Get rid of floor mats. Area rugs and floor mats are the enemy of older people. Shoes, canes and walkers can easily catch under the mat and cause a fall. Get rid of them asap.
  2. Label a walker. Secure a luggage tag on a walker identifying the owner’s name and phone number. I also suggest buying brightly-colored decorative tape at Target and wrapping it around the walker so it’s easily seen and identifiable. I recently watched an elderly lady realize someone took her walker by mistake at a local restaurant. They all look alike and it can happen.
  3. Drink water. Older people especially need to keep up their water intake. They often need to have blood drawn at labs (like Lab Corp. or Quest Diagnostics), and drinking lots of water prior to blood work seems to make it much easier.
  4. Buy a composition book. Remember those marbled composition books we used to have in grade school? I have one for each parent and take notes on every doctor’s visit. I can’t tell you how valuable this has been! Put the date on the top and the doctor’s name, and keep notes on weight, blood pressure, diagnosis, etc. It’s a good place to write your questions to ask the doctor before the visit, too.
  5. Create a medical chart. Have a hard copy medical sheet of information ready to give new doctors, emergency rooms, etc. Click here for a template to print.
  6. Medicine List. Create a hard-copy list in a large font of each parent’s medications, and when they should take them. I use a neon-colored card-stock paper because it’s easy to see. You might put all the meds together in a basket in their nightstand. I also write the name of the medication on the top of each pill container. It’s good to get in the practice of taking all the pill containers out of the basket, and putting them back in the basket after they’ve taken each one.
  7. iPhone Meds List. For convenience, add your parents’ medications and allergies to a Notes folder in your iPhone . . . Be sure to add this list to their iPhone Notes, too.
  8. Bring a sweater. Stores, offices and church are often a bit chilly, and older adults feel the cold more than we do. Keep a sweater, jacket or pashmina for Mom in the trunk of your car.
  9. Visit church. Help your parents to enjoy the beauty of Sunday Mass and church services, if their health permits. If homebound, many local TV stations televise Mass. Find EWTN on your cable line up for them for inspiring television.
  10. Celebrate. Enjoy the luxury of having your parents with you. Go out to dinner, and talk about great family memories. Surprise them with a Memory Book. (I’ve used the online service Mixbook to create attractive, customized memory books.)
shampoos for women over 50

How Tea Tree Shampoo Helps Your Hair and Scalp

November 20, 2017

I’ve always had a passion for the beauty industry! Back in the day, I worked at Vogue, and one of my first assignments was to design a layout for a two-page Elizabeth Arden ad. Fast forward to today . . . I love working with clients in the hair and beauty industry, and enjoy keeping current with the latest products and trends.

Recently, I was contacted by Maple Holistics, an awesome beauty product company offering all-natural and cruelty-free hair products along with bath and body products, skin care products, and even natural foods. I was invited to review their Tea Tree Special Formula Shampoo and Tea Tree Conditioner, and received complimentary samples of both products.

Tea tree oil products combat dandruff and keep your hair healthy and shiny. I’ve heard that tea tree products also promote hair growth and stimulate the scalp. They get rid of the old skin cells from the hair follicles. And, that’s what us women over 50 want, right?

I tried both products three times so far and here’s what I’ve discovered . . . First, I am a long-time fan of tea tree products, and simply love that minty, fresh smell. The Maple Holistics Tea Tree Special Formula Shampoo creates a nice, healthy lather. It feels good and a bit tingly as you massage it into your scalp, and then washes out very well. I followed up with the Maple Holistics Tea Tree Conditioner for a thorough cleansing.

After using the tea tree shampoo and conditioner, my hair felt extra clean and soft, plus it smelled really good! I noticed it looked much better after blow drying and styling than it did with my previous shampoo, and was easier to manage. Bottom line: I like.

If you’re looking for a thorough cleansing of the scalp, Maple Holistics’ shampoo  and conditioner are for you. (Here’s an added plus: They are hypoallergenic and BPA free!) Check out this Maples Holistic link and sign up today to receive a free shampoo sample.


best chicken casserole

Bruschetta Chicken Bake for Your Next Potluck Dinner

October 3, 2017

Does this happen to you? You wake up without a care in the world, walk the dog, pour a cup of coffee, and suddenly realize it’s Fill-in-the-Blank Night . . . Bunco Night, Bridge Night, Book Club Night, etc., and you need to bring along a potluck appetizer or dinner to share with the gals?

Do not panic! I’ve got the solution thanks to those wonderful people at Kraft who gave us Stove Top Stuffing Mix. Below is the lovely little casserole recipe for Bruschetta Chicken Bake on the back of their stuffing mix box. When it says “Prep Time: 10 minutes and Total Time: 40 minutes,” I am definitely in!

Kraft offers their Bruschetta Chicken Bake recipe online, too. Read the reviews and see how you might like to adapt it.

Here’s how I made it the first time . . .

Bruschetta Chicken Bake


1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg. (6 oz.) Stove Top Lower Sodium Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1/2 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lb. boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 cup Kraft 2% Milk Shredded Mozzarella Cheese


-Heat oven to 400-degrees.

-Mix tomatoes, stuffing mix, water and garlic just until stuffing mix is moistened.

-Layer chicken, basil and cheese in 13×9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.

-Top with stuffing mixture.

-Bake 30 minutes or until casserole is heated through and chicken is done.

Image of declutter an attic

Declutter An Attic in Six Easy Steps

July 26, 2017

Image of how to organize an atticIf you want to feel like you’ve really accomplished something, plan a full Saturday to declutter an attic or crawl space. It’s a very freeing feeling, and you’ll actually be able to find the holiday ornaments this year!

I began this task with the help of my 30-year old daughter, who is very generous with her time and probably figured, since I am over 50, I’d need full hip replacement surgery if she didn’t help.

So, here’s how we did it . . .

1. Assess the Damage: Head to the attic with a yellow pad and pen. Take notes on heights and widths of areas between the beams and write down measurements. Guestimate how many storage bins you will need for packing items into bins.

2. Buy the Bins: We hopped in the car (after heading to Starbucks first), and it was off to Walmart. We purchased about 20 Sterilite 10-gallon tote boxes with lids at $3.97 each. (Do your research, but we found these were a bargain, stacked nicely and worked well.)

Note: Measure carefully so bins will fit in between beams and stack how you’d like. Pinterest has some good tips, too. There are products on the market showing how to create lumber supports that serve as shelving. Check out AtticMaxx Shelving System.

3. Label the Bins: Before you start sorting, label the bins with your categories. Some of our categories included Christmas, Taxes, Easter, Art Supplies and Fall. Be careful not to make the bins too heavy. We used large Avery shipping labels on each bin and then reinforced them with clear Scotch moving and storage tape on top.

4. Let the Decluttering Begin: Clear one good-size area in the attic and begin. Start packing up one category of items in a bin and see what you can donate to Goodwill or other organizations to make more room. (Remember the Big 3 Rule: Keep, donate or toss.) Continue filling and stacking bills.

5. Organize the Bins: Keep all bins with the same category next to each other.

6. Additional Storage Ideas: Consider storage hanging rods from the ceiling if your space allows. Another tip is to use bins with wheels. They are a bit pricey but may work well in a specific area.

Once you have your bins neatly stacked in place you may ask the question, “Now what do I do with the 9-foot artificial Christmas tree loaded with lights?” Well, we purchased the Elf Store Heavy-Duty Canvas Large Christmas Tree Storage Bag for a 9-foot tree from Overstock.com. At $32.99, it was certainly affordable. But, be sure you place the tree parts into the bag when you are up IN the attic!

7. Tell the Family the New Golden Rule: Remind the gang to put things back where they belong if they venture into the new, tidy attic! This is the last time you want to declutter an attic!

Image of best makeup tips for women over 50


July 25, 2017

Let’s face it . . . Baby boomer women want to look and feel great, and are always looking for the very best makeup tips for women over 50. And, we don’t always need to spend a gazillion dollars on state-of-the-art makeup when we have excellent offerings right down the road at Target, CVS, Walgreens and other favorite pharmacies.

Over-50 skin care starts with lots of moisture. We’ve consistently used Olay Age Defying Classic Renewal Cream — a great beauty product that minimizes the look of those fine little wrinkles and contains beta-hydroxy complex plus vitamin E. This product is for all skin types and is not greasy. Have loved it for years!

Start each morning with a squeaky-clean face and apply the Olay moisturizer generously. It’s a great warm-up act and sinks into your skin to leave a nice foundation for foundation, if you’ll pardon the pun.

One of our next best makeup tips is Garnier SkinActive BB Cream, pegged as a 5-in-1 miracle skin perfector. The box boasts that this anti-aging cream will reduce wrinkles, firm skin, even skin tones, deeply hydrate and protect skin.  I have a light-to-medium complexion and the medium-deep color gives a little glow to the skin and looks like you’ve gotten a bit of sun. Follow up with a little cream or powder blush on the apples of your cheeks, if you like more color.

For the eye, I love Expertwear eyeshadow by Maybelline in Modern Metallics 60T bronze haze. Just use the gold to cover the entire eye lid, and contour the crease with the bronze. Then, use the brown shade to contour the crease of the eye. Complete the look with a Maybelline pencil eyeliner and line as close to the eye as comfortable.

Add some shine with a great lip gloss like Revlon’s Lustrous Lip Gloss (Super Natural shade), and now you’re ready to go out and dance!

Remember to treat your skin kindly with a night-time regimen that includes a good night cream. We rave about ROC’s Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream. This anti-aging cream applies easily to the face after cleansing and reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles, too.

Here’s the best news . . . these over-50 best makeup tips are not only fast and easy, they’re affordable!

Be sure to sign up for our monthly Hello There 50 newsletter on our home page.

Bunco game and readers


June 3, 2017

What could be better than getting together with your girlfriends at a friend’s home once a month, sipping a little vino, and playing Bunco — a simple and fun dice game that allows you to sip, snack and chat? It just takes a little planning and 12 BFFs to get a group going for a great Girls Night Out.

So, how do you start your Bunco group? I’d suggest the following:

  1. Purchase a Bunco game at Toys R Us, Walmart, Target or on Amazon.
  2. Plan to have your Bunco evening on the same weekday each month. Create a sign-up list so everyone gets a turn at hosting.
  3. Send out an email flyer to 12 friends. (If someone can’t make it, you can always ask another friend to sub.) If our group has only 11 people respond, we bring along a stuffed animal “dummy” who moves from table to table, just like the players.
  4. Have guests bring a food to share, favorite beverage, and $5 for the kitty. (There’s several ways to win! Simply read the directions that accompany the game.)

If it’s your turn to host Bunco, consider a theme — such as hearts for Valentines Day, Christmas and holiday decor, or a Hawaiian Bunco party. We also recommend bringing this tasty Chicken Casserole recipe . . . it’s fast and tastes delicious!

Set up three card tables with tablecloths in your home, and four chairs at each table. You will need to add “signage” at each table to tell players whether to stay or move to another table after each round. (Signage and score cards come with the game.) Our Bunco group likes to have a small bowl of mixed nuts and M&M’s on each table for nervous munching.

You’ll need a large ice bucket to chill the wine bottles and plenty of wine glasses. It’s best to eat and chat first, and then get down to business! Be sure to check out the great Bunco ideas on Pinterest, too.

And, one last tip. I love bringing along my new purple readers by the folks at Readers.com. Not only are they adorable and totally affordable, they actually help over-50 ladies like me see better and enjoy the game more!

Let the games begin — and pour me some wine, please!


March 22, 2017

On a recent shopping spree in Mizner Park — in Boca Raton — I fell in love with a collection of colorful Veneto vases at Z Gallerie. These gorgeous creatures are made of hand-blown glass and are available in Aubergine, Cerulean, Sapphire, White, Mandarin and Gold. (Translation: Purple, Turquoise, Blue, White, Orange and Gold.) They stand proud at 16 1/2- inches high.

When I stopped by Z Gallerie two weeks ago, the vases were priced at $19.95. Right now, they are on sale on the website for only $9.95 each!

Be aware that the vases have an opening of only 1/4-inch, and that’s much too small for a flower. However, don’t panic! There’s no need to use them as vases . . . I prefer to put them into the category of “Home Decor Art.” Line up three Mandarin vases on a coffee table or buffet for a great look. Add a few matching pillows of various sizes and textures to your sofa for a crisp, brightly accessorized room.

Or, purchase two Cerulean vases and one White vase and group them together on a tray, sideboard or mantle. Match the vase color to a nearby painting or rug.

Yes, they are glass, so hide them when the grandkids come over. But, enjoy the vases at home, and secure them with tape to your surface, just in case.

At less than $10 each, these vases would certainly be fun birthday gifts, girlfriend gifts and even early-bird holiday gifts!

We’re sold. How about you?

Where do you shop online for home accessories and home goods? (Did someone say Home Goods?) Here are a few of our favorite sites:
Lulu & Georgia (Save 25% now with their once-a-year Family & Friends Sale. Use code: BESTIES)
Wayfair (Great Spring Sale on area rugs until April 17th)
Bloomingdale’s (Unique lighting selection especially the flamingo string lights at $26)
Kirkland’s (They have a fun selection of wall art and wall quotes.)
Overstock.com (Semi-annual sale is on now. Check out the sale on window treatments.)
Target (New Tropical Lush Collection’s artisan pieces say it all.)


March 21, 2017

Are you tired of schlepping to Bridge, Bunco, Book Club and family gatherings carrying your “stuff” in used Target bags? Tory Burch has the perfect solution, and it’s her stunning Ella Nylon Tote! Available at Nordstrom, I went bonkers over this super roomy, casual tote proudly displayed at Nordy this week. Made of nylon, the trim is a shiny patent leather. The amount of available room inside the tote is one of the best I’ve ever seen.

The Royal Navy and Cherry Apple colors are great – nice and bright, with a large Tory Birch logo. We also liked the Ella Stripe Tote available on the Tory Burch website.

With enough room for all of your paraphernalia, you can pop the tote over your shoulder, and head out the door. This is the perfect must-have for any lady on the go – whether over 50 or under 50!

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