Thursday, August 26, 2010

How Safe Are Cosmetics Products?

A friend told me about this site you can look up companies and products that you use on your skin to see how it ranks.  The results are very surprising.  We really don't know what we're putting on our skin and in our hair.  It's pretty scary.

I compiled a list of basic cosmetic products to stick with:

Shampoo Synergy Hypoallergenic Shampoo
Mascara Afterglow Cosmetics Pure Soul Mascara - Mink
Lipstick Afterglow Cosmetics Organic Lip Love Lipstick - Divine
Nail Polish Acquarella Nail Polish
Sunscreen Panama Jack Sunscreen Oil, SPF 8
Toothpaste Miessence Mint Toothpaste
Lip Balm Smallbones Studio of Home Arts & Sustainable Living "Touch of Honey" Lip Balm

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stuffed French Toast

Have you ever had stuffed french toast?  I heard you can order it at IHOP. A coworker made some and it was absolutely delicious.  She made it in three varieties - bananas, ham and cheese, and cream cheese. I researched a few recipes and decided to try making it.  I had some blueberries in my freezer from fruit picking, so I made blueberry cream cheese stuffed french toast.  I added raspberries and powdered sugar for a finishing touch.  Enjoy!

Blueberry Cream Cheese Stuffed Baked French Toast Recipe

1 loaf white bread (no crusts)
1/2 loaf french bread
6 c. fresh/frozen blueberries (rinsed)
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
7 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. half & half
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 c. powdered sugar

Cut white bread into cubes and place into the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over bread. 
Microwave cream cheese in bowl for 2 minutes. Stir carefully and add 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup sour cream, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Spread over blueberries. 
Cut french bread into 10-1 inch thick slices, place over cream cheese.
Beat eggs, milk, half & half, cinnamon and nutmeg and pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes covered, then uncover for approximately 15 minutes. Let set before slicing. Sift powdered sugar over before serving.

Monday, August 23, 2010

To be more you must do more

Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.
Theodore Roosevelt

I've learned one doesn't get far in life without discipline, focus, and lots of hard work.  Nobody is going to just hand things over to you easily.  That's a good thing in my opinion, because by the time you earn it you will truly appreciate it.  My personal goals lately have been working on my graphic design portfolio, my rice rafferty accessory business, decluttering my life, excercise and TRAVEL! 

Things don't just happen for you.  If you want something you have to go out there and get it...of course you may get a lot of rejection at first, but the trick is to not let it stop you.  Stephanie Meyer, the author of the Twilight Series, had at least 10 rejections until an editor decided to work with her.  The trick is to find something you're passionate about.  Is there something you can never learn enough about?  That's probably something you should pursue. 

Working in an office is kind of like summer camp or grade school.  You start off young/small and you have to prove yourself for years until you get to move up to the next level.  People may be discouraged with the economy, but we need to stick to our goals.  Do whatever we have to right now to survive and just stay focused.  Things will turn around. 

My favorite stories are people's success stories after years of struggle.  It's always so uplifting to me.  It's also interesting to ponder "what is success?"  Success can mean many things to different people.  To some it might be to make millions of dollars while to others it might mean to lead a simple life with the people you love and doing good things for others.  Are you leading the life you want?  Is there something else you want to do? 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Featured in Food Network Magazine

In the August issue of Food Network Magazine, one of my photographs from a photo shoot I art directed made it in the magazine.  It's always exciting to see your hard work pay off through your marketing efforts. Homemade ice cream is one of the most delicious things you will ever try.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sweet Nature

I found this bird nest outside my place. I love nature and its sweet little surprises.  Robins eggs are the most beautiful color too - the mid tone blue - gorgeous!  The robin built the nest over a hanging basket so it served as a fairly protective place for the three little guys. After the babies were hatched they were all skin so they huddled close together to stay warm. Whenever you would walk close to the nest they would come leaping up out of the nest with their mouths wide open hoping for food from their mother.  Within a few days feathers appeared on their bodies and they soon flew away.  My my how quickly they grow up.  :)

Happy Friday!  Go outside this weekend and look for a bit of nature to share!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Summer Days Don't Go Away

 This summer has been one of the most beautiful summers in Buffalo, NY EVER.  I love hot weather and it has been hot all summer.  I'm from Pittsburgh and I experienced summer days in the high 80s - 90s so bring on the heat!   I don't even have air conditioning in my car and no I'm not complaining.  Summer time is about slowing down, enjoying the simple things in life, pouring a glass of lemonade, going to a bbq, and enjoying good company.  I don't want the summer to end.

I especially love summer fashion.  I wear skirts almost every day.  Above are some photographs from a photo shoot for  I'm wearing a blouse with ruffle sleeves from Old Navy, cut off jeans from The Gap, and a rice rafferty upcycled tie belt.  The tie belt is really great to wear with a long blouse, so you don't look sloppy.  The tie belt is also very soft when you wear it unlike belts which can feel bulky mostly.  I like softer, more comfortable things that are stylish.

Listening to Summer Days by Phoenix

Somebody Loved by The Weepies

Monday, August 16, 2010

From Day to Night

Last week I worked on a photoshoot for  It's a really great online blog/publication for bloggers, designers, and fashionistas from all over the world.  We may speak different languages, but one thing that translates clearly is style.  I love seeing the combination of clothing and the artistic photographs. 

This look is a basic black stretch top with pleated skirt - great neutrals for the office.  I actually wore this to work...everything expect the silk flower hair comb accessory.  The hair accessory is for the evening look.  I love wearing basic clothes and dressing them up with fun accessory to add a little personality. 

Black stretch top - express
Pleated Skirt  express
red leather bag - liz claiborne
white sunglasses - target
hair accessory - rice rafferty

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Bib Necklace Fit for a Mermaid

This is not your baby's bib.  It's a rice rafferty bib statement necklace!

Our bib necklaces are very feminine and glamorous.  They're inspired by old hollywood, antiques, art nouveaux, fairy tales, nature, the ocean, mermaids, princesses - all things whimsical and magical.  The necklaces glitter and sparkle with their many upcycled treasures.

YES our bib statement necklaces are elegant and they're green - eco friendly!  Our bibs often include hand dyed silk charmeuse, upcycled chains, pins, beads, earrings, brooches, lace, and tulle.

How do you wear it?  Well that's easy because it goes with almost anything.  If it's brighter in color wear solids or neutrals.  The necklaces can be worn with jeans and a t-shirt as a way to quickly add a more fashionable touch while running out the door or wear with a dress for a more sophisticated evening look that adds some personality.  The necklaces are also great conversation pieces.  It's so fun talking with like minded strangers who enjoy fashion.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Is organic really worth it?

Everything around us seems to be headed in an organic and sustainable direction.  Grocery stores like Wegmans now carry a variety of organic products as far as milk, fruits, and vegetables.  Fashion is also taking the hint.  I hear buzz of eco friendly fashion collections hitting the runway constantly now.  The downside is the price rises substantially with these eco friendly products.

The question is how are people responding to it and is it really worth it?  Your budget might not be able to pay for everything organic, so maybe try some specific items.  Even though we wash our fruits and vegetables they still contain some pesticide, scary thought, huh?  Milk and some fruit items like apples, grapes, blueberries (because you eat the skin) are best to buy.

What organic means:
  • Animals have not been treated with: antibiotics, growth hormones, or feed made from animal byproducts.
  • Animals must have been fed organic feed for at least a year.
  • Animals must have access to the outdoors.
  • Food hasn't been genetically modified or irradiated.
  • Fertilizer does not contain sewage sludge or synthetic ingredients.
  • Produce hasn't been contaminated with synthetic chemicals used as pesticides.
What the labels mean:
  • “100% Organic”: Product must contain 100 percent organic ingredients.
  • “Organic”: At least 95 percent of ingredients are organically produced.
  • “Made with Organic Ingredients”: At least 70 percent of ingredients are organic. The remaining 30 percent must come from the USDA’s approved list.
  • “Free-range” or “Free-roaming”: Misleading term applied to chicken, eggs and other meat. The animal did not necessarily spend a good portion of its life outdoors. The rule states only that outdoor access be made available for “an undetermined period each day.” U.S. government standards are weak in this area.
  • “Natural” or “All Natural”: Does not mean organic. There is no standard definition for this term except with meat and poultry products. (USDA defines “natural” as not containing any artificial flavoring, colors, chemical preservatives, or synthetic ingredients). The claim is not verified. The producer or manufacturer alone decides whether to use it.(sited from
 Thinking about's no wonder we get sick with various diseases and cancers.  Pesticides may not be the main cause, but they definitely can't be helpful to our bodies.  Did you read the recent article about how 7 year old girls are now hitting puberty?  What will happen to their bodies throughout their life after going through puberty so early?

I'm curious to purchase some bamboo fabric to experiment with it and see how it feels and how the dyes react to this material.  I also want to buy some organic groceries and see how they taste.  Are you willing to pay higher prices to help the environment and possibly your health?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gone Gaga

I've gone Gaga for this hat! Lady Gaga's clothing accessories may be over the top, but you must give her props for creativity since she designs EVERYTHING! 

This hat really caught my eye with it's unique combination of white lace, beads, feathers, and croqueted details.  The black lace detail is such an interesting addition.  I imagine her eye almost peeking through the black lace.  It's great to see someone who pushes fashion since the past few years has been the same mix of 60s, 70s, and 80s attire. I'm a huge fan of 80s clothes so I'm happy with that at least!

I was watching Coco Before Chanel yesterday and Coco was definitely a woman who pushed fashion.  Coco started the whole menswear craze for women since most women were working men's jobs while they were at war - WWII she decided they should be able to wear more comfortable, useful, and affordable clothing.  Coco rejected the confined days of corsets and chose to wear comfortable pants and jersey material instead.  Coco came from a childhood of struggle with no formal education in fashion.  She learned while working in boutiques.

Coco is known of course for her sophisticated jacket and skirt combinations, the little black dress, and the perfume Chanel #5.  Imagine if Coco's designs never came about, where would fashion be today?  Would these ideas have come about eventually? What would a woman's role be today?  What innovative fashions are ahead?  As they say, "Has it all been done?"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Website got a Makeover

Years of working as a graphic designer has surely turned me into a perfectionist.  I'm constantly making lists of changes I want to make, projects to work on, and photographs to take.

I just updated my website and I added a new photo with a lace trim which is the NEW rice rafferty bib statement necklace.  It's made of upcycled jewelry, gold painted beads, pearls, white fabric flowers, and hand dyed silk charmeuse.  It would make a beautiful, elegant necklace to wear to a wedding or as a bride.  This necklace is quickly becoming a new favorite.  The new photo and logo really represents the style and personality of the rice rafferty brand.

The new homepage takes you to this photo, a new rice rafferty logo, and links to my online portfolio (kara rice rafferty), carol ann rice rafferty's portfolio (sculpture artist and apparel designer), and the rice rafferty accessory page which is a directory of all of our handmade couture items - hair accessories, devore scarves, silk scarves, bib statement necklaces, clothing with fiber optic lights, and fabric earrings.

To view more details about the necklace click here

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Smoke and Mirrors

A recent article by Jezebel revealed some disturbing information about fashion catalog photography.  Ann Taylor's website revealed a before and after retouched photograph. The waist is extremely smaller in the retouched photograph. The retouched photograph almost looks like an avatar. 

I work as a graphic designer and the photographs I've corrected usually involves color adjustment, dust removal, and adding a new background or additional objects in the photograph.  The Ralph Lauren advertisement looks like a joke.  It actually reminds me of Heidi Montag's new body.  It looks like ribs were removed; nobody's body looks like this naturally.

Some shoppers were concerned how this would effect online shopping- for example if a size was listed next to the photo it could cause the shopper to choose a completely different size through false advertising.  These examples look very extreme, but it makes you wonder how many photos we see and don't even realize how they're highly retouched.  Even though we're aware things are retouched our brains still want to register photographs as real.  It's kind of scary, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dreaming of Montreal

My trip to Montreal was almost a month ago now, but it feels like yesterday. I find myself daydreaming of Montreal and Quebec. The food was scrumptious and the architecture was breathtaking. I find myself craving croissant and raspberry tarts.

The underground mall was really cool; it's a great feature during the winter months. Buffalo should really take note of that. While walking around Montreal in the summer heat it was hard to imagine the city covered in snow drifts come December.

After I got home I was doing a little research and I had no idea how many movies were filmed around Montreal. Catch Me If You Can, Abandon, I'm Not There, The Fountain, Wicker Park, The Aviator, The Day After Tomorrow, The Notebook, The Terminal, The Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Noel were all filmed in Montreal. Movies are often filmed in Canada because it's cheaper and the scenery is gorgeous. Old Montreal is especially popular because it resembles a European city.