Maybe I never was a "Summer" -- color season switch

Friday, October 12, 2018

I've been experimenting with a radically different look for me.

Just as the natural world has gone from summer to fall, I have been making the same transition, from Summer to Autumn.

Way back in the '80s (remember Color Me Beautiful?) someone told me I was a Summer.  So Summer I've been. Cool, dusty shades of pink, lavender, blue. Lots of soft grays, dove, rose. Soft, elegant, lovely. I loved it.

But did it love me? A couple things happened recently that made me wonder.

I was with some friends buying silk scarves last year when we were together in China. I held up a lovely soft pink scarf and turned to show my friends.

"That color does nothing for you," one remarked. I was taken aback. Pink is my favorite color! Reluctantly, I put the scarf back, feeling a little miffed. But I did file that bit of information away and wondered.

Then, on three -- three -- separate occasions this summer when I was in Sephora and MAC, salespeople mentioned my light olive or warm skin coloring.

What?! Summers (like Winters) have cool coloring.

But come to think of it, I do have a greenish cast to my veins and gold in my eyes, two indicators of a warm coloring. And my natural brown hair had reddish-gold highlights in it, not ashy highlights (a cooler coloring). Because I've always liked the Summer colors I think I just ignored these things.

Now I'm not saying you shouldn't wear what you love. But again, does it love you? I started testing colors against my skin and realized that the cooler Summer colors were washing me out.

After doing some research, I decided I might really be an Autumn, probably a Deep Autumn because of my gray hair. (Your season doesn't change when you go gray, but you may move to one or the other end of that season, introducing a little coolness. So I think I'm a True Autumn, but I'm trying out the Deep Autumn because it's a little cooler, closer to Winter. I'm going to that end of the Autumn spectrum rather than closer to Summer, a Soft Autumn, because that season includes lighter colors. I think the darker colors look better with the gray hair. Hope I haven't confused you!)

Anyway, what all this means is that I'm all of a sudden wearing all the colors I never thought I could wear. Rust, olive, and goldenrod. I never thought I'd see the day when I'd wear any shade of yellow! And red, another color I've never worn.

from Pinterest

I've even switched out my nude/pink lipsticks for red and raisin. Now that's a huge change.

And pulling out my old gold jewelry and wearing that rather than the silver I've worn for years and years.

I haven't spent a lot of money. I just went to Target and picked up some solid color tees in Autumn colors just to try them out. I wanted to test out this new season before investing too much in it. I picked up some warmer and darker lipstick from CVS.

I feel like I look more alive. And I've been getting compliments.

And do you remember my last post about how I'm tired of being "nice?"

Well, all of this color change kind of fits into this idea. Bear with me here.

Pink and pastels and soft colors (the Summer season colors) seem so "nice," don't they? Red and rust and olive and yellow seem a little stronger, a little more assertive. Food for thought, right?

Now, I don't mean to say that if you wear pink you're a pushover. Or that "Summers" are too "nice." I just mean that maybe if you're dressing in the wrong colors it can affect you in a negative way. Maybe all those pastels just didn't quite fit me not only because of my coloring but because they didn't fit my personality. They were maybe tamping me down, draining not only color but strength from me.

Hopefully, this doesn't sound too out there, but I really think color affects us. And it could work the other way too. If you're wearing dark, dark colors and have a naturally buoyant personality, you may wonder why you feel tired and sad. Maybe you should be wearing bright, happy colors.

The lesson here I think is don't be afraid to shake things up. To question what you've always done. To think outside the box and do something different. Just to see. You might be surprised.

Just for fun, wear a color you've never worn. Try a very different color lipstick. See what happens.

For me, I'm sure liking this new look.


And in super-happy news, I'm going to be a grandma (first time!) in January! Yay!

I'm tired of being nice

Thursday, September 20, 2018

I've been thinking about this for a long time. In fact, I think this is the title of my next book. It's such an important topic, and one that I suspect just about every woman can relate to in some way or another.

First, let me define what I mean by "nice."

I don't mean that I don't want to be kind, compassionate, or generous. I hope I am those things, and certainly want to continue to cultivate them in my life.

But I'm totally done with being "nice."

"Nice" is:

  • always acquiescing to others
  • not voicing your opinions because you're afraid of others' reactions
  • people pleasing
  • allowing others to dump on you; putting up with rudeness
  • not speaking up
  • being afraid to say "no"
  • always scanning the environment, making sure you aren't displeasing or offending anyone (and, of course, you don't want to be purposefully offensive; I think you know what I mean here)

Many of us, especially of my generation, were raised to be "good girls," expected to be nice and polite and accommodating. Of course, much has changed, but old habits and ways of thinking can be hard to change.  I'm way better than I used to be regarding all this. I had to be; being "nice" contributed, in part, to a worsening of depressive symptoms, leading to a major depressive episode I experienced some years ago.

Met this wonderful llama at a lavender festival this summer.
Do you think he cares what anyone thinks? No, he's not afraid to be his own, delightful self!

A lifetime of being "nice" can lead to all kinds of problems. Repressed anger, frustration, depression.

And we may end up squelching or tamping down all the wonderful, quirky, fun parts of our personality. The strong and ambitious parts. The creative and adventurous sides.

An interesting idea occurred to me recently. I've always thought I was an introvert. I based this on the fact that being with people usually wears me out. Instead of being renewed and refreshed after spending time with people, I'm usually exhausted and need some alone time. This, I've read, is characteristic of an introvert.

But what if I'm so busy trying to be "nice" and kind and understanding and a good listener, etc., etc., that I'm just worn out? What if I spend so much time worrying about what others are thinking and feeling that I don't just be myself? All this trying to be the "perfect" person, the person you think  people want you to be, is exhausting.

(Of course, this is why we all need close friends, friends that we can be ourselves with. Thank God for them!) 

So how do you counteract this tendency to be "nice?" Some ways to start could include: 1) start saying no to things you really don't feel called to do (remember that not every need is a call); 2) give yourself permission to express a differing opinion, respectfully; 3)learn to speak up when someone's being rude or taking advantage of you; and 4) walk and sit and talk with confidence (and fake it 'til you make it) -- you are greatly loved by the One who made you.

We may feel we are being rude, selfish, or bossy when we step out of the "good girl" role. No. We're just being reasonable, confident, adult people. It takes practice, but don't you think it's time?

What do you think? Is this a good book idea?

Finally (sadly) getting rid of my (high) heels

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Wedges are usually easier to wear than stilettos, but at 4 1/2 inches high,
this pair just isn't a good idea anymore. So sad.
I might have posted a while back about getting rid of my heels. I might have thought about it, but I just couldn't bear to part with them. I love heels. There are so many gorgeous ones out there, and I would wear them every day, even to the grocery store, if they didn't hurt so much.

But, facts are facts. They really are killing my feet. I was at a wedding this summer and was practically hobbling by the end of the evening.

Both have 3 1/2-inch heels. You'd think the block heel would be more comfortable, 
but I think the thin strap at the toes did me in at the wedding.

Then a couple weeks ago, I fell in our church parking lot. Thankfully, I wasn't hurt. I hit a patch of crumbly asphalt and down I went. I was wearing wedges (not the ones above), which you would think would be more stable, but they were tapered to the heel as I later discovered, and so more susceptible to wobbling.

So I came home, gritted my teeth, and packed up all my lovely heels (3 inches and higher). I'm not risking life and limb! 

So now what do I wear? I don't like athletic shoes. Or ugly old lady shoes. And flats hurt my feet (weird, huh?), so they're out.

I'm thankful fall is upon us, because I've always loved my booties, and I think they look great dressed up or down. They're super comfortable, flat or with a 1- or 2-inch heel, which I can handle.

I have found a couple pair of very comfortable and cute shoes from Jambu. I've been wearing them for the past three summers. Even walked the Great Wall in China in them as they were more comfortable than the walking shoes I brought.

The Jambu shoes are the red ones. I've had three pair of these shoes, one of which I completely wore out. Sadly, they don't seem to be making this style anymore. The boots are Lucky Brand. So comfortable and I think they're cute.

But what about a dressy shoe? The 1- to 2-inch block heels and the kitten heels out there can look matronly sometimes. Do you all have any suggestions?

I had a dozen or more pair of heels. But I don't need to replace all of those. I really only need a couple pair of dressy shoes, for events. Low-heeled sandals and booties will be my go-to for every day.

How about you? What do you wear on your feet?

How to prevent silver hair from yellowing

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

I've decided to try and grow my silver hair out -- long. I kind of want it to look like this:

from Pinterest

Of course, it's possible that I will end up looking like granny from The Beverly Hillbillies. Reality is often different from our dreams, haha.

But I don't have any big events coming up, like a family wedding, so I'm going to bite the bullet and embrace the long, painstaking process of growing it out. I don't plan on wearing it down; once it gets long enough I will wear it up, maybe like this:

from Pinterest

What's the point, you say? Well, I just want to. I've always loved long hair, but because shorter looks better on me, the solution is an updo. And if I end up with a tight little gray bun like granny instead of this gorgeous upswept look, I can always cut it again.

So, now the question is, how do I keep my hair, hair that could end up being two or three years old by the time it's long enough to put up, from turning yellow? Right now, it's so short that I probably get a new head of hair every six to eight months, with regular trims, so I don't worry too much about it. But if I want to keep it looking nice for up to three years, what to do?

If you're wondering the same about your beautiful silver hair, I've done the research for us.


Gray or white hair contains very little pigment and will sometimes yellow from pigments picked up from the environment. Factors include:

  • chlorinated water from pools or showers
  • cigarette smoke and environmental pollution
  • heat styling tools such as hair dryers and curling and flat irons
  • hair products like gels or mousses that contain silicones or sulfates
  • the sun
  • water with a high iron content
  • some medications, such as those for malaria and chemotherapy drugs. The ingredients in sunless tanners and dandruff shampoos can also yellow hair.

Sometimes, genetics plays a role, but since there's nothing we can do about that, we'll focus on what we can do.

Install a shower filter. I'm looking at one on Amazon right now, but I'm going to do a little more research. I'll let you know. Unless anyone has some advice here? I don't swim in pools, but I guess you need to keep your hair dry or make sure you wash it well after swimming.

Don't smoke. Wash your hair if you've been around smokers or in a polluted or dusty environment.

Avoid using heat styling tools. Or turn them down to the lowest heat setting. Or use a heat protective spray. Be aware that the spray itself could cause yellowing (see below).

Avoid hair products with silicones or sulfates. I'm hoping longer hair will mean no more mousse or styling gels for me. In the meantime, I guess I'll have to figure out how to style my hair without them. Also, don't use a shampoo with a yellow-ish color to it. Try to use clear or white-colored shampoos.

Avoid mid-day sun and wear a hat if you'll be outside for an extended time.

I don't have any experience with high iron content in water or water softeners, so you'd have to check on this. And obviously, you need to take certain medications if needed. I was surprised about the sunless tanner. I put that on my legs after I get out of the shower. I guess I could still have it on my hands while drying my hair, so I need to either give that up or make sure I thoroughly wash my hands before touching my hair.

If you do notice some yellowing, use a blue shampoo. I am going to try and work it so I don't need to do this. A blue shampoo is only going to cover the yellow with a blue tint. I'd like to avoid the yellow in the first place or tinting my hair in the second place. But I'll definitely use one if I end up with any yellow. Just don't use it too often; I've ended up with a steely blue color. Once a week at most.

I've read conflicting reports about how often to shampoo your hair if you're trying to avoid yellowing. Some articles said wash it more often, even daily, to remove dust and environmental pollution. Others say less, to avoid chlorine in water and dulling shampoos and products. I think if you have a shower filter and use good products and avoid heat you could wash more often.


I'd love to hear any tips you might have here. Also, do any of you lovelies with silver or gray or white hair wear it long?

Edited to add: I forgot to mention the strangest thing I read. Too much beta-carotene, as in carrots, can yellow your hair. So that daily carrot juice may be the culprit!

Decluttering so we can use only our best

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Roses from my niece's wedding in July.
I took a break from decluttering in June and July, but now I'm back in gear, with a pile of about 20 more boxes/bags on my front porch waiting for a donation pickup. This is probably the sixth such pickup this year, and one of the smaller ones. How in the world did we accumulate so much stuff?

I made a goal at the beginning of the year to declutter our house as if we were moving by the end of the year. We're not, but I have watched too many people completely overwhelmed and exhausted by the task of downsizing and moving that I thought I'd do a little preemptive strike here.

I have never been able to function with too much stuff around me, too much clutter clouding my vision and complicating my life, and after 37 years of marriage, 20 years in this house, three children, including all the extra books and paperwork from homeschooling them, things had reached a breaking point. We have the physical space. I just don't have the mental space anymore. 

The whole thing is emotional. Are we done with cross country skiing? Does letting go of the skiis mean letting go of the memories?  Can I let go of this handwriting sample from my youngest when he was five years old? Is that letting go of him? Am I getting to the point where four-inch stilettos are a thing of the past? Does that mean I'm getting old?

But the more I let go of, the easier I am breathing. The weight is lifting. It feels freeing. I can't drag around a lifetime's worth of stuff. And I can't drag around all that guilt. Yes, guilt. Because you have to fight the guilt about parting with things you spent good money on, or that somebody gave you. Or that evoke good memories.

(Now I'm not suggesting you cut all ties with your past. I'm certainly keeping some special letters and journals and pictures, some special heirlooms that I love. But the point is, we don't have to keep all of it, or even most of it.)

Anyway, to the title of this post.

One of the benefits of decluttering is that when we clear away the unnecessary, the unessential, the no-longer used or never used, we have space for, and breathing room for, the really beautiful things that are left. (Presumably, you are keeping the most beautiful, most loved items you have.)

For example, let's take dishes. I had 13 !!! sets of dishes at one point (I was saving three of them for my daughter and niece, but still . . . ). I'm now down to six (that doesn't count a couple of dessert sets, haha). I have plans to get rid of two more. One will be my set of Target Christmas dishes. Yes, it makes me feel kind of sad. We've eaten Christmas dinner on these plates for 20 years. But now that I've made up my mind, it feels right.  I have 16 Christmas dinner plates, dessert plates, bowls, and mugs. That takes up a lot of room. Whenever I want to use them, or my other dishes, I have to shift a whole bunch of stacks of plates and bowls to get to anything.

We use our Fitz and Floyd everyday white set every day and nothing else because it's too much work to shift everything around to get at it. I can't use my beautiful china because it's just too much work to  bring it out.

So if we want to live out the philosophy that every day is special and that we should use our special things every day, how do we do that if we can't access them?

These plates were stacked together, six of the large green dinner plates, four plates with fruit (one shown in blue), and six green dessert plates. They were all together in a pile on the top shelf of my china hutch and I never used them because it was too much work to get to them. What's the point?

So I'm giving the six green dessert plates to my niece because they belonged to her great-grandmother and because she said she'd like them, and moving the rest where I can use them. Why shouldn't I eat my lunch on a fancy plate?  If they fade (yes, I will put them in the dishwasher on my china setting) or break, oh well. Hopefully I will get years of pleasure out of using them rather than having them sitting there for 20 or 30 more years and then getting tossed.

Millennials, in case you haven't heard, don't want our stuff. So don't hold onto things thinking your kids will want them. (Having said that, I do double check with my children before parting with anything I think they may want. So far, no takers.)

Actually, this cute little teapot with sugar and creamer is going to a millennial who loves elephants. There's always exceptions to the rule.

I had a dozen Christmas glasses from Arby's taking up space in my cupboard. Gold band around top, pine trees and snow etched in the glass. Sentimental because I remember going to Arby's with my children and getting them, and then using them every year during the holiday season.

But now? They look kind of tacky and dated when I look at them with clear eyes. I don't like them all that much. And I certainly won't lose my special Christmas memories if I get rid of them. And they're certainly not as nice as the heirloom crystal glasses that I have that never see the light of day. They're going where the Arby's glasses sat, and I can easily reach for one when I want a glass of water. Why not? I don't like drinking my daily allotment of water, so why not try and make it special by using a pretty crystal goblet?

The point is, if you have so much stuff accumulated that you can't even get to it, you'll never be able to use and appreciate it. Once a year isn't good enough, in my book. Harden your heart, get rid of the things that you don't really love, and start using the good stuff. Every day is important and special. I have some beautiful china and glassware and I want to be able to use all of it, every day.

This theory applies to clothing and accessories and decor as well. Simple and elegant and beautiful is best.

Tea time

Thursday, July 12, 2018

If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you.  

Tea is for every season, even, as William Gladstone reminds us, for the hot, humid days of summer. A tall, cool glass of iced tea is always refreshing, but hot tea is lovely, too.

Our on recent cruise to Alaska, we were able to enjoy afternoon tea several times. It is offered every afternoon on the Princess cruise line. We enjoyed hot tea and a selection of tea sandwiches, scones, and tiny cakes and cookies. I think Queen Victoria was on to something when she instituted this custom back in the day.

Lovely to watch the scenery while sipping tea. This is the life!

We took a ferry to Vancouver Island after we landed in Vancouver. We stayed at The Fairmont Empress where the famous Empress Tea Room is. We weren't able to schedule tea, but we did go have a look at the tea room.

I bought this mug in the gift shop. All the china and teapots in the tea room are in this pattern.

Disappointed to miss tea at The Empress, I asked the concierge back at our hotel in Vancouver for the name of a good tea room. He directed us to TWG Tea. At first I thought it was an abbreviation of some sort for Twinings tea, but there's no connection. TWG Tea is based primarily in the Asia Pacific, with the Vancouver location their only one in Canada. 

Oh my goodness. I felt like a kid in a candy store when we walked in.

Can you believe I didn't buy any tea? I still have so much left from our trip to China. But if I had bought tea, it would have been this. I don't even know what kind it is, but who could resist?

I couldn't figure out what SFTGFOP1 meant. But there it is, right on the box -- Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Quality. Of course.

They had a huge selection of tea. (I think they said 200 varieties in the tea room; many, many more online.) I always like to try something new, but I had no idea where to start. The waitress helped me pick out a black tea, my favorite, but I can't remember now what I had. It was delicious.

My husband had a blue tea, which I liked even more than mine. I just looked it up and blue tea is also known as oolong tea. No wonder I liked it.

My husband actually ate this quail egg. I just can't eat a runny egg!

I had to open up this contraption. What a clever way to keep the teapot hot.

Next time I'm in the market for tea, I'm definitely visiting their website. So sad our local purveyor of tea has closed down.

When we were in Vancouver, I had to pick up a couple of these candy bars.

A Canadian blogger friend (can't remember who) mentioned how good these were. They're not available in the U.S. that I know of, and you have to buy a case of them if you buy them on Amazon. Which I'm now thinking isn't a bad idea. They're delicious. Light, crispy, nice chocolate and coffee flavor.

More flowers from the Butchart Gardens.
When we got home from our trip, I went with my book club to a lovely little tea room just north of us. It is housed in an old Victorian home, and filled with beautiful, vintage decor.

We shared three pots of tea, including a fruity blend and a chai. The menu included quiche and salad and individual mini loaves of pumpkin bread. We shared desserts and more tea. It was lovely.

Besides the two rooms set up for tea and the kitchen, all the rest of the rooms in this house were filled -- filled -- with jewelry, teacups, linens, and other pretty things to buy. Mostly jewelry. We took little baskets around and had fun filling them up and selecting from the bargains.


 My friend Rita from Panoply blog just sent me the beautiful red bowl shown below to complete my vintage Pyrex bowl set. She has a booth in an antique mall in Charleston, West Virginia, and found this bowl while looking for items for her shop. Her blog is filled with wonderful antique finds and lovely home decor ideas.

I use my yellow bowl all the time (I have two of them) for mixing cookies and scones and breads. The other ones are in regular rotation. I'm excited to use the red one now. They look so happy together. Thank you Rita! 

I had a chance this past weekend to put these bowls to use. My sister and her husband and three boys came for a visit. These are white chocolate chip/cherry cookies.

And because one of my nephews is gluten free, I made some gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. These were from a Betty Crocker mix, and they were pretty good.

Thanks for stopping by friends. Don't forget to take time for yourself and enjoy a relaxing cup of tea.

How to eat dessert every night and not gain weight

Sunday, July 1, 2018

We just got back from a two-week vacation to Alaska. We did a land/sea cruise, starting in Fairbanks and ending with a few days in Vancouver. I will be sharing some photos of the stunning scenery we were able to see. But because nobody really wants to see anyone's hundreds of vacation photos, I thought I'd share something maybe lots of you all would be even more interested in.

How I ate dessert every night for two weeks and didn't gain a pound.  

I know that many people have sworn off white sugar and flour. I think that's great. That's how I've lost weight in the past. But, seriously, are you never going to have a piece of birthday cake ever again? Or a scone with lemon curd? Or a homemade cinnamon roll?

Some are really disciplined and can do this. But why can't we have our cake and eat it, too, I ask?

I think I might have found the answer.

A feeling of abundance versus deprivation. And moderation.

On a cruise ship, the food is everywhere. This was our first cruise, and the stories are true. Unlimited amounts of food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. An afternoon tea every day. An open-all-day ice cream bar and pizza and burger counter. An all-you-can-eat pastry bar next to the coffee counter.

Yes, there's lots of healthy options, including fruit and veggies, salmon and yogurt. But loads of things I try and keep out of my house -- cakes, pastries, cookies, muffins, breads, pancakes, and more -- are everywhere you look.

I've heard people can gain an average of one pound a day on a cruise, and I can see why. 

I felt like I ate a lot, and ate a lot of "forbidden foods," including the dessert every night, sometimes a pastry in the morning, and many days, a large salted caramel latte. 

Crumpets for breakfast at The Fairmont Empress in Victoria. Can't believe I've never had a crumpet before -- delicious! I think they taste like a cross between an English muffin and a pancake.

Beautiful presentation. Though small, this is utterly satisfying. 
Afternoon tea on the cruise ship. We met some lovely people, including three Mississipian ladies who were as sweet as pie!
And we really didn't get a lot of exercise. We were either on a boat, a train, a bus, or a ferry. Some walking but less than what I do at home on my treadmill.

Mt. Denali (formerly known as Mt. McKinley), the highest mountain in North America, at over
20,310 feet. We got a wonderful view. We were told that 2/3s of the time it is covered in clouds.
Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. I have more pics to share. It was beautiful.
So how did I maintain my weight?

I think I felt such a sense of abundance around me that I was able to relax and enjoy everything in small bites and in moderation. At home, I never have any treats in the pantry or refrigerator unless I'm having guests over, and think I probably feel deprived all the time. Because when I do get a dessert, it's like "last copter out of 'nam!" Hurry up and eat, and eat all you can because it's my last/only opportunity to eat something sweet before I have to deprive myself again. Kind of sad, really.

I end up munching on too many "healthy" snacks, such as almonds, and probably consume just as many or more calories as I would if I'd just allowed myself what I really want, such as a little bit of chocolate or a small piece of pie.

But with all the desserts around me on this vacation, I could relax and tell myself, they'll be here in the morning, and tomorrow night and the next day. I can have a dessert whenever I want. There's no need to squirrel it all away. As if I'm preparing for a famine. Or the apocalypse!

So I was actually able to eat a small dessert without finishing it. As in, take a few bites, and push the plate away. I knew there would be a pastry the next morning. And yes, I was eating sensibly the rest of the time, small servings of meat, simply prepared, without a lot of breading or gravy, vegetables, and lots of water. I only ate one roll from the bread basket all week. If I had really craved the bread, I probably wouldn't have had the dessert.

Although I didn't go to the ice cream or pizza counter (no need! I was full!), we did go to afternoon tea twice, and enjoyed scones and cookies and little sandwiches. Two hours before dinner!

So I've been thinking a lot of about the idea of deprivation versus abundance. 

If I were to keep muffins and desserts and other such treats in the house on a regular basis, so that I knew they were always there, and never off limits, would I begin to relax and see these foods in a more healthy way? I.e., a normal, acceptable part of a balanced diet? Would I be less likely to binge if I knew I could have a scone or a (small) brownie every day? Would these foods start to lose their power over me? 

Could I begin to eat more sensibly, without bingeing and without deprivation?

{Someone reminded me that this is actually the theory behind the book French Women Don't Get Fat, which I read some time ago.}

And I've been testing this new theory at home. This last week, I went to a tea room with friends where I had pumpkin bread and dessert. My husband and I split a mini cherry pie from the local farmer's market. I've had a few crumpets with strawberry jam. Otherwise, I've been eating lean protein and veggies and salads. And I've lost two pounds. 

We got to see glaciers up close.
Reindeer. They serve reindeer sausage up there!

Does this make sense?

I'll keep you posted if my theory holds up long-term.

Back from a holiday

Monday, June 25, 2018

Just a quick post to let you know I'm still here. Just got back from a land/sea cruise in Alaska with a stop at the end in Vancouver. I'll post about it soon, but had to share these two lovely pics.

You know wherever I go, I'll find roses and a tea room!

The roses were in Stanley Park, Vancouver, and the cakes were from a tea room, also in Vancouver.

As soon as I sort the laundry and the mail and the photos I'll be back. xo

Summer reading

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

I've got quite a few books lined up for my summer reading, and realize none of them really qualify as your typical light beach reads. I will need to fill in with a few of those, as some on my list look like they'll be heavy going.

No reviews here; I haven't read them yet. But as I always like to see what people are reading, I thought you might feel the same.

Our book club is currently reading A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar. Because I won't be at the next meeting, I decided to take a pass and spend the time reading one of my favorite authors, Wendell Berry. I love his books set in the fictional town of Port William, Kentucky. One of my favorites is Hannah Coulter. But right now I'm reading a book of his agrarian essays entitled The Art of the Commonplace. In it, he laments the passing of the small family farm and shares a vision of what real community can look like. He offers an alternative to the mass consumption, stressed-out urban culture of today.

Here is a poem of his I've always liked.

The Peace of Wild Things 
by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
 and I wake in the night at the least sound
 in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
 I go and lie down where the wood drake
 rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
 I come into the peace of wild things
 who do not tax their lives with forethought
 of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
 And I feel above me the day-blind stars
 waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Isn't that beautiful? I don't have a similar place to go and lie down, but I can imagine . . .
In our book club, if a book you recommend gets enough votes, and we decide to read it, you are in charge of leading the discussion. Two other books I recommended will be coming up later this year, The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien, and The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky. So I want to get started on those. 

The Silmarillion is the story of the events that occur in Middle Earth prior to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I've already read the chapter entitled Of Beren and Luthien because I read that those are the names engraved under Tolkien's and his wife's gravestone inscriptions. It's quite romantic, and a little unusual in Tolkien's writings as he doesn't have much romance in his books (although you could say his whole genre is certainly romantic in the broader sense of the term).

I chose The Idiot partly because I love Dostoevsky. One of my all-time favorite books is his The Brothers Karamovoz. But mostly I chose it because it contains the famous line "beauty will save the world." Can't wait to read that in context.

I would like to write another book, this one on the importance of beauty in our lives, entitled simply The Beautiful Matters, or Why the Beautiful Matters. I have a small stack of books to read on that subject. I've been perusing them, but I'm thinking perhaps I should just write without being influenced too much by what others have to say on the subject.

This lovely old card catalog is in the library at the state capitol in Des Moines, Iowa. I would love to have this in my home.
My mom read and then passed on to me the whole Jalna series by Mazo de la Roche. This is the multi-generational story of a family who settled on the early Canadian frontier. I've read three out of the ten books that she had (I think there's a couple more to the complete series), but I'm already a little tired of them. Kind of in the same way I got tired of Poldark and Downton Abbey (not the books, the TV series). Just ongoing soap operas.

When I feel worried or anxious or in need of comfort, I turn to my stack of Grace Livingston Hill for some light and soothing old-fashioned story telling. I've read through the sixty or so books I have of hers and just finished the fourth in my second go-round. Other comforting and well-loved books that I turn to include any by Elizabeth Goudge and, for lighter reading, Miss Read.

I have to keep up with the book club reading also. We move at a pretty fast clip; a new book every two weeks. I'm not a particularly fast reader; I tend to savor every word and stop and think about what I'm reading or look things up as I read. So I'm usually up late reading the night before book club, trying to get my "homework" done! 

What are you all reading this summer? Anything good?

Wait . . . forget everything I just said

Thursday, May 24, 2018

I try ladies, I really do.

But I love pretty things, girly things, pink things . . . and beautiful packaging.

In my last post I shared how I was decluttering my makeup routine. I was doing so well until I tuned into You-Tube. Those makeup tutorials!! And then went to Nordstrom with my daughter for something and passed the beauty counter.


I have reduced the amount of makeup I use. You'll notice most of the above are skin care products or cleansers. But I may as well face it. I'll never be a minimalist in this area.


I give you the lazy woman's method for winding up a skein of yarn.

It works.

Progress on the sweater. It is just about doing me in. I don't think I'm cut out for these kinds of projects.

In happy news, look at what my son, who just moved to Des Moines, sent me for Mother's Day.


Made With Love By The Dutch Lady Designs