Charm School: All Finished

Yesterday's post on phone etiquette pretty much wraps up our month of Charm School.  I hope that you found this series helpful in myriad areas and that you are practicing away at becoming the best you can possibly be. 

Book Review: When God Made You

This month I chose a children's book to review simply because the cover illustration was so vibrant. The books is illustrated by David Cartrow and I can say honestly that ALL of the illustrations are vibrant with movement and color. I loved the title When God Made You.  The book is written in a rhyming meter that is very well suited to the illustrations which also seem to move with a speed equal to that of the verses.

Charm School: Good Manners for the Phone

In our very first post for Charm School, I added a postscript to "Conversation" about phone etiquette but I really didn't complete that section at that time.  In this day and age with phones practically attached to our ear nearly every place we go, I am afraid that common phone courtesy is no longer used.  I'd like for us to begin to correct that and return to the more mannerly side of phone usage.

Charm School: Tipping Etiquette

An anonymous commenter brought up the subject of tipping in various situations.  I answered her the best I knew at the moment, but I realized this is an area that truly should be addressed.  Emily Post does not fail to note this area of good manners and so I will share what I learned in reading this week.

In My Home This Week: Summer Breeze

In my home this week...

I feel so refreshed and relaxed.  John and I had a lovely week last week, full of sun and sea breezes and new adventures and family.  It was awesome. 

Charm School: Various and Sundry Links and Tips

Today I am finishing the series of Charm School posts for this week.  I have collected a number of notes over the past few weeks.  I do suggest, again, that you make it a point to acquire a copy of a book on etiquette and study it. 

Charm School: Hostess or Guest?

It's come.  That moment when you determine that you will host a guest in your home...or you've just accepted an invitation to be a guest.  Both positions require certain things of you.  We're going to keep it fairly simple here.  I am not going to go Emily Post nor Miss Manners on you.  I do expect that you'll be taking up either one of those books and start learning proper etiquette because the self-assured woman is the informed woman.

Charm School: We All Must Eat

We all must eat.  It's a fact.  Whether we're at home or dining out, we must use proper table manners.  And honestly dears, even if you're eating alone it doesn't hurt to observe good manners at home.  Much nicer than hanging over the sink shoving food into your mouth and let's be honest:  we are all guilty of that at some point!

Charm School: Pretty Is As Pretty Does

Etiquette, just like fashion sense, may be learned but no amount of learning either one will carry you through if your countenance is always a storm cloud and your tongue known for it's sharpness.  So let us begin now with how to dress that inner woman.

Charm School: Confidence

I have to share this comment that came in last week.  I share it because it illustrates a point.

Debby in KS: This post made me flash back to a comment a woman made to me at the Y pool. I was going to the lap pool and walking down the side of it to get my kickboard. Then I walked back. After I got in with an ungraceful jump lol, she swam over to my lane and said, "My gosh, you have the BEST posture! Do you practice walking that way?"

In My Home This Week: Pressing Towards Summer

In my home this week...

...I have been thinking long and hard about the summer days just ahead.  Not rushing from one season to the next, no not at all.  It's already hitting 90f routinely outdoors.  Fortunately, low humidity means that it's fairly nice outdoors if you can stand the gnats and flies long enough to be outside.  

Sweet June

June is just around the corner this week.   With six birthdays and a Jamberry party planned for one week it seemed best to plan ahead for June. 

Jamberry Party:

Frugal Friday: Reining In

Saturday:  My plan today was to have bagels.   Again this Saturday morning, John took over breakfast duty and made eggs to go with the toasted bagels.  Again, I made no complaint.  After all, if he wants to cook for me who am I to argue?

I planned a dinner of leftovers.  John wasn't particularly happy over that meal idea.  I opened up the last package of hot dogs and made French Fries.  I brought out the cupcakes from Family Day that I'd set aside and frosted them with a quick to mix up buttercream frosting.  That was a second meal planned and ready in under 20 minutes which made me happy.

Charm School: Additional Items to Contemplate

I thought you'd enjoy a repeat of these old vintage things.  I've posted before.  I'm sorry the print on this first one will be small, but if I enlarge it then it overlaps the edges of the blog page.  Enlarge your viewing size on your computer to get a better look at the text. 

Charm School: Best Dressed

Clothes make the woman and man and deny it though we might it's true.  It is generally our outward appearance that draws attention first and how we present ourselves is important.  First impressions are often the lasting impressions and that too is unfortunately true.  We might have opportunity to meet someone again but try as we might if we created that unfavorable first impression that is the lingering ideal they will have of us, regardless of how nicely we present ourselves or act thereafter.

Charm School: The World Bows at Her Feet

Now that we've discussed our hands, it's time to think about our feet.  How are yours?

For years now I've kept my toenails polished.  If my fingers bear the brunt of work my feet tend to stay rather nicely kept at all times...despite many broken, bruised toes due to carelessness.  If I failed in any other part of self-care, I did keep my feet looking nice.

Feet can be lovely or ugly.  Toes, like fingers are short, long, crooked, straight.  Considering that feet literally bear the weight of all our world (our whole body!) and are responsible in part for helping us balance (the rest of our skeleton and muscles do play a role as well) and definitely keep us moving through life, we really can't afford to ignore this body part at all.

Charm School: The World At Her Fingertips

My hands look worn.  They are scarred in places and the veins are slightly ropey.  I struggle with dry rough cuticles and despite repeated oil treatments they must be clipped, or produce painful hang nails.  I remember the hands of my youth, with long oval nails and the softness of skin.  I had dreamed of being a hand model.  That dream vanished a long time ago as my hands have taken on the mien of one who works with her hands day in and day out.  Just the other day my husband took my hand in his and told me how much he appreciated the strength of my hands, how glad he was that they were firm and strong and gentle at the same time.   He couldn't have given me a nicer compliment. 

I recall two friends who were contrasts.  One was a woman I met when I was a young newlywed.  She had lovely hands and beautiful long nails that she kept painted a bubble gum pink for all the years I knew her.  That was the only color I ever saw her wear on her nails.  She didn't dial the rotary dial phone (oh those old things, lol) with her fingers.  No, she took up a pen or pencil and used that to dial her phone.  When picking up coins or popping the top of a 12 ounce drink, she used the pads of her fingers.  She took great care of her hands, had made it a habit, and they were a lovely asset to her.

Contrast her with the other friend who worked at a job that required her to type nearly all day long in full public view.  She was a nice girl who presented herself very well.  Her hair was shining and lovely, she had developed a fashion style that was all her own and which suited her perfectly.  But look at her poor hands.  Her nails were bitten back to halfway of the nail bed. Her cuticles were ripped and torn and often infected.   Her poor fingers looked mangled!  It always shocked me to see her fingers when she was so well put together otherwise.  It was as though her hands revealed a rather shameful secret about her.  Often people who were being waited upon by her would comment on the state of her hands.   Yet it did not stop her nasty habit of biting them down hard.

In My Home This Week: Whew!

In my home this week...

...I am shocked at how quickly May is going.  The month is half gone!  I feel like I've worked hard all month long and yet I'd be hard pressed to show you any amount of work done.  This despite decluttering all sorts of computer things and blog list and emails and old blog posts that I can't print off nor keep forever apparently after I lost something like ten years of work that I'd saved.  I've been slowly shutting down two mail accounts while I move to a different server and that's meant countless account updates and email updates, etc. 

I've been finishing up books I'd started reading and writing countless posts for Charm School.  I think I have two weeks of posts to go on that score and we'll finish it off.  I have appointed tasks to do each day and each week and the house and yards are looking spruce.  I've knocked out a lot of my shopping tasks which is saying something because I don't really spend a lot of time contemplating shopping nor making time to do much of it.  So yes, May has flown past and I've been busy working away.

Frugal Friday: Balance Beam

Saturday:  I'd planned bagels for breakfast but John decided he wanted to cook breakfast for me.  He made a really big meal.  That's fine.  I figured we could have a late dinner.

It may be Shabat but I didn't do any food prep yesterday.  I chopped vegetables to make spaghetti.  Why not double the batch?  It's really only just a matter of a few extra seconds of chopping.  I add lots of vegetables to my spaghetti.  Today's batch had carrot, zucchini, onion, bell pepper and tomatoes as well as tomato paste and tomato sauce.   I put this in the fridge overnight since we didn't eat spaghetti for dinner as I'd planned.

I'd left spaghetti sauce simmering when John mentioned wanting to try a new sandwich that is temporarily out at a sub shop.  He suggested we go picnic.  We went to a public park and had a lovely time. 

Wore a shirt I've had in my closet for some time though it is new.  I realized while away from home that I don't wear it because it is not comfortable for me.  If I lost a few pounds I'd like it a lot better.  I will pass it on to someone who can wear it more comfortably.

Charm School: Your Best Face Forward

I think I was about ten when my skin took on a pebbly sort of appearance and I began to be plagued with breakouts.  While my skin condition overall wasn't horrible, it wasn't perfectly smooth.   As I got older I had frequent breakouts.   I took a home economics class as an elective and can tell you sincerely that I gleaned one little bit of information from that class.  A woman who sold a cosmetics line came in to demonstrate how to care for facial skin and show us girls how to properly apply our makeup.  In her demonstration of cleansing she made mention of a fact that sort of changed my skin care routine forever.  She said that if you were prone to breakouts on the face a moisturizer could correct your skin.

This was revolutionary information.  True, Granny had instructed me at twelve to get a face cream and use it, but every bit of information available at that time suggested anyone with an oily complexion and breakouts should avoid moisturizers.  Despite the use of a Clair Sonic  facial brush and specialized soap as well as the twice daily usage of Sea Breeze astringent, and being very careful to remove all of what little makeup I wore daily, I still had breakouts.  I purchased an inexpensive moisturizer and immediately noted an improvement in my skin.  Just goes to show that sometimes the 'experts'  may be wrong and a woman who applied practical advice could be right.

Just a little note here to say that skin care on Granny's side of the family has often been important to the women.  Granny told me that her grandmother not only washed her face in rain water but she skimmed the cream off the milk each morning and evening, "and always used some of it on her face."

Charm School: Perfect Posture

Proper posture affects our overall health.  Poor posture can cause, at the very least, strain on muscles and bones that cause tension and pain.  It can place undue stress on vertebra and pinch nerves that further limit mobility.  It affects our ability to breathe deeply.  Poor posture can lower energy levels and affect mood.  Proper posture is not a cure all for every ail, but it certainly can relieve a great many of our physical ones!

Poor posture can also adversely affect our figures.  The stomach pooches, the breasts hang too low and the shoulders slope.  Or the derriere is extended too far behind and we look a bit sway backed.  It is truth that simply straightening up can make us look 25 pounds lighter!  We all want a weight loss solution without dieting.  Well posture is your solution!

How I Simplified My Grocery Shopping

Several years ago, I spent grocery day in a mad rush from one store to the next.  I averaged shopping at least 6 stores, during my shopping day.  Every thing I bought was on sale and often at a very good price.  So why was I spending so much money?  Wasn't I shopping sales?  Wasn't I only going in to pick up the items we'd normally use?

Yes, I was.  The trouble was that often, and I do mean often, I picked up a little more than was needed.  I was 'stocking up'.  If I went in to purchase four items but came out with twelve, I'd spent a good bit more than the four items would have cost me.

Charm School: Taking Care of You

I shared that I had a spa morning this past week.  I spent a good two or three hours Friday morning on pampering myself and I want to assure you it was worth every minute.  I felt so refreshed and my skin felt so silky that I was amazed I'd avoided spending that sort of quality time on my own self-care because I felt I was too busy for too many weeks now.

As I've read these books of mine, most of which were published along about 1935, I realize that some of the advice given is outdated and occasionally off, but so much of it makes good sense and is really sound thinking.  One of the recommendations across each book is that a girl/woman should have an evening that she devotes to full self care. 

I'd like to share my routine on Friday morning and while there are areas we'll address more fully a little later, you'll have a pretty good idea of the amount of detail involved overall.

My first step was to go through my closet.  Does that sound odd?  I'd noted that I was wearing the same few items over and over again and that several new items weren't being worn at all.  My first task was to pull out those items I hadn't worn and try them on.  I noted that they all fit.  I felt they were comfortable.  In thinking over why I hadn't worn them, I realized that it came down to accessories.  I simply had nothing that set off those particular items.  I made a few mental notes of things I might purchase to help to make outfits with these pieces.

Coffee Chat: Merry Month of May

Come in, Lovelies and let us take a leisurely cup of coffee.  It's a little cool yet for iced tea and porches.  I am sure it's our last cool spell of the year.

Sit down and let us talk a bit.  I've much to share.

Shall I begin with the family day we just had?  It was a lovely day.  Hot, my gracious, that whole weekend was hot and heavy with humidity.  Indoors felt good with the air conditioning coming on routinely and a fan stirring the air, too.  Everyone practically arrived at once and they all departed at once as well, but in between was the visiting and that was so nice.  I had a little chance to hold Isaac before everyone arrived.  His mama dressed him in a jeans and plaid shirt outfit that my mom bought him and he looked like a linebacker.  He's such a hefty little boy and so serious.  He frowns at the world a lot, but I think it's more to help his focus because he likes to look at things and people.  He loves to be held, which is a good thing, since he was only put down long enough to change.  Everyone had an opportunity to hold him, but every one also heard from Josh that this was his Isaac and nobody could have him for keeps because Mama needed him. 

Taylor never glanced Isaac's way at all.  She wasn't in the least disturbed by Mama and Daddy holding him.  I was beginning to wonder why he generated no interest at all from her when his Gammy Jenny went to change his diaper. All of a sudden a diaper change and kicking little legs brought Taylor's focus upon him.  She watched, she helped, she touched his hand and his feet and felt his head.  She was oh so gentle the whole while.  Then she offered to help put on his jeans and once the jeans were on Isaac was invisible to her once more.

In My Home This Week: Tempermental May

In my home this week...

...I enjoyed my week last week.  It was a good  mix of intensive study time, hard work, fun, savings and splurges.  I'd call it well balanced.  It's just the sort of mix I like and I hope that this week proves to be just as lovely. 

It turned off cold on Friday.  We needed a jacket when we went out and carried one with us when we left home on Saturday for an impromptu picnic in the park.  It was so beautifully sunny and everything that deep intense green that comes with plenty of spring rain.  The sky over head was so blue and smooth.  It was John's idea to have a picnic luncheon out.  I was simmering a big pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove and had planned a late dinner when he looked over at me and said "Let's go get a sandwich at Subway and have a picnic."  I said pretty much the same thing I said when he announced earlier that morning that he was making breakfast.  "Okay."  I mean really, who is complaining about having someone else take over the food preparation?  Not this girl!

We had a lovely time and a long chat and then we watched a girl of about twelve play with her puppy across the street.  They had a whole game they played that involved her riding the bike and him chasing her until he was too tired to run.  At which point she'd stop and sort of wiggle the handle bars so the front tire shook at him and he'd bark like crazy until she took off riding once more.  It was quite cute to watch.   And can we just say how refreshing to see a pre-teen on a bike with a dog and not in a gaggle of boys or girls and no phone in sight?

Charm School: Your Shining Glory

When I was young, my straight hair bothered my mother no end.  She pin curled it, she put rollers in it.  She used Dippity Do, sugar water, beer and hair spray on it prior to pin curling or rollers.  Tender headed with fine straight hair it was torturous to me to have so much done to my hair.  My mother finally resorted to perms which left me with a head full of frizzy unruly hair that bushed about my head like an afro long before the look was popular in the early 1970's.

I finally rebelled hard my 14th year when Mama asked Granny and Aunt Myrtle to trim and curl my hair.  They worked on opposite sides of my head, Granny to the left, Aunt Myrtle to the right and the end result was that one side was two inches longer than the other and both sides stood out from my head like Bozo's red wig.  I took one long look in the mirror and one long look at my mother's face.  It was obvious she saw what a huge mistake it was.  I said quietly, "No more.  I have straight hair.  I will have straight hair."  Eventually the perm grew out and I allowed my hair to grow long like the rest of my classmates.  By the time I graduated I had hair that reached mid-back, was parted down the middle and fell in glossy folds.  And so my hair stayed until well after Samuel's birth when I chose to have the typical 1980's permed bob.  I must say the look suited me and this hairstyle was professionally done but after ten years I'd had enough of that as well.  From there I went through a new hairstyle about every six months.  It's only been in the past couple of years that I've found my current pixie cut which suits me.  I've not grown tired of it, I can easily style it and I am continually complimented upon it.  I know that for this time in my life, it's the right cut for me.

Frugal Friday: A Penny, A Plan

Saturday:  We were up early this morning but not because we had heavy tasks to attend to.  All I needed to do was cook potatoes, steam green beans and keep food hot until everyone got here.  No problem.  I even had time to lounge about, do my morning Bible study, finish off my book and give myself a manicure.  Lovely Shabat morning.

John made me a tumbler of unsweetened iced tea this morning.  I hadn't tried the Yeti tumblers though he's continued to rave over them.  Well now I know why.  He made my tea about 10:30.  At 6pm this evening there was still ice in the tumbler!  I'm sold!

Three of my crowd (all in the same family) have an intense dislike for mayonnaise.  I wanted to make a potato salad.  I chose to use a recipe I recall Katie using years ago while she was at home and preparing meals once a week.  It is an Herbed Potato Salad.  I don't have the cookbook she used to use, but I did my best with what I had on hand: sour cream, dill, chives, parsley, salt, pepper and lemon juice mixed into hot potatoes.  It's different enough but not so far off one wouldn't recognize it is potato salad.  I found the mixture a little 'dry' for my tastes, but I wouldn't have wanted any more sour cream in it.  I think when I try this again I'll add in some mayonnaise just to increase the creaminess overall.  Still it made the mayo haters happy and nobody else minded the change in recipe in the least. 

Charm School: Good Looks Begin Within

In reading any of the books upon my list, each begins with what we all know and have heard many times over.  However, in school we often begin with a review of what we already know before we move on to new knowledge.  So let's begin at the beginning and work our way from there, shall we?

I am simultaneously using each of the books and websites I listed as I come upon subjects.  The information is then cross referenced from one to another and that's how I shall be submitting it to you, rather than doing an individual review of each item.  I think we'll have more the atmosphere of lessons in that manner and that is what I wished to do with this subject of learning to be charming and elegant.  By the way, if any of you have any recommendations for books that you personally own or websites you especially like, please bring them to my attention so that I might share them.  Sarah reminded me of  one such site that I'd shared with you all last year:  A Lady's Code is an excellent site with good information.

Now let us begin today's lesson.
Every one of my books recommends we begin with the image in our mirror.  I love how one author stated it because it is both humorous and too true: "In your lowest moments, when you look in the mirror do you feel like a magazine advertisement for "Before"?"   Gracious!  That did make me chuckle and wince both at the same time.  Yes, I can say honestly that many times I look in the mirror and feel like the 'Before' photo!  

So where do we start?  At that mirror.  A full length mirror is likely best, but you'll also want a mirror that allows you to see your face and hair and other features close up.  I am blessed (?) with two full length mirrors above our big garden tub.  I add the question mark because you do see yourself clearly revealed in all your glory and shame when you have full length mirrors in the bathroom! 

Stand before a mirror, clothed or not as you choose, and look at yourself as you would a stranger.  I mean it.  Wipe away all those pre-conceived (and too often wrong) assessments you've made of yourself in the past and look objectively at yourself. 

How's your posture?  Do you slump or stand with shoulders curved forward or thrust unnaturally far back?   I know I often tend to slump a bit.  I can hear Granny tell me 1000 times more "Stand up straight and don't round your shoulders!"  She was quite right.  I often see young women who stand in such a way.  I'll lay odds that nine times out of ten it's lack of good confidence that causes them to slump as they do. 

Why don't you bring a chair in so you can sit before the mirror for a moment?  That's a good way to get a good view of whether you are sitting with proper posture.  Here too I find I often slump.  This is partly due to the fact that I work with my laptop on my lap and I tend to lean forward over the laptop.  I really do need to get a tray or work table that will lift up the laptop to a better height...But I digress.

 How's your figure?  I mean really, how is your figure?  Most of us have bulges and bumps and few of us are at the perfect weight but  NO figure is completely without merit.  Do you have long slender legs?  A nice waistline?  A good bust? Do you have slender wrists and ankles? 

Most of us are perfectly aware of the supposed faults of our body shape but have you looked about at others?   I've been a people watcher for years and if you are in a public place you'll soon note how many women have your same body type.  We'll address this further in a future lesson, but just be sure that you are no more unique in your shape any more than you are in your height or shoe size or coloration of hair/eyes and skin!

I am fully aware of a few exercises that target my problem areas.  Aren't you?  I have some areas I need to address and while I can certainly lose weight, and who doesn't need to do so?, I am aware that diet alone won't correct lax muscles.  For now, just jot down on a piece of paper what you consider your best features and what you'd like to change and do be realistic, dear.  You can't grow the length of your legs physically but there are ways to look taller and just bear that in mind when you note corrections you'd like to make. 

Is there a foundation garment you perhaps need?  It isn't the day of the girdle anymore thank heavens, but there are foundation garments that can help trim certain areas or lift others and smooth still others. 

Now let's do a close up.  Use the smaller mirror and your own eyes to determine if your facial features are sharp and angular or rounded.  Is your nose long or pert?  What is the shape of your eyes and eye brows?  How is your mouth?  Look at your teeth.  Are they white?  I don't mean the sort of unnaturally white we see too often these days but are they white?  Is your skin clear and fresh looking or is it sallow and prone to breakouts?    How does the skin of your throat and ears look and the d├ęcolletage of chest?  Is the skin there coarse and loose?  Really look at yourself and don't just criticize.  Freely note those things that are quite nice.  Perhaps you  are pleased with the shape of your eyes or mouth or you have really nice teeth.  Perhaps you've tended well to your skin and it's fresh and nice looking. 

May I share here what I found?   I find the shape of my mouth rather pleasing, my eyes just a tiny bit too close and droopy at the outer corners.  I've worked on my brows for years and the shape is rather pleasing but I  must add to the length of them when I do makeup.  My teeth are good but slightly crooked.  My nose is proportional to my face but I think it's a little large though it is straight. 

Access the shape of your face.  No matter that you did this years ago and have always known your face shape.  Did you know our face changes shape as we grow and age?  I used to have an oval face but I'd noticed there had been a change.   One author suggested tying a ribbon about the face, going under the chin and up around the top of the head with hair pushed well back.  I think one of those stretchy sort of hairbands works just as well.  I have often suspicioned of late that my face was square and I was quite right.   I have delicate features (a small face).    Did you know that your face may be triangle, heart, square, oval, round, heart or diamond shaped?  I had no idea!  I'd always heard of round and square and oval but no clue the other shapes also existed.  That was a new lesson. 

Do you wear glasses?  Does the shape of your glasses suit your face?  I need to go check on that myself.  I do know my features are small enough that big round owl glasses do not suit me and simply overwhelm my face.  Aviators aren't for me either.  I'll definitely be looking at recommended styles for a small square face this afternoon!

Now look at your hair?  Is your hair texture straight or curly, coarse or fine?  Dull?  Shiny? Dry? Oily?  Does the color look lustrous and natural or is it fade?  I'm finding I'm rather pleased with my hair now that I'm not dyeing it any longer.  The color is darker, far more black than I'd realized and the gray highlights  that natural dark color.  It's striking with the silver I have at my temples. 

Do you like the style you currently wear?  I still love my pixie type cut but I'm currently looking for ways to style it so that I'm not forever wearing my hair in just one way.  I checked sites online to see if a pixie cut  suited a square face.  Yes, it does.  I'd instinctively chosen Anne Hathaway as my personal model for hair last night and today I discovered that she has a square face.  That was a bit of instinctive guessing that boosted my confidence in my own assessment of self.  One site suggested slightly spiking my hair.  That is the way my former stylist did it and it was fun to wear that way.  I noted a few of Anne Hathaway's mix-ups with her hair, some of which I liked far better than I did others.  I'm trusting my instincts on this one and feel sure I can carry off those variations of hers I chose to save to my file.

In order to determine if your hair cut and style suits your face, put into the search box of your favorite search engine the shape of your face and the style of your hair such as page boy or upsweep, etc.  Add any additional information about length of your hair such as whether it's long or short or medium.  View several of the resulting search sites.  Some are infinitely more helpful than others and some are fairly useless.

Now I shall discuss proper hair care next post but let us continue with this lesson at present.

How does your skin look?  Is it smooth and clear?  Are you prone to breakouts?  Do you see large pores?  Do you have fine wrinkles?  Do you have a skin care routine?  Is it the same routine you've used since you were a teen? It might well be time to do something fresh.  I noted after years of using the same products that my skin looked dull and uneven.  I had to find new products to use. 

How do your nails look? Check both hands and feet.   Are they smooth and well shaped?  Do you have rough dry cuticles?  Do you have calluses?  We'll talk about proper hand and foot care later on, too, but for now note any problems you see or anything you find especially pleasing.

We're all done with the mirror now. You can dress and put away your chair and let us look internally at ourselves.

How is your health?  Your physical health is a good indicator of how well your nails, skin, hair, teeth and eyes will look.  It's what is going on inside our bodies that determines what happens on the surface outside as well as affecting your emotional and mental health.  Are you plagued with indigestion?  Pain?  Are you anxious or nervous?  There is almost always something we can do to ease those symptoms besides mere medication.  I am not discounting medicines by the way, but I do believe that if addressed organically with diet and exercise and rest, a real difference can be had.

Let's talk about sleep....Do you get enough?  Sleep is one of those things we all need for good health.
As teens we were forever hearing about the needed eight hours.  That's only just barely right for a teen, did you know that? Children and teens might well require up to twelve hours sleep daily in order to function rightly and be really healthy because they are growing so rapidly.  The minimum required is eight hours.  As we grow older our need for sleep lessens somewhat.  That is because we are no longer actively growing.  However, that is not to say we have no need of rest. 

Sleep is essential to cell renewal, to recharging the brain and to slowing down organs so they can self heal and repair in order to function properly.  At the very least we should have six hours of rest nightly.  Even if you do not sleep fully that entire time, to lie quietly in bed, with mind as blank as you can make it and eyes closed, can be refreshing.  It's not as beneficial as sleep but it's helpful. 

Do you keep regular sleep hours?  I'm not asking if you're a morning person or a night person.  I'm asking do you routinely retire at a certain hour each night and arise about the same time most days?  Do you follow a night time ritual to trigger the part of your brain that brings on sleep?  Oh this too shall be another short lesson so we'll move on for now but keep this in mind and make any notes you need to have as a reminder.

How's your diet?  Do you 'eat the rainbow' in fruits and vegetables?  Do you eat adequate amounts of proteins and fats and fiber rich foods?  Do you eat a good variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables?  Is your diet balanced or do you lean hard on snack foods?  Diet will be a addressed more fully a little later on but suffice it to say now that you truly are what you eat, especially on the outside.   Are you drinking enough water?  Too much coffee or soda?  All of these things work together for or against you.  Keep that in mind!

This next is a rather delicate subject, but I must address it because it is part of good health....It's about your bodily functions of elimination.  Do you drink enough water?  Do you go to the bathroom at regular times?  Do you have problems that should be addressed in this area?  Elimination is very important.  I know  present studies say there is absolutely no toxin in body waste but I don't believe it for one minute.  I know how I feel physically if my body is not functioning normally and I know how I feel when all is as it ought to be.  Chronic problems can prevent the absorption of nutrients and vitamin retention if you go too frequently or cause you to feel quite ill and show up as acne and poor skin quality if you don't go frequently enough. 

I will address this only a few moments more and then we're done with it, but I was much amused by one of the books suggestion that we determine what our 'time of day' would be and stick to it.  Frankly, I'd never assumed I had that sort of control over my body but now I do wonder.  We're taught as children to control the movement of bowels and the urgency to eliminate and perhaps as adults we should be practicing the control to move them at will?  It's something to think on for sure.

If you do have chronic issues there are all sorts of remedies to be tried that do work.  A doctor's advice is not remiss if you have really chronic issues.  Diet will help remedy issues for most but if that fails and other natural remedies do you no good, do see your doctor and take his advice on the matter.

Do you get enough air and sunshine?    Do you spend at least ten minutes daily in the sun absorbing all that good Vitamin D3?  Did you know that many of today's current ailments stem from the LACK of D3?  We were made by our Creator to absorb it from the sunshine and with all the hoopla about using sun screen and processed foods we eat, the loss of basic nutrients in foods that are stored for long term as well as the loss of nutrients in soil no one gets nearly enough D3 anymore.  It's vital!  A lack of D3 can be traced to heart defects, loss of thyroid function and even has been shown in some studies to contribute to Diabetes!  Ten minutes at least once a day is all that is required.  Choose a portion of the day when the sun's rays are not so direct and soak up that good sunshine!

Does anyone sleep with a window open anymore?  I think in this day and age we're all a bit afraid to do so.  I'd love to sleep with a window cracked near my bed but John absolutely puts his foot down about that.  He was burgled three times before he moved from his old home state and he practices extreme caution about open windows.  Well, it's not just night air that refreshes.  Daytime air is just as good.  A few minutes outdoors daily getting a few rays of sun is just as good a time to breath in deeply of outdoor air.  Airing the house daily for a few minutes cannot hurt either.  If you're out driving, roll the windows down just a little and get some air then.

What about exercise?  It doesn't have to be strenuous but daily exercise is beneficial.  It helps you to breathe more deeply, it pushes the body to perspire which can flush out toxins and it causes endorphins to rise which can elevate your mood.  Many recommend gentle stretches at night before bed to relax the body.  Just as many suggest that stretches in the morning can encourage blood flow to joints and organs.  Do you like to walk?  Then walk.  If you prefer a more regimented program then make up your own routine, one that targets those areas you hope to correct in your figure. 

I personally find the Pilates core movements are easy enough for someone of even limited ability.  I plan to incorporate them once more into my daily routine.  It just so happens those core movements hit all the spots that trouble me most about my figure and will help correct my posture flaws!

Now let us discuss hygiene.  I guess in the day and age in which I grew up indoor plumbing was common place rather than the exception.  I am fully aware that running water and indoor baths are still relatively new to many homes even here in the United States.  I mean that we've really not had them in every home for a  100 years yet!  That said, I always wondered at the need to even mention the need to bathe and shampoo routinely, but then I met a woman who was not aware of basic hygiene principles. She had a home and a decent enough one at that.  She simply didn't bathe routinely because she was never taught to do so.  It was not uncommon to note a bead of dirt about her neck or to note that her hair needed washing.   I could never quite shake that image from my mind after visiting with her on more than one occasion.  

We should all bathe on a daily basis.  I do realize for some of the young mothers that is a dream with toddler and under aged children but we should all bathe daily.  Soap and warm water do more good than you'd imagine.  Did you know that perspiration releases certain toxins that remain upon the skin?  Body odor is normal but it certainly shouldn't be evident to those about you.  Bathing refreshes the skin, as it also removes dead skin cells.   Granny was my lesson on water conservation.  When the well was in danger or running dry and filling the tub wasn't possible she bathed using a basin of water.  I myself employed a basin of water nightly when I was unable to shower for two months at physical rehab hospital due to my injuries.  There really is no excuse for going without a bath!

Summary:  Standing before a mirror critique and be kind to yourself as well as truthful about what is wrong with your figure, your hair, skin, posture.

Determine the shape of your face.  Look at websites to determine if you're making the most of your facial shape with the correct hairstyle and the shape of your glasses.

Diet, fresh air, sunshine and exercise as well as rest affects both your internal health and external appearance of health.   Determine how well you meet these daily needs.

A daily bath is necessary for good hygiene and good physical health. 


Charm School: The Art of Conversation.

I didn't really intend to begin Charm School with Conversation but two things pushed this to the fore front.  First, I had guests in my home this weekend and I noted yet again a certain flaw in my conversation.

Reason number two:  when I opened the blog I found via Pinterest, the first thing that popped up was Conversation.  So I took notes as I read and then I took my books and read the section on conversation in each of them in turn.

Voice.  Let us begin first at the very beginning.  In order to speak we must use our voice.  Have you listened to yourself speaking?  Is your voice pleasant?  Is it nasal?  Do you speak too loudly?  Do you speak too softly, so that people are constantly asking you to repeat yourself?  Do you tend to mumble?  Do you pace your speech well?   Do you speak too quickly?  Does your voice lack any modulation at all so that you speak in a droning monotone?  Do you sound angry?  Whining?  All of these things can make conversation either a joy to others or difficult and may well determine the way in which you are spoken to by others.

A Medieval Home Companion

Amie gave me this book when she was in high school because she was sure it was something I'd love to read.  I am positive she read it herself before passing it on to me because that was usually what she did, read and then give to me with the recommendation that I read it as well.

This little book is quaint in some ways and quite wise in many others.  For the month of May, I decided to start my charm school with the chapter on Worship, Dress, Deportment and Speech and within a few pages I found wise advice.

For a little background, the manuscript the book is based upon is a sort of lengthy letter written in book form by an elder man to his very young bride.  It is believed he was in his 50's or 60's and she but 15.  I am touched at the beginning by his introduction in which she asked him in their bedchamber to never criticize her before the servants or friends but to wait until they were alone each evening and then to instruct her how she might better conduct herself.

End of April Challenge: More on Convenience Meals; Reader Input

I had a nice response from you all about the ShoeBox Meals.  I wanted to share the information that readers chipped in with:

Lana noted that Southern Plate has a similar thing that she's shared on her blog.  Shelf stable meals that she stores in a zippered storage bag and calls Bags to Dishes.  Follow the link to see her ideas.  I've just glanced at the site but have it bookmarked to go back to.  I read one recipe and she mentioned that there were now nearly a month's worth of meals online.  The link I'm giving you is linked directly to these specific set of recipes.

She also suggested this menu:    I would add the taco soup recipe that is made up of 5 cans of food and a cornbread mix. 

I immediately thought of Pioneer Woman's Seven Can Soup as another good possibility.

Judy shared this suggestion for a shoe box meal:  I would maybe add--Chicken/Dorito casserole..[ Using can chicken breast, cream of chicken soup, dorito chips, Can of cheese whiz. Dried pepper/onion flakes. Green beans, Pineapple slices.

Michele offered this suggestion.  I went to find the recipe and yes indeed it is a great idea for a shoe box meal.  Even better it's pretty much a one dish meal:  Just a quick thought about tuna salad. We like ours a little on the dry side so we use mustard instead of mayo.

Also, there is a delicious recipe for chicken barley chili on the back of the Quaker Quick Barley package. I make it with all canned goods. I usually make it in the slow cooker, but it is fast and easy on the stove top as well.

What's New For May?

May is here!  I was doing some planning on Sunday when I suddenly remembered that old school rhyme of the days of the months.  You know.  "Thirty days hath September, APRIL...."  and I realized that it was April 30th and May started the very next day!  How I did start churning my brain at that point because it's one thing to think you've two or three days to plan and another thing to realize that the month is upon you right now.

Organization:  As you know I've been following home-storage-solution 101 declutter calendars for 2016.  When I found the first calendar none were up for 2017.  Now if you've joined the site you might well be working along with the 2017 calendars.  However, I found the free pdf 2016 booklet of calendars and month by month challenges are online and ready to be used.  Just click on this link

I like that a lot of this month's work focuses on paper and documents which is not heavy work as a rule.  Perfect for a month that generally heats up to summery temperatures for us each year. I noted a few spaces to do some work, though I am okay on some areas.

In My Home This Week: All Routine