Tuesday, October 31

Annie Brumbaugh's Top 10 Wardrobing Tips...

1. Define your style, and continue to refine it over time. This is your fashion DNA: What you love, what makes you comfortable, what you feel expresses you. Stay true to this, and the wardrobe will follow.

2. Understand your body type, proportions, best silhouettes and colors, textures and scale. Whatever your shape, know that there are clothes out there that can really flatter you, and you should never settle for less.

3. Don't go on fishing expeditions. Know what you are shopping for.Be specific but not rigid.

4. Go to the right store -- not necessarily where the sales are, but where they have clothes in your style. Go rested and alone. Bring shoes.

5. Look for color and fabric first, then silhouette, then size.

6. Think outfit, not item. Put each piece in the context of your wardrobe. If you fall in love with a piece that can't be worn with other pieces you own, or that you'll probably never have an occasion to wear, pass it up.

7. Get help. Make your wishes known to the salesperson. Get her (or him) to check back with you. A store with unresponsive sales help is not your store.

8. Love it or leave it! If you're not absolutely in love with a garment, don't commit.

9. Insist on fit. Get alterations then and there if possible. If not, get thee to a fitter. The most wonderful garment ever created won't look good if it doesn't fit.

10. Buy the best you can bring yourself to afford, especially in core items. You don't need a lot of stuff when you have the right stuff. Concentrate on fewer, better pieces.

The Association of Image Consultants International lists certified image consultants at their Web site, AICI.org. Annie Brumbaugh can bereached at ABWardrobeWorks.com.

Monday, October 30

The Wife

By Washington Irving(1783-1859)

The treasures of the deep are not so precious As are the concealed comforts of a man Lock'd up in woman's love. I scent the air Of blessings, when I came but near the house, What a delicious breath marriage sends forth-- The violet bed's no sweeter!


I have often had occasion to remark the fortitude with which women sustain the most overwhelming reverses of fortune. Those disasters which break down the spirit of a man, and prostrate him in the dust, seem to call forth all the energies of the softer sex, and give such intrepidity and elevation to their character, that at times it approaches to sublimity. Nothing can be more touching, than to behold a soft and tender female, who had been all weakness and dependence, and alive to every trivial roughness, while threading the prosperous paths of life, suddenly rising in mental force to be the comforter and support of her husband under misfortune, and abiding with unshrinking firmness the bitterest blasts of adversity.As the vine, which has long twined its graceful foliage about the oak, and been and been lifted by it into sunshine, will, when the hardy plant is rifted by the thunderbolt, cling round it with its caressing tendrils, and bind up its shattered boughs, so is it beautifully ordered by Providence, that woman, who is the mere dependent and ornament of man in his happier hours, should be his stay and solace when smitten with sudden calamity; winding herself into the rugged recesses of his nature, tenderly supporting the drooping head, and binding up the broken heart.

I was once congratulating a friend, who had around him a blooming family, knit together in the strongest affection. "I can wish you no better lot," said he, with enthusiasm, "than to have a wife and children. If you are prosperous, there they are to share your prosperity; if otherwise, there they are to comfort you." And, indeed, I have observed that a married man falling into misfortune, is more apt to retrieve his situation in the world than a single one; partly, because he is more stimulated to exertion by the necessities of the helpless and beloved beings who depend upon him for subsistence, but chiefly because his spirits are soothed and relieved by domestic endearments, and his self-respect kept alive by finding, that, though all abroad is darkness and humiliation, yet there is still a little world of love at home, of which he is the monarch. Whereas, a single man is apt to run to waste and self-neglect; to fancy himself lonely and abandoned, and his heart to fall to ruin, like some deserted mansion, for want of an inhabitant.

These observations call to mind a little domestic story, of which I was once a witness. My intimate friend, Leslie, had married a beautiful and accomplished girl, who had been brought up in the midst of fashionable life. She had, it is true, no fortune, but that of my friend was ample; and he delighted in the anticipation of indulging her in every elegant pursuit, and administering to those delicate tastes and fancies that spread a kind of witchery about the sex.--"Her life," said he, "shall be like a fairy tale."

The very difference in their characters produced a harmonious combination; he was of a romantic, and somewhat serious cast; she was all life and gladness. I have often noticed the mute rapture with which he would gaze upon her in company, of which her sprightly powers made her the delight: and how, in the midst of applause, her eye would still turn to him, as if there alone she sought favor and acceptance. When leaning on his arm, her slender form contrasted finely with his tall, manly person. The fond, confiding air with which she looked up to him seemed to call forth a flush of triumphant pride and cherishing tenderness, as if he doated on his lovely burden from its very helplessness. Never did a couple set forward on the flowery path of early and well-suited marriage with a fairer prospect of felicity.

It was the misfortune of my friend, however, to have embarked his property in large speculations; and he had not been married many months, when, by a succession of sudden disasters, it was swept from him, and he found himself reduced to almost penury. For a time he kept his situation to himself, and went about with a haggard countenance, and a breaking heart. His life was but a protracted agony; and what rendered it more insupportable was the necessity of keeping up a smile in the presence of his wife; for he could not bring himself to overwhelm her with the news. She saw, however, with the quick eyes of affection, that all was not well with him. She marked his altered looks and stifled sighs, and was not to be deceived by his sickly and vapid attempts at cheerfulness. She tasked all her sprightly powers and tender blandishments to win him back to happiness; but she only drove the arrow deeper into his soul. The more he saw cause to love her, the more torturing was the thought that he was soon to make her wretched. A little while, thought he, and the smile will vanish from that cheek--the song will die away from those lips--the lustre of those eyes will be quenched with sorrow and the happy heart which now beats lightly in that bosom, will be weighed down, like mine, by the cares and miseries of the world.

At length he came to me one day, and related his whole situation in a tone of the deepest despair. When I had heard him through, I inquired: "Does your wife know all this?"--At the question he burst into an agony of tears. "For God's sake!" cried he, "if you have any pity on me don't mention my wife; it is the thought of her that drives me almost to madness!"

"And why not?" said I. "She must know it sooner or later: you cannot keep it long from her, and the intelligence may break upon her in a more startling manner than if imparted by yourself; for the accents of those we love soften the harshest tidings. Besides, you are depriving yourself of the comforts of her sympathy; and not merely that, but also endangering the only bond that can keep hearts together--an unreserved community of thought and feeling. She will soon perceive that something is secretly preying upon your mind; and true love will not brook reserve; it feels undervalued and outraged, when even the sorrows of those it loves are concealed from it."

"Oh, but my friend! to think what a blow I am to give to all her future prospects,--how I am to strike her very soul to the earth, by telling her that her husband is a beggar! that she is to forego all the elegancies of life--all the pleasures of society--to shrink with me into indigence and obscurity! To tell her that I have dragged her down from the sphere in which she might have continued to move in constant brightness--the light of every eye--the admiration of every heart!--How can she bear poverty? She has been brought up in all the refinements of opulence. How can she bear neglect? She has been the idol of society. Oh, it will break her heart--it will break her heart!"I saw his grief was eloquent, and I let it have its flow; for sorrow relieves itself by words. When his paroxysm had subsided, and he had relapsed into moody silence, I resumed the subject gently, and urged him to break his situation at once to his wife. He shook his head mournfully, but positively.

"But how are you to keep it from her? It is necessary she should know it, that you may take the steps proper to the alteration of your circumstances. You must change your style of living--nay," observing a pang to pass across his countenance, "don't let that afflict you. I am sure you have never placed your happiness in outward show--you have yet friends, warm friends, who will not think the worse of you for being less splendidly lodged: and surely it does not require a palace to be happy with Mary--"

"I could be happy with her," cried he, convulsively, "in a hovel!--I could go down with her into poverty and the dust!--I could--I could--God bless her!--God bless her!" cried he, bursting into a transport of grief and tenderness.

"And believe me, my friend," said I, stepping up, and grasping him warmly by the hand, "believe me, she can be the same with you. Ay, more; it will be a source of pride and triumph to her--it will call forth all the latent energies and fervent sympathies of her nature; for she will rejoice to prove that she loves you for yourself. There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams, and blazes in the dark hour of adversity. No man knows what the wife of his bosom is--no man knows what a ministering angel she is--until he has gone with her through the fiery trials of this world."

There was something in the earnestness of my manner, and the figurative style of my language, that caught the excited imagination of Leslie. I knew the auditor I had to deal with; and following up the impression I had made, I finished by persuading him to go home and unburden his sad heart to his wife.

I must confess, notwithstanding all I had said, I felt some little solicitude for the result. Who can calculate on the fortitude of one whose life has been a round of pleasures? Her gay spirits might revolt at the dark, downward path of low humility suddenly pointed out before her, and might cling to the sunny regions in which they had hitherto revelled. Besides, ruin in fashionable life is accompanied by so many galling mortifications, to which, in other ranks, it is a stranger. In short, I could not meet Leslie, the next morning, without trepidation. He had made the disclosure.

"And how did she bear it?"

"Like an angel! It seemed rather to be a relief to her mind, for she threw her arms around my neck, and asked if this was all that had lately made me unhappy.--But, poor girl," added he, "she cannot realize the change we must undergo. She has no idea of poverty but in the abstract; she has only read of it in poetry, where it is allied to love. She feels as yet no privation; she suffers no loss of accustomed conveniences nor elegancies. When we come practically to experience its sordid cares, its paltry wants, its petty humiliations--then will be the real trial."

"But," said I, "now that you have got over the severest task, that of breaking it to her, the sooner you let the world into the secret the better. The disclosure may be mortifying; but then it is a single misery, and soon over: whereas you otherwise suffer it, in anticipation, every hour in the day. It is not poverty, so much as pretence, that harasses a ruined man--the struggle between a proud mind and an empty purse-the keeping up a hollow show that must soon come to an end. Have the courage to appear poor, and you disarm poverty of its sharpest sting." On this point I found Leslie perfectly prepared. He had no false pride himself, and as to his wife, she was only anxious to conform to their altered fortunes.Some days afterwards, he called upon me in the evening. He had disposed of his dwelling-house, and taken a small cottage in the country, a few miles from town. He had been busied all day in sending out furniture. The new establishment required few articles, and those of the simplest kind. All the splendid furniture of his late residence had been sold, excepting his wife's harp. That, he said, was too closely associated with the idea of herself it belonged to the little story of their loves; for some of the sweetest moments of their courtship were those when he had leaned over that instrument, and listened to the melting tones of her voice.--I could not but smile at this instance of romantic gallantry in a doating husband.He was now going out to the cottage, where his wife had been all day superintending its arrangement. My feelings had become strongly interested in the progress of his family story, and, as it was a fine evening, I offered to accompany him.

He was wearied with the fatigues of the day, and, as we walked out, fell into a fit of gloomy musing.

"Poor Mary!" at length broke, with a heavy sigh, from his lips."And what of her," asked I, "has anything happened to her?""What," said he, darting an impatient glance, is it nothing to be reduced to this paltry situation--to be caged in a miserable cottage--to be obliged to toil almost in the menial concerns of her wretched habitation?"

Has she then repined at the change?

"Repined! she has been nothing but sweetness and good-humor. Indeed, she seems in better spirits than I have ever known her; she has been to me all love, and tenderness, and comfort!"

"Admirable girl!" exclaimed I. "You call yourself poor, my friend; you never were so rich,--you never knew the boundless treasures of excellence you possessed in that woman."

"Oh! but, my friend, if this first meeting at the cottage were over, I think I could then be comfortable. But this is her first day of real experience; she has been introduced into a humble dwelling,--she has been employed all day in arranging its miserable equipments,--she has, for the first time, known the fatigues of domestic employment,--she has, for the first time, looked around her on a home destitute of every thing elegant--almost of every thing convenient; and may now be sitting down, exhausted and spiritless, brooding over a prospect of future poverty."

There was a degree of probability in this picture that I could not gainsay, so we walked on in silence.

After turning from the main road up a narrow lane, so thickly shaded with forest-trees as to give it a complete air of seclusion, we came in sight of the cottage. It was humble enough in its appearance for the most pastoral poet; and yet it had a pleasing rural look. A wild vine had overrun one end with a profusion of foliage; a few trees threw their branches gracefully over it; and I observed several pots of flowers tastefully disposed about the door, and on the grass-plot in front. A small wicket-gate opened upon a footpath that wound through some shrubbery to the door. Just as we approached, we heard the sound of music--Leslie grasped my arm; we paused and listened. It was Mary's voice singing, in a style of the most touching simplicity, a little air of which her husband was peculiarly fond.I felt Leslie's hand tremble on my arm. He stepped forward, to hear more distinctly. His step made a noise on the gravel-walk. A bright beautiful face glanced out at the window, and vanished--a light footstep-was heard--and Mary came tripping forth to meet us. She was in a pretty rural dress of white; a few wild flowers were twisted in her fine hair; a fresh bloom was on her cheek; her whole countenance beamed with smiles--I had never seen her look so lovely.

"My dear George," cried she, "I am so glad you are come; I have been watching and watching for you; and running down the lane, and looking out for you. I've set out a table under a beautiful tree behind the cottage; and I've been gathering some of the most delicious strawberries, for I know you are fond of them--and we have such excellent cream--and everything is so sweet and still here-Oh!"--said she, putting her arm within his, and looking up brightly in his face, "Oh, we shall be so happy!"

Poor Leslie was overcome.--He caught her to his bosom--he folded his arms round her--he kissed her again and again--he could not speak, but the tears gushed into his eyes; and he has often assured me, that though the world has since gone prosperously with him, and his life has, indeed, been a happy one, yet never has he experienced a moment of more exquisite felicity.

Christian Charm Course...

Awhile ago, I picked up a book entitled "Christian Charm Course." It is a neat little book that is quite outdated in appearance, but contains some true gems. Here is one of them:

Increasing Femininity
By Emily Hunter
A Trim and Disciplined Body
Careful Grooming
Dainty, Pretty Clothes
Youthful, Girlish Styles
Quiet, Conservative Dress
Fresh Faced Makeup
Soft, Clean Hair
A Ready Smile
A Delicate Fragrance
Clean, Lovely Hands
Abstention from Tobacco
Abstention from Alcohol
Clean Speech
Purity of Thought and Life
A Lovely, Graceful Walk
A Manner of Sitting Prettily
Queen-like Posture
Soft, Gentle Speech
Pleasant Vocal Tones
A Refined Vocabulary
A Kind Tongue
A Reverent Attitude
A Peace Loving Disposition
Self Control
Thoughtfulness of Others
Ladylike Reserve
Sincerity and Naturalness
A Forgiving Disposition
Self Respect
Unblemished Integrity
Sexual Purity

Sunday, October 29

Keeping Home Before a Trip...

We will be going on a little trip for several days this coming week. Before we leave on short trips that take us away from our little home overnight (or in this case, several nights), I like to do several things to make our home a bit more cozy for when we return.

  • First, I try to do any laundry that we may have. I make sure that it is dry and put away so that I have less to do when we come home with dirty clothes from the trip and so that we have clean things to wear when we come home.
  • Next, I replace the linens in our house. I put fresh towels in the bathrooms and kitchen and clean sheets on our beds. A fresh tablecloth is also a nice touch.
  • I empty garbage cans and waste paper baskets. In addition, I try to get rid of any food that might spoil while we are away.
  • I make sure that the baby's diapers are freshly laundered and put in the nursery and that the nursey's diaperpail is empty and clean (I didn't do that one of the times we went away, and you wouldn't believe the smell when we returned!).
  • I refill any thing that is empty or close to it... liquid soap dispensers, tissue boxes, toilet paper rolls... etc.
  • I make sure that all dishes are clean and that the dishwasher is empty.
  • I do a general pick-up of the house and return things to their home (baby toys, books, magazines, mail, etc.

When I make sure that our home is as tidy as it can be before we leave on a trip, I can ensure that we can come home and relax without worrying about little details!

Saturday, October 28

Feminine Inspiration in Books and Movies...

In honor of my twenty-fifth post, I would like to ask the readers of this blog for their input. What books and/or movies increase the desire to be more feminine? I will list all the suggestions on the sidebar of this blog. That way, when the mood strikes, one can watch a video or read a book that will inspire! I look forward to your response!

Lemonaide Hands...

This is a simple recipe taken from a post on the French Chic yahoo group. Unfortunately, I do not know who to attribute it to. This recipe offers great results in improving the texture of your skin.

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
Fresh lemon juice to make a paste

1. Pour the sugar in the palm of your hand.
2. Squeeze enough juice from a fresh lemon wedge to make a paste.

1. Rub your hands together in a rotary motion. At first, the paste will feel gritty and rough.
2. Continue rubbing and the heat of your hands will melt the sugar to become a candy glaze.
3. Work this glaze up and over each finger and over the back of each hand. Really rub yourhands.
4. Leave glaze on five minutes.
5. Rinse with water.
6. Pat dry with soft towel.
7. Follow up with a rich lotion.

Friday, October 27

Feminine Kitchen Hour...

Queen of Our Castle has been implementing a great idea in her kitchen... very feminine in my opinion!

Check out...

... Denial's blog for some great ideas for dressing in a modest and feminine way!

I have always liked...

... leopard print cardigans! Why? I don't know! Maybe someday I'll find the perfect one:)

My Basic Fall and Winter Wardrobe...

I have always been interested in building a wardrobe that consisted of a few high quality pieces rather than a lot of cheap items that I had to toss after a season. I also like to have a basic plan of what I have and need to get so that I can stay focused when I'm purchasing clothing and accessories. When I was teaching, I had a slightly more dressy wardrobe than I do now that I stay at home with a baby. I have been working on re-building my wardrobe bit by bit. Here is my current wardrobe capsule for Fall and Winter.

Skirts: long brown tweed, dark brown knit*, taupe and blue plaid, acorn and dark brown plaid, grey plaid, and black knit**

Tops: taupe henley*, brown vee-neck cardigan*, white boat neck tee, brown scoop neck tee, white button down, and black knit wrap sweater

Accessories: black dress shoes, black boots, black bag
brown dress shoes**, brown boots**, brown bag**

Jewelry: drop earrings, cross and chain, wedding band and engagement ring, bracelet, and

Though I have many other clothes in my closet, the majority don't fit me now due to baby weight and nursing. I also have quite a few handbags, scarves, pins, etc. so that I can try to mix it up a bit. Interestingly enough though, with six bottoms and six tops, I have 36 different outfits that I can wear!

*: purchased at Eddie Bauer recently
**: hope to purchase in the future

New Fall Clothes...

Eddie Bauer is having big sales right now... I ordered all of these clothes in tall. I think that I've found my new favorite store. Everything fits really well and I am one happy lady! Thank you, thank you, thank you hubby! You are a peach!

Wednesday, October 25

French Women Don't Get Fat...

Mrs. R. asked: "I didn't read, "French Women Don't Get Fat," can you let me in on the secret? Is it eating in moderation? "

I found this great review on Amazon for you:

The message of this book could be a blessing or a curse, depending on your perspective. There is no hard science, no clearly-defined plan, and no lists of food to have or have not; instead, you'll find simple tricks that boil down to eating carefully prepared seasonal food, exercising more and refusing to think of food as something that inspires guilt. It's both a practical message and far easier said than done in today's "no pain, no gain" culture.
Author Mireille Guiliano is CEO of Veuve Clicquot, and French Women Don't Get Fat offers a concept of sensible pleasures: If you have a chocolate croissant for breakfast, have a vegetable-based lunch--or take an extra walk and pass on the bread basket at dinner. Guiliano's insistence on simple measures slowly creating substantial improvements are reassuring, and her suggestion to ignore the scale and learn to live by the "zipper test" could work wonders for those who get wrapped up in tiny details of diet. She sympathizes that deprivation can lead straight to overindulgence when it comes to favorite foods, but then, in a most French manner, treats them as a pleasure that needs to be sated, rather than a battle to be fought.
A number of recipes are included, from a weight-loss enhancing leek soup to a lush chocolate mousse; they read more like what you'd find in a French cookbook rather than an American diet book. Most appealingly, these are guidelines and tricks that could be easily sustainable over a lifetime. If you agree that food is meant to be appreciated--but no more so than having a trim waist--these charmingly French recommendations could set you on the path to a future filled with both croissants and high fashion. --Jill Lightner

French Woman for all Seasons...

"By letter, e-mail, and in person, readers of Mireille Guiliano's phenomenal best seller, "French Women Don't Get Fat," have inundated her with requests for more of her cunning but simple secrets to living the good life, the ways French women manage to enjoy wine, chocolate, and many other seductive pleasures without gaining weight. Mireille's answer? This buoyant book brimming with fresh advice and seasonal stories--on food "bien sur" (more than 100 delicious new recipes) but also on many other aspects of living that should bring us pleasure, such as picking a wine, dressing well, even arranging flowers. French women not only stay slim while relishing life to the fullest, they also have the longest life expectancy in the Western world. And now Mireille shows us how they attune themselves to the rhythms of the year. Together with a bounty of new dining ideas and menus, she offers us a treasury of tips on style, grooming, and entertaining, all designed to focus the mind on sensory pleasure for maximum enjoyment. Here are four seasons' worth of strategies for shopping, cooking, and exercising, as well as some pointers for looking effortlessly chic. Whether your aim is finding two scoopfuls of pleasure in one of "creme brulee" or entertaining beautifully when time is short and expectations are high, the inspiration you need is here. Taking us from her childhood in Alsace-Lorraine to her summers in Provence and her busy life in New York and Paris, this book of scrumptious Gallic wisdom and wit shows how anyone anywhere can develop a healthy, holistic lifestyle. In the voice that entranced more than a million honorary French women, Mireille demonstrates that there is indeed an artto joyful living, and that equilibrium--being "bien dans sa peau" and true to one's individual nature--is the key to a long and healthy life. Full of sage, irresistible advice on everything from decanting to detoxing, from yogurt to yoga, "French Women for All Seasons" is an essential guide to savoring all life's moments--in moderation, in season, and, above all, with pleasure."

-From the Walmart Website

I enjoyed reading French Women Don't Get Fat so much! I am really looking forward to picking this one up!

Are You a Lady?

You Are 96% Lady

No doubt about it, you are a lady with impeccable etiquette
You know how to put others at ease, even if their manners aren't the greatest.

Tuesday, October 24


"The French proverb: Pour vivre heureux, vivons, caches* was invented for them!"
Genevieve Antoine Dariaux
A Guide to Elegance
*'To stay happy, stay hidden.'

Monday, October 23

Actress Jane Wyatt Dies at 95

Stage, film, and television actress Jane Wyatt, best known for her role of suburban housewife Margaret Anderson on the 1950s TV series Father Knows Best, died on Friday, October 20 at her home in Bel Air, California. She was 95.
Born in Campgaw, New Jersey on August 12, 1911, Wyatt grew up in New York City; her father was a Wall Street investment banker, and her mother wrote for such publications as Commonweal and Catholic World. After attending the Chapin School and studying at Barnard, she became an apprentice at the Berkshire Playhouse in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, this at a time when acting was not considered a suitable profession for well-brought-up young women. Indeed, when Wyatt got a job as an understudy in a Broadway show, her name was removed from the New York Social Registry.
Wyatt's early Broadway credits included Give Me Yesterday, The Fatal Alibi, and the original production of the George S. Kaufman-Edna Ferber play Dinner at Eight, in which she was a replacement in the role of Paula Jordan. Throughout the 1930s and '40s, she appeared in such plays as W. Somerset Maugham's For Services Rendered, Philip Barry's The Joyous Season, and Clifford Odets' Night Music. Her last Broadway role was that of Nina Denery in Lillian Hellman's The Autumn Garden (1951).
Among her film credits, Wyatt had major roles in Lost Horizon (1937), None but the Lonely Heart (1944), and Gentleman's Agreement (1947). On TV's Father Knows Best, she played opposite Robert Young, winning three Emmy Awards for her work. In later years, she appeared as Mr. Spock's mother in the original Star Trek series and in the film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. She also played Katherine Auschlander on St. Elsewhere and made guest appearances on many other TV series.
In 1935, Wyatt married Edgar Bethune Ward; their union lasted until his death in 2000. Wyatt is survived by the couple's two sons, Christopher and Michael; three grandchildren; and five great grandchildren.

Feminine Touches in the Kitchen...

Though I've written a bit about this before, it occurred to me that I have more to say on the subject of preparing and presenting food. Wouldn't it be nice if each of the five senses were taken into account in our kitchens? The easiest would be taste of course, but what about the other senses?
Touch: the feel of the table linens, a crusty roll, an icy beverage
Smell: The aromas of cooking food, fresh flowers, candles burning brightly
Sound: soft music in the background, good conversation, the tinkling of utensils on plates
Sight: A well-set table, a flushed and happy wife, a cheerful kitchen, vintage aprons
In addition to the above, table manners are a must for a feminine woman... or anyone for that matter! Here is a website that has an article on improving table manners: http://www.soyouwanna.com/site/syws/tablemanners/tablemanners.html
"The Domestic Goddess adds feminine touches to her homemaking- gingham curtains, a basket of fruit, soft pillows, a cozy rug at the door, flowers, a row of plates above a cross beam, cheerful wallpaper-to give a homey feeling to the house. She adds feminine touches to her meals- cheerful tablecloths, pretty dishes, and delicious aromas. Men long remember the smell of their mothers' cooking- homemade bread baking, onions frying, cinnamon rolls, beef stew."
Helen Andelin
Fascinating Womanhood

Besame Cosmetics...

After forgetting about this sweet cosmetics company, I stumbled back upon it today! They've recently updated their site with new features like Margo's Adventures, Looks, and a short video of the line's creator. I think that you'll enjoy perusing as much as I did! I am going to purchase a few samples and try their cosmetics out... I'll let you know how they are!

Sunday, October 22

The Accomplished, Feminine Woman...

While enjoying a cup of tea during Baby's nap yesterday afternoon, I decided to begin a list of skills and traits that every accomplish, feminine woman should know (and perhaps be able to teach her children). Here's what I came up with:
  • Spirituality (i.e. prayer, reading the Bible, and other spiritual books, ability to be attentive and respectful during services at church and times of prayer, etc.)
  • Grooming
  • Dressing for one's body type
  • A nurturing spirit
  • A love and knowledge of music
  • Skill in handcrafts (like sewing, embroidery, etc.) and making crafts (making own cards, wreaths, flower arranging, etc.)
  • Decorating in the home
  • Charm and etiquette
  • Excerise (things like ballet, bike riding, hiking, horse back riding, playing ball, jacks, hopscotch, etc.)
  • Cooking and Baking
  • Setting the table, table manners, hosting a party or tea
  • Cleaning
  • Organization
  • Penmanship
  • Cultivation of a love of literature
  • Laundry care
  • Shopping (frugality, planning, etc.)

I would love to add to this list... what are your thoughts?

Saturday, October 21


"One of the surest ways to add distinction to a rather ordinary street ensemble is to carry an elegant handbag- and an unfailing way to downgrade a lovely outfit is to carry a shabby or cheap one. This practical accessory is so important that it merits a very thoughtful selection, and even a generous share of your clothes budget from time to time. "
"Generally speaking, the size of your handbag should be in proportion to your own. It is just as comical- and needless to add, inelegant- to see a tiny woman lugging about an enormous satchel, as it is to see a portly dowager clutching a tiny purse to her ample bosom."
"... a well coordinated wardrobe requires very few handbags. I would say, a minimum of four:
  • A large bag for travel and casual wear.
  • An afternoon bag to wear with city ensembles and slightly dressy outfits. The most practical choice is undoubtedly a medium sized bag of fine black calfskin with an attractive clasp... Those combining two or more colors are beautiful when carried with a monochrome outfit; but a more practical choice for a limited wardrobe would be all-black, all-beige, or all-brown.
  • An evening purse of silk, satin, or velvet.
  • For the summer, a beige straw handbag, which can be of a rather coarse weave if you spend your summers in the country, or of a finer texture... if you stay in town. In any case, a straw handbag is an indispensable accessory to summery cotton and linen dresses.

From: A Guide to Elegance by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux

A Properly Set Table...

"You'll fight me on this, but table linens civilize and enhance our meals, and our kids need to know about such things. Absolutely worth the starching and ironing, and if you don't use them every day, use them on Sunday."

-Jan Karon

Hubby and I have gotten into a runt, let me tell you! While we were living in our little apartment, we ate our meals at the coffee table in the living room. We had to do this because our dining room ceiling leaked almost from the moment we began renting. It was so bad that we ended up pushing our dining table and chairs against the wall in a very untidy heap to save them from permanent damage.

Now that we've moved into the rented rectory, we not only have a spacious dining room that houses our dining table and six chairs, but we have a large enough kitchen that that allows us to have a small table and four chairs in it! Despite the fact that we have two perfectly good tables and a multitude of chairs to use for meal times, we choose to sit on our futon hunched over the coffee table to eat!

I am going to change this horrifying habit once and for all! I am going to purchase a tablecloth, place mats, and cloth napkins! I have always wanted to use hemstitched table linens in a deep, dark brown. Our dishes are a beautiful creamy shade of white and in my mind's eye they would look beautiful together! I just know that our meal tonight would have been so much more enjoyable if it were eaten at a properly set table!

Friday, October 20

Beauty Rituals...

After writing last night's post, I went upstairs to get ready for bed. My husband and I are lucky enough to have a bedroom that has a master bathroom attached to it. As I brushed my teeth, I realized that I did not shut the door to the bathroom. Though I wasn't doing anything private (like going to the bathroom), I was primping and I remembered a time not too long ago that I hid all of my beauty rituals from my husband. We were newlyweds and I wanted him to think that my breath always smelled minty, that my hair was always smooth and shiny, that my skin was always soft and fragrant...

We have not been married that long (only about one year and four months)... and I still want there to be a bit of mystery that surrounds me! I am not a raving beauty, but I want my husband to believe that I am well-groomed naturally. I do not want to be a Discovery Health show that my husband has to watch every night from our bed. Talking about killing the mood!

One of my favorite books on femininity is Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin. Though there are questionable things Andelin believes in, reading the book open my eyes to the different ways that a woman can improve herself and thus, her marriage. In her chapter on the Feminine Manner, Mrs. Andelin lists the following:

Don'ts for the Feminine Manner

  • Don't use your hands in a stiff, brusque, efficient, firm, or strong manner
  • Don't walk with a heavy gait or long strides.
  • Avoid the following qualities in the voice: loudness, firmness, efficiency, boldness, dullness, mumbling, monotonous, singsong.
  • Don't laugh loudly or in a vulgar manner
  • Don't use facial expressions that suggest anger, coldness, bitterness, resentment, disgust, or stubbornness.
  • Don't indulge in conversation that is harsh, bitter, critical, impatient, crude, vulgar, or unrefined.
  • Don't pick your nose, scratch yourself, or blow your nose in public (wiping your nose is okay).
  • Don't stroke your husband's back in public, caress his hair, or fondle him.
  • Don't slap anyone on the back.
  • Don't talk loud, whistle, or yell.
  • Don't roar at jokes.
  • Don't gulp food or eat noisily.
  • Don't drink by throwing your head back.
  • Don't sit with legs apart or one leg across the other.

Whew! With rules like that, I'm quite sure that Helen Andelin would be horrified to hear that I've been leaving the bathroom door open. After re-reading the chapter on Feminine Manner, I have decided to take care to rekindle the wonderful newlywed feeling and begin to primp in private once more!

Thursday, October 19


Several days ago, Crystal at Biblical Womanhood, wrote a review for The Scarlet Thread (http://www.taylorsscarletthread.com/). After perusing their wares, I came across the nightgowns pictured on the left.

This got me thinking: I *try* to be very careful to wear feminine clothing during the day, but I often find myself in crummy pj pants and a tee shirt at night when I go to sleep. Why is this? The times that I have worn nightgowns (or at least a pretty pajama set), I have found that I feel not only comfortable, but ladylike as well! Why have I not made sure that I carry my feminine dressing into all aspects of my life?

I find this especially interesting because I am particular about making sure that our sheets are trimmed with lace and our blankets are refreshingly feminine... why am I wearing ugly things into our beautiful bed?

Tuesday, October 17

A Lady Gets Dressed...

A lady does not wear clothes so revealing that they embarrass others.

A lady wears a camisole if her blouse or dress is sheer enough to reveal the details of her bra.

A lady builds her wardrobe on a foundation of well-made clothes that will not be out of style after one season and will endure repeated cleaning and wear.

A lady knows that her posture is as important as any article of clothing on her back.

A lady is mindful of her appearance at all times.

If a lady chooses to wear nail polish, she makes sure it is not chipped.

Taken from: How to be a Lady by Candace Simpson-Giles

Monday, October 16

Some Feminine Inspiration...

I received my Fall/Winter Boden catalogue a few days ago (http://www.bodenusa.com/) and was very impressed with the feminine styles that they offered. Though the pieces are a bit pricey ( I'm not sure how the quality is), I thought that many of the outfits could be "copied" with pieces that I already own... perhaps you can modify them for your own use too! It looks to me like many of the combinations are warm (or could be made warm) and would be suitable if you were going shopping, staying in with the children, working outside (Jamie!), etc.

Friday, October 13

A Woman's Crowning Glory...

"There is more old-wivery and hocus-pocus on the subject of hair than you could read in years."
Better Than Beauty: A Guide to Charm

My hair is a complete and utter disaster. It is in desperate need of a trim! The part that looks the worst, however, are my bangs. Their sad state cannot be disguised in a messy bun! Unfortunatly, there is not much I can do until I find a hair dresser near our new home. I must remember to investigate this!

On a brighter note, I have begun to use John Frieda's Luminous Color Glaze in Amber to Maple. I have noticed that it does give my hair a nice glossy sheen and the smell is great! The John Frieda website has a great deal of interesting things on it as well as a place to sign up for special offers and promotions. http://www.johnfrieda.com/index.asp

What Your Skin Needs…

According to Better Than Beauty: A Guide to Charm, skin needs only three things:
A Healthy Diet
Proper External Cleansing
Becoming Makeup

A Healthy Diet
A healthy diet includes plenty of water, green vegetables, fruits, eggs, and milk. I have been trying very hard to maintain good eating habits due to nursing, but could really improve my intake of water.

Proper External Cleansing
Once upon a time, I had a very nice complexion. It was a lovely pale ivory color and very smooth. I rarely got blemishes, but when I did, they cleared up rather quickly.

Fast forward to four and a half months postpartum. My face is red, dry, flaky, and bumpy. It breaks out with the slightest provocation (i.e. changing cleanser or moisturizer). In short, it has humbled me more than words can express!

I have finally discovered that my skin will no longer allow products to touch it that have chemicals in it. After months of trying this product and that product, the winner is: Burt’s Bees! Talk about Crunchy Mama! However, I am not arguing! I will accept this fate happily if it means that I can have my pre-baby skin back!

Products I use: Dove soap, Burt’s Bees Evening Primrose Overnight Creme, and Burt's Bees Beeswax Moisturizing Creme

Becoming Makeup
I really believe that if one is going to wear makeup it should be enhancing and it should make you look like you, just better. I wear a little bit every day: Max Factor Pan Stick (just dab here and there), pale colored eye shadow, mascara, and blush. Besides wearing makeup to enhance one’s beauty, I think that good grooming of one’s eyebrows is enormously important. Though I have been known to let my brows go without plucking for a bit too long (such is the case right now), I have noticed the great difference it make when I take the time to groom them!

My Three Goals for improving my skin are to:
Drink more water.
Properly clean and moisturize my face in the morning and in the evening.
Take the time to groom my eyebrows!

What improvements will you be making to enhance your skin?

Prelude to Charm…

I didn't accomplish too much in the way of increasing my femininity today. However, I did read the first few pages of a lovely little book I picked up many moons ago entitled Better Than Beauty: A Guide to Charm. Here is an excerpt from Part One: What You Do To Yourself...

"Once in a lifetime you may meet that rare person whose face and appearance you forget, but whose charm remains indelible. It doesn't happen often. What we see usually becomes a vital part of our impression of people. Our brain picture. "

"Your skin, your makeup, your hair, your hands, the way you sit, the way you stand-these are the priming coat, the background upon which all other qualities are imposed. What can you do to make your physical self more expressive of that important inner quality of warmth and friendliness?”

The first chapter goes on to discuss briefly what one's skin needs, a makeup routine, hair, hands, feet, and carriage. What this little book lacks in modernity, it makes up for in charm. While I can't (and really wouldn't want to) follow Valentine and Thompson's advice skin, makeup, and hair, I will read with relish the bit on posture and carriage!

Thursday, October 12


Lately I've noticed that I've been slipping into a bit of an unladylike funk. I have decided that this simply will not do and so I am embarking on a new adventure. This blog will be used to encourage a more feminine and beautiful way of living. I will post a variety of different quotes, inspirations, and stories in addition to my own journey. I hope that you'll join me!
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