Sunday, December 31

Resolutions for the New Year...

Resolutions for the New Year

1. I resolve to work to have a spirit of loveliness that shines forth in all that I do.

2. I resolve to help my husband out on a daily basis in unexpected ways. I will try to choose things that help him maximize the time he has to work and relax and also add a bit of pleasure to his day. Some of my ideas are: driving to get the church's mail (a 30 to 40 minute endeavor), taking care of the banking (dropping off checks), making him hot cocoa with whipped cream, stocking our freezer with his favorite ice cream, offering to do evening prayers as a family, creating moments for him to be able to enjoy spending time with our daughter (i.e. not dumping her on him when she is cranky, hungry, or has a dirty diaper after he has had a distressing day... instead giving her to him when she is at her best and so that they can have a good time together rather than a frustrating one), etc.

For some inspiration in the department of resolution making, go to: Top 10 New Years Resolutions for young Christian Women

A Hors D'oeuvres Party for Two...

After receiving the fabulous gift of New Year in a Basket from my sisters and brother, Husband and I are instituting the following on this rainy New Years Eve: The yummiest Hors D'oeuvres we can muster up! In addition to the sparkling apple cider, onion dip, and fixings for chili cheese dip (already made up and cooking in the oven!) that came in the basket, we will be feasting on an assortment of cheese, pepperoni, crackers, and desserts! I think that this may just be a tradition for our little family... thank goodness we didn't have any dinner!

Doesn't this Sound Absolutly Delish?

Fried perch, crisp and hot, on a platter. A pot of coffee, strong and fragrant. A pitcher of fresh orange juice. Cantaloupe, cut into thick, ripe slices. Biscuits mounded in a basket next to a golden round of cheese and a saucer of butter, with a school of jellies and preserves on the side.
"Homemade fig preserve, " said Marion, pointing to the jam pots. "Raspberry jelly. Blueberry jam. And orange marmalade."
-A New Song
Jan Karon-

Asked if this sounds good, my husband says, "I just want some bacon and eggs!"

Tuesday, December 19

I would love to try a sample of Jo Malone's Red Roses Cologne...

Composed of seven types of roses from around the world, red roses is a surprisingly clean, voluptuous scent. With a heart of crushed violet leaves and hints of lemon and spearmint, it unfolds like a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers.

I currently wear Caswell-Massey Honeysuckle Perfume...

Discover the stunning simplicity of nature's secret perfume in our new Signature Scent. The unforgetable sweetness of honeysuckle is surely one of life's simple pleasures to be enjoyed every day.

A Feminine Corner in Our Bedroom...

I was finally able to set up the dressing table that my parents gave me for my birthday several years ago. Though it still needs a small chair, it has been serving its purpose very well! I keep my make-up in the center drawer and my perfume and creams on the top. My favorite lamp, a mirrored tray, and floral arrangement complete the look. I feel much more inspired to add feminine touches to my day when I spy this little table!

St. Nicolas Treats Left by Papa...

Though St. Nicolas Day was on December 6th, I forgot to post photos of the treats that Papa Bear left in our shoes in honor of St. Nicolas! Since it was Baby's first St. Nicolas Day, it was pretty exciting!

A New Baby Jumper from Auntie Anna...

An Early Christmas Present...

While we were visiting my in-laws for Thanksgiving, my brother -in-law offered to give me an "old" computer he had. I jumped at the chance since my husband's laptop (he has a web-based business which limits the time that I can spend on the computer) has been our only computer since I stopped teaching (I had to return the laptop the school district was letting me use). After getting it home, my husband mentioned that it would probably be awhile (i.e. a few months) before we could afford the software that it needed, but a week or two later, he surprised me by buying the software and getting this great desk! I am so happy!

Some Homemade Christmas Gifts...

Monday, December 18

The Sleep..

Of all the thoughts of God that are
Borne inward unto souls afar,
Along the Psalmist's music deep,
Now tell me if that any is,
For gift or grace, surpassing this-
"He giveth His beloved, sleep"
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sunday, December 17

When it rained or snowed, Charles would direct his horse over the shortcuts... every night he would come home to a glowing fire, the table set, the furniture arranged comfortably, and a charming woman, neatly dressed, smelling so fresh you wondered where the fragrance came from and whether it wasn't her skin lending the scent to her petticoat. She charmed him by a number of elegant gestures. Sometimes it was a new way of cutting paper sconces for the candles, a flounce that she had changed on her dress, or the extraordinary name of some simple dish the maid had spoiled but that Charles swallowed with pleasure down to the bitter end. In Rouen she saw some women wearing charms on their watches; she bought charms. She wanted two large vases of blue glass on her fireplace, and awhile later, an ivory work box with a vermeil thimble. The less Charles understood these elegant touches, the more he responded to their attraction. They added something to his sensual pleasures and to the sweetness of his home. it was as if gold dust were being spread all along the narrow path of his life."

Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovery

Sketch by Waterhouse

Friday, December 15

The Sartorialist...

As much as I love living in a small town, I must admit that I really enjoy a day in a big city.

When we were living in New Jersey, one of my favorite outings was to take a train into New York City and spend the day walking around museums (the Met especially), eating at restaurants with delicious foods, and just taking in the sights!

One thing that I particularly enjoyed was the chance to watch interesting people. Since we've moved and I no longer have the opportunity to visit N.Y.C. with any frequency, I have begun to people watch on this blog: The guy who takes the photographs of people that he sees on the streets, has a career in fashion. I cannot vouch for the content (I honestly haven't read much of it), but I can say that looking at the photos on this blog is such an interesting way to end my day! People really are characters!

P.S. Sometimes The Sartorialist captures the photo of someone that is feminine and inspiring... that really makes my day!

Shopping the Sales...

A Black Belt Sales Shopper

By Susan Sommers

Originally Posted: December's Dresszing Newsletter

Tis the season for shopping the sales. This is the moment when you might find that fabulous--but formerly prohibitively expensive--outfit at 50 percent off, a few items to freshen what you've been wearing for years and/or that great party piece. And don't forget basics because they too are discounted now.

However, shopping the holiday sales isn't for the meek or indecisive. You need to be sure of yourself and have a plan. In short, you have to be a black belt shopper. Here are some tips:

MAKE A LIST. That suit you've had your eye on, the cashmere sweaters that were advertised or replacements for your black, gray and camel pants...note the item(s) or category(ies) on a list, which will be your starting point.

WEAR THE ITEM YOU WANT TO BUILD ON. Looking for an interesting cardigan to team with those plaid pants? Wear the pants (or at least, bring them along to try on) so that you can see how the outfit will look. Guessing about it might take more time than it's worth--and certainly going back to return the item is a time-waster.

BE AN EARLY BIRD. Arrive when the store opens. You'll find the best selection and the fewest shoppers, so you might have the sales racks all to yourself.

DON'T BUY ORPHANS. Purchase only items that work with something you already own. An "orphan" usually stays that way. Whatever you buy should be easy to integrate into your wardrobe.

SHOP YOUR LIST FIRST. Once you've gotten what you need, then you can look at impulse items. Remember, even bargains become expensive if you don't wear them.

Tuesday, December 12

A Good Attitude...

"It doesn't pay to sit and looking at a mountain of work and commiserate with oneself or the neighbors about it. Turn in- begin, singing if you can- and how the work slips along!

One can say to oneself, "For just this minute, one minute at a time I am expected to be cheerful and to work willingly." Just to eliminate the dams and hindrances of worry speeds up the work greatly."

How to Live Beyond Your Means
Margery Wilson

Plan Your Work - and Work Your Plan..."

"I know a mother of three small children who does all her own work, except for one day a week when a cleaning woman comes in. This young mother does the daily laundry, everything except sheets and heavy towels and her husband's shirts. her schedule is a tight one, but it leaves time to take the children out in the air daily, to go to church and other church activities, and to devote one evening a week to civil good. She dresses nicely, her children are clean and healthy and her house is reasonably well kept.

Mothers, distraught over the care of one child, might calm themselves and learn how this young woman takes care of three! She has cut down every necessary move to its irreducible minimum. True,she is somewhat like the old lady who, while she rested, rocked the cradle with one foot and peeled the potatoes. But after all, why not? I'd rather double up on efficiency and have time to go to a movie or a dance than scramble around though tasks that never seem to get done.

In order to keep her own clothes clean so that she always presents a neat appearance, she uses either aprons that are waterproof and cover her pretty well or the ones called carpenters' or butlers' aprons of striped denim that are strong enough to give real protection. they hang over the neck and are easily removed if callers arrive. For these years while the children are small she has decided n a very simple hair-do, something like a short feather-cut. She merely runs a comb through her hair and spends time on taking care of her skin.

She has taught herself to work with gloves on- not an easy thing to do- but worth learning even though one must pass through a clumsy period. She washes dishes with a dish mop instead of a cloth, thus keeping her hands out of water as much as possible, since they get plenty of wetting doing the laundry."

:Most women who wear themselves out doing housework the hard way will tell you that they simply can't work with gloves on, that they simply can't iron, polish silver, or do other chores sitting down. No wonder they get worn, scrubby and old before their time. A thirty-five cent pair of gloves with give from one to two weeks of hard wear and sometimes they can be salvaged after that.

There's no sensible reason why a woman can't dress herself smartly, and stay looking that way while she takes care of a seven-room house and three children- if she will use her head. If she's rather feel sorry for herself than to plan her time, her clothes and her work, that's just her loss."

How to Live Beyond Your Means
Margery Wilson

Monday, December 11

The Daily Grind...

This excerpt is from the book "What would Jackie Do? An Inspired Guide to Distinctive Living" By Shelly Branch and Sue Callaway. It is a book on the style of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Though I certainly don't think that Jackie was perfect, I enjoyed reading this book and gleaned a few tidbits from its pages that I will gladly incorporate into my own life!

"When Jackie applied for Vogue's Prix de Paris prize in 1951, one essay called for her to write about personal grooming. At twenty-one, her opinions were amusingly firm (even though she also smoked and bit her nails). Sure, she would later prefer wax to depilatory creams, and the number of hair-brushing strokes would go down as the complexity of her coif went up. Yet her earnest thesis on feminine upkeep proves remarkable useful even today. an upkeep summary in her own words:
'If you buy decent materials and take care of them (no dirty powder puff, unwashed brush and comb, dried out nail polish), eat and drink sensibly, remember that cleanliness and neatness are what you are working for, and that they can be attained with ten minutes of washing and brushing a day and a little extra time once a week, you should never have to scream in anguish and take an hour to get ready when told that your best beau has arrived unexpectedly and is waiting downstairs.'"

Saturday, December 9

Liquid Calories...

Avoid Liquid Calories (Except for skim, low fat, and soy milk)

If you drink two cups of coffee with half-and-half and sugar, one glass of orange juice. two cans of soda, and a glass of white wine, you're downing 627 calories per day from beverages alone! Drp the calorie laden drinks, and you'll lose a pound every six days.

-Joy Bauer-
-From: The Expert's Guide to 100 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do-

Neat and Dainty as a Flower...

Anna has a new blog!!

Friday, December 8

A Response by Father John...

My wife, Emma, has asked me to respond to some of the questions she has received on her blog. First, let me say that as an Orthodox Christian priest I highly esteem theological discussion and inquiry as one of the ways we have been given to acquire the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), who is the head of the Church (Eph. 4:15). As with anything in the spiritual life, growth is always preceded by humility, and a genuine acknowledgment that we do not yet have perfect knowledge in that we have not yet perfectly acquired the mind of Christ, the mind of the Church.

It would be impossible to adequately answer each and every question raised in a response on this blog, however, I will try to provide a brief answer to the following questions: 1) Was the Mother of God a life-long virgin? 2) Is sex an obstacle to holiness of life? 3) Where can I read more on the Orthodox Church's teaching and how it differs from both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism? 4) What is the relationship between Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition in the Orthodox Church?

1) Yes, according to the teaching of the ancient church, the Mother of God was a life-long virgin. St. Joseph was a widower who had four sons and two daughters from his previous marriage; in the Scriptures these children are called the brothers and sisters of Jesus, though there was no blood relation since Joseph was not the father of Jesus. Besides his irreproachable, trustworthy, and honorable life, the elder Joseph's great age made him a suitable guardian for the young virgin girl who had vowed to live in perpetual virginity. When the Virgin Mary was found to be with child the elderly Joseph feared to take her as wife, not because people would think that he fathered the child because he was too old for this, but because people would think that she had fallen into sin with another man; this is why St. Joseph thought to put her away privately (Matt. 1:19).

Saint Joseph reposed at the age of about 100. The last reference to him in Holy Scripture is in Chapter 2 of St. Luke's Gospel, when he, together with the Virgin Mary, brought the 12-year-old Christ to the Temple in Jerusalem. That the brothers and sisters of the Lord were not the children of Mary is clearly evident from the fact that the Lord entrusted His Mother before His death to His beloved disciple John. Why should He do this if she had other children besides Him? They themselves would have taken care of her. The sons of Joseph, did not consider themselves obliged to take care of one they regarded as their stepmother, or at least did not have for her such love as blood children have for parents, and such as the adopted John had for her.

In answer to the question, if Mary was a life long virgin then why does Scripture say that Joseph "knew her not until she brought forth her first-born son, Jesus" (Matt. 1:25): The word "until" does not signify that Mary remained a virgin only until a certain time. The word "until" and words similar to it often signify eternity. In the Sacred Scriptures it is said of Christ: "In His days shall shine forth righteousness and an abundance of peace, until the moon be taken away" (Psalm 71:7), but this does not mean that when there shall no longer be a moon at the end of the world, God's righteousness shall no longer be; precisely then, rather, will it triumph. And what does it mean when it says: "For He must reign, until He hath put all enemies under His feet?" (1 Cor. 15:25). Is the Lord to reign only for a time until His enemies shall be under His feet?! The Savior in the Gospel says to the Apostles (Matt: 28:20): "Lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the world." Are we to believe that the Lord will no longer be with the disciples in the age to come? While there are plenty more such examples of the use of the word until, the above are sufficient to prove that Matt 1:25 does not argue against the life-long virginity of the Mother of God.

2) In the Orthodox Church, the life-long virginity of the Mother of God is in no way tied to the false belief that sex is dirty, bad, or inappropriate for those living a life of holiness. The gift of sexual union is from God Himself and is sanctified through Christian marriage. The vow of virginity should not be seen as fleeing from something evil, but as offering something good (one's deepest desire) to the Lord. It should not be surprising that the one and only woman who was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and who gave birth to the Son of God, would desire to continue to offer her virginity to the Lord. The Mother of God was an ordinary woman, flesh and blood like the rest of us, yet as the Word of God teaches, she lived an extraordinary life and for this "all generations call her blessed" (Luke 1:48).

3) For the first 1,000 years of Christianity the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church shared a common faith. After the Great Schism of 1054, the Roman Catholic Church introduced new teachings which led to and continue to spur on the Protestant Reformation: the universal jurisdiction and infallibility of the Pope of Rome, indulgences, purgatory, an incorrect doctrine of original sin, the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption of Mary, and other erroneous teachings, which many Roman Catholics themselves have come to reject or at least step back from. While the Orthodox Church never accepted these teachings, She did not "throw out the baby with the bath water", but kept intact the faith of the Apostles, which was shared by Eastern and Western Christendom for the first millennium.

The theological arguments between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism have led Western Christianity into extremes which were never found in the Orthodox Church. And in a sense Catholicism and Protestantism can even been seen as two sides of the same coin, while Orthodoxy is a coin unfamiliar to many today but easily recognizable by the Apostles and Church Fathers. For more information of the Orthodox Christian Faith, please see: or

4) In the Orthodox Church there is no contradiction between the teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and Church Tradition. This is because the Sacred Scriptures themselves arose from within the Tradition of the Church. The New Testament was written by the Apostles. The list of Books which make up the New Testament were decided upon by the bishops of the church. It was the bishops of the Church who decided what Books were canonical and what books were apocryphal and what books were spurious or heretical. In fact, the list of New Testament Books as we have them today did not appear until 387 AD in the Paschal (Easter) Letter of St. Athanasius the Great, Bishop of Alexandria.

Since the Bible is itself the teaching or proclamation of the Church (the people of God, both before and after Christ, both the Old and New Testaments) there is no contradiction or conflict between Sacred Scripture and the teachings or tradition of the Church. This is why if something doesn't appear in the Bible, we first turn to the rest of the teaching of the Church before we trust in our own opinion. In all things we advance by humility and the desire to acquire the mind of Christ, which is nothing other than the mind of the Church.


If anyone has any questions about my post, My Take on the Nativity Story, please, please ask away! My husband will be a guest blogger some time today and answer any questions that are posed. I am not sure what time he will do this as he has a sermon to write and a bulletin to prepare. Though the focus of this blog is mainly for the topic of femininity, I feel that it is proper to take time to comment on this topic of The Nativity Story for two reasons: The Mother of God was a woman who all women should emulate and also because it is a topic that many people have false impressions of.

My take on The Nativity Story film...

Though I found The Nativity Story review below entertaining, I disagree with F.M-G.'s thoughts on the movie. She is incorrect when she says that "It’s a respectful and historically authentic film, and those two assets are rare enough to promise success, both on opening weekend and down the years." This movie was not as historically accurate as F.M-G. tries to make it sound. While it may appeal to the contemporary Christian mind, it does not correspond to the teaching of the ancient Orthodox Christian Church of which F.M-G. is a well-known member:

1. Ss. Joachim and Anna were not poor (as they were portrayed to be in the movie). In fact, they were very wealthy, owning not only a home in Nazareth, but also one in Jerusalem.

2. The Mother of God was the only child of Ss. Joachim and Anna, gifted to them in old age, and for this reason dedicated to the Temple at age three where she remained until age twelve, at which time she was betrothed to the elderly Joseph (or the "Chaste Joseph" as he is called in the Orthodox Church). He was a widower with his own children from his previous marriage and was chosen for Mary not only because of his virtue but more importantly, due to his advanced age (according to Church Tradition he was nearly eighty years old), he was a suitable guardian for her life-long virginity.

3. While it makes the story more dramatic, the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was not made by the youthful and studly Joseph, Mary, and Child alone. It was made by the elderly Joseph, Mary, Child, and Joseph's adult children from his previous marriage.

4. While it is not known exactly when the Wisemen arrived, Church Tradition teaches that they arrived in Bethlehem only after St. Joseph had secured housing for his wife, her Divine Son and his children. (Matthew 2:11)

5. The flight into Egypt did not take place until after the Circumcision of the Lord (the 8th day after His birth) and His presentation at the Temple (the 40th day after His birth).

6. The Slaughter of the Holy Innocents (all of the children killed by Herod in an attempt to eradicate Christ), did not take place on the night of the Nativity, but only afterwards. Some say after the 40th day, others up to two years later.

7. The Wisemen were warned in a dream not to return to their land by way of Herod (Matthew 2:12).

Despite all of this, both my husband and I really enjoyed the movie and are so glad that we went to go see it! Hubby is planning on having Bible study in a few weeks based on Ancient Church Teaching and The Nativity Story. It should have some great discussion!

The Nativity Story Review...

[Beliefnet, November 30, 2006]

The curiosity of the Christmas season has got to be “The Nativity Story,” a film which presents the story of the Virgin Mary, her betrothal to Joseph, and the birth of Jesus Christ with an utterly straight face. If you thought Hollywood was incapable of approaching Christians without a cattle prod, you’ll be shocked at how circumspect this movie is.

“The Passion of the Christ” had earlier been a shock to Hollywood. Perhaps they had envisioned the conservative Christian audience as too tiny or too ignorant to fool with; perhaps they had envisioned the Christian-bashing audience as including everyone worth including. But the long lines for Mel Gibson’s strong medicine, back in the spring of 2004, astounded everybody. And it turned out that Christian money is just as green as everybody else’s.

But is something deeper going on? The film’s producers insisted to the New York Times that they have had enough of the “cynical, youth-oriented, disposable entertainment you saw Friday and forget by Saturday,” as Wyck Godrey put it. The kind of films he wants to make now will be “about something and stick with you.” And producer Marty Bowen says he wants to make “movies I’d be proud of making. Movies my mother would go to.” He adds, “I’d rather be corny than cynical. I’d rather make a movie that’s patriotic than partisan.”

Those are surprising and refreshing words, and they wouldn’t have been heard a few years ago. But it may take a little longer to discover a way of producing films undergirded with such convictions that also have a bit of a spark. There is nothing in this film to offend devout Christians (parents note, however, a PG rating for some glimpses of crucifixion) — but solemnity rolls through it all like molasses. As the film opens with golden letters scrolling over a background of stormy clouds, and an unseen choir sings, “Veni, Veni, Emmanuel,” you have the distinct feeling that you’ve traveled back in time. No, not to first-century Palestine — to 1965, and a showing of “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”

I can’t help thinking that a different female lead could have made all the difference. Keisha Castle-Hughes starred as a young Maori destined to rule her tribe in “Whale Rider” (2002); for that role, she became, at 13, the youngest actress ever nominated for an Oscar. Perhaps her sturdy indomitability suited that character better than it does this one. Here, she just seems disengaged. Some astounding and even terrifying things are happening to Mary, but Castle-Hughes looks like her mind is somewhere else.

This results in the unusual situation that the male actors surrounding the film’s center are more emotionally engaging than the female lead. Newcomer Oscar Isaac is very appealing as Joseph, and conveys tenderness and shy young love without sacrificing a bit of masculinity. Shaun Toub is wonderful as her father Joachim, and Stanley Townsend is eye-catching as a hearty Zacharias. The three wise men (Eriq Ebouaney, Nadim Sawalha, and Stefan Kalipha) are lavishly arrayed and personable, and their interaction provides a bit of (somewhat stretched) comic relief.

A big actor in a small part steals the screen when Mary and Joseph stop for rest on their way to Bethlehem. A wind-battered old shepherd (Ted Rusoff) invites them to warm themselves by his fire. His lines are kind of hokey – something about, his father told him that each person is given a gift. Yes, dads say things like that. Particularly dads in the 1980’s. But Rusoff is notably alive on the screen, and delightful to watch. So there he is on one side, and there’s beautiful Oscar Isaac on the other, and in the middle sits Keisha Castle-Hughes, her face like a hard little pebble.

Later on, the old shepherd comes to see the newborn infant Jesus. He approaches with awe, on the brink of tears. You’d think this would be a good moment for Mary to smile and reach out toward him, and perhaps with moistened eyes say softly, “He is for all mankind. We are each given a gift.” But Castle-Hughes stares blankly as he hobbles forward – if anything, slightly annoyed — and delivers the line like a mailman. Then she checks her cell for text messages.

Shoreh Aghdashloo is warm and wonderful as Elizabeth, and Hiam Abass is effective as Anna. Ciaran Hinds is a bit overcooked as Herod, but maybe it’s the lighting. (Interesting to see how many nationalities are represented among the cast. Much of the world’s population, it seems, could pass for Semitic. It’s blue-eyed blonds who are odd-man-out.)

The strongest character in the movie is under the actors’ feet: the Italian countryside, standing in for ancient Israel (just as it did in “The Passion of the Christ”) teaches in a way no words can how very hard life is in a rocky desert land. The journey Mary and Joseph make from Nazareth to Bethlehem, one hundred miles, begins to look like a superhuman feat. Our European fantasies of the Holy Land are corrected, for example, by seeing Jesus born among animals sheltering in a cave, not in a cozy wooden stable.

Judging by the quantity of sniffles during closing credits, “The Nativity Story” hits a lot of viewers squarely in the heart. It’s a respectful and historically authentic film, and those two assets are rare enough to promise success, both on opening weekend and down the years. If this is the beginning of a trend toward movies that are not “cynical” and “disposable,” I’m all for it. And I hope eventually we’ll find a way to do it that is fresh and authentic, and not merely safe.

-Frederica Mathewes-Green

Thursday, December 7


Flowers through the window
lavender and yellow

changed by white curtains-
smell of cleanliness-

sunshine of late afternoon-
on the glass tray

A glass pitcher, the tumbler
turned down, by which

a key is lying- And the
immaculate white bed.

- William Carlos Williams


"Dressy! I use it on roast chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, cole slaw, even in cornbread. It has a very delicate taste that is often overwhelmed by other tastes, but always makes a dish look ready for company."

-Found in: Jan Karon's Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader-
Have you ever heard someone say something that makes you sit up and listen? I recently heard a quote by the author Marianne Williamson that touched me deeply. Almost as soon as I heard it, I hopped onto Google and found it in its entirety. After reading it several times, I have began to feel more feminine just looking at the words! Find a quotation, poem, or song that moves you and makes you want to become a better woman!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."


"Love has nothing to do with what you are expected to get, only with what you are expected to give... which is everything."
Katharine Hepburn

Olive Oil - Kitchen Cupboard Beauty Tips

By Cait Johnson, Assistant Producer, Care2 Healthy Living Channels.

For centuries, Mediterranean beauties have relied on olive oil to help maintain good health, a fresh, dewy complexion, lustrous hair, and more.

Simple Solution: Now you can learn the secrets of olive oil that have made it such a favorite Kitchen Cupboard beauty aid for so many for so long.

Cuticles and nails: If your cuticles are ragged and your nails brittle and dry, olive oil can help! Soak nails for 30 minutes in a small cup of olive oil.

Hands: Smooth on a generous amount of olive oil before bed, put on white cotton gloves, and go to sleep. Your hands will be softer and smoother in the morning!

Lips: To soothe and smoothe dry, chapped lips, dab on a little olive oil.
Hair treatment: This helps repair split ends, heals dandruff, and makes your hair shiny, silky, and lustrous. Massage a few tablespoons of olive oil into scalp and hair. Cover hair with a plastic bathing cap and leave on for 30 minutes or more, then shampoo as usual.

Skin: Massage a small amount of olive oil into skin whenever you need softening and moisturizing. Apply extra oil to rough or cracked areas.

Bath: Add several tablespoons of olive oil to your bath, along with a few drops of your favorite essential oil, to soothe and nourish your skin.

Helpful Hints:
Always use the purest olive oil available. Usually, this means organic extra-virgin expeller-pressed olive oil.

Monday, December 4

Adding Class...

I read a great post on adding that little something extra to the way that you dress without spending any money (which is especially good for those of us who are new to the whole homemaker thing). Here is a brief summary of the post:

Add Class to your Wardrobe Without Spending a Dime

1. Remove all Logos. By removing logoed and message clothing from your daily ensembles, you will add much class, taste and a more expensive look to your existing wardrobe.

2. Change your hair accessories. A few accessories are acceptable for everyday use. These are nondescript headbands (tortoise, elastic, accordion), nondescript barrettes (a clamp-style can hold up loose ends, brush back bangs and not take the focus off your entire look. Bobby pins are a must for updos and bangs that are not the right length – keep them hair colored) and maybe a hair-colored or black narrow elastic in your bag for hair emergencies.

3. Untuck the shirt. In this day and age, many tops are not created to be tucked in. Also many of our figures are not flattered with a tucked-in shirt. If you have a bit of a belly, an untucked tailored shirt, polo or sweater can do wonders to camouflages that area without looking messy.

4. Iron your clothes. Seems like a given, but unfortunately we often do not have the time or full-length mirrors to really see what we look like to others. Creased pants will not sort themselves out in the commute to work, and wrinkled blouses from the dryer have a totally different look than shirts that got a bit rumpled through the average day.

5. Protect the midsection. Be you a few pounds overweight and your clothes fitting a bit snugly, or be it you have the most amazing toned six-pack, there is never a reason for an adult to show her belly anywhere but at the beach or pool.

6. Don’t be a slave to fashion. Just because leggings have appeared on the runway after a 20-year hiatus does not mean you need to dash out and purchase a pair.

7. Accept your size. You will be the same shape be you wear a size 8 dress or a 10. A size smaller in a blouse will actually make you look larger. On the other side of the coin, clothing that is too big for your body will make you look misshapen, sloppy and also bigger than you truly are.

8. Check your bag. Is your bag overstuffed? Fraying? Covered with pen marks? If so, you are like many women in America. If you cannot afford a replacement bag, clean the one you currently have, snip any frayed areas with nail scissors and always keep it zipped up and only to 70% capacity at most. This will make your bag look far more polished than when you have a planner, sippy cup, wad of Kleenex and an apple popping out of the main compartment.

9. Chin up. The best way to exude class and style is to have good posture. Chin up, neck elongated, chest out, shoulders back and down. Think about your walk; glide, don’t clop. A graceful walk will make even ratty sweatpants look elegant.

For the full article, check out:

Your One-Night-A-Week Beauty Routine (for both housewives and working girls)...

An Excerpt from: The Handbook of Beauty pp. 297-99, 1955

Set aside one evening a week ~ whichever is most convenient, but try to make it the same night every week to fix the habit firmly ~ to do the following beauty chores that don't have to be done more often. Start after dinner. Give yourself plenty of time (at least two hours). Try to avoid interruptions by your family or by friends on the phone.
I'm going to suggest the order in which you can do all these beauty chores. But if you prefer, rearrange the order to suit your own particular tastes. Just make sure you do all the steps listed for a complete feeling of achievement on the road to beauty.
1. Get into the most comfortable old robe you have.
2. IF you have make-up on, remove all traces.
3. Thoroughly cleanse your face (see chapter on skin).
4. Give yourself the tired-eye treatment (see chapter on eyes).
5. Sit in front of a mirror and, for about 15 minutes, experiment with new make-up purchases and new ways of applying your old make-up (see chapter on make-up).
6. Remove all traces of this make-up but keep on the final application of cream you've used to remove it.
7. Do five minutes of facial massage (see chapter on skin).
8. Apply facial mask.
9. While mask is still on, remove old nail polish.
10. Do all steps of your manicure up to but not including the new polish application (see chapter on hands).
11. Remove facial mask.
12. Give yourself the tired-foot treatment (see chapter on feet).
13. Start your pedicure. Do all the steps up to but not including the new polish application, if any (see chapter on feet).
14. Exercise for 15 minutes (see chapter on exercises).
15. Brush hair at least 100 strokes.
16. Shampoo hair (see chapter on hair).
17. Set hair (see chapter on hair).
18. Take a warm "luxury" bath (see chapter on baths).
19. Apply anti-perspirant to underarms (if you use it).
20. Apply toilet water, cologne, or body lotion all over yourself.
21. Finish off with talcum or dusting powder (not, however, if you've used body lotion).
22. Apply polish to toenails.
23. While they're drying, apply polish to fingernails.
24. When fingernails are dry, weigh and measure yourself. Record results on Pages 315 and 316 of this book.
25. Apply emollient cream to area around eyes.
26. IF skin is dry, leave a thin film of the cream all over your face for overnight. If skin is half-and-half, leave a thin film of the cream on dry patches for overnight.
27. Wash and thoroughly dry hands; push back cuticles.
28. Apply hand lotion or cream.
29. Get into bed and lights out.
In addition to the above routine, set aside a shorter time on an evening about three nights later to do the following:
1. Repair manicure.
2. Give your hair a between-shampoo cleansing (see chapter on hair).
3. IF you're over thirty, give yourself a 5-minute facial (see chapter on skin).
4. Check up on your make-up equipment. Wash sponges, puffs, and brushes in soapy warm water.
5. Apply anti-perspirant to your underarms if you perspire profusely as a rule.

Sunday, December 3

Outfitting a Guest Room...

Creating space for guests in your home involves more than providing a comfortable place to sleep; it's an opportunity to make people feel welcome and ensure that their time spent with you is memorable.

Choose the Right Room
Ideally, a guest room is a bedroom with a bathroom attached. It should be inconspicuously placed, so that guests don't need to cross the busiest parts of the house to get to it; for privacy, it shouldn't be next to a child's room.

Decorate Sparingly
In a strange room, comfort and space are more soothing than a clutter of unfamiliar things. On a bedside table, place a single flower bloom in a simple glass, a nice clock, and a selection of books suited to your guest's taste.

Outfit the Bed
Make up a double bed with four ample sleeping pillows, two medium to firm, and two soft, as well as two smaller pillows to prop up the head when reading. Use cotton or linen sheets, starched and ironed for hotel crispness. Provide both light and heavy blankets, as well as a lightweight throw for afternoon naps.

Closets and Drawers
Make sure that there is adequate closet and drawer space. Supply a variety of hanger (at least a dozen good wooden or metal ones) that will hold trousers and jackets, flimsy dresses, and heavy coats. And make certain there is a full-length mirror.

Bathroom Essentials
If the bathroom is shared, clear space in it for toiletries. Stock it with new toothbrushes and toothpaste, a plush robe, and a supply of clean cotton towels (two large bath towels, two face washcloths) for each guest. Supply a few luxuries that one might not find at home: a beautiful soap or an unusual cream, a special shampoo, or a small bottle of perfume or cologne. If your guest has allergies, hypoallergenic soap and moisturizer.


After you've provided the basic necessities, consider some of these extra touches to make guests feel at home.

Sitting Area
Space permitting, set up a comfortable chair or settee with a pillow and throw, an adjacent table, and a good adjustable-brightness lamp. Assemble a small personal library, including some magazines and a daily newspaper (useful for local listings like concerts). A radio for morning news and quiet evening listening is a thoughtful addition; you might also include a portable cassette or CD player with a selection of music.

Desk Supplies
Provide a small desk or a cleared tabletop, and stock it with pens and paper, note cards, envelopes, and stamps. Compile a list of some favorite local places: restaurants, cafes, museums, antiques shops, cinemas and provide timetables, if appropriate, for buses, ferries, or trains. A telephone in the room is a convenience, but not a necessity.

Extra Warmth
If the room has wood floors, place a small rug beside the bed. For visitors during the coldest months, think of providing a hot-water bottle in a soft slipcase- a soothing amenity your guests won't have expected to find.

Food and Drink
Consider your guests food preferences: If one is a vegetarian, or allergic to fish or dairy products, be sure your menus include options and that your pantry and refrigerator are appropriately stocked. Show guests where to find snacks, drinking glasses, and utensils, and encourage them to help themselves. Leave a pitcher of spring water and a glass on the bedside table in the guest room.

**I found these instructions for creating a guest room on Martha Stewart's website. In addition to being helpful in creating the perfect space for guests, I thought that these directions would be helpful in making our bedroom more of a haven. I also liked the fact that if you were to follow these instructions in your bedroom or guest bedroom, all of one's senses would be engaged as the space was enjoyed. This article made me feel like it was time to get busy and create an atmosphere in my home conducive to relaxation, comfort, and security!**

An Excerpt from "The Singing House..."

An Excerpt from The Singing House
By: May Morgan Potter

Fred ate [his breakfast] dutifully and then slipped down from his chair.

‘Now can I go over to Jimmy’s, mother?’ he asked.

‘But Fred,’ I [said], ‘you were over there yesterday and the day before. Why not have Jimmy come here today?’

‘Oh, he wouldn’t want to.’ Fred’s lip quivered in spite of his six years of manhood. ‘Please, mother.’

‘Why do you like Jimmy’s house better than ours, son?’ I pursued. It came to me suddenly that Fred and all his companions were always wanting to go to Jimmy’s house.

‘Why,’ he explained hesitantly, ‘it’s cause—it’s cause Jimmy’s house is a singing house.’

‘A singing house?’ I questioned. ‘Now what do you mean by that?’

‘Well,’ Fred was finding it hard to explain, ‘Jimmy’s mother hums when she sews; and Annie-in-the-kitchen, she sings when she cuts out cookies; and Jimmy’s daddy always whistles when he comes home.’ Fred stopped a moment and added, ‘Their curtains are rolled clear up and there’s flowers in the windows. All the boys like Jimmy’s house, mother.’

‘You may go, son,’ I said quickly. I wanted him out of the way so I could think.

I looked around my house. Everyone told me how lovely it was. There were oriental rugs. We were paying for them on installments. . . . We were paying for the overstuffed furniture and the car that way, also. Perhaps that was why Fred’s daddy didn’t whistle when he came in the house. . . .

I . . . went over to Jimmy’s house, even if it was ten o’clock and Saturday morning. It came to me that Mrs. Burton would not mind being interrupted in the middle of the morning. She never seemed to be in a hurry. She met me at the door with a towel around her head.

‘Oh, come in. I have just finished [cleaning] the living room. No indeed, you are not interrupting. I’ll just take off this headdress and be right in.’

While I waited, I looked around. The rugs were almost threadbare; the curtains . . . tied back; the furniture, old and scarred. . . . A table with a bright cover held a number of late magazines. In the window were hanging baskets of ivy . . . , while a bird warbled from his cage hanging in the sun. Homey, that was the effect.

The kitchen door was open and I saw Jerry, the baby, sitting on the clean linoleum, watching Annie as she pinched together the edges of an apple pie. She was singing. . . .

Mrs. Burton came in smiling. ‘Well,’ she asked, ‘what is it? For I know you came for something; you are such a busy woman.’

‘Yes,’ I said abruptly, ‘I came to see what a singing house is like.’

Mrs. Burton looked puzzled. ‘Why, what do you mean?’

‘Fred says he loves to come here because you have a singing house. I begin to see what he means.’

‘What a wonderful compliment!’ Mrs. Burton’s face flushed. ‘But of course my house doesn’t compare with yours. Everyone says you have the loveliest house in town.’

‘But it isn’t a singing house,’ I objected. . . . ‘Tell me how you came to have one.’

‘Well,’ smiled Mrs. Burton, ‘if you really want to know. You see, John doesn’t make much. I don’t think he ever will. He isn’t the type. We have to cut somewhere, and we decided on noon-essentials. . . . There are books, magazines, and music. . . . These are things the children can keep inside. They can’t be touched by fire or [financial problems] so we decided they were essentials. Of course good wholesome food is another essential. . . . The children’s clothes are very simple. . . . But when all these things are paid for, there doesn’t seem to be much left for rugs and furniture. . . . We don’t go into debt if we can avoid it. . . . [however] We are happy’, she concluded.

‘I see,’ I said thoughtfully. I looked over at Jerry and Fred in the corner. They had manufactured a train out of match boxes and were loading it with wheat. They were scattering it a good deal, but wheat is clean and wholesome.

I went home. My oriental rugs looked faded. I snapped my curtains to the top of the windows, but the light was subdued as it came through the silken draperies. . . . [My house] was not a singing house. I determined to make it sing.

Friday, December 1

Feminine Frugal Friday Tips...

I found these great ideas for inexpensive beauty solutions at this website:

I found this article to be especially good:

"You don't have to spend big bucks to get beauty treatments commercially. A little care at home can help you to attain that glamorous finished look at home, quite frugally. For a hydrating treatment for your hands while doing your dishes in the kitchen, cover your hands with a thick layer of lotion and wear latex cleaning gloves. The warm dishwater helps you to get the deep lotion treatment while gloves provide insulation of heat. Repeat it once or twice per week to get beautiful soft hands. Exfoliation to remove dead skin from your body and face can be done with a lot of things available in our kitchens. Pamper yourself with ground almond or be more economical by using cornmeal or a mix of grapefruit and salt or vinegar with some lemon juice in it.

Milk bath strewn with rose petals worked for Cleopatra so there seems to be no reason that it will not do the same for you. Mix half cup of milk powder with your bath water and see the difference. To keep your face naturally beautiful and free of any common skin problems, splash your face with warm water and massage it with a tablespoon of honey, which is antibacterial in nature, once or twice per week. Rinse your face well with warm water. You can also use plain yogurt instead of honey, which works as an exfoliant and its lactic acid dissolves dead skin cells. Prepare a mixture of ½ cup olive oil, ¼ cup vinegar and ¼ cup water to substitute your night cream. Oliver oil serves as a moisturizer and revitalizes skin while vinegar takes care of bacteria, dead skin cells and skin discolorations.

Olive oil is also an effective cleansing cream for dry skin, softens the skin and gets absorbed better than baby oil. Do not waste any leftover olive oil or that has been dripped over. Use your fingers to wipe it off and rub it on your elbows. Tone your skin using witch hazel that you can buy for pennies. It can work as an effective aftershave for your husband too! The best and most inexpensive way to keep your skin healthy and glowing is to drink several glasses of water a day as it helps your body to flush away any impurities.

Instead of freaking over any freckles or aging signs that you can spot over your face and rushing off to costly beauty clinics, try fading them away with lemon juice instead. For scrubbing, rub olive oil over your body after the bath and then scrub sugar on the body until it melts. Then wash it away with water. It is quite effective for face and hands too. Look younger by preparing a mixture with equal parts of onion juice and vinegar and rubbing it over any aging signs daily. However, it takes few weeks to achieve the desired results.

For filling up dry and cracked calluses on your hand and feet, use olive oil mixed with melted beeswax. Cover them up with cotton gloves or socks respectively. Spices and essential oils added to your bath water can make you fragrant for a long time. Frugal hair care ideas include adding a two spoonfuls of baking soda in your shampoo once a week to remove styling product build-ups and using mayonnaise or raw eggs as a hair conditioner. To bleach your hair, you can use lemon juice while olive oil works as an effective hair conditioner and gets rid of the frizz. A quarter cup of vinegar mixed with three quarters of a cup of warm water is a great rinser and makes your hair soft and shiny. We have even found out that a daily soak in burdock tea will stop hair loss!"

To My Readers...

If you would like your blog's link to appear on my sidebar, please drop me a comment and I would be happy to update my blog listing to include it!

When French Women Bake...

…they turn classic desserts into seductive treats worth rediscovering. How do they do it? Dorie Greenspan knows their secrets.

Here are some of the reasons I think French women are worthy of admiration (okay, envy): They can negotiate cobblestone streets in stilettos; get a smile out of snooty waiters in chic cafés; tie scarves without benefit of mirrors or handbooks from either Hermès or the Boy Scouts; and hold down demanding jobs while married with kids and still never be seen tossing out the trash in anything less attractive than Chloe jeans, a little cashmere tee, and just enough Chanel blush to fool anyone into believing they're either fully made-up or healthier-looking than any busy person has the right to seem.

And, they can cook.

In the seven years I've lived in Paris, I've yet to meet a woman who can't cook or who, at the very least, can't talk a good game of food. Even women who say they don't cook much still know the addresses of the best butchers, bakers, and, yes, if not candlestick makers, then makers of candles. For sure, they own a shopping basket and pull it out a couple of times a week when they go to the outdoor market in their neighborhood — even now-and-then cooks must have a regular supply of freshly made goat cheese and a stash of oil-cured olives.

And those women who do cook really cook, and cook really often, not just for family because they must, but for friends because they want to. I've never been invited to so many dinner parties, cocktail parties, and Sunday lunches that stretch into dinner (one came dangerously close to ending in time for a midnight snack). Few of these were planned much in advance, many were on "school nights," and all of them were fun, because there was plenty of good food and wine and lively conversation.

How do they do it?

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this and have come to the conclusion that les Françaises don't know anything we don't already know. The big difference is, they actually do what we all know is smart: They keep it simple, while we Americans — especially we Americans in Paris working to live up to the culinary standards of our adopted country — are always trying to do just a little more. Particularly when it comes to dessert. And here, I speak from experience.

Let me back up a bit and tell you about the first dinner party I had in my Paris apartment. Call me neurotic, but no sooner had I invited everyone over than I began to feel responsible for producing a dinner that would bring glory to America's reputation for gracious living and measure up to whatever expectations I imagined my French friends had of me as "a food person." Quel pressure!

So, I knocked myself out. I had Champagne and piping-hot little homemade cheese puffs to welcome my guests, and I finished, four courses and 18 wineglasses-to-wash later, with a sleek, dark, dark chocolate cake layered with a fresh raspberry and chocolate ganache and topped with an all-chocolate ganache. In a French meal, the main course is called le plat de résistance, and it's meant to be the biggest deal in the lineup. But I was pinning my hopes for hosannas on dessert — and I got a pretty great response, which at a Paris dinner party means a lot of ooh-la-la-ing. I got enough ooh-la-las to mention, as casually as possible, that I'd made the cake myself. You could have knocked me over with a cream puff when the first words out of a friend's mouth were, "Why'd you do it? I mean, it's great, but cakes like this are the reason pastry shops were invented.

"There was the key: French women leave fancy restaurant food to fancy restaurants and fancy desserts to the pâtisseries.

Of course. Had I thought back to the desserts I'd been served over the years at French friends' homes, I'd have seen the keep-it-simple rule played to the max. No matter how chic the hostess, her homemade dessert invariably looked as rustic as if it had come from a farmhouse grand-mère. And at some point it probably had, since the majority of desserts my friends make are drawn from a repertoire of home-baking recipes that includes standards like rice pudding, tarte Tatin, quatre-quarts (the French version of pound cake), chocolate cakes in simple round layers and long loaves, mousses of many flavors, and hundreds more — among them the six recipes here that have become my own keep-it-simple classics.

The recipes are often centuries old, with techniques French women learned from their mothers, who learned them from their mothers, back through generations. In fact, the recipes are so true and so tried, many French women make them without recipes, or au pif. (I love the sound of this expression — oh peef; literally, it means "by nose," but it's used for stuff you just do, by second nature, feel, or guesswork. In cooking, it's often a case of a-little-of-this-and-a-little-of-that.) My first far Breton, a custardy prune cake, was made au pif by a young French woman staying with us in New York. Au pif is also the way lots of seasonal fruit tarts are made and why they are often nothing more than crust, a layer of ground nuts or some crumbled stale cake, and sliced fruit sprinkled with sugar and dotted with bits of butter.

Since it took me years to perfect my own tart crusts, seeing tart after perfectly crusted tart served by endless French hostesses — even those who said they hardly ever cook, let alone bake — just made me even more convinced that my Gallic friends are goddesses. What it should have made me was suspicious! While I was ready to believe that every French woman was born with the scarf gene, I should have been a little less likely to accept that they had a crust gene, too. What they actually have that most of us don't are grocery stores offering cut-to-size, impeccably rolled-out all-butter crusts — pâte brisée for quiches, sweet pâte sablée for tarts, and puff pastry for everything from savory canapés to those tarte Tatins my friends turn out au pif.

In Paris, stores are filled with high-quality ready-to-pretend-they're-your-own products — and French women have no compunctions about using them. Although, just as with fashion, mixing it up is key. Only runway models wear head-to-toe Dior (stylish mortals add something from Gap) and only pros or not-so-very-assured hostesses make everything haute and from scratch.

The really stylish French hostess will mix store-bought with handmade for dessert and do it judiciously and with flair. Like my friend Paule Caillat, who teaches French cooking to Americans visiting Paris, many of my friends make excellent pear tarts, a true classic, using homemade almond cream for the filling and premium canned pears for the fruit; but, unlike Paule, many of my friends never fess up. (Which might explain why French women look so good at the trash bins — they go minutes before their guests arrive, so they can ditch all "incriminating" evidence.)

The same air of mystery can waft around the simplest desserts, the way it seemed to when my dear friend Martine just smiled after I'd complimented her on her chocolate mousse. It was perfect — dark, rich, not so light that it was unsatisfying, not so dense that it was puddingish — so I asked for the recipe. Martine, normally accommodating and always super-efficient, could never seem to get around to giving it to me, though I nagged her for weeks. Finally, she turned it over at the end of a meal at which I, a friend of 30 years, was the only non-family member. She took me aside, handed me a bar of Nestlé chocolate, and told me she used the recipe on the back of the wrapper.

When her cousin heard Martine's admission, she clapped her hands gleefully and said, "I never knew you used that recipe! I use it all the time, but I add grated orange zest to it." Then an aunt piped in and said, "I add coffee — but I thought I was the only one who used that recipe. I didn't know you used it, too." To which Martine replied, "Why would I mention it?"

Add to the growing list of qualities I admire in French women — the fact that they can really keep a secret.

— By Dorie Greenspan, Bon Appétit, February 2005Note: For the author's classic recipes visit:

French Paradox...

Everything in France improves with age- the wine, the perfume, even the women. A quintessential Frenchwoman reveals the reasons.

Frenchwomen are maddening and captivating in equal measure. The drink wine, smoke Gauloise, wear the same clothes every other day, and still manage to be the most stylish of creatures. They even age well, looking poetic, not haggard. Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don't Get Fat (Knopft), explains the mysteries of that other annoying and enviable French paradox.

KEEP IT SIMPLE "It's not true that the French never get old- we just age differently than other women by following a few basic rules. My mother has great skin, but she never baked in the sun. And she told me that no matter how tired you are or when you go to bed, you must remove your makeup. It make a huge difference if you do this consistently.

The French are very, very, big on creams- we have ones for our face, hands, and feet. A lifetime of moisturizing gives you the skin of a baby. Anti-aging creams don't work miracles, but we wear them to soften our skin and to feel good- to treat our skin with a little TLC. In fact, the French government actually pays for older women to go to the spa once a year. We go for two or three weeks, drink the water, and relax; it's a detox and cleansing process called thalassotherapy. The French take more opportunity to unwind; we feel that leisure time is important.

As for products, I have friends in the States whom I adore, but I can't believe their bathrooms. They have 50 bottles of perfumes, 25 different soaps. The French select a few items and keep their beauty routine simple. In my cabinet, I have five products: makeup remover, toner, night cream, gel for my lips and eyes- I often dab on Vaseline- and a daytime moisturizer with sunscreen. What more do you need?"

CUT TO THE CHASE "Having nice hair is very important to Frenchwomen. A color that is slightly lighter than your natural shade softens your face. It's a little trick... But the color must work with your skin tone or you'll look washed out, like an aspirin pill.Frenchwomen tend to have long hair when they're young; then, as they grow older, shorter hair gives a better line to the face, a sharper profile."

DON"T CONFORM "After a certain point, plastic surgery turns your face into a mask. The French are very sarcastic about that- to us, that's very boring. Where's your personality? Beauty is about finding a balance, about being attractive and individualistic. Among my friends, no one uses Botox, and it's not something we discuss. Who likes to think about wrinkles and aging?"

JUST RELAX "Agonizing over your appearance is counterproductive- that's when you start to notice that you have wrinkles, or that your hair is changing color. I'd rather sleep an extra fifteen minutes. Skin ages; it's a fact of life. You can try not to abuse it, not to smoke, and not to drink too much. But don't obsess. As my grandmother used to say, it's your smile, your attitude, and your posture that make you beautiful. Be interesting, and if you are comfortable in your skin, you will reflect that."

- Kari Molvar Allure (April 2006)

"It's not about you. Others are more important."
~Baroness Ella van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston, Audrey Hepburn's mother
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