Wednesday, January 31

Instant Style: Seasonal Wardrobe Capsules...

InStyle's List of Fundamentals for a Work Wardrobe:

  • Knee length wool coat
  • Suit jacket to match skirt and pants
  • Work dress
  • Black boot cut pants
  • A-line skirt
  • Jeans
  • Cardigan
  • White Shirt
  • V-neck sweater
  • Leather tote
  • Everyday purse
  • Flats
  • To-the-knee boots
  • Black pumps
  • White tee-shirt
  • Camisole
  • Cotton shorts
  • Khaki pants
  • Cotton skirt
  • Sundress
  • Cotton Cardigan
  • Trench coat
  • Straw bag
  • Canvas tote
  • Thong sandals
  • Open-toe work shoes
  • Swimsuit
  • Beach cover-up

Dedicated to the One I Love...

If you are looking for a peaceful CD to play in your home, then this is it! I have had it for years and played it in my classroom when the children were a little wild and needed to calm down. There are quite a few songs on here that you'll recognize: Be My Baby, We Will Rock You, Winter Light (from the credits of The Secret Garden movie), and Brahms' Lullaby. The twist is that all of the songs are done in the most soothing and sweet way... after all, it is a lullaby CD! Amazon is selling many used copies starting at $1.97! If you want to listen before your buy, Amazon offers a little sample of each song. Enjoy!

Instant Style...

This past week, I picked up a book by the editors of InStyle Magazine called Instant Style: Your Season-By-Season Guide For Work and Weekend. Though I am obviously not working outside of the home, I do like to dress nicely for my work day as a homemaker. After flipping through the pages of this book, I decided to take the plunge and buy it. I must say that I am happy that I did.

The book consists of four chapters: Be Your Own Stylist, Edit your Wardrobe, Fall/Winter Wardrobe, and Spring/Summer Wardrobe. Each chapter quickly and easily breaks down it's topic and shows the reader how to accomplish the fool proof wardrobe. While I have seen better, more-in depth books written ion the subject, InStyle did a good job of writing a book that's sole aim was to educate a woman on the basics of wardrobe building.

Here are some of the ideas put forth in the book:

  • Know your own shape (Identify your own body type and then accentuate the positive)
  • Know your best colors (Understand warm vs. cool)
  • Know what suits your age
  • Know your personal style
  • Edit your wardrobe: Clean up, organize, style, and Upgrade (hangers, group like with like, get creative with space, tame your shelves, and add boutique touches
  • Create a capsule wardrobe for Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer
One of my favorite things about this book is the fact that it doesn't require you to buy 900 things. The editors want you to buy a few things (of great quality that will last a long time) and mix and match them. I love that fashion philosophy!

Later, I will post their list for Fall/Winter must haves and show you my version (suitable for homemakers) ... there is no need to perpetuate the idea that women who stay at home are frumpy and style-less!

A Favorite Quote...

What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?
George Eliot
(Mary Anne Evans)
1819 - 1880

Monday, January 29

January 28 -February 3

It's time for another Commitment to Loveliness! This is a fun way to increase femininity and beauty in our lives each week without even trying! All you have to do is choose five things that you would like to work on or do during the week that will increase the loveliness in your life!

Here is my list for this week:

1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! My skin is so dry!

2. Have a date with my husband... we're thinking about going out to lunch and then seeing a movie. We will be bringing the little bambina with us, of course:)

3. Organize and pack away all of our holiday decorations... All of our seasonal decorations are on the floor of our guest room waiting to be put into some kind of order. Ideally, I'd like separate boxes for each season and one for Christmas. We'll see what happens.

4. Purchase flowers for our kitchen table. We need something cheery in this house!!

5. Groom my eyebrows and give myself a pedicure.

Once you have chosen five simple things, post them on your blog and link to this post in your post, and then post the direct link to your Commitment to Loveliness post below. If you do not have a blog, but have a commitment to share, please post them in the comments section. On Saturday, post the results of your Commitment to Loveliness (good or bad). Above all, enjoy yourself!

I look forward to reading how others are celebrating their Commitment to Loveliness!

Anti-Procrastination Challenge (Monday)...

Today was the last day for Mrs. Wilt's Anti-Procrastination Challenge at the The Sparrow's Nest. I have enjoyed participating in this challenge so much! My house looks so much less cluttered now that things are cleaned up and organized... It would be nice to do an anti procrastination challenge once a month!

Here are the things that I accomplished today:

  • I wrote out a few cards and e-mails. I have neglected my correspondence a bit, and it is nice to catch up again!
  • I cleaned out a letter box that I have on my counter... it had become a catch all for coupons, letters to me, addresses and phone numbers on slips of paper, photos, etc.
  • I tidied up my desk (yet again!).
Thank you for the challenge and the e-book, Mrs. Wilt!

Saturday, January 27

How I did this week...

Here is my report on whatI accomplished for my Commitment to Loveliness for this past week...

  • With the cold weather finally here, I will be sure to moisturize my skin (especially my face, hands, and elbows) each day this week. I did this most days, but was not as diligent as i could have been. I have very, very dry skin, so I really need to be consistent!
  • I will pack away all of the clothes that my sweet girl has outgrown ( I was able to weed them out last week but just piled the clothes onto the floor of the nursery.). Completed!
  • I will drink lots of water (instead of lots of Pepsi)! I did drink more water then usual, but still had the Pepsi... I need to get down to one Pepsi a day (sometimes I have two or three!) and drink water or tea the rest of the time. I really believe that this habit is keeping me from loosing the last five or six pounds I have from my pregnancy!
  • I will plan a special date night for Husband to enjoy with me... it might even include a bottle of sparkling cider and a video rental! Hopefully Baby Bear will cooperate! We did have the sparkling cider with dinner, but husband had too much work to be able to watch a movie... this week is going to be easier though, so he has invited his girls to go out to see a matinĂ©e! Yes!
  • Since I got my hair cut this past Friday, I will be sure to "do" it everyday... I will also wear makeup each day (even if I have no place to go). Uh... didn't happen at all. Pretty pathetic, huh?
I look forward to reading how others did on their Commitment to Loveliness!

Anti-Procrastination Challenge (Saturday)...

Today was a nice day with lots of family time and relaxation! We started our day with a delicious breakfast: pancakes and crispy bacon. Fr. John mixed the wet ingredients for the pancakes while I put together the dry and then he did fried them up while I tended the bacon (not hard, as I made it in the oven) and set the table. Scrumptious! We haven't had a big breakfast in several weeks and were beginning to really crave it!

Once the afternoon hit, we all began to feel sleepy. Since Husband finished his sermon earlier this week (we were all in anti-procrastination mode!), we were able to have a family nap... a treat that we all relish but don't have time to enjoy often. We cuddled up in the big bed and snoozed the afternoon away!

Though we enjoyed today as a family day (thanks for the suggestion, Mrs. Wilt!), I was able to accomplish a little project. I finally washed all of the clothes that now fit Baby Bear (she's wearing 6 month old clothing!). Now that it is clean and dry, she has three or four stretchy outfits and about 7 jumpers in addition to the plethora already in her closet and baskets! The clothes that we were given are just darling! I have already chosen her outfit for church tomorrow!

Monday is the last day of Mrs. Wilt's Anti-Procrastination Challenge at the The Sparrow's Nest. It's not too late to join!

Ladies in Lavender...

I caught the last hour or so of the movie Ladies in Lavender and was reminded how much I liked it! Maggie Smith and Judi Dench were perfect as spinster ladies! The scenery was beautiful and the manners and set are swoon-worthy for anyone interested in England and/or the 1930's.

Here is the plot summary from

Two aging spinster sisters have their peaceable Cornwall existence disrupted in 1936 when they take a young Polish violinist into their care. After a particularly violent storm, Ursula and Janet Widington awake to find young man Andrea half-drowned and badly injured on the beach. They slowly discover that he is Polish with a gift for music as an accomplished violinist, hoping to find his way to America. But the village isn't used to visitors and everyone, with the exception of the sisters, is full of suspicions, especially when Andrea develops a friendship with a beautiful Russian woman vacationing nearby. Eventually, the two must make a choice between trying to keep their new charge for themselves or setting him free in the world.

Improvements in our bedroom...

My husband hung these pretty carved wooden decorations over our headboard tonight... though they look dark in this picture, they are quite pretty in person! Click on the picture for a more detailed view.

Friday, January 26

Anti-Procrastination Challenge (Friday)...

Today is day four of Mrs. Wilt's Anti-Procrastination Challenge at the The Sparrow's Nest. I finally put socket caps into all of the outlets in the upstairs rooms of our house! I had procrastinated so long, that I forgot that I still had to do that! The other thing that I was able to do was post photos of our nursery on this blog. Katy asked me to do that on Monday! Only one more day of the anti-procrastination challenge to go!

Our Nursery...

This is the main part of the nursery. The room is on the small side, so we keep all the baby toys, walker, swing, johnny-jumper, etc. downstairs. When I was pregnant with our daughter, we didn't know what she would be (I was actually kind of expecting a boy). Because of that, we chose nursery furniture and decorations that would be suitable for either sex (If I knew that she was going to be a girl, however, I would have gone more girl-y). The little step stool has a white rabbit carved into the top and will probably go into the bathroom when the baby is getting potty trained. Though the rocker and footstool don't really match, I love them! They are a hand-me-down from a friend whose children are already grown.

The first thing you see is a sweet little bookshelf that I inherited from my parents. We re-painted it white (though I'd love to strip all the paint off one day) and stocked it with little books (I have boxes more, but the shelves are too narrow... I'll probably be looking for a larger bookshelf at garage sales this summer). The icon hanging above the shelf is our baby's patron saint. On the top shelf is an icon of the guardian angel, a clock, and a lamp that matches the linens for the room. The next shelf has a cute picture of the baby and books and magazines for me to read while I nurse the baby. The next shelf has books and a wood carving I did in college, and the last shelf is full of books.

Here is a close up pf the top of the bookshelf.

The above picture is of the changing table. I covered the pad with a piece of vintage cloth and put a narrow white tray at the top. The tray has baby essentials in it: a cup of q-tips, a sugar bowl with cotton balls, and a basket with nail clippers, a bulb syringe, a brush, lotion, etc. The baskets on the shelves of the changing table have the following:

  • blankets, washcloths, and towels
  • diapers and wipes
  • baby clothes - onesies, pants, tops, pajamas, etc.
  • baby accessories - bibs, hats, shoes, sweaters, socks,tights, hair bows, and headbands

The final part of the nursery is pretty unfinished. We were planning on getting a crib once the baby outgrew her co-sleeper. Since we've been having some sleep issues, however, we are thinking that we may just get a toddler bed when she is a bit older. I "made" the mattress so that you could see the pretty scene on the blanket.
The wall that is not pictured is all closet. Since it wasn't that exciting, I didn't post a picture of it.
Also, we are renting our present home and may only be here until the summer... because of that, I haven't done much to the walls. We would love to put a pretty border around.


Inspired by Eva's post on tea, I am drinking a cup of sweet, hot tea and nibbling on a toasted roll with a bit of butter and jam on top! The baby is enjoying her version of tea right along with me... some banana puffs in a saucer. The perfect afternoon break!

Brown Paper Packages....

There is nothing like coming in to a nice warm house on a blustery day and cuddling up in a cozy bed with a sleepy eight month old and a bundle of mail that includes a parcel from your sister! Thank you for the lovely book, Katie Rose!

Thursday, January 25

Anti-Procrastination Challenge (Thursday)...

Day three of Mrs. Wilt's Anti-Procrastination Challenge at the The Sparrow's Nest was a little less productive than days one and two! Still, I got quite a bit of junk out of the house! I dropped off all of clothes, toys, and various odds and ends at the Goodwill drop box (six garbage bags worth!). In addition, I dropped off about several months worth of recyclables at the recycling center! Our house feels a lot lighter! Oh, I also filled up two clear pump bottles with our dish soap and hand soap. Our kitchen sink looks much nicer without commercial packaging clouding the view! Come join the fun of being an anti-procrastinator!

photo from Martha

Art Deco-esque Pajamas for the Little One...

Can Polyester Save the World?

JOSEPHINE COPELAND and her 20-year-old daughter, Jo Jo, visited Primark at the Peacock Center mall here, in the London suburbs, to buy presents for friends, but ended up loaded with clothes for themselves: boots, a cardigan, a festive blouse, and a long silver coat with faux fur trim, which cost £12 but looks like a million bucks. “If it falls apart, you just toss it away!” said Jo Jo, proudly wearing her purchase.

Environmentally, that is more and more of a problem.

With rainbow piles of sweaters and T-shirts that often cost less than a sandwich, stores like Primark are leaders in the quick-growing “fast fashion” industry, selling cheap garments that can be used and discarded without a second thought. Consumers, especially teenagers, love the concept, pioneered also by stores like H&M internationally and by Old Navy and Target in the United States, since it allows them to shift styles with speed on a low budget.

But clothes — and fast clothes in particular — are a large and worsening source of the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming, because of how they are both produced and cared for, concludes a new report from researchers at Cambridge University titled “Well Dressed?”

The global textile industry must become eco-conscious, the report concludes. It explores how to develop a more “sustainable clothing” industry — a seeming oxymoron in a world where fashions change every few months.

“Hmmm,” said Sally Neild, 44, dressed in casual chic, in jeans and boots, as she pondered such alien concepts, shopping bags in hand. “People now think a lot about green travel and green food. But I think we are a long way from there in terms of clothes. People are mad about those stores.”

It is hard to imagine how customers who rush after trends, or the stores that serve them, will respond to the report’s suggestions: that people lease clothes and return them at the end of a month or a season, so the garments can be lent again to someone else — like library books — and that they buy more expensive and durable clothing that can be worn for years.

In terms of care, the report highlights the benefits of synthetic fabrics that require less hot water to wash and less ironing. It suggests that consumers air-dry clothes and throw away their tumble dryers, which require huge amounts of energy.

But some big retailers are starting to explore their options. “Our research shows that customers are getting very concerned about environmental issues, and we don’t want to get caught between the eyes,” said Mike Barry, head of corporate social responsibility at Marks & Spencer, one of Britain’s largest retailers, which helped pay for the Cambridge study. “It’s a trend that we know won’t go away after a season, like a poncho.”

Customers “will ask ‘what are you doing?’ ” Mr. Barry said, noting that 70 percent of Britons shop at his chain. “So we’re doing a lot of thinking about what a sustainable clothing industry could look like in five years.”

Consumers spend more than $1 trillion a year on clothing and textiles, an estimated one-third of that in Western Europe, another third in North America, and about a quarter in Asia. In many places, cheap, readily disposable clothes have displaced hand-me-downs as the mainstay of dressing.

“My mother had the same wardrobe her entire life,” Ms. Neild said. “For my daughter, styles change every six months and you need to keep up.”

As a result, women’s clothing sales in Britain rose by 21 percent between 2001 and 2005 alone to about £24 billion ($47.6 billion), spurred by lower prices, according to the Cambridge report.

And while many people have grown accustomed to recycling cans, bottles and newspapers, used clothes are generally thrown away. “In a wealthy society, clothing and textiles are bought as much for fashion as for function,” the report says, and that means that clothes are replaced “before the end of their natural life.”

Dr. Julian Allwood, who led a team of environmental researchers in conducting the report, noted in an interview that it is now easier for British consumers to toss unwanted clothes than to take them to a recycling center, and easier to throw clothes into the hamper for a quick machine wash and dry than to sponge off stains.

He hopes his report will educate shoppers about the costs to the environment, so that they change their behavior.

There are many examples of how changing consumer priorities have forced even the most staid retailers to alter the way they do business.

Last year Marks & Spencer — Britain’s mainstay for products like underwear and shortbread — decided to go organic in its food business; it now sells only fair-trade coffee and teas, for example. Many executives regarded the shift as a foolish and risky decision, but the store found that sales jumped 12 percent. The store learned a lesson that executives think will apply to clothes.

“Morally, we know more sustainable clothing is the right thing to do, but we are more and more convinced that commercially it is the right thing as well,” Mr. Barry said. In fact, marketing the “green” value of clothing, even if costs a bit more, may provide an advantage over competitors.

Part of the problem is that neither manufacturers nor customers understand much about how and when clothing purchases degrade the environment, since these can occur anywhere from the harvest of cotton or the manufacture of synthetic fibers to how — and how often — the garment must be washed.

“We’ve got fantastic standards when it comes to food, but it is all brand-new when it comes to clothes,” Mr. Barry admitted. “We have a lot to learn.”

In their efforts to buy green, customers tend to focus on packaging and chemicals, issues that do not factor in with clothing. Likewise, they purchase “natural” fibers like cotton, believing they are good for the environment.

But that is not always the case: while so-called organic cotton is exemplary in the way it avoids pesticides, cotton garments squander energy because they must be washed frequently at high temperatures, and generally require tumble-drying and ironing. Sixty percent of the carbon emissions generated by a simple cotton T-shirt comes from the 25 washes and machine dryings it will require, the Cambridge study found.

A polyester blouse, by contrast, takes more energy to make, since synthetic fabric comes from materials like wood and oil. But upkeep is far more fuel-efficient, since polyester cleans more easily and dries faster.

Over a lifetime, a polyester blouse uses less energy than a cotton T-shirt.

One way to change the balance would be to develop technology to treat cotton so that it did not absorb odors so readily.

Also, Dr. Allwood said that “reducing washing temperature has a huge impact,” speaking of a significant drop from about 122 Fahrenheit to 105. Even better, he said, would be to drop washing temperature below normal body temperatures, but that would require changes in washing machines and detergents.

The report suggests that retailers could begin to lease clothes for a season (just as wedding stores rent tuxedos) or buy back old clothes from customers at a discount, for recycling.

But experiments along these lines have faltered. A decade ago, Hanna Andersson, an eco-conscious American clothing company, tried offering mail-order customers 20 percent credit toward new purchases if they sent back their used garments. This “hannadowns” program was canceled after two years.

People hope “we’ll find new sources of energy, so we won’t really have to change much,” Dr. Allwood said. “But that is extremely unlikely.”

To cut back the use of carbons and make fashion truly sustainable, shoppers will have “to own less, to have less stuff,” Dr. Allwood said. “And that is a very hard sell.”

And so Marks & Spencer is thinking about whether its customers will be willing to change their buying habits, to pay more for less-fashionable but “sustainable” garments. After all, consumers have shown a willingness to pay more for clothes not made in sweatshops, and some are unwilling to buy diamonds because of forced labor in African mines.

On a recent day outside Marks & Spencer on Guildford High Street, where everyone was loaded with shopping bags, Audrey Mammana, who is 45, said she was not “a throw-away person” and would be happy to lease high-end clothing for a season. She would also be willing to repair old clothes to extend their use, although fewer shops perform this task.

But, she added: “If you cut out tumble-drying, I think you’d lose me. I couldn’t do without that.”

Published: January 25, 2007
The New York Times

Wednesday, January 24


As mentioned in a previous post, I purchased valentine cards for family and friends today. Barnes and Noble has the most delightful boxes of vintage-inspired Valentines by a company called Punch Studio. For $6.95, we bought a sweet little box with 24 different die-cut cards and envelopes... our B&N even has Birthday cards and Easter greetings by the same company!

Anti-Procrastination Challenge (Wednesday)...

Today is the second day of Mrs. Wilt's Anti-Procrastination Challenge at the The Sparrow's Nest! It is amazing what entering a little contest can do for the neglected corners of your home! Thanks again to Mrs. Wilt for coming up with this challenge! If you haven't joined in yet, there is still plenty of time!

Here is what I accomplished today:

  • tidied up my part of the closet (my husband's side was already very neat)
  • wrote a long overdue e-mail to a favorite former colleague from my last job
  • tidied up my desk
  • posed baby for photos wearing the paper plate hat we made together at our first story hour (husband took the pictures)
  • worked on cleaning out our storage room... this involved gathering all crafts and seasonal decorations that had been scattered throughout the room (organizing them will come tomorrow), sorting through clothing that was given to us for the baby (it is all too big, but will be sorted and packed away by size tomorrow), and creating a gigantic pile of things to send to Goodwill
  • purchased a Valentine's day card for Husband and the most beautiful collection of vintage Valentine's for family and friends
  • ordered Husband's Valentine's Day gift
  • Continued to torture my child by trying to train her to sleep by herself in her own bed. Though not successful for nap time, for the first time in WEEKS she fell asleep at 10:20 pm and is still asleep now (11:22). Please let this be the end of this horrible phase!
I am one tired Chickie! It is now time for me to make a last ditch effort to tidy up the downstairs and then this mama is going to hit the sack!

Scent of a Woman...

How to find the right scent for a blonde, a brunette or a redhead

I love scent. To my mind, there is no better beauty treatment. It makes me smile, gives me a confidence that even the best facial cannot quite match.

I love buying scent too, lingering over descriptions of base and top notes – rose, sweet violet, sandalwood, orange blossom, patchouli, vetyver, a heart of jonquil. What is there not to smile about?

Scent must be new and complex or old and precious and half-forgotten. I don’t want a film star’s overpriced notion of scented water or a fragrance for Desperate Housewives – apparently the next big thing.

It is something to fall madly, passionately in love with, not simply like, and buying it should be a joy.

In Italy, there are 1,800 independent perfumeries. The Italians buy scent with the same love and devotion as they buy food or wine. I think we should too. Why deny ourselves one of life’s great pleasures?

While there are a few good dedicated scent shops in this country (including the marvellous Haute Parfumerie on the fifth floor at Harrods) the oldest and the best is Les Senteurs in London.

I know it’s a little tiresome when a shop is to be found only in London, but they also offer a mail-order sample service and a beautifully descriptive catalogue.

If you know the family of scents you love (floral, oriental, woody, green), you can call and have a chat with the delightful James Craven, the resident 'nose'. He will recommend a few to suit and will post off samples to try before you splash out.

He will also try to find something to echo a much-loved but discontinued fragrance. Better still, go to see him and treat yourself to a couple of hours of pure pleasure.

“Try this,” he says, pulling a bottle of Frederic Malle’s Angeliques Sous La Pluie from the shelves.

“It’s the smell of a French kitchen garden, a potager on an early March afternoon with the earth just turned. There’s the root of angelica, with a just a little vetyver and a hint of pepper. Very fresh and lovely.”

Where else would you find such lyricism? Not at a department store beauty counter or a soulless airport duty-free shop.

We slow-dance, twirling from scent to scent, amid crystal bottles, fragrant candles and pots of face powder (heavily scented with roses, by Caron).

“Isn’t this delicate?” James says, picking up the ancient scent, Acqua di Genova, “Lemons, neroli and orange blossom, always a big hit with blondes.”

I love it. I am blonde, with a little help. “I mean, blonde at heart,” he says with a smile. James has a theory about scent and colouring.

“I think it’s because people cast themselves from childhood, in their own style. Blondes tend to like the white florals and the citruses. Brunettes love the orientals and the spices. By that I mean the olive-skinned brunette. The Irish brunettes with cream, dairymaid skin and that lovely black hair and blue eyes are best with the greens, the chypres and the fougeres.”

Redheads, apparently, find it most difficult to find a scent. It’s something to do with their skin composition, which can turn a perfume.

“They are usually best with spicy notes. The fleshy white flowers can go very bad, while very red hair seems to speed things up so the scent doesn’t last.”

I find my scent and fall madly and passionately in love. But scent is so personal that it is impossible, of course, to say which is loveliest.

Instead, I ask James to select some summer fragrances for blondes, brunettes and redheads. Enjoy.

Dark blonde

Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle (£95 for 50ml, exclusive to Les Senteurs). A fabulous, highly concentrated tuberose, undercut with orange blossom, jasmine and musk. Created by Dominique Ropion, one of the great French noses. Wonderfully sexy but sophisticated.

Very light blonde

Acqua di Genova (£55 for 50ml at Les Senteurs). A perfect high-summer scent – sharp lemons with a heart of rose and neroli. Still as fresh and lovely as when it was created in 1853 and made by the same Italian family ever since.

'Irish' brunette

Love in White by Creed (£48 for 30ml at Harrods). A new scent from a great old perfume house, it heralds the first flowers of spring – hyacinth, magnolia and narcissus with a heart of white lilac. At first, a light floral, it lingers, ending on a warm, spicy note of vanilla.


Pois de Senteur (Sweet Pea) by Caron (perfume only, £83 for 15ml, exclusive to Harrods). The sweet pea refuses to give up its fragrance to perfumers, so in 1927, Caron’s creator Ernest Daltroff evoked it with a subtle blend of rose, hyacinth, cyclamen, jasmine and lily of the valley, bound with vanilla, musk and sandalwood. A complex but gentle scent with a powdery base.

Dark brunette

Lux by Mona di Orio (£75 for 50ml, exclusive to Les Senteurs). A brand new scent from a brand new talent. Mona di Orio trained under the legendary Edmond Roudnitska, who created many of Dior’s greatest fragrances. She created Lux as her personal scent, and it was 10 years in the making. Top notes of lemon zest, bitter orange and bergamot give it a citrus hit, followed by a warm, lingering finish of attar of roses, cardamon, saffron and amber. Sensational. A future classic.

Written by Sally Brampton

Tuesday, January 23

Anti-Procrastination Challenge (Tuesday)...

Imagine my surprise when I popped over to The Sparrow's Nest, and found that Mrs. Wilt has begun an Anti-Procrastination Challenge. Today was the day that I finally got down to business on projects that I have been waiting in the wings for long enough!

The first item on our to-do list was to bring our Christmas Tree to the dump site in our town. Though the decorations came off a nearly two weeks ago, we had been waiting for my husband to have a free moment to lash it onto the roof of our car and take it to it's final resting place. After a bit of a hair-raising journey (the tree was literally swaying in the wind as I hung on to the ropes holding it down for dear life), it is finally out of the house!

The next thing I worked on today was *trying* to train the baby to sleep in her own bed (rather than my arms or in our bed. Though I have been complaining about this new development (which began when we put the mattress down lower in her co-sleeper), I have not really tried to do anything about it. However, today was the day! I put her into her bed for her nap and emerged two hours later with a baby who had slept for a total of fifteen minutes. Needless to say, I am not looking forward to bedtime.

The third, and final project that I tackled today, was the baby's bedroom. I sorted through all of her outgrown clothing and packed it away in huge ziplock bags. While I was in her closet, I also decluttered and straightened things up. I ended up with a very tidy nursery!

Procrastination should not be a characteristic that women who want to be feminine allow in themselves. As a woman who frequently falls into procrastination, I thank Mrs. Wilt for beginning this important challenge and urge all of the readers of this blog to join in!

Which Jane Austen character are you like?

Which Jane Austen Character are You? (For Females) Long Quiz!!!
created with
According to this quiz, I am also a lot like Jane Bennett!

Monday, January 22

Setting the Table...

Check out Mrs. Wilt's instructions for setting the table properly!

Homemaking Meme...

Here is a wonderful homemaking meme created by Sallie... Enjoy!

Aprons – Yes or No? If Yes, what does your favorite look like?
Yes! I only have one and it is a half apron with big red roses on it!

Baking – Favorite thing to bake
Cookies... especially chocolate chip ones that are chewy AND crisp!

Clothesline – Yes or No?
Nope... I make do with a folding wooden rack.

Donuts – Have you ever made them?
Sadly, the answer is no... However, after reading about Elsie (The Honor Girl) making donuts, I am dying to try!

Every day – One homemaking thing you do every day
I always make our bed.

Freezer – Do you have a separate deep freeze?

Garbage Disposal – Yes or No?
Yes. I forget to use it sometimes, though!

Handbook – What is your favorite homemaking resource?
Home Comforts : The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson. I would like to check our Martha Stewart's new one though.

Ironing – Love it or hate it? Or hate it but love the results?
I don't really do it too often... I am in love with the idea of ironing though... I especially want to try Mrs. Meyer's Geranium Ironing Spray someday.

Junk drawer – Yes or No? Where is it?
Ummm... yes. I think that there is one in every room... :::blush::: I was always fascinated by them when I was little, and I *still* love sifting through a drawer full of odds and ends. I have no idea why. I think that it drives my husband a bit batty!

Kitchen – Color and decorating scheme
My kitchen has oak wood cupboards and a linoleum that looks like light gray stone (someday I'd like a wooden floor). The counters are cream and the appliances and sink are white. Our table is oak with a white tiled top and we have four oak chairs. The walls are cream with white trim and ceiling. We get tons of light from the curtain-less windows. All of my decorations in the room are either cream or white (with the exception of the towel which are light blue).

Love – What is your favorite part of homemaking?
The freedom... I can make my own decisions about what I want to get done and how and when I want to do it (with the exception of mealtimes).

Mop – Yes or No?
I use a version of a Swifter mop.

Nylons – Wash by hand or in the washing machine?
I wash them in a lingerie bag in the washer but I think that I am going to wash all of my unmentionables by hand... the washer is just to hard on them!

Oven – Do you use the window or open the oven to check?
I can't help but open the door to take a peek!

Pizza – What do you put on yours?
I love red onions, mushrooms, and peppers and my husband likes onions and pepperoni!

Quiet – What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?
I either read or check my favorite blogs.

Recipe card box – Yes or No? What does it look like?
I have an ugly one that is stainless steel... I love the cards in it though! My sister bought them for my wedding shower and had people write their favorite recipes down.

Style of house – What style is your house?
I think that it is considered to be Neoeclectic. It is your basic new house built in a development. Someday, when we own our own home, we hope that we can buy an older house with character.

Tablecloths and napkins – Yes or No?
No. We are working toward this though.

Under the kitchen sink – Organized or toxic wasteland?
An organized toxic wasteland... the woman we are renting the house from LOVES cleaning supplies!

Vacuum – How many times per week?
Sometimes not even once... I have to get better about it because of our little crawling baby!

Wash – How many loads of laundry do you do per week?
six loads of clothes and linens per week and one load of diapers per day.

X’s – Do you keep a daily list of things to do that you cross off?
Definitely! I sometimes even write down things I've already done just for the pleasure of crossing things off my list!

Yard – Yes or No? Who does what?
I don't do anything except for choosing and planting the flowers (someday veggies, hopefully!). Husband does the watering and snow shoveling and the woman who owns the house has the landscaping stuff done by a company.

Zzz’s – What is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed?
(I make sure the house (especially the downstairs) is in apple pie order.

March for Life...

Today marks the 34th Anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision to legalize abortion. Though we wanted to be a part of the March for Life in Washington D.C. this year, we will be unable to go. We will be praying right along with the marchers and will also be watching the coverage of the march on EWTN from 11am - 3pm. Here are some photos from last year's March (Husband went). If you are participating in protests today, be safe and stay warm! Our prayers are with you!

Sunday, January 21

January 21 - January 28...

My Commitment to Loveliness for January 21 - January 28...

  • With the cold weather finally here, I will be sure to moisturize my skin (especially my face, hands, and elbows) each day this week.
  • I will pack away all of the clothes that my sweet girl has outgrown ( I was able to weed them out last week but just piled the clothes onto the floor of the nursery.).
  • I will drink lots of water (instead of lots of Pepsi)!
  • I will plan a special date night for Husband to enjoy with me... it might even include a bottle of sparkling cider and a video rental! Hopefully Baby Bear will cooperate!
  • Since I got my hair cut this past Friday, I will be sure to "do" it everyday... I will also wear makeup each day (even if I have no place to go).
I look forward to reading how others are celebrating their Commitment to Loveliness!

Commitment to Loveliness...

A new trend among bloggers seems to be having a special topic that is covered weekly... some good ones are "Frugal Friday, Works for Me Wednesday, Carnivals of Beauty, etc.

I think that it is time for a Commitment to Loveliness! This will be a fun way to increase femininity and beauty in our lives each week without even trying! All you have to do is choose five things that you would like to work on or do during the week that will increase the loveliness in your life!

Here is an example of five things that Miss Jane Eyre might choose to do:

1. Have teatime each day... enjoy drinking a favorite beverage while sitting in my favorite chair everyday at 3 pm.

2. Draw a hot bubble bath to soak in at least three times this week.

3. Add lace trim to pillowcases.

4. Put a vase full of freshly picked flowers in the library.

5. Purchase new shoes for Rochester's ball.

Once you have chosen five simple things, post them on your blog and link to this post in your post, and then post the direct link to your Commitment to Loveliness post below. If you do not have a blog, but have a commitment to share, please post them in the comments section. On Saturday, post the results of your Commitment to Loveliness (good or bad). Above all, enjoy yourself!

I look forward to reading how others are celebrating their Commitment to Loveliness!

Thursday, January 18

Jane Eyre on PBS...

I rose; I dressed myself with care: obliged to be plain- for I had no article of attire that was not made with extreme simplicity- I was still by nature solicitous to be neat. It was not my habit to be disregardful of appearance, or careless of the impression I made; on the contrary, I ever wished to look as well as I could, and to please as my want of beauty would permit. I sometimes regretted that I was not handsomer: I sometimes wished for rosy cheeks, a straight nose, and a small cherry mouth: I desired to be tall, stately, and finely developed in figure; I felt it a misfortune that I was o little, so pale, and had features so irregular and so marked... However, when I brushed my hair very smooth, and put on my black frock - which, Quaker-like as it was, at least had the merit of fitting to a nicety - and adjusted my clean, white tucker, I thought I should do respectably enough to appear before Mrs. Fairfax; and that my new pupil would not at least recoil from me with antipathy. Having opened my chamber window, and seen that I had left all things straight and neat on the toilet-table, I ventured forth."

Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre

See the Masterpiece Theater production of Jane Eyre
Airing Sundays, January 21 + 28, 2007 on PBS

Cute Shoes from Target...

Now I just need to get up the courage to wear them!

Wednesday, January 17

A Pretty Highchair for a Pretty Girl...

Does anyone know where I can find a feminine, fabric cushion to pad a wooden highchair? I have searched high and low!

Updated Links...

I've updated my list of blogs that link here and/or are of interest to me. If you would like to have your blog listed or know of a blog that you think I would like, let me know!

Homemaking When Your Husband Works at Home...

Once, when I was in a high school sociology class, my teacher handed out the following from a 1950's Home Economics Textbook:

Have dinner ready: Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospects of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

Prepare yourself: Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

Clear away the clutter:Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper etc. then run a dust cloth over the tables. Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind to. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

Prepare the children: Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair, and if necessary change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.

Minimise all noise: At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet. Be happy to see him. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

Listen to him: You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

Make the evening his: Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, and his very real need to be at home and relax.

Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit. Don't greet him with complaints and problems. Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair. or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low soothing and pleasant voice. Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him. A good wife always knows her place.

When my teacher handed this out, she did not intend for it to be an guide to the girls in our class, rather, she expected us to mock it and gloat over how far women have come. Surprisingly, several of us were inspired to become wives like this excerpt encourages and I remember personally thinking about how much fun it would be to follow such "rules' when I became a homemaker one day.

Once I actually did become a homemaker, I wondered how on earth I could implement these ideas into my life. My husband didn't work a 9 to 5 job, so I really couldn't have all of these things ready for him when he came home... he already was home!

After much thought and planning, I came up with my own way to show my husband that I love him, have been thinking about him and am concerned for his needs. I *try* to follow these steps at least once in the morning, afternoon, and evening.

1. Have a hearty meal prepared and serve it at the table with a nice setting.

2. Take a few minutes to freshen up: tidy hair, moisturize hands, straighten appearance, etc.

3. Put the house into apple-pie order: tuck dirty dishes into the dishwasher, wipe down counters, sweep kitchen floor, put the odds and ends that have wandered from their homes away, etc. If this is done three times per day, picking up the whole house will only take about 15 minutes.

4. Tidy up the baby.

5. Minimize noise. I try to keep the volume on the t.v., ipod, and my own voice ( no shouting!)down... It is nice to have some soft music on in the background sometimes!

These little touches also add to the tranquility and coziness of our home... and that gives me comfort and happiness too!

A House with History...

Ever heard of Chatsworth, Clivedon, or Grey Gardens? What about Highgrove Farm or Balmoral? They are all famous houses. Why shouldn't a princess like yourself also live in a house with a name? I live in a Craftsman-style bungalow house called Shingle Belle; my family's summer house in Washington is called Century Farm. Are these enormous houses with a long association with the name? Not really. But don't they sound that way? What should you call your place? You can name it after the style of achitecture, or the natural setting, or even your favorite color. Be creative- name it, no matter how humble, and you will feel as if your digs are super swanky. "
From: Wear More Cashmere
Jennifer "Gin" Sander

Friday, January 12

Valentine Red...

The weather has been gray and chilly for several days now with no snow in sight! In order to add a bit of cheer, I just spent a few minutes giving my toes a splash of festive color - Valentine by Revlon. It is the perfect shade of red for my skin tone and has lifted my spirits considerably!

Winter Twilight

I came across this list of colors that can be found in the twilight of a winter's day and thought that it was just beautiful... exactly the colors I love to wear and decorate with!
Dove Grey

Monday, January 8

Some Feminine Dress

I received my January J.Jill catalogue ( a few days ago and was very impressed with the feminine styles that they are offering. Though the pieces are a bit pricey (the quality is good, however), 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 would be suitable for going to church, out shopping, staying in with the children, working outside, etc. In addition, the shoes are just darling!!

Sunday, January 7

The Feminine Bed...

Let us have a quiet hour...
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Our bed is probably the most important piece of furniture in our home (in most homes, I would imagine). It is where I nap with the baby most afternoons and where we spend each night. Since our beds are such a part of our life, it is imperative that they are decked out in all their comfortable finery for the enjoyment of their occupants.

The first thing to go on a bed are the sheets. Ours are soft, white ones with lace trim on the top sheets. I purchased the beauties despite my fear that they were too feminine for my masculine husband. Fortunately, they don't bother him at all! We have really enjoyed the fact that our sheets are a high thread count... this means that they are quite soft! Though we only have one set of sheets, we are hoping to buy one or two more sets. This will make things easier on the day that I change them because I can wash and dry the dirty set at my leisure.

Blankets come next on our bed. We have a feather comforter that is covered by a white matelasse duvet cover. It is so comforting to have the warm weight of a feather comforter surrounding you like a nest as you sleep! At the foot of our bed is a thin chocolate brown quilt that is perfect to use as a light coverlet during nap time!

Our bedding wouldn't be complete without pillows! We have two standard sized firm ones covered in white hemstitched pillow shams in the back leaning against the headboard and two standard sized feather ones in pillowcases that match our white sheets in the middle. In the front, as a decorative touch, I have a small rectangular throw pillow covered in Battenburgh lace in the center.

In addition to paying attention to the details of sheets, blankets, and pillows, some people like to scent their bedding with smells such as lavender or rose. I hope to find the perfect scent one day to spritz on our linens. It would be nice to have our bed truly become a feast for the senses!

Wednesday, January 3

A Book to Own...

The Honor Girl

Grace Livingston Hill

I borrowed it today from the library and have been reading it every second that I can! Though I have meant to get a GLH book for awhile now, this was my first opportunity... I now know that I will be buying up every one of her books that I can find!
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