Saturday, January 13, 2018

Beauty Ceremonials for Winter

I never thought I looked good in winter.  Without a summer tan, I felt my beauty was blurred and devoid of color and life.  Now I no longer tan so I am rather pale year round and use skin-brightening products.  But I think true beauty in winter comes from within;  from happy pursuits, reading good books, planning for spring, drinking tea, etc.

The powder tins above are old-fashioned and charming.  Talcum powder has been out of favor for health reasons, but I still like to sprinkle my sheets with a talc-free one in winter, just before I put the coverlet on.  Slipping between fragrantly crisp sheets is a winter pleasure.  And pillow spray.  I use a lavender-scented one which is supposed to induce sleep.

What keeps me asleep on winter mornings with my dead-south facing windows, is a dark sleep mask. Sleep is the best beauty aid in winter.  And I feel so much better after a long winter's nap.

They say if your feet hurt, it shows on your face.  I think it's the same with being cold.  Staying warm in winter is a beauty aid too.  These days I am reaching for capes, shawls, and ponchos.  I love the drapey warmth they provide which not only keeps me cozy but keeps my face looking good too.  Ditto with socks...cold feet does not a beauty make.

For ease, I am reaching for simple diamond stud earrings everyday too. They are so easy (imitation diamonds work just as well) and add just the right amount of bling to the face.  Dangles get caught in the shoulders of my wraps and sweaters and it's so freeing not to think of jewelry too much in winter - just some classic pieces to fill in the gaps.

Scarves are another wonderful style tool in winter.  A warm muffler that is soft and colorful, wrapped just so about the neck sends a nice style statement.  My daughter gave me a little scarf tying book for Christmas and it's been fun creating neck origami to stay cozy.

Pedicure weather is long gone and I like using the savings for other things.  Instead, I keep my hands and feet smooth and soft with creams and lotions.  And I keep my nails short.  I slick on a pale nail polish and call it a day.  And because I bake and cook more in winter, a pale polish doesn't show the chips as readily.  For Valentine's Day though, I will opt for cherry red on healthy nails that I've been pampering all January.

I am spending quite a lot of time at home this winter catching up on some writing, reading some books that have been neglected on the shelves.  Also listening to music on my little bluetooth speaker and drinking tea...always tea.  Here are some favorite beautifying things for you to try:

Best body cream I have found:  Basq Advanced Treatment Butter

Most beautiful music I have listened to:  Prayer Changes Everything by Mark McKenzie

My favorite book on tea:  French Tea, the Pleasures of the Table by Carole Manchester

Best-loved winter film I can watch over and over:  Love in a Cold Climate for the clothes.  And the love.

Favorite tea, bar none:  Trader Joe's Irish Breakfast Tea

Most lovely pillow spray:  This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray

Exceptionally fragrant powder:  Crabtree and Evelyn Spring Rain Powder

Cherriest and cheeriest red nail polish:  Smith and Cult Nail Lacquer in Kundalini Hustle

A very beloved winter hand cream:  Herbacin Wellness Hand Cream in Wild Rose

Friday, January 5, 2018

After the Storm

We are having an awful lot of weather these days.  ~ Jane Austen

I clearly recall a school weather assignment I had in the fourth grade.  It was my first special project to complete at home with whatever crafty things were available back in the rustic 60's:  construction paper, left-over cardboard, clippings from magazines, crayons, and the new Magic Markers which smelled delicious to my young nose.  In the end, I found a lot of photographs from my parents' Life and Look magazines that featured crisp blue skies and snow, as above.  My finished project was just a few pages stapled together but I learned alot from the leather encyclopedias my grandparents kept us supplied with through the years.  And I fixated on snow more than any of the other types of precipitation, as my older brother gleefully pointed out to me the night before I turned my paper in.  My teacher must have liked it though because she gave me an A.  Or maybe she was drawn to the blue-sky images as much as I.

We had a ferocious storm yesterday.  I was home alone and found myself occasionally padding to the backyard windows to check on a dead tree in my yard.  There were several pops and cracks throughout the day and I did notice a large branch from my neighbor's tree dangling precipitously all afternoon.  A sudden swoosh came from the sink in my bathroom which startled me and had me running downstairs to turn up the thermostat and then turn on my little fireplace.  The last thing I wanted was frozen pipes.  But in the end the electricity never went out and even the internet ran all day despite the 50 mph gusts of wind that threatened to topple my old decayed tree.

Today, it's nuthin' but blue skies, albeit frozen ones.  In fact, everything is frozen including the recycle bin which can now only be pried opened with a crowbar.  And I haven't got one.  Therefore, some things will lie fallow throughout the house this weekend, including the growing mound of torn-up magazines and cereal boxes.

I prepared for this storm by making soup the other night.  Also, I made a pretty pile out of my shawls on a chair in the hallway so I could grab one to fling over my shoulders if I needed to head downstairs for candles should the power go out.  Or if I needed to be rescued in some way.  In New England, we are used to big snow storms and I, with the help of Anna Karenina, lived through the Blizzard of '78 almost forty years ago.  We did lose our electricity that week.  I was home from college and alone with my father as everyone else was away.  By the end of the week, we were eating only Saltines and grape jelly but we had a constant roaring fire and lanterns left over from family camping trips. Tolstoy kept me going with his magestic tale of snowy Russia and his descriptions of Anna's breathtaking coats and fur wraps.  Even though our cars were completely submerged in snow, it's Anna's red wool gloves I recall best.  And the neighbors who popped over from time to time with wine and food.  People shared then and communed during storms.  I missed that a lot yesterday as I took my perambulations from window to window and back again.

So what does it take to survive a bombogenesis?  And that reminds me, storms were always called Storms.  Plain and simple... Still, I found that a certain amount of preparation makes for a more comfortable and safe hunker-down.  Here are my suggestions.  What are yours?


A good book (I'm reading The Gold Shoe by Grace Livingston Hill)
Comforting and reassuring soup
Food that can be eaten cold if the power cuts out such as wheat crackers and peanut butter
Tea and whole milk to put in it
Cocoa and whipped cream
A cake baked just in time
Warm socks (I like merino wool the best)
Throws and shawls
Magazines bought 'specially
Practicalities, such as batteries, flashlights, charged-up cell phones
Shovels and brooms left on the porch instead of in the shed (learned the hard way)
Soft music for when you get tired of the Weather Channel (Love Susan Boyle's music right now)

And in the end, it's always important to remember that no matter how mighty, storms pass.  Yesterday's left us with sub-zero temperatures but a perfect pristine blue sky to admire.  Just like the images I was drawn to so many years ago which I glued onto my school project.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

On the Twelfth Day of a Feminine Christmas

I just couldn't pass up this sweet little miss to represent my twelfth Christmas post to you.  Her image depicts a lovely Christmas purity.  Clearly the illustration is idealized but one simply cannot help but be swept away by the charming dearness of her.

Occasionally, we come across someone in our lives who also seems to have an honest pureness of spirit as represented in this image.  And I'm not talking about children, who are naturally innocent and faultless.  I'm talking about adults.  Maybe it's a special friend or perhaps someone just on the periphery of your life that you admire from afar.  They embody a beautiful year-round Christmas spirit of the heart.  Usually, these are the people who have no agenda of their own, other than the desire to help.  And they also seem to come up with solutions quite often too.  Generosity of spirit and problem-solving seem to go hand in hand.

For my new year, I have been thinking about how to keep Christmas all year long and all I can come up with is to just be open and more generous.  As luck would have it, I was able to begin immediately when my mother needed me today.

Mom doesn't ask for much but sometimes she needs somebody to hold her hand while she traverses through 21st century loopholes.  I'm so glad I was free today to help interpret for her, a world she doesn't quite understand anymore.  And it was just one day after Christmas...

Thank you for your readership this year and for your comments.  Thank you to my friend Judy for providing the image above.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

On the Eleventh Day of a Feminine Christmas

These two women are clearly from the Homefront.  That is a place that endlessly intrigues me, especially during Christmastime.

There were just four Christmases during WWII and the specialness of the holiday was surely enhanced by the abundance of patriotism that flooded the country.  I quiz my mother often about what life was like during those years and she tells me that Christmases were very special and poignant, with  nearly every family having fathers, sons, uncles, and nephews overseas in battle.

Some of my favorite Christmas movies were created during the war.  Since You Went Away, an epic film of Anne Hilton's life on the homefront raising her two daughters alone, is one I especially love.  This film corroborates my mother's stories of how women on the Homefront did not shirk in their creation of lovely Christmases for those left at home, even with the complications of rationing.  Without her beloved "Tim", Anne invites an endearing motley crue into her pretty home on Christmas Eve and hears from "Tim" yet, as the gong strikes.

Christmas during the war was gentler despite the war.  Courtesy and respect was in abundance even if money wasn't.  Kindness and generosity too.  Anne's grocer Mr. Mahoney, delivers everything on tab.  Where can we do that today?

A coworker once told me that although she thought my blog was beautiful, she didn't understand it.  I didn't mind.  A Lovely Inconsequence is not for everyone.  But for some, I seem to strike a chord.  Maybe it's because like the women left behind on the Homefront, we still care about keeping some things sacred.  Not that my former coworker wasn't a wonderful, kind person who didn't love Christmas, but admittedly, I have an overactive beauty gene.  Some of you might as well.

One more post this month...

Friday, December 22, 2017

On the Tenth Day of a Feminine Christmas

Before the internet and cell phones, videos games, and DVD's and having only one television in the house with just three channels and 6 people, if you wanted to be alone with your boyfriend, you went for a walk.  And it didn't matter if it was sweltering or stormy, you stepped out with your beau.

The song Winter Wonderland will always remind me of a certain high school boyfriend.  Together, we stomped for miles in the snow, all through our town, laughing, talking and holding hands.  Except for an occasional movie or a birthday dinner at the one fancy restaurant for miles, our "dates" involved a promenade or two each week.  No one had money back then either.  At least not how it seems today.

What I remember about our promenades were the romance.  We bundled up in wool coats - mine, a pastel pink one, belted at the waist with matching popcorn-knit scarf, hat and glove set;  he, in a military-style pea coat, skull cap and jaunty plaid scarf.  There were no sub-zero down-filled coats - we wore bulky wool and cloth like everyone else.

We were our own Christmas Chanel 5 perfume ad but still young enough to "play".  I would let him catch me after he pretended to chase me in a barren parking lot under foggy streetlamps.  Snow bit at our noses when he went in for a kiss or two, both of us out of breath, laughing and frozen.

Our walks always led us back to Mom's kitchen table for cocoa and a cookie or two with all the others milling about.  There was just enough time for his coat to drip-dry into an icy puddle out on the back porch, much to the family dog's delight.  His curfew was 9:00 PM sharp and no matter how much fun we had, he didn't want to disappoint his folks.  But before he headed back out into the snow and if no eyes were prying, he left me with another kiss.


Sleigh bells ring
Are you listening?
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight...we're happy tonight
Walking in a winter wonderland.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

On the Ninth Day of a Feminine Christmas

Are you warm enough?  I know.  Me either.  So I bought a classic set of pajamas in merry tartan similar to the ones above.

I think plaid is beautifully classic but when I was a young miss, I would have screamed if my mother tried to get me into what I would have considered to be "boys pajamas".  Let my brothers wear the red and green flannel pj's as well as the lasso-wielding cowboy-printed ones.  I only wanted long nightgowns with frills and ribbons.  Please!

But the older I get, the warmer I want to be in winter, especially during the Christmas season, when the desire to be cozy sets in.

I'm not saying abandon your silk nightgowns or your pretty summer will reach for them again.  But there is something wonderfully reassuring about slipping into soft and warm menswear-inspired pajamas on a cold winter solstice night.

Would you agree?

Monday, December 18, 2017

On the Eighth Day of a Feminine Christmas

In high school, I had a friend who would put on fresh makeup whenever she was sad.  And I was lucky enough to attend some of these sessions and learned a lot.  She also had a very beautiful face that took to makeup like a fish to water and her application technique was a joy to watch.  Even if she were going nowhere but downstairs to meatloaf with the family, she did a marvelous job and I was enthralled to sit at her feet.

I love our model's muted-red beaded dress and the shiny hair style with the unique I-took-some-extra-effort hair accessory.  But I really love her shimmering makeup.

Dewy skin goes in and out of fashion but Christmas is the perfect time to get a preemptive glint on your face before you head out the door for your Christmas celebration. I love a little sparkle during the holidays not only because it's festive but also because it's youth-defying.

A lot of cosmetics these days have light-catching properties and I especially like that factor in the new concealers.  They blur the skin and remove lines and wrinkles.  But for some pretty shine, there are powder highlighters and creams and iridescent eyeshadows.

Here are some really nice ways to shine-on, even if you are no longer seventeen (and you don't have to be young to get away with it!):

Slick some shimmery pink lip gloss over your normally sedate lipstick - for bonus glow:  kiss someone under the mistletoe.  Go ahead.

Gleam your legs and arms with a shimmery body lotion.  Also the décolleté.

Try out the new highlighter powders or liquids judiciously - touch them to temples, above and beneath the highest arch of the eyebrow, at the highest point of your cheeks, along nose and as a finishing touch, add a wisp on your cupid's bow.

Drip the teeniest bit of argan oil into your hands, then smooth them over your freshly curled hair - instant glow for weary lackluster locks.

Watch your favorite classic Christmas movie - one that touches your heart - your eyes will shine with happiness.

Give someone a special gift that they really don't expect - your heart will glow.

Share a childhood memory with your best friend and ask her to tell you her favorite Christmas memory - you'll be beaming from ear to ear.

Take a walk in the snow - your cheeks will be rosy with health.

Sit by the fire on Christmas Eve and watch it cast a radiance across the faces you love.

My friend from long-ago may never know she had such a rapt student but she taught me it never hurts to get your glow on.

What are your ways to glow this Christmas?

Sunday, December 17, 2017

On the Seventh Day of a Feminine Christmas

The other day I offered to go to the village to pick up some needed wrapping paper for my mother so she wouldn't have to go out in the snow.  "No, you won't know what I want.  It needs to coordinate with my theme this year", she replied.  I smiled inwardly.  Mom still works Christmas her way and her wrapped presents reflect that.

The woman in my picture above has embraced the movement.  I love the baubles, the red and gold packages, and her merry white and red dress.  I imagine she has planned her wrappings in such a way to express her exuberance for the season.  But I wonder sometimes...why do we care?

Surely, you've received a much-desired Christmas gift from special male in your life, wrapped in newspaper or a plastic grocery bag with a bow.  Department stores have "Men's Nights" just to provide extra support and help for male shoppers who apparently don't have a clue.  I think that men just can't be bothered with fussy wrapping or maybe a man just doesn't feel he has the dexterity to pull off a package like those depicted above.  No matter...we'll provide the cheer of a well-wrapped gift.  It is truly, half the fun.

Last year I stretched my creativity a bit and used brighter colors that weren't red or green or traditionally printed with Santa's and snowmen.  It was a triumph - at least quietly to myself.  And I had a ball.  This year, I went on a magenta and teal campaign.  No one who has visited has said one thing about my shiny colorfully-wrapped gifts under the tree.  But I know when I hand Mom hers, she will exclaim out loud, "Oh how lovely you wrapped this!'  And I have no doubt, she will enchant me too.

Friday, December 15, 2017

On the Sixth Day of a Feminine Christmas

This adorable little babe reminds me of my daughter – her coloring, the rosebud lips, the tenderness…  This Christmas, my feelings of endearment know no bounds because in the New Year, I will be the grandmother of what I am certain will be a close facsimile to the precious child above.

Naturally my thoughts are threading their way to next Christmas, when I will hold in my arms a beloved little girl who has already stolen my heart.  I’ve heard it told that becoming a grandmother is like falling in love.  Dear Readers, I'm there…

My daughter has retained her unique honey-colored hair like the little one above, which enchanted me first on the dark snowy Epiphany night she was born; now three decades past.  And my mother and I were hard-pressed to find a simple doll whose hair would match our girl’s.  We knew we succeeded the Christmas morning my daughter patted her new dolly’s head and exclaimed, “Look Mommy, she has the same hair as me!”  Our delight knew no bounds then, either.

Am I ashamed for the passionate love for my daughter that emotes from me thus as I write?  Just wait until next Christmas.  You have no idea...


Away in a manger

No crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus
Lay down His sweet head
The stars in the sky

Look down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus
Asleep on the hay
The cattle are lowing

The poor Baby wakes
But little Lord Jesus
No crying He makes
I love Thee, Lord Jesus

Look down from the sky
And stay by my side
'Til morning is nigh
(Her favorite lullaby)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

On the Fifth Day of a Feminine Christmas

Isn't she lovely...Isn't she pretty?  Truly the angel's best. ~Stevie Wonder

She is indeed, lovely in her silk taffeta dress the color of a child's Valentine's Day lollipop.  The simple chignon, the sweeping skirt with pockets (there they are again) create a lovely inconsequence even though her dress is formal.  It reminds me that it really doesn't have to hurt to be dressed up, does it?

Admittedly a dinosaur, I prefer people to be festive in appearance on Christmas.  I believe in comfort - I really do and it's the reason why I always bring my slippers to my sister's house on Christmas Day.  It's no fun doing the dishes in heels - although many a homemaker of yore did just that.  Still, a bit of sparkle and glow is called for on a holiday that represents so many things to the world and is our very greatest of family celebrations. If it were not so, would there be so many blingy garments for sale or so many "ugly" Christmas sweaters which are really just attempts to make a caricature out of the too-precious themed sweaters that your mother may have tried to get you to wear once.  I don't care - I love it all.  Christmas gives us permission to be outre, out-there, flashy....or just lovely, if that's your aim.

So will you be lovely this Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?  And what will you wear?