Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Her Ring


He came bearing three rings.  And then asked which one I liked.  All had diamonds but surprisingly, I was most drawn to the sculptured platinum one with two even rows of sparkle.  It was more modern than the others which were made of gold.  Those were both solitaires - like traditional engagement rings.  Been there.  Done that.

Then he slipped it on my finger and the inner ring guard helped to make it perfectly snug.  He told me it belonged to his mother along with the other two, but I had already guessed that.  My new ring was more contemporary in style and I believe, more special because it was bought later in his parent's marriage, long after their hungry years had passed.  By then, they were older and wiser and the ring reflects that maturity, much like our own late-bloomer love.  I was so proud to accept it and even prouder to wear it.

I never met his parents but I know them by heart.  I regularly pick his brain for errant memories but I think he has told me everything now.  Only occasionally will I oust a new story from him, like last week when he told me that after a certain number of anniversaries, his mother wryly stated that "marriage should be a contract, renewable at ten year intervals and only if mutually agreed upon by both parties".  I already liked the original owner of my new ring, but now I loved her too.

The marriage lasted 63 years so they must have done something right.  They raised two whole and lovely men - practical like their mother and benevolent like their father.  At times, I looked for cracks in his stories, searching for dysfunction or unkindness.  But they were as stable and nice as roast on Sunday and chicken pot pie on Monday.  They were truly, a beautiful family...

And now, lucky me, I wear her ring - a woman I know only from memories and fuzzy snapshots.  But I do know her one other way too.  I know her every time he holds me in his strong yet gentle arms.  That's when, over his shoulder, I steal a glance at my left hand. It's where her ring resides now and sparkles best.


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)
Candlelight
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.