Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The requirements of beauty

An aspect of beauty, in all of its forms, is the aspect of whole-ness.  A beautiful X is, whatever else it is, whole and in the shape that it ought to be.

If a beautiful woman ... the woman is the shape she ought to be, and she's in good health.

If a beautiful house... it's in good repair, clean and neat.

If a beautiful garden... even the most chaotic (I do love a chaotic garden) are free of weeds and clutter.

This is, quite frankly, a place where I have to shove myself into gear.  I love making things pretty - adding ribbons and lace and sticking seeds in the ground and setting up trellises and putting vases of flowers on the table.

But if I'm going to achieve my goal of a beautiful self or a beautiful home or a beautiful garden... first I have to do the work of cleaning, maintaining, and reining in.  None of this is at all fun for me.  There are those whose love is of order - may they be blessed in the gift God has given them!

When I do clean and put things in order, I sometimes get a very self-flagellant thought-mode on and act like it's a punishment.  "No pretties for you, my sweet!  You must weed!"  Sigh.  The maintenance stuff seems like it never *ends*.   Clean the floors, and you find dirt in the bookshelf.  Clean the bookshelf and you see the dirt on the screen.  Clean the screen and find the weeds in the garden.  Weed the garden (like that ever really finishes!) and come back and find that your floor has been tracked full of mud. 

I have to have balance.  The older I get, the more I see how an orderly home is important to my mental well-being.  But just as order and cleanliness lend themselves to a peaceful heart, so too must I create.  I have to go into the sewing room and cut and stitch and.... make a mess.  I have to go into the kitchen and slice and sauté and... make a mess.  I have to go into the garden and plant a rosebush... and make a mess. 

There must be balance between maintenance and creativity.  When the flower fully blooms - when all is in health, in order - and beyond that, is allowed to flower, then ... THEN you have beauty. 

Dieting, weeding, going to the salon, scrubbing the bathroom floor... none of it is interesting.  But it's all necessary. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Review: Color Your Style, by David Zyla

I was all set to really love this book.  More color theory!  Fine tune your season!

And then... then I didn't.  First, it was really New Age.  While color psychology is entirely real (and useful), I don't think wearing my Romantic color is going to bring Love into my life.  Of course flattering shades of pink are highly approachable... but that's not what the author seemed to mean.  Eh.  That would have made me shake my head and just keep going...

There are two parts to this book.  The first is identifying your various main colors from your own skin, hair and eyes.  I can get into that, and I'm going to play with it a bit - although I maintain that navy is a better base color for me than is dusty turquoise.   But the various shades of aqua?  I do find those soothing.  My seaturtles dress is a perfect example.  If I could only FIND the just-right shade of pinkish cream, I'm sure I'd wear it to death... but short of having my own dye pot, I'm not sure how I'll manage that.

The second part alleges that you can find your color personality, your archetype, within your season, and you can fine-tune your color usage, your style and ... it's a personality test.  Which leaves something to be desired, since the closest match to my personality wasn't in my season.  Hm.  Should I wander around in grey and lavender?  I think not.  Anyway, Romantic Feminine Nature Girl wasn't on the list!  /laugh  How could they limit themselves so terribly? 

I did find the style that I'd mis-labelled as my own, which made me extremely cautious. 

Anyway.  It's got some fun bits.  If you see it in an estate sale or charity shop, pick it up.  It's worth the couple of hours it will take to read.  I'll let you know how wearing colors from my own set of crayons works out.  :)

Here's my pack of crayons so far:  http://pinterest.com/hearthrose/color-your-style-colors/

It's been a really hectic week

Somehow that doesn't mean I haven't been writing my fingers to the bone, but I guess that's what introverts do to recharge.  Slap on the headset and stare determinedly into the computer screen. 

Zoo trips, swimming lessons, sick husbands, brand-new braces on daughter's teeth, trips to Costco, car repair... that's a lot to shove into a very few days.  At least for me.  The busier I get, the more I realize how very much I loathe being busy!  What do I want?  A nice quiet time at home, order and peace and clean and plans and quiet.

I've been blogging like crazy over at HHH. 

The cat is sleeping on the fabric I put out to cut .... I'm going to have to wash it again maybe before I try cutting it.  :p


Peace is lovely.................................

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A sense of wonder

I saw the full moon last night, as I walked out of intern class at church.  I paused a moment, and said a quick prayer.  "Thank you, Lord - it's beautiful!"  I didn't pause long ... I was in a hurry to get home to my husband and children.  I ought to have.  But even so, I was struck by the loveliness of the moon, and the sensation of wonder.

We moderns don't allow ourselves wonder, and I think that this state of being could be a tool of beauty and evangelism. 

Moderns see the picture of "Supermoon" on their computer monitors ... but they don't go outside.  Moderns never pause and contemplate nature, unless they're specifically taking time to do just that (a vacation, a hike, etc).  Contemplation, and naked admiration - they're not seen much these days.  And wonder is a beautiful thing.

Wonder is a child-like emotion suited to those commanded to have a child-like faith.  Wonder breeds awe and gratitude.  It takes us out of ourselves, and gives us a moment to appreciate our Creator.  Wonder is timeless. 

Wonder is beautiful.  It is free of ego.  Who doesn't love the expression on someone's face, when they're lost in the moment?

Wonder crosses boundaries, as we can all stand breathless at beauty.  Wonder is something we have in common, although most of us are too cool to let it out.

Wonder is deeply uncool.  Coolness depends on not being impressed or awed by anything, and thus coolness repudiates wonder.

So, in allowing ourselves to be filled with wonder, we make the ache in the hearts of those 'round us grow stronger.  We serve them by reminding them of the bigger world around them, reminding them of their child-selves, reminding them to stop and be.  We become beautiful, simply by reflecting the love of beauty. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

18th Anniversary Today

We'll celebrate properly tomorrow.  Tonight my husband worked late and I have a class at church ... but tomorrow we'll whoop it up.  Well, sorta.  ;)

I bought him some plants and put them in the pretty blue pot he bought me last year.  (I know, weird, but they're symbolic plants, and the plants in my pot died). 

I think he's busy buying me chocolate right now. 

So, for those of you not on FB, a few wedding pix.  :)

Random courting pic.  For the geeks in the room, we were playing Talisman.  For the fashion buffs, here's jeans before spandex - and yes, I'm just as comfy sitting on the floor as I look. 
Wedding day.  DH is pointing out where he threw the garter - and how he nailed the best man intentionally so he'd grab it without thinking about it.  There's a very funny pic of the best man's rueful expression in my album. 

Wedding Reception.  Changed to the going away dress, DH got rid of the jacket and tie.  I think I had my brain back at this point.  Maybe.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Back to Business

My husband has been on vacation all week, and so I have been somewhat at loose ends, with no particular schedule.  This is not my natural order - I like to know when I ought to be doing what - even if I change things 'round, I like to have a rhythm.

When we added the clothesline, we added a step to the dance which is daily life.  If I'm to use the clothesline for most or all of our laundry (which I am trying to do, at least in this summer season), then I must take into account the proper time of day to *do* laundry, which formerly I'd taken no notice of whatsoever.  I must also not load the poor thing down with multiple loads in one day - it won't fit!  (I can get two loads on at a time, with ease - and should I need to do a third, at least in this season, I find the first has dried).  Thus, one load of laundry must be washed at night, so I can put it out first thing in the morning. 

I find myself best pleased with life when I put up my dinner dishes before bed - there's another thing that wants doing in the evening hours.  Serious scrubbings?  Well - I've found that those are best done in the morning hours, when my energy is highest and my children still sleeping or extremely inactive.  My energy is highest in the morning, my brain sharpest in the evening.  I tend to be a bit fuzzy in the afternoons, or at least inclined to do things that need quiet.  At any rate, if I take it easyish in the afternoons, I'm a much more pleasant companion to my husband.  Both of us don't need to be exhausted at the same hour, it's inefficient.

I made a schedule.  It's quite loose, as I'm a grown up and things shift around constantly.  It's mostly to remind me to be in balance (and to get those afternoon things done!)

Things to do in the evening:
Dishes/clean kitchen
collect/sort laundry
put a load of laundry on to wash
Things to do in the morning
hang laundry
errands (short only)
Things to do in the afternoon
take in laundry
make dinner
lessons with children 
longer-term errands with children

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Online Laundry

Appreciating the small things...

Outside on a summer evening, watching the moon rise and the cats arrange themselves attractively amongst the roses, I pull down the day's laundry.  It's quiet outside, the wind is cool.  The laundry is starting to pick up a bit of the evening damp - I've waited a bit too long to bring it in.  Not enough to make redrying necessary, just enough to remind me to rearrange my circadian a bit.

I can think my own thoughts out there.  I don't know why it's any different from being in my bedroom, folding up a bed's worth of laundry from the dryer, but it is.  You'd think laundry is laundry.... but perhaps there's a reason all that art is made of women and clotheslines.

My daughter loves to come out and help me, maybe there's a reason for mother/daughter portraits like this?  I have been enjoying having my peace, I haven't called the children to come learn this skill yet.  I'll teach both of them... perhaps next week.  We do a lot of laundry around here, there's plenty of peace to go 'round. 

I learned to hang laundry as a child, my parents never had a dryer.  My hands still know the skills, I don't have to think about what I'm doing.  Snap the clothes to whisk out the wrinkles, pin them up, like with like as much as possible.  Big towels and long pants on the ends of the line, smaller things in the middle.  My snapping needs a bit of help to get back to my old skill level! It will come, it will come.

Take the laundry in, enjoying the smell of the sunshine caught in the fibers.  Like with like, clothes for each person neatly folded, then the next person, and so on.  Bringing in a full basket of clean, putting a pile on each bed, putting mine (and my husband's) away.  The satisfaction of a job well done. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Eh. It's a skirt. It's cool. It will do.

A skirt in which I am insufficiently interested, but will wear for the next couple of months regardless.

Just the facts:

Materials:  4 yardsish (I bought two big pieces) of remnant batik plaid from my favorite cheap fabric store.  A zipper, some thread, a button and a few inches of bias tape.

Pattern:  Tried and true, Vogue skirt pattern from the early 80s.  A -line (obviously).  Front.  Back.  Waistband.  Zipper.  Easy?  Insanely.  Made a micro-hem with my baby-hemmer.

Concept:  Oh look, cheap cotton on the remnant table, and it's dark enough to be opaque.  I could use another skirt for summer - and the last thing I want is a lined skirt or to have to wear a slip.  Hooray!

Things that make me happy:  It's cool, opaque, and comfortable.  I *am* wearing a skirt, right?  Can hardly tell.  I don't do hot, so this is a *huge* plus.  I like the color.

Things that make me unhappy:  Someone beat me the next time I cheap out on fabric, please?  PLEASE?  This stuff stretched in the extraordinarily short time between cutting the skirt and assembling it onto the waistband.  The waist *should* be a couple of inches longer than the skirt, overlapping nicely for a proper button.  (I used some bias tape to make a loop).  So it's kinda too big.  Not that this is a huge problem in light summer skirts, but I am working on losing weight (8lb down) and "too big" means that this skirt has a very short shelf life.

I also didn't match the plaid properly, thinking in terms of matching patterns front and back rather than on the sides... -sigh-  I was disappointed that I couldn't cut this on the bias (I wanted the diagonal plaid thing going on) because the width of the skirt meant that my fabric panels were too small.  I think I'd have needed 60" wide fabric at the least.

It IS very comfortable. 

ETA:  Two hours of wear and it's now two inches too big in the waist.  Time to rip out a sideseam and see what can be done.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Afternoon: Bucolic Pleasure

This morning I was grumpy for no good reason. 

Went to Target for stuff.  Came back to find DH putting the clothes line on the posts he'd put in yesterday.  Happy!  Hung out first load of clothes.  Pottered about a bit, cut part of a skirt out that I've been wanting to make (remnant skirt, I shrank out of my first summer skirt this week, so I need light weight replacements.  Post when I get it sewn up).  Took the minions to the swimming pool.

Came back - DH decided to go to the store and get meat and set his pellet grill up and make dinner for us.  It was delish!  That was a very nice surprise.  Hung the second load of laundry out, with the help of my daughter (she came out to help me) and took down the first load.

Realized somewhere along the way that I'm enjoying myself tremendously. 

Decided randomly to scrub my kitchen floor after doing the washing up (the knives and whatnot that you can't put in the dishwasher).  This made DH shake his head.  It's a small floor, and it wanted a proper scrub. 

Still feeling very chipper.  Tired, but chipper.

Going to hang the third load out, then take a bath.  In Epsom salts, which I've found extremely addictive.  (egads, she admits an addiction to bath salts.  -snickersnickersnicker-)  I bought a jar for them at Target today, so I don't have to look at a bag sitting there and wait for it to get squashy with humidity.  Pretty.  :)

Apres bath?  Planning to fold the laundry that got washed and dried via dryer, and work in the sewing room a bit more.  :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Operation Ladylike

We were having a fine chat over at TC about being ladylike (http://traditionalchristianity.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/how-to-be-a-lady/)
and I told my husband that I'd been voted "most ladylike" (because I thought it was pretty crazy).  He told me that yes, my online  persona is extremely ladylike... it's my mannerisms that aren't.

This made me do some thinking.  I strive to have a fairly transparent and consistent personality - so that what you see on the outside represents what you get on the inside, but since I'm still using the word "strive" - you would not be incorrect to think that this isn't a process in completion!

I don't think I can do much about my personality.  I'm an old-school, old-fashioned lady, if I'm a lady at all.  (Debate amongst yourselves).  This can be problematic at times.  (See post at HHH:

So, what's left to be changed?  The outside.  I need to start picking up the mannerisms of a lady - and using them habitually.  I also need to show a bit more emotion and a few flashes of stubbornness.  Moderns react unpleasantly to surprise backbones. 

Well.  I read old books and have a fine collection of Miss Manners (I love reading Miss Manners) so I know what to do - now all that remains is to get to work!

Spine straight, grooming *on*.

Makeup.  Jewelry.  Perfume.  Hair up. 
Do you think this will remind me to sit up a bit straighter?
That's the idea.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Yes, you can be modest and fashionable

We've talked before about the importance of being an ambassador to the World.  We don't want to scare them too badly - the World has a pretty bad image of the Church as it is.  At the same time, we don't want to dress in a way that would dishonor our King, or tempt our brothers to sin. 

How can we run under the radar of "normal" without sacrificing modesty? 

First:  Decide if "running under the radar" is important to you.  If you have chosen to dress like all the other women in your denomination (Amish or Mennonite for example) and you have a specific dress code... well, frankly you can stop reading.  You've made  your choice and I'll stand behind your choice.  You do need to understand that in this day, those choices make you as distinct (and stare-worthy) as a nun in her habit or a Muslim lady in hijab.  You are dressing not to run under the radar but to fit in with your circle.  Nothing wrong with that - but that's not what this article is about.

Second:  Decide on your own modesty rules.  What are you covering?  Under what circumstances will you reveal it?  Hair covering?  Athletics?  Swimming?  Pants?  Accessories/jewelry?

Things that help:
1) Layers.  A camisole can change a neckline.  A bolero can camouflage a silhouette.  Translucent layers?  Add a slip - or add a translucent layer on top of fitted items.

2) Mind your fabrics!  Please, please - let's leave the quilting cotton for cute day dresses, children's clothing and ...quilts.  If you are wearing calico, you need to know that the fabric is talking. 

http://pinterest.com/pin/177610779027372955/  This is great!  See how she's got two solid colors going and a belt?  She's covered from the ground to her clavicles and past the elbow, but while she's modest, her clothes aren't talking. 

http://pinterest.com/pin/462393086712181826/ Calico.  Oh dear.  Pretty ladies.  Pretty dresses.  How much nicer would these dresses be, if they were in more sophisticated fabrics?

http://pinterest.com/pin/462393086712181837/ Jumpers.  This fabric is kinda cute, and it's a decent silhouette.  But.  Jumpers.  Jumpers are like a uniform for the very conservative Christian - you're definitely not going to be flying under the radar in a jumper.

http://pinterest.com/pin/462393086712181723/ Go vintage!  Hem below the knee, little sleeve, very feminine - but she doesn't stick out.  And the hair? Makes it.  Vintage is all the rage - and the way it becomes wearable is by the use of modern hair and accessories.  Just as you can be rockabilly in jeans and a tshirt if you put victory rolls in your hair, you can wear a vintage frock and look absolutely in the moment with a modern hairstyle and jewelry. 

http://pinterest.com/pin/177610779027373784/ Vintage inspired, modern interpretation.  I love what the Russians are doing with fashion lately.  You take an ultra-feminine silhouette, add some tailoring - instant "lady".

http://pinterest.com/pin/177610779027373772/ All white dresses, flowing fabrics, translucent looks that aren't really translucent:  How floaty and summery can you be?  

http://pinterest.com/pin/177610779027373761/ Accessories.  The boots take this long denim skirt and white blouse from stuffy to country chic.  The further from "normal" you want to travel in your sartorial journey, the more attention to detail you need.

http://pinterest.com/pin/177610779027169742/ Denim.  Use denim as an accessory whenever possible - it reads very normal, and breaks up the sugar.

The most important step of all?  Decide what image you want to convey, and accept that what you put on your body *does* set an image, will ye, nil ye. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

More Summer Harvest Fun

Today we did the first bit of summer harvesting.  Oh I'd gotten a cucumber or two - but today we did some proper picking.  

Onion, cucumber (I sent some to Mom) and green beans.  I think this is going to be my last try at bush-beans, I'm not getting much in production.  Next year, we're going pole.  :p  Two standard cukes, two lemon.

The rest of the onions, put out where they'll get sun and not water.  At least theoretically.  You're *supposed* to cure your onions a bit - although these are sweet onions, so I think only a little bit.  They didn't make very big bulbs, though this is their second year.  (I know they're one year things.  Guess root crops and clay soil don't go well together). 

Erosion control can be pretty:  Wisteria, morning glory, and four rosebushes just in this picture alone.  Sadly, this is not angled - my back hill really is nearly vertical.  Thus, the need for erosion control.

 One of our tea roses - I was so thrilled to find these for residential sale.  The buds are small yet, somewhere between mini and tea, but that's okay.  Roses get bigger as they mature.  This was the rose that we had at our wedding - it's called Fire and Ice.  Lovely, isn't she?  We have two bushes, and they're covered with blooms, which is sweet - since our anniversary is later this month.  :)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Beaming Beams

Do you remember the rosepetals on my exposed beams in the patio (aka sewing room)?

They're drying nicely, although admittedly (and as expected) the color is dying off as well.  That's okay, I have some more vividly colored (and less scented) roses I can add to perk up the visual (or I could just make packets where you couldn't see the petals at all, which is a possibility).


As of today, they have neighbors.

First off, we decided that the second-year onions had bloomed out enough, and we're going to save the seed.  So I snipped off the blooms and put them into paper bags, so that they can hang upside down and dry.

Nasty empty nails where boards came off?  They can be used for good! 

Then my mom (who grows lavender in a hedge) decided to trim things back a bit so that her tomato plants had a bit more room.  She called me, "Care for a bit of lavender?"  "Sure!"

I think I need to requalify the word "bit".

So I stuffed much larger paper bags with lavender (occasionally lavender bushes!) and hung it about.  Hopefully it will dry nicely - DH doesn't think so, but I do.  No harm, no foul if not.  It's been damp but is coming right along to the dry season. 

If nothing else, my patio smells really interesting, with onion, rose, and lavender all wafting about! 

Sometimes Summer can be fun.  :)

(PS I think I will make rice bags with these petals - everyone loves getting rice bags for Christmas).

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sunscreen? Sun Hat!

I don't like wearing sunscreen. 

Oh, I'll wear it if we're going to be out all day, say at an amusement park or something.  But if I'm not going to be out for hours... I just don't wear it.

However, I sit in full sun every day at my kids' swimming lessons.  Not good - especially for a lifetime California Girl who has pretty heavy sun exposure to her upper chest already.  (You can't avoid it unless you wear sunscreen religiously or turtlenecks - I am talking just below the clavicles). 

Solution?  Sun hat. 

Now, I have a perfectly normal sun-hat that I wear when I need to walk around or be halfway normal.  But to face directly into the sun for an hour?  Ah, that's when I bring out the Pink Mushroom of Dooom.

Yes.  It's large.  It's silly.  It's oversized - and it does a BEAUTIFUL job of keeping the sun off.

Random fashion solutions.....

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


The last couple of months have been crazy between the usual end-of-school hijinks and my intern schedule.  I've been away from home *far* too much, and bits of the house were are really showing some wear-and-tear.  They want deep cleaning, not wipe-it-down and go on.

I didn't realize the depth of my frustration with non-cleaning until I found myself with a roll of contact paper attacking my kitchen.  Oh yes, it needed doing.  I haven't re-papered since we moved in, 12 years ago.  (Of course I've cleaned it, but repapered?  No).  I have pretty terrible kitchen cabinets that we keep meaning to have replaced and keep putting off, so my priority for deep cleaning them tends to get pushed off too.  (Next, I need to make curtains for the upper cabinets - DH pulled one off to try some paint on - it didn't work, rather spectacularly.)

I don't know if it's a God Thing or just a Me Thing, but I have been cleaning anything in the kitchen that holds still, in no particular order.  Today I was repapering the cabinet that was the one that was annoying me most... and I've repapered half of the others already.  As I said, no system.  I'm thrilled with how clean and neat everything is - even the kids are happy that I reorganized. 

That has been nice - having them home all the time, and having the time to do stuff without having to stop and think, "I need to be somewhere" twice a day.  At the moment they're taking swimming lessons, so we do have to do that ONCE a day.  :)  But it's worth it. 

DH is on his own random missions.  He's finally finishing the stucco work he started in the back of the house.  Seven years ago?  Yeah.  It's been a long, long time.  And this, after working massive overtime.  It's kind of crazy. 

So, if you're looking for me... look for the scrubbrush!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Lovely Laundry: Sustainability and Savings

We got a letter from the energy company last week.  It informed us that our energy bill was going to go up by about $75/month (at a minimum).  We have, therefore, ordered a proper clothesline.

Honestly, unless you live in an HOA (and why you'd want to do that I don't know) it's pretty ridiculous to live in SoCal, with any suggestion of daytime  hours at home, and *not* use a clothesline.  We have available solar 85%++ of the year.  My parents didn't even own a dryer until about 10 years ago.  (You just wait if it's raining.  It rarely rains that many days in a row).

We had a couple of clotheslines a few years back, and it saved us some major power bills.  Unfortunately, we set them up poorly.  We had two short lines for a family of four - a family who generates an average of two loads per DAY.  I couldn't hang out all the laundry at once - and even here, it rarely dries completely in just a few hours.  And then (because one side was anchored to a tree) we got ants trotting across and well, other things happened to the laundry because one side was anchored to a tree... what I'm saying?  Fail.

This time, we're getting proper clothesline anchors, the kind we grew up with.  So - our whites will be whiter, our clothes will last a bit longer, and my ironing duties might lighten up a bit.  The only downside is the process of hanging, which I rather enjoy.  Not as much as I enjoy the smell of line-dried sheets... yum!  I will still dryerdry towels and DH's undershirts, because he was fairly clear about not liking those things off the line (I don't use softener, and yes - things get crisp).

In other clothing-related news, DH has not yet elected to try on his trial-shirt.  It's still on the back of the chair!  LOL I knew he hated trying on clothes when I married him.  Fortunately for his wardrobe maintenance, I'd ordered a few new shirts.  They're kinda scratchy, even if they are 100% cotton... I hope that stuff washes out!!!!!!!!!

I spent the weekend putting embroidery on the sashes.  My grand idea to double the width of the embroidery combined with the fact that these aren't TRIAL sashes, so they have two sides... yeah.  Sitting at the machine just keeping the stitches relatively even?  Not exciting.  I think I'm going to over-embroider them, they need more color.  Anyway, I don't have anything to show you yet.  :p

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer days...........