Friday, November 25, 2011

Wardrobe for Soft Summers

I'm somewhere between soft and light, and probably look better in clothing for women with light coloring than in clothing for softs. But, I like the colors this wardrobe was built around, even though it is for women with soft summer (soft, cool, and somewhat light). Some of the items may be a little too muted or soft for me to carry off well.

How about you? Do you look best in light, clear colors? Light muted or soft colors? Deep colors? Bright colors?

Soft Summer 1

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

12 weeks to radiant, refreshed skin (I Hope) Otherwise kinown as Tackling skin aging and pre-cancer... Likewise Skin Care

My almost 92 year old father has been battling pre-cancer and skin cancer since he was in his forties. As a young man, my father spent a lot of time outdoors in the South. Though his blue eyes are still bright and twinkling, and his skin is still rosily young for his age, he must undergo regular freezings, treatment with skin sloughing creams, and occasional surgery.

My mother, who could have been the model for beautiful Snow White, maintained her lovely complexion right up until she entered the illness that claimed her life. She, too, had an incidence of skin cancer,

So, here I am, product of the 70's, a time when we all slathered baby oil on our skins and baked until done. For someone with my skin genetics, this proved to be a bad idea. Fortunately, I quit lying out or trying to get a tan a long time ago. Even so, the effect of a youth spent in the sun is showing up on my skin.

I've decided to hit this head on. This fall, I'm tackling benign signs of aging, such as redness, as well as potentially more dangerous skin issues. Let's see if I make progress!

For my first step (after praying:)), I will use a sunscreen every day -- even in the winter, even when just popping out to walk the dog, even when making a quick run to the store, and even when just sitting at my desk by a sunny window. As an adult, I've been good about using sunscreen when I'm outdoors for longer than a half hour or so. I haven't been consistent with daily use, however. Now, my dermatologist has made it clear that consistency is the order of the day.

I use more than one brand of sunscreen, and I rotate sunscreens depending on what the day holds. However, this is the one my dermatologist particularly recommends for my type of skin (dry, sensitive). I plan to rely on it often:
I not only have the Likewise facial moisturizer/sun protectant, but also a Likewise moisturizer/sunscreen for the body.

Along with the two Likewise sunscreens, which I am already using, I purchased the Likewise face and body wash, as well. According to my dermatologist and the product label, this gently cleans and exfoliates.

Likewise products are said to be good for rosacea, as well, and it's possible that I do have mild rosacea. (That will be a second article). We'll see if these products clear away any bit of redness that the sun and time have painted on my face.

Step 2: Since I will be using so much sunscreen, I will need to check with my doctor about my blood levels of Vitamin D. I have been low in the past (along with everyone else in North America it seems.

A year or so ago, after reading a book about natural health, I tried to get all the Vitamin D I needed from the sun. I have the type of skin that can absorb all it needs in a mere 15 minutes. Unfortunately, I also have the type of skin that can begin to burn in 15 minutes, especially during Tennessee summers. So I have, for now at least, given up the idea that natural sun exposure is my best route to having great stores of Vitamin D.

Perhaps, you fare better in the sun. If so, you might remember this easy rule of thumb -- Fair skins absorb all the Vitamin D needed for a day within 15 minutes of sun exposure. After that, cover up and/or use sunscreens. Darkest ebony skins take slightly longer periods of time to absorb healthful sun, but only up to 30 minutes a day. No matter what your skin tone, it's not necessary to bake your skin to a crisp in order to reap the sun's benefits.

Step 3: I will stay in touch with my dermatologist. Today, my dermatologist took three small skin biopsies, and she applied liquid nitrogen to several spots. I also have some places on my arms that have been healing for three weeks, when she also applied liquid nitrogen.

Stay tuned for more experiments in skin care, as well as a recording of what progress I make.

Be lovely!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Inner and Outer Beauty -- Appreciating our Spiritual and Physical Blessings

In her book, "A Woman's Path to Inner Beauty," Ginger Garret tells of time when an older woman said to her, "How you catch a man is how you have to keep him." Garret drew from this the fact that if, as a single woman, she focused all of her attention on her outer beauty and drew a man to her solely through that, she would create in a man the unrealistic expectation of always looking beautiful and young. If she drew a man to her whose main concern was outer beauty, she could face unhappiness as outer beauty began to be affected by age. However, if she focused on inner beauty and drew a man to her on that basis, her marriage would only grow through the years as a woman who follows the Lord continues to grow in inner beauty. If she married a man whose primary concern is godliness, the marriage would be built on firmer ground.

If we are single, it is wise to pay attention to how we present our outer selves. Let's be honest. As women, are we drawn to choose a mate who is slovenly, negligent, prone to avoidable health problems by unhealthy habits, unkempt, and the like? Likewise, men, who are hard-wired to appreciate the beauty of a healthy and well-kept woman, are drawn to women who do keep their appearance neat. This is being good stewards of the body God has given to us, not being in the dumps because we cannot meet the unrealistic beauty standards of a materialistic culture.

In the same way, once we are married, it is not fair to our spouse to indulge in neglect -- to become unkempt or negligent in our appearance. We do invest in marital happiness by paying a little attention to our looks and health. This signals to our husbands that we do care about them. It is one way of showing love. Again, we are to be good stewards of the bodies God has given us, rather than to bemoan the extra challenges that come with aging.

I've learned the hard way that neglecting your health and beauty in the vital decades of your thirties and forties makes it all the harder to get back health and a neat appearance when you are in your fifties. Not only that, but the woman who sets herself up to enter her middle years and beyond with the best possible health will be more productive than someone, like myself, who is struggling with chronic health issues. In my case, there is nothing I could have done to stop the health issues from developing, but much that I could have done to work with my health to keep them from being as ravaging as they are. The good news is that it's never too late to start where you are and improve.

Having said all of that, I find Ms. Garret's premise to be absolutely true. If you build the early years of your marriage on superficial things, time will erode the connections you have unless you start where you are and build deeper connections. If, however, your marriage is based on eternal things, your marriage will only grow deeper and sweeter over time. I'm so thankful that my husband has been a good example in this. He sees beyond my surface appearance to my heart and my soul and my mind. The spiritual values we share grow deeper through the years.

The illustration above is a word cloud that I was playing around with listing buzz words from a few Bible verses, including Phil. 4:4-8. In this wonderful verse, we are presented with qualities that make good food for mediation. A mind that dwells on these things will emanate a loveliness that cannot be defined in purely physical terms.

Because our society exaggerates the natural attraction of physical beauty and places a level of importance on it that it simply cannot bear, we are all tempted at one stage or another of our lives to become insecure about outward looks. Keeping in mind that eternal, inner beauty is the only truly lasting beauty helps us to be secure. We can be secure when we are preteens and just learning how to live in maturing bodies. We can be secure when we are in the prime of our years. We can be secure when we start seeing time march across our faces and bodies, leaving its footprints. If we are secure inside, making our outsides as modestly lovely as we can becomes a more pleasurable process. We are not desperate to live up to some unattainable standard. We are simply caring for the wonderful bodies God has given to us to dwell in on this side of heaven.

When we are secure in heart, we can appreciate all of the wonderful things our bodies can do. Our hands, for example, can work and serve and love and comfort. Our eyes can see and notice and appreciate and move us to concern. Our ears can hear and love music and take in wise words and provide a way of caring to someone in need of being heard. Our mouths can speak words that encourage, enjoy foods, sing praises, and recite poetry. The list of good things our bodies can do is long and lovely.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

14 days to better skin -- Palmolive, doctors, and hope in a jar/bar of soap

I've noticed and even sampled several anti-aging products that promise younger, smoother, or otherwise prettier skin in periods of 2 weeks to a month. Today's product claims sound credible -- because of new understandings of the benefits of ingredients like retinal and other alphahydroxy acids, as well as new methods of formulation which supposedly allow vitamins to be absorbed into the skin.

Yet, in looking at some vintage ads, such as the one to the right, I found that there were many ads for Palmolive soap through the years which claimed that doctors proved that if you used Palmolive soap, you could have lovelier skin in 14 days. These ads are from days well before the age of modern cosmaseuticals.

Camay evidently had similar ads promising that you could have beautiful skin after using just one bar of Camay.

According to a book containing research from many home economics books, women in the early part of the 20th century had methods for exfoliating the skin (I don't know if they called it that) with a wash cloth and soap.

In young healthy skin, the cells turnover about evey 21 to 28 days. As we age and also are exposed to the weather, the sun, and other things in the enviornment, our skin begins to slow down its cell turnover rate. Older, duller, damaged skin cells stay on the surface longer, causing our skin to appear duller. Many older and many newer skin products do work by stripping away this layer of old dull skin. They also cause very mild skin damage which causes the skin to respond by increasing circulation and skin cell production. The goal is to re-create the healthy skin cell turnover rate seen in the very young. Thus, decades worth of products have held out the promise that we might, indeed, see younger -- or at least prettier -- skin in the mirror after just 2 to 4 weeks.

Whether every product that makes this claim delivers or not, I cannot say for certain. Nor, can I say for sure that our modern products are better than our grandmother's soap or cold cream and wash cloth, though I do think that there is reason to believe they are more advanced. Whatever method or product we might try, it's nice to think that pampering the skin for three weeks or so could produce a visible change in our appearance.

Some women, myself, included, have to be careful about using some of the stronger products in today's skin care offerings. I have been trying out the CVS Skin Effects line to see if it will work with my sensitive skin. Of course, the best skin product is a good sunscreen, and I buy mine from my dermatologist.

The author of the Japanse Skin Care revolution promotes a lovely, gentle, and potentially inexpensive method of giving yourself a skin mask. This is more of a hydrating technique. Check it out if you are interested in skin care.

What skin care products and methods do you use?

Health and Beauty to You!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What was Grace Kelly's favorite perfume?

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Did you know that Grace Kelly's husband, Prince Ranier, commissoned the House of Creed to make a perfume for Grace for a wedding present? The perfume is the famous "Fleurissimo".

Note: While Fleurissimo is still available today, perfume companies do change their formulas slightly over time to account for changes in available ingredients, public taste, etc. Not having been around when Fleurissimo was first invented, I don't know if it still smells exactly as it did when Grace wore it. However, it's still a lovely thought that we might enjoy a bit of her elegance through this famous perfume. Fleur, of course, means flower.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Conflicting reports about vitamins

We all know that getting our vitamins and minerals from foods is the best way. However, I, along with everyone else in the U.S., have been prescribed Vitamin D. I also was advised to take iron when I was younger and borderline anemic. Doctors have also suggested Vitamin E, calcium, and Niaspan (a prescription drug derived from high doses of niacin) at times, and I still take fish oil supplements on doctor's recommendations. Many doctors also say that taking a multivitamin (not one with mega doses) is ok.

I'm sure I needed the Vitamin D and probably should still be taking it, though I'm not the best at remembering to. We get Vitamin D from the sun. However, I am fair-skinned, with a history of skin cancer on both sides of my family, and I try to be good about wearing sun screen. I am really careful each time I take my father to the dermatologist to have what seems like half of his body sprayed down with liquid nitrogen. Also watching large cancers being cut out of his scalp seems to make me reach for the bottle of sun screen. I used to think my last words to my equally fair skinned children would be, "Wear your sun screen!", but they are adults now and must make their own decisions. If, however, you want to track down my daughter and daughter-in-law and warn them not to climb into tanning machines, you have my permission. :)

I have tried a lot of different kinds of vitamins and have a shelf full of still-in-date ones that I have promised myself I will work through. The vitamin that makes me feel the best is Emergen-C, probably because of the magnesium in it. I do seem to feel better if I have just a little supplemental magnesium and sometimes take supplements with calcium and magnesium in them. I'm not endorsing Emergen-C or calcium supplements. If you take too much magnesium, it can dangerously affect your heart rate and also give you diarrhea. Plus, there are conflicting reports about whether it's safe to take Vitamin C or not. I'm just saying that I seem to have a little more energy when I do take it. After I work through all of the vitamins on my vitamin shelf, I don't know if I will buy more or not.

This matter of conflicting reports about the usefulness and/or safety of vitamin supplements is confusing -- at least to me. Here are a smattering of links I've gathered in case you'd like to research the topic along with me.

Multivitamin Use May Have No Effect in Post-Menopausal Women.
Risks of Taking Common Vitamin Supplements -- Some May Actually Increase Risk of Death
Organic Foods May not Have As Many Vitamins as Those Grown with Pesticides
Discussion of Risks/Benefits Vitamin D from Vegan perspective -- how to get Vit. D from sun
(I'm not vegan, but good article for vegans and even those of us who aren't)
How much Vitamin D/Calcium
Calcium Supplements May Cause Heart Attacks
Dr. Oz advice re calcium
Reuters: Vitamin C, E do little to cut heart risk
Study says Vitaman C does have positive effect heart
Mega-Doses Vitamin C cause hardening of arteries
Who should take Vitamin B-12 supplements?
10 common vitamins not to take without doctor's orders
What vitamins should you take?
10 Vitamins you should be taking -- take for particular needs

As you can see from just this sampling, there are a variety of opinions about which vitamin supplements you should take or if you should take vitamins at all. I would suggest that the Internet isn't the most reliable source of health information. I do believe in the old advice about discussing the vitamins you take with a doctor you trust. The media, including the Internet, tends to target the latest study and that often not very well A doctor has more of a broad look at all the research and the years of training and experience with which to interpret the data.

Research into the use of vitamin supplements is interpreted in the media according to the philosophy of the author. Some are highly skeptical of the vitamin industry; others are biased toward the vitamin industry. Some people believe strongly that adding vitamins to a healthy lifestyle is the way to go; others believe just as strongly that vitamins are useless and even harmful for those who are living a healthy lifestyle. Some people mistrust medical science and tend to believe any claims made by alternative practitioners; others mistrust the claims of alternative practitioners and believe only research backed up by credible science. Others fall somewhere in between and are just trying to find the best way to feel and to be healthy.

Vitamin supplements and cosmetics are marketed to us in ways that appeal to our desire to feel and look wonderful at every moment. Advertising for these products often grabs our emotions and our senses in such a way that we want to believe whatever fabulous claim the product is making. I know I'm susceptible to some claims. However, when it comes to popping pills, we should use caution, I think.

How about you? What do you make of all the vitamin research? Do you take vitamin supplements? If so, have you found them to give you increased health and energy?

I'd love to hear what your vitamin experiences are.

Good health to you!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A super-minimalist wardrobe

Do you want to create a very minimalist, truly streamlined mix-and-match wardrobe. Check out this video from Money Saving Mom. Notice how much she accomplishes in her wardrobe with a very few pieces. Actually, even if we a lot of items in our wardrobe, we all tend to reach for about this many key items on a daily basis, anyway. So, even if you don't want to pare down as much as Money Saving Mom has, you'll benefit from seeing how she puts her basic outfits together. If you're looking to pare down your closet, create a wardrobe that's quick and easy, or build a wardrobe on a budget, I think you'll enjoy the ideas in this video.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Physical health and appearance as a gift of love.

"We should try to maximize our physical attractiveness, not as an egotistical discipline intended to bring attention to ourselves, but as a selfless act of giving for the benefit of our current mate -- or future mate if we are still single. Our bodies are a stewardship. We should plan to show up on our marriage night with the most pleasant body possible for the sake of our spouse. We should continue to observe self-restraint after marriage, also for the sake of our spouse. We want to give our spouse the most pleasing gift possible when we take him or her into our arms. Although we don't want to fall into the modern trap of lavishing extraordinary attention on looking good and maintaining a movie star physique, it is right to do what we can to maintain our health and appearance and to stay as attractive as we can. Being a Christian is not an excuse for presenting our spouse with a neglected body.

"However, beyond this obvious point, have we also considered that something is even more important than enhancing our bodies? if we understand God's point of view, we realize that we need to protect our minds and our spirits in the sexual area."

From The Myth of Romance by Dennis McCallum and Gary DeLashmutt

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Little Helps from Target

Here are some little fashion helps for modesty and comfort that you can find at many lingerie stores and departments or through the Internet. I was delighted to find that you can also snap them up at Target.

I love the Strap Tamers. They are basically plastic coated safety pins that are the right size and shape for pinning
your bra straps to the inside top of a garment's shoulder.
They keep your bra straps from falling or showing and are very comfortable to wear. The directions say that you can
leave them in place and launder the garment as is, but I haven't tried that.

The heart shaped clasps are another option for keeping bra straps from showing. You thread both straps through the clasp, which sits in the middle of your back above your bra strap.

The double-sided tape allows you to tape the top of your blouse to your chest so that your top does not fall open when you bend over.

So far, I have purchased only the strap tamers, but intend to stock up on the other items, as well.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Being unselfish with food...

Most authentically beautiful and healthful things involve decisions to be unselfish rather than selfish. The same can be true with eating.

How do we choose to be unselfish in our eating?

1) Let others go first, especially when standing in a buffet line. Serve others first before yourself. Don't go for seconds until you are sure that others have eaten well first. Let others have the choicest portions or the largest servings.
2) Cook with love; think of what will be nourishing and comforting to others.
3) Use manners when eating. You don't have to follow formal etiquette. Do, however, follow the basics our mothers taught us: Chew with your mouth closed. Spoon soup by dipping the spoon into the soup and moving it away from you and up. Don't slurp. Don't chew ice. Don't talk with your mouth full. Do this even when you are eating alone. After all, manners are built by what we habitually do at home or when alone. Also, you will feel better about yourself if you maintain manners for yourself.
4) Listen attentively to mealtime conversations. Don't be distracted by looking at your cell phone, receiving or sending texts, looking at a TV or newspaper, etc. Don't interrupt when others talk. Ask thoughtful questions. Enjoy the conversation and the companionship as much as you enjoy the food.
5) Set a pretty table.

As a side benefit of being unselfish, you will slow down your own eating and avoid over-consumption.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Eating Well, Eating for Health

Last night, I prepared dinner in a hurry. I had not planned my day well. I received a phone call from a friend who is undergoing a very serious life issue at the moment, and, rather than praying and surrendering my friend's situation to the Lord, I became distracted in mind. Fortunately, I had planned my meal ahead of time, so it didn't require much for me to prepare it.

My husband came home from work, and we prepared to eat. We needed to eat by a certain time so that we could arrive at a meeting on time. Wouldn't you know that I received a phone call from a second friend, this time about a serious issue concerning her darling child? This situation caused me to mourn for what the family is going through, although I have good hope that that God will work in the situation for the best. Again, I didn't take the time to pray and fully surrender my concern to the Lord. Instead, I unloaded these problems on my husband.

So, as I sat down to eat, I was ravenous, distracted, and conscious of our time limit. I ate too quickly. As we all know, if you eat quickly 1) you don't digest your food as well and 2) you will tend to overeat, as your brain does not have time to register satisfaction.

I don't know that you can always avoid interruptions of a serious nature at dinner time. We read in the gospels of a time when Jesus and the twelve were so busy healing people that they did not have time to eat. Likewise, when Jesus was tired and hungry, he took time out to speak to the Samaritan woman who came to draw water at the well. Serving the Lord and caring deeply about other people means that sometimes we will need to put the needs of the hurting ahead of our comfortable daily schedule. That includes our allotted meal times, as well.

However, I can look back at yesterday's situation and learn some lessons:

1) Even when you are on a tight schedule, always take at least a little time to pray about any burdens on your heart. Let the Lord comfort you if you are mourning. Hand over any worries to Him, as well.
2) It may not always be wise to eat in the grip of strong emotion. The body sometimes sends signals that it doesn't want the extra burden of digesting food in such moments. If you live in the U.S. or other developed countries, likely you have plenty of food. Missing one meal or eating only a small quantity of one meal is not going to harm you. If you are going somewhere, you can even take along a little snack in case you do become hungry later.
3) Always eat slowly. Again, just because you may be on shorter on time than usual, that doesn't mean you have to rush your food. Better to eat a little bit slowly than to gobble whole portions down.
4) I could have timed telling my husband about these problems after he finished his meal, so that he could eat in peace. These weren't situations that could be fixed in five minutes.
5) Maintaining a peaceful spirit makes for better digestion, for eating only what you need to keep your body going, and for health in general.

Thanks for reading.

Health to you!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Food, Diet, and Moderation...

I'm so grateful that God has given us sorts of delightful foods to enjoy. I Timothy 4:4 tells us, "For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,"

Yet, at the same time, God urges us to moderation. In Proverbs 23:20-21, He warns us not to join with those who gorge themselves on too much food, "
for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags."

Isn't that the truth? I've found that when I overeat, especially if the meal is heavy in carbohydrates, I do lose energy.

For me, three roots over eating too frequently or eating too much at one meal are
1) I am actually trying to increase my energy. Sometimes, a snack or meal, especially one containing a little protein, does reduce physical fatigue. However, trying to find energy in food when you are already well-fed backfires. I have an auto-immune thyroid condition which causes deep fatigue, along with some other energy-draining health issues. Thus, I sometimes snack for comfort and in an attempt to feel better. I particularly give in to my made-up assumption that chocolate must be medicinal!
2) I am simply being greedy.

3) I eat on the run and eat too quickly.

Many eating/diet plans, such as the popular, French Women Don't Get Fat, actually work because they encourage moderate consumption. Rather than depriving you of all the things you enjoy or laying out a strict eating regimen, they help you balance what you do eat so that your diet is healthy for you.

Even so, I find that with my autoimmune thyroid problem, I will have to make sacrifices in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Thus, I need some strong intrinsic (inner) motivation to eat correctly.

One lesson that God is writing on my heart right now is from John 6:1-71. Among the truths presented there is the fact that Jesus is our spiritual bread -- in other words, He is our spiritual nourishment.

"Jesus answered them and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will gives to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal."

"Truly, truly I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world." vs. 32-33

"This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever." vs. 58

"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." vs. 68

God does give us physical food for our nourishment and for our enjoyment. Those of us who have an abundance are to share with those in need. Since, the hungry comprise a good deal of the world, giving to others should be dear to our hearts.

Likewise, God gives us spiritual food for our nourishment and our joy, and this food is more important even than physical food. This temporal body will perish, and we will one day be clothed in new bodies. The nourishment for our soul and spirit lasts forever.

The people who followed Jesus because He miraculously fed the 5,000 were on to the fact that He was the awaited Messiah. In fact, they wanted to come and make him king, right then. They were thinking in terms of renewing earthly Israel, rather than in ushering in a spiritual, eternal kingdom. They did not quite understand the concept that the Messiah was also to be the suffering servant of Isaiah, who would lay down His life for us. They had in mind the dreams of men and not God's dreams.

In the same way, we can busy ourselves with our little physical kingdoms and neglect the more vital spiritual kingdom. We can also focus more on caring for our physical nature than we crave God's kingdom and His righteousness. When we suffer, even so lightly as can hardly be called suffering, we turn to physical things rather than to Jesus for comfort.

Or, we try to establish our own righteousness, which ends in frustration. As Paul said in Romans 6 and 7, the good he wanted to do he didn't and the bad that he did not want to do, he did. That pretty much sums up our lives when we are depending on ourselves.

Where is the answer? "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!". Romans 7:25.

..."The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace." Romans 8:6

"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink....But seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." From Matthew 6:16-34.

Thanks for reading!