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Happy New Year

Sarah

It’s resolution time again.  I’ve been thinking about my resolutions for 2016.  I resolve to post something in this blog every week!  Our categories include exercise, fashion, food & drink, gardening, life long learning, mental/spiritual and aesthetics.

For some reason I’m interested in fashion as the new year begins.  I’ve recently purged my closet, determined to remove items that I haven’t worn because they are no longer becoming (sleeveless), out of style or too worn and tired looking.   I also got rid of several pairs of shoes that were uncomfortable or dated (huge cork wedges which I loved).  One of our original goals was to buy fewer clothes but better clothes and to wear only becoming colors.  (See post titled Living Well.)   I guess I can resolve again to follow that advice.

I’ve recently read that we are wise to base our wardrobes on one dark neutral color:  black, navy, brown, charcoal, deep olive, taupe.  A good neutral isn’t trendy, complements your hair and skin and looks great with other colors you like to wear. Black is the most commonly chosen basic color.  It’s easy to find, goes with just about any other color, is slimming, conceals dirt and is a great backdrop for jewelry.  According to Leah Feldon, author of Does This Make Me Look Fat?, if you’re looking for an easy to manage wardrobe scheme, pick a darkish neutral or two that you like and that suit your skin tone and build your wardrobe around them.   You may have done this without realizing it.  What’s the dominant color in your closet? Personally I’m always torn between black and brown.  I wear almost all the dark neutrals though not much navy.  Of course, some seasons some colors are hard to find, but the search could be worth it.  Besides we’re shopping for classic pieces that can be worn for years.–I’m inspired!– Let’s go shopping.

 

 

Cat Antics

Thanks, Stella!

Thanks, Stella!

Sarah

Some of us are dog lovers, and some of us are cat lovers.  I like dogs, but I’d rather live with cats.  Since adulthood I’ve had several cats:  Louisa, Mathias, Tomas, Miranda and currently Isabella, Oliver and Stella.  Isabella is a sort of a dusty yellow with gold eyes.  She’s very independent–doesn’t like to be picked up or held.  Olivier is a black and white tuxedo cat whose muddy paw prints I find everywhere.  Stella is slim, brindled/gray girl and very friendly.  She and Oliver are good friends.

There are advantages and disadvantages to owning a cat.  They are wonderful hunters.  I think it was the Egyptians who valued cats for protecting their grain from mice and rats.  I’ve read that the well fed cat is the best hunter.  He (she)’s able to be more patient.  Cats discourage snakes.  The cat finds a snake highly entertaining much to the snake’s displeasure.

My cats are able to come and go as they please through a cat door.  It’s very convenient for me and for them; however, over the years I’ve had lots of unwanted critters in my house–live prey brought in by the brave hunters:  two snakes, birds, a bat, several moles, a rat (dead), a couple of crawdads, numerous frogs, toads and lizards.  Yesterday I returned home to find Stella batting at something under the grandfather clock in the dining room.  It turned out to be a half grown squirrel!  I don’t know how the live squirrel got in the house.  She may have chased it in the cat door!  I had gardening gloves and a pillow case ready, but fortunately my neighbor arrived, donned heavy gloves, reached under the clock, grabbed the squirrel and deposited him in a small cage.  The squirrel was unharmed in spite of his ordeal–and mine.

 

 

Good Advice

Sarah

I bought a book titled Shopping for the Real You by Andrea Pflaumer.  There are a few gems in the book.  One point that the author makes is the importance of a good haircut and good shoes.  While I’ve always subscribed to the merits of a good haircut, I’ve been lax in the purchase of shoes.  I’ve bought several inexpensive pairs that aren’t really that comfortable, or I’ve bought a pair that’s fills only a need for a special occasion.  Here’s what Andrea writes:

“Years ago there was an article in Town & Country magazine that ran down the principles of making a home look affluent and refined.  If you did just two things, the piece said, you could achieve the look of elegance.  Lay out the money for expensive picture framing and good Persian carpets.  I would say dressing well follows a similar rule.  If you splurge on only two things make them the things people see framing you face and anchoring you to the ground:  your hair and your shoes.  Well cut, healthy hair will make any outfit look better and will make you feel good inside.  Well-made beautiful shoes will do the same.  More important, they will likely be comfortable which can definitely show on the outside.”

I’m going to make an appointment for a hair cut this week, and I’m turning over a new leaf in 2016.  From now on I’m shopping only for well-made beautiful shoes.  I’m sure my feet will appreciate this resolution!   It also conforms to our original goals:  buy less but better.  Happy New Year!

 

Hats

Attracting butterflies!

Attracting butterflies!

Need a black & white accessory?

Need a black & white accessory?

Sarah

When did American women stop wearing hats and why?  Did that accessory go out of vogue in the late 50′s?  mid 60′s?  Remember Jackie’s pillbox?  The hats worn today include a billed unisex gimme cap, a winter cap to wear when walking, running or skiing or a brimmed straw to be worn at the pool or beach–casual wear to be worn with casual clothes.  You might see one or two pastel creations on Easter Sunday, but during the rest of the year that hat (and any others) sit on the shelf in the closet.  Maybe we’ve discarded a really fun and important part of our wardrobe.  A hat can complete an outfit.  A hat can add a flattering color near the face, camouflage  a bad hair day, keep your head warm, protect you from the sun, lift your spirits.  When you’re down in the dumps, go buy a new hat!  I wonder if there are still millineries in the U.S.  In New York perhaps?  The women of the British royal family seem to wear hats.   The queen must have dozens!  Of course, there is the Kentucky Derby, but how often does one attend that event?

I’d like to resurrect the wearing of hats on certain occasions or in certain settings:  church services, daytime weddings, funerals, lunching at a nice restaurant, setting sail on a fabulous cruise, attending a daytime party, going up in a hot air balloon and certainly, celebrating National Hat Day which I just discovered is tomorrow, Jan. 15, which is remarkable!  I’m having lunch with a friend tomorrow, and I’m definitely wearing a hat!  How about you?

 

2014

On this last day of 2014,  I am remembering some of the special events of this year.  One of the most recent was the pinning ceremony that

we attended for our youngest daughter on December 11th.  She graduated from Texas Woman’s University in Houston having earned a

BS degree with a major in nursing.  The ceremony was very meaningful, and I was priviledged to get to “pin” her.  I am impressed with the

community that she will share with other nurses.  Afterwards we celebrated with champagne and dinner with family who were able to attend

We are very proud of her!

 

And of course Christmas!  We were in Dallas this year at our older daughter and son-in-law’s home.  Their house was very festive and of

course the grandchildren created excitement.  There were 11 of us, 4 grandchildren and 7 adults.  Dinner was delicious and comfortably

informal. For our dining entertainment, our oldest grandson read Knock Knock jokes and riddles  aloud from his Boys Life magazine.  And in

typical fashion the children came and went from the dinner table because the presents under the tree were more interesting.  After the presents

were opened and dessert eaten we concluded the evening with dancing by the granddaughters, ages almost- 3 and 19 months.  The dancers

were undaunted by our younger grandson’s attempt to blast them with a fancy ray gun that he got earlier as a present.  Such good memories!

As the 2015 rapidly approaches, I want to echo my sisters’ resolutions to enjoy friends and family more in the new year!

 

 

Resolutions for 2015

What is a resolution?  The act of resolving. The answer to a question; the act of answering; the act of determining. I think of resolutions as goals that I set for myself. I have made resolutions in the past to lose weight, become more fit, eat a better diet, be a better friend. For some reason I have come to the conclusion that I want to spend more time with my friends & family. Maybe that is partially due to losing a couple of friends to heart disease & cancer recently. Definitely as I get older I realize how precarious life is. We really don’t know when we will die. So I want to enjoy & celebrate the relationships that I have:  be they friends or family. My resolution for 2015 is to have friends & family over for dinner very often. I love to cook & entertain & my husband got a smoker for Christmas. What a fun way to cook for friends. I encourage everyone to find ways to share time with others:  visiting, volunteering, serving, singing. Whatever your style, bring joy & laughter to others & it will come back to you!

Christmas 2014

One of the sisters came to celebrate Christmas and also our daughter & her husband from New York. That was very special but in addition we had cousins from down the street & additional cousins from Houston & California.  The cousin from California is 81vn and the youngest is 14. We also have a baby on the way in May: our daughter & son in-law are expecting. It was a wonderful time. The food was great but it was really the fellowship that made the day so special. We talked about everything imaginable: health, family, faith. It is a unique thing with family that we have a shared history. We were all telling family stories that sometimes were familiar and sometimes not. It didn’t matter so much the content of the stories but that the participants were all known & loved by all. One of the cousins remarked that he really doesn’t have anyone to share so freely with in his circle of friends but he feels so loved and accepted that he can reveal himself more. What a wonderful Christmas gift: that feeling of being loved. But that truly is what Christ came to give to us so how appropriate to experience it at Christmas dinner!

Food

Menu

 

Susan

I am taking inspiration from the idea that was on the back of the menu when the sisters and I had lunch at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  This was from the U.S. Food Administration published in 1917!   It is so very appropriate for all of us today.  There is so much food available today, and in such variety.  When we were growing up, food was fairly seasonal:  apples in the fall, citrus in the winter, melons in the summer, and only iceburg lettuce.  Times have changed so much because of the changes in the way food is produced:  enormous farms with an emphasis on quantitiy not quality; and  transportation:  food literally from all over the world.  Of course I love that we have access to so much wonderful produce year round, but I think the availablity has made me less appreciative of food:  the actual process by which that kale or spinach or artichoke was produced.  One of the consequences of my thoughtless attitude is waste.  I frequently misjudge the amount of produce I need or will be able to use from lack of foresight.  Then it is thrown away.  Not good!  I am also just beginning to truly appreciate the farmers’ markets that are springing up around town.  The produce is local and most of the time it is organic.  It can be expensive sometimes, but maybe that will cause me to be thoughtful in my purchases.  I think the poster had it right in 1917.

The Sisters Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Susan

The sisters came last week for two nights:  what a treat!  We all love gardening so we went to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  Have you been?  The mission of the Center is to “..increase the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants and landscapes.” It really is a fantastic place.  It displays an enormous variety of native plants and demonstrates how they can be used in the landscape but it is also a research center to deal with dwindling water supplies, climate change, pollution and invasive species, all by harnessing the power of native plants. If you have ever found yourself somewhat pessimistic about the future of our planet, this will give you great hope and inspiration!  I have been doing a survey of my yard in view of this visit and am looking at plants that should not be there because they do not follow this concept.  The most obvious problem I have is my very large lawn of St. Augustine grass which demands water, even when it is not available.  I also planted “Heavenly Bamboo” or nandina domestica, which is extremely invasive in Central Texas.  If you do any walking in natural areas around town you will be shocked at the multitude of nandina plants growing all over the place.  And it is extremely difficult to get rid of.  I have dug up one bush at least 3 times but it always comes back!  I think we all need to view ourselves as caretakers of this earth.  Now, what am I going to do about all that grass?

Bits of Widsom

Sarah

Martha and I made a quick visit to Susan’s in Austin last week.  While there I bought a pair of yoga pants at Lululemon.  It’s a store that sells fitness wear.  All of the sales personnel are young and very fit!  (Probably a requirement to work there.)

My purchase was put in a very nice bag which I’m sure is covered in the price of the garments.  I didn’t pay much attention to the messages on the bag until I got home but found there’s some pretty good advice given:

  • A daily hit of athletic-induced endorphins gives you the power to make better decisions, help you be at peace with yourself and offsets stress.
  • Friends are more important than money.
  • Your outlook on life is a direct reflection of how much you like yourself.
  • Drink fresh water and as much water as you can.  Fresh water flushes toxins from your body and keeps your brain sharp
  • Write down two personal, two business and two health goals for the next 1, 5 and 10 years.  Do this four times a year.  Goal setting triggers your subconscious computer.
  • Practice yoga so you can remain active in physical sports as you age.
  • Creativity is maximized when you’re living in the moment.

and finally

  • Don’t trust that an old age pension will be sufficient!

You just never know where you may discover a pearl of wisdom.  I think I’ll go get a glass of water and write down a few goals!–Then I’ll call a friend.