Sunday, October 20, 2013

Minimalist Melissa

Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about my possessions mostly because I am overwhelmed by them.  We don't have a large house and when we moved here we had a place for everything and things were organized and manageable.  However, in a mere seven years something dreadful has happened.

One of the dreadful things that has happened is the sale table at Barnes and Noble.  I have a huge personal library that I will never read.  When I purchased a lot of the books, they seemed interesting but now, not so much.  So, in the last couple of weeks I have culled some of the books and taken them to my neighborhood Half Price Books to sell them.  I didn't get a lot for them but that is ok.  Yes, I could put them on Ebay and try to recoup what I paid for them but that is just an awful lot of bother, now, isn't it?  Other options are to offer them on Goodreads or donate to the library -- both options I might consider -- especially the library.  In any event, I need to make further strides in that area and keep the books that truly mean something to me.

Another dreadful thing that has happened -- magazine subscriptions!  Somehow I have to get my husband to quit subscribing to magazines.  Really.  They are taking over the house!

I also seem to have a problem with purses/handbags.  I put out a question on facebook yesterday asking if I were to only have one purse, what would my friends recommend.  I got a few responses -- all good -- and I think I am considering this:

They come in three sizes and I will probably opt for the large considering I could use it as an overnighter if I chose to. It is weather proof nylon, lined and has leather trim.  It doesn't have lots of pockets inside which I always seem to gravitate toward yet never use. These bags are very popular on the East Coast and not so much here in the south, however, because they are lightweight and water-resistant, I think one would serve me well.  So, this might be on my Christmas list.  First, however, I need to go through my current pile of purses and sort things out.

Shoes are not really an issue.  I used to love to buy shoes but not so much anymore.  I have a pair of black Clark's flats and a pair of tan -- exactly the same, very comfortable and very basic.  I have some sandals, one pair of athletic type shoes and one pair of top siders.  I have a pair of black heels but I don't wear them often.  I will keep them though, just in case the need arises.

I have several silky blouses that are just too big and really, even though I am old, they just smack of "old lady" and they are going away.  Far, far away.  I have a few coordinated items with colored slacks and coordinating blouses -- too, too old lady for me.  So, they will be going.  I am shaping my wardrobe around the basic colors of navy, black, and gray -- I don't like khaki -- and intend to use some accent colors of red, turquoise and possibly pink.  I don't get dressed up anymore in dresses and I think I can dress up the other things I have to serve the purpose if I need to.  I have long comisserated the demise of our "ladylike" dress, complete with gloves but, now that I am living life in the slower, retired, more leisurely lane, I think I might actually enjoy no stockings and no gloves --- soft socks are really nice.   I might consider a black, straight skirt -- I might be able to do that.

As I discussed in an earlier post, I am test driving a new makeup -- Rejuva Minerals and so far I like it.  I placed an order for two foundations, a blush and an eyeshadow.  The blush was not in the order and I called the number, got a real person -- a nice one -- and explained.  She explained to me why the blush was not there -- it was on backorder -- and she expected it to be in stock and shipped by Friday.  I received an email that it was shipped and I should receive it tomorrow.  The reviews of the mascara was very good and so, if I like the blush I will probably order the mascara and an eyeliner and purge the rest of my cosmetics.  I buy the stuff but don't wear it or wear it once or twice and don't like it and then it just piles up in the drawer because I feel bad about buying it and then just throwing it away.  Since I do believe that less is more as we age, I think this amount of makeup will do just fine and I can throw it in a makeup bag and take it with me if I so choose.  I still can't download a photo so visit the site at

I am looking for a new pair of dressy jeans and I think I am going to try the ones at Coldwater Creek.  I have seen them on and they are nice.

So, that is what has been on my mind all this week.  Getting rid of things, paring down to what is important and meaningful and making my life easier on the whole.  Once it is done, I guess the trick is to keep up the process -- that may be harder than getting things done to begin with!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New Approach

For sometime I have been interested in a "greener" way of life and have been successful at effecting some change in my home.  I have either disposed of all plastic items or swapped out for a healthier option -- it seems that no matter how much I get rid of, I still have a need for some plastic but it is far less than I used to have.  I have experimented with making homemade laundry detergent which I still do and I prefer cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients rather than using processed foods.  My bread maker has had a good workout this past year although I have had to cut down on making bread because my diabetic husband can't seem to control himself and he over indulges.  However, because of the bread baking, I can't eat loaf bread anymore.  I just don't care for the taste.

So, in light of recent health issues I have turned my attention to personal care products.  I have done quite a bit of reading on the chemicals that go into what we put on our skin and since our skin is our largest organ, everything that goes on also goes in.  I learned in high school that I am allergic to formaldehyde so I can't use nail polishes that contain formaldehyde so, rather than use and pay for a product that doesn't work very well, I opt to not use it at all.  Once in a while I will go for a pedi but not often.  I have never dyed my hair because I have always been concerned about the health concerns involved so I started turning gray at 19 and never covered it up.  I am still ok with that.

So, that brings me to cosmetics and that is a whole new world of toxicity.  Now, I would love to just wash my face, moisturize and go but the reality is that I am a Baby Boomer and if I don't do a little something I run the risk of scaring small children while out and about.  However, I have pared down what I do.  I used to do a lot of exfoliation, cleansing, moisturizing, toning, and treating the wrinkles and fine lines which aren't so fine anymore.  However, after researching many of the drugstore brands I have pretty much banned all of them.  I have been using a lot of Origins products and I can't find much on cosmetic database sites about them so they probably won't be coming back into the house either.  So, I am using this:

 It is castile soap which has an oil base so I am not needing too much moisturizer and what I do use is Aveeno -- plain Aveeno without the soy.  It is working fine and I don't see any ill effects to my skin -- plus I feel squeaky clean.

So, that brings us to makeup.  I have a love/hate relationship with makeup at best.  I love it.  I love to look at it, buy it, organize it but I don't love to use it.  However, there is that thing about scaring children so I need to do something.  I have tried many of the natural/organic makeups and they are all lacking in some way -- mostly that they aren't as natural/organic/pure as they claim to be.  So, after doing some research on (cosmetic database) I chose to try Rejuva Minerals (  and sent off for some of their samples.  I received them yesterday, minus one of the items (I don't know why) and I tried them for the first time this morning.  They have a large selection of colors and I, surprisingly, hit on one that works well.  I ordered two different shades but feel that one will be way too light and I haven't tried it yet.  I ordered an eye shadow and a blush but the blush wasn't included and I have sent an email to their customer service.  I hope to hear from them today.  So far my impression is favorable.  The packaging is very pretty -- little cardboard containers with sifter lids.  The product went on well and I haven't itched or gotten red at all.  There doesn't seem to be any scent to it, or none that I have picked up on -- that means I don't smell like dirt.  I wish I could download a photo  because they are really adorable little boxes.  The samples are a bit pricey -- $10 but there is a lot of product in there and definitely worth it.   Since I don't wear makeup every day the sample will last me a while.  If I like the blush when I get it I am going to try the mascara and then will probably purge my entire stash and just switch over.  That approach fits my new "minimalist" mindset and I will be glad to have less to keep up with, especially if these new products fill the bill.

I have been following a blog -- - and it is very interesting and informative with lots of idea about how to simplify your life and declutter.  I have started paring down in many areas and will continue to do so as I like the peace and quiet of having what I need and nothing more.  But...that is another blog entry.

To South Carolina

I have been enjoying the novels of Dorothea Benton Frank since earlier in the year when I listened to "Pawley's Island" on audio book while commuting to my daughter's house daily.  Shopping my own bookshelves -- I always have unread books there waiting for me -- I noticed that I had picked up a copy of "Return to Sullivan's Island" sometime back and since it is the second in a series I decided to pick up the first book and read it.  "Sullivan's Island" was a great read for me -- it switched back and forth between the present and the past -- the past being in the 50's and 60's which brought back memories for me.  It was a very engaging book and I enjoyed it very much but I always enjoy books about families and interpersonal relationships and how they deal with difficulty.  So, when done, I immediately picked up "Return to Sullivan's Island". 

It takes up with all the children in the first book grown with families of their own.  The main character is Beth -- the daughter of Susan, the main character in the first book.  This book is a bit more light hearted with a bit more comic relief even though Beth goes through some rather difficult growing pains.  This is a great book for curling up with on a cool, rainy day because it is an easy book to get "into".  Both books are easy to get into, actually, and I high recommend them both.

I have to say that reading these books about the Lowcountry have made me want to visit Charleston, SC.  I must be on the right track because in a survey discussed on the "Today" show this morning says that Charleston is the number  one choice for smaller city vacation spots. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Ancestry Abounds --

I love  I have done genealogy for a lot of years and all those years of research have never yielded me as much information as I have gotten off Ancestry, mostly recent.  It is amazing the number of photos that I have been able to view and download in just the last year.  The headstone photos below are definitely within my reach as they aren't a very long drive east from where I live.  However, some of the photos of family members I would never have seen if it weren't for kind folks putting them on their Ancestry pages.

This is my 3rd great grandfather, Henry Patrick Conn.  When hearing about him as a child I somehow envisioned a person very much like the wizard in the movie, The Wizard of Oz.  When I found this photo I was surprised at how unwizardly he was but I have to say I think he was rather handsome.  In later photos, it appears that he was much taller than the wizard as well.  I definitely think he shows a lot of his Irish heritage here -- mostly the hat and the shirt.  I have no idea when the photo was taken.

Here is Henry's final resting place marked by a very lovely headstone which I would assume is not original.  The name of the cemetery is Gravel Hill and it is located in Sabine County, Texas.  A number of my relatives are buried here as well.

Meet my 3rd great grandmother, Clarissa Gibson Conn, wife of Henry.  She appears to be tiny, almost child-like.  Her daughter Clarissa Abi Conn was the same way.  In any event, this lady is buried next to her husband and here is her headstone.

Another lovely headstone, also assumed to be more recent but I am not sure.  I wish I could have known these people as I don't know a whole lot about them except they were farmers in East Texas.  They were both descended from Irish/
English ancestors and their names are carried down through the family not unlike most other families of that era.  You can find Patrick's and Clarissa's and Martha's all over the family all the way down to my father, Pat (fondly called Paddy by my grandmother) and a cousin named Martha Ann. 

I just love doing genealogy and being able to find these photos has just made it all the better.  I spend many hours looking at photos and documents and family trees -- it never gets old to me.