Thursday, March 21, 2013

On the Subject of Beauty


    I am sure many of you Pinterest frequenters have noticed that many women out there are concerned about their appearance.  *ehem*  I am definitely one of them. :)  As you can see, Pinterest abounds with helpful hints on how to make your skin glow, how to slim down those thighs, how to get that perfect shine in your hair.... all completely natural of course.  It's so easy, right?  Just follow the five step routine on the image of the pin, and you'll look like a magazine model in three weeks.  Lustrous, thick hair is easily obtained by drenching your tresses in coconut oil.  Slim down that waist by drinking this two ingredient, but amazing concoction once a day and that weight will all drop off.  And to get that perfect, flawless complexion, just smear slimy egg whites all over your face and then peel it all off.  It sounds silly, but apparently girls out there are willing to do it to beautify their features.  Every girl wants to be beautiful, but what defines what is beautiful and what is not?  A perfect body shape and height?  Flawless skin?  Perfect hair length, texture, or color?  Fashionable clothing?

    One thing that is trending on Pinterest is the dieting/exercising theme.  It seems girls are never satisfied with what their body looks like.  And I'm just as guilty.  Even though I don't have a "weight problem"; I fit into the healthy weight range for a young lady of 5' 4", for a while I had tricked myself into thinking I needed to "lose weight".  I saw pins that told me the ideal diet which will let you drop ten pounds in a month!  I did't need to lose ten pounds, but it can't hurt, can it?  Being skinner is never a bad thing, right?  And then I would see that ten minute workout that's fast, simple, but will get you lookin' great in three weeks flat.  Why not?  After seeing more and more things like this I began to convince myself that I needed to lose weight.  I wasn't good enough the way I was.  I needed to improve myself.

   So, I started cutting back on what I ate.  A bowl of cereal at breakfast, peanut butter and jelly at lunch with some juice, and whatever mom made for dinner, with a snack later on in the evening (probably chips and salsa).  But there was a problem.  You can't last all morning on a bowl of cereal, or all afternoon on a peanut butter and jelly.  And when I went to exercise, I had no strength, and no energy.  And where does this all lead?  Breakdown.  One day I would be faithfully following my "diet" routine, then the next day I would feel so drained I would slip and not exercise and eat what I wanted.  You see where this pattern is going; after a whole semester I didn't look any different. In fact, I felt worse about myself.  Suddenly I thought that my hair wasn't good enough either.  Or my coloring, or anything.  I began to dislike the way God had created me, because I wasn't somehow measuring up to that "perfect" model of beauty that is being held up before us online, in magazines and catalogs, on hairspray bottles, basically everywhere we turn.

   That's when I decided something had to change.  These extreme measures I was taking were not realistic.  God did not want me feeling hungry all the time, or draining all my energy, or bending over backwards to get my hair to look perfect.  He made me a certain way and that's how he wanted me.  So I completely switched my focus.

   Now, instead of trying to follow some ridiculous diet, I focus on eating healthy and exercising regularly.  I can not begin to describe how good I feel each day.  Right now I am completely off of gluten and sugar, and have been eating a lot more fruits, vegetables, and meat along with exercising regularly every, single, day.  And I feel great!  And you know what?  I lost some weight without even knowing it.  But I don't focus too much on weight anymore.  I focus on staying healthy in what I eat, and keeping myself strong by exercising all the time.  And I even look forward to my exercise time each day!  Sometimes I run on the treadmill, other times I will do Blogilates.  If you have not heard of the Blogilates youtube channel, I highly recommend you look her up.  She's awesome.  She does Pilates workouts, but they are set to pop music so it's upbeat and fun.
   Try not to be too influenced by what you see out there.  The world will try to tell you that you must look this way or that to be beautiful, but in reality, it's God that made you the way you are and He knows you are beautiful.  Every girl is beautiful in their own way, no matter who they are.
   Like many of you I'm sure, I also have had people say things about me behind my back about me or my appearance that are unkind, but I don't let that bother me.  Even though it's hard sometimes, I don't care what those people think.  They are not important to me, and their opinion is of no consequence to me and my life.  Beauty does not completely consist of outside appearance, but comes from inside you, from a shining, beautiful soul.

 

God bless,




Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cousins, Cameras, and Classical Music

I have been meaning to post this since Sunday afternoon, but have not had the chance until now.  This morning I was babysitting for a family while my mom and their mom went out for coffee, and as I was sitting in the kitchen bottle feeding one of their sick newborn lambs, keeping an eye on lunch simmering on the stove, and reassuring the well-meaning baby that the fuzzy black lamb didn't need poked to be sure it was alive, I remembered that I had this post still sitting in drafts!  So here it is.

This past weekend flew by in a wink, but it was so very fun!  My orchestra was having our last concert of the season on Sunday at the local art institute, so we invited my aunt and uncle and their two granddaughters to spend the weekend with us.  So technically they are my second cousins.... I think.  Yeah.  Tell me if I'm wrong, but I'm always getting those kinds of things mixed up.  Anyways, I had not seen them in five years, so they were SO BIG.  The little one was a baby on my knee last time I saw her and now she's running around and carrying on full conversations.  Very interesting conversations, at that. *wink*

When they got here, after we unpacked their things, they went to the neighbors to ride their horses and had so much fun.  My uncle had forgotten his camera, so he borrowed mine for the weekend.  So pretty much all the pictures on this post are his photography.  He does underwater photography, since he's a professional scuba diver, and he was able to tell me a lot of things about taking great pictures.  You should see his albums of his underwater adventures in the tropics. 

There's Natalie


And that's Abigail.   We call her Abby for short.  She's so stinkin' cute!

 Smile!  That hat was our brother's....  years ago when he was a little guy.

 And there's Therese.  She loves horses so much, it's crazy.  But sometimes when I see her, I see me at that age.  Hopelessly horse crazy. ;)

 After riding they went exploring in our woods.  Seriously, it's like they had never been in *real* woods in their whole lives.  They were so excited, it was adorable. 

 Yes, that's Natalie getting her first taste of fresh, cold creek water.  When she got up she said, "That's the best tasting water I've ever had in my whole life."  I have to admit she's right. :)

Of course, Abby tried it too and said the same thing as her sister!


The next morning we went to Mass, got breakfast, and headed over to the Dayton Art Institute.  I had to be there at noon to warm up, so the rest of the family went to the Wright Brothers Museum to pass some time.

The art institute is so pretty.  Just look at this little garden..... *sigh*

(I took this photo :)
(and this one)





It was so hot up on stage, but the auditorium was beautiful!




Inside the foyer

The performance went very well, in my opinion.  I got a little nervous at the warm up; two of the pieces just weren't going together well and I don't know if it was because people were nervous, or cramped (there was barely enough bow room on stage), but it was making me nervous.  Before we started playing I said a prayer to St. Cecilia to let everything go well and it did!  Can't wait to hear the recording.  Maybe I will post it on the blog when I get it. :)

 I wish I could have taken more pictures, my uncle had the camera like I said, so he was able to take shots from the audience, but if I would have gotten my hands on a camera I would have taken some pictures of the rooms on the third floor where we put all of our coats and things.  They were so cute and old fashioned!  Each little room had a mirror and lights, and even little wooden stands with embroidered straps where you could set your case for unpacking (instead of the usual dump it on the floor and hope no one steps on it). 

Lastly, I want to thank all of our friends who were able to attend.  If you are reading this right now, thank you so much for coming and sharing your afternoon with me!!  I hope you enjoyed the music as much as I did.


Yours truly,

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Snow-Covered Anniversary

Last night we were dumped with snow.  Literally.  I woke up this morning to a white wonderland outside my bedroom window.  In just one night the whole world was turned into glittering whiteness, and the house is so bright with the sun reflecting off the snow and into the rooms. 



 I love the way snow looks when it is stacked neatly on twigs and branches


 The driveway

 The forgotten woodpile at the edge of the woods.  Don't know why I took a picture of this but it looks kind of pretty...

My little sister's playhouse.  This house has been with the family for quite a few years now.  I remember playing Little House in the Big Woods in it when we were little.  I was Ma and he was Pa and Therese was Laura.  We had two dolls who kindly filled in as Mary and Baby Carrie. :)  We played this game year round, and when it snowed, Dad even rigged up a space heater in this little house and we insulated the windows and it was all warm and toasty in there!  Seeing it covered with snow today brought back those sweet memories.  Oh if only I were a child again...



And now, for the other news of the day.  Today, March 6, 2013, is my first blogging anniversary!  Yes, one year ago today I started this blog, and it has been such a joy to me ever since it's humble beginnings.  Here is my very first post: "My Passion for Creating Things."  Little did I know that this blog would be much more than just a craft journal. :) 

 I have 80 followers, along with some other friends who read my blog or follow by email, and I just want to say that I greatly appreciate every single one of you and all your inspiring and encouraging comments!  Thank you so much for being there for me this past year and being the inspiration and motivation behind my posts.

And so, in honor of the occasion, I have created a new blog button.  This has been highly delayed, I needed to make one a long time ago, but I haven't got around to it until now, so here we are. 

There are two sizes to choose from, the first is 200 x 200, the second is 150 x 150.  Please display on your blog to spread the word!


<a href="http://thecountryhandmaiden.blogspot.com/"><img border="0" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-G-fjaQpTt_Y/UTd_qNWhHLI/AAAAAAAAE9k/_PJLorDU4Iw/s1600/spring+button+1.jpg "/></a>





<a href="http://thecountryhandmaiden.blogspot.com/"><img border="0" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-1AqGEOhjhnw/UTd_p-m7rdI/AAAAAAAAE9g/gEk-hVBDs10/s1600/spring+button+2.jpg "/></a>



God bless you all!  I am greatly looking forward to this new year of blogging with you!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Healthy Eating | Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Let me first apologize for the scarcity of my posting recently.  Yesterday I woke up with a bad chest congestion and fever.  Today was no different.  I have had absolutely no energy to do anything lately, partly because I am sick, and also because my family has been going through much stress the past week from an issue that has arisen.  It's very complicated, but if you would all keep us in your prayers I would very much appreciate it.

Anyways, I did manage to make something today, to keep myself sane.  These banana oatmeal cookies were super fast to make, and only require five ingredients!  And they are gluten and sugar free. :)


 Banana Oatmeal Cookies

   1 ripe banana
   1 cup old fashioned oatmeal (not the instant kind)
   1/2 tsp cinnamon
   1 tbsp raw honey
   Sprinkling of dried cherries (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using a fork, mash the banana completely.  Mix in the oats, cinnamon, honey and cherries.  Drop in rounded spoonfuls onto lightly greased parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  Yum!


I also recently found my favorite gluten/sugar free granola of all time.  It's called Purely Elizabeth, no joke.  My sister spotted it on the shelf in the health food store and showed me.  Of course I couldn't pass it up.  It even tastes better than some of the granolas I have had that have gluten and sugar in them! 


 Well I better go make dinner now.  Have a lovely evening!

Yours truly,


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