Monday, October 24, 2011

Modest Dressing

I am a convert to modest dressing.  I have only been conciously trying to dress modestly for about eight years now.  Prior to that I was all about fashion and being "appreciated".  I have to put that in quotes because the kind of "appreciation" I got was not really what I was looking for.  In my pursuit of guidelines for modesty, I ran across a book by Colleen Hammond called "Dressing With Dignity", in which she discusses some very unpleasant but true facts about how we dress and how we are treated.  I did some research on my own, and concluded that her evidence was real.  In defense of women, I am not just speaking of us, here.  Modesty is just as important for men.  Women may not be as visual in nature as men, but we do take notice of physical attributes.  And in looking around me when I'm out in "the world", I realize just how important it is to encourage our children to dress modestly.  I mean, is it really that "cute" when little children run around topless, or a first grader bends over and you can see her entire torso?  Do we really think pedophiles are limited to the internet?

While there are many degrees of modesty, from fashionable to frumpy, I think most agree that basic modesty includes covering all cleavage and "privates".  This would include not only necklines and waistbands (as opposed to hip bands), but also sleeve lengths and hemlines.  Ms. Hammond's book gives one of the best basic guidelines I have found.  To paraphrase:  a woman's neckline should be such that cleavage is covered and when you bend over you are not giving a display; sleeve length should be long enough that when you lift your arms, you cannot see through to undergarments or what is underneath.  Also, fabrics should not be sheer or see-through. 

For myself, I prefer dresses and skirts, and I like my hemlines to be mid-calf or below, without slits, wraps or buttons that can inadvertently open to show my legs.  I like my legs just fine, but I don't feel I have to show them off to everybody anymore.  In cooler weather, I add a layer of leggings and socks under the dress.  I prefer my sleeves 3/4 length  or longer, I can always roll them up.  Again, I wear an extra shirt in cooler weather, a sweater is also an option.  I do wear shorter sleeves in hot weather.  I do not bear the burden of excessive cleavage, however, I do try to keep my necklines up near that little dip in my collarbone (forget what it's called).  Sometimes this involves adding a pin to close a low neckline a bit higher, or wrapping and tying a pretty scarf.

As far as head covering, sometimes I do and sometimes I don't.  This is more because of the fact that I have very fine hair that doesn't like to cooperate, and blows wildly in the slightest breeze.  I frequently wear scarves and hats, and have always enjoyed them.  I always try to wear a chapel veil in church, though there are many times I forget, and once in a while choose not to.  But that is a whole 'nuther issue.

Swimsuits are a challenge.  Though there are many options and offerings for modest clothing, there is a severe lack of choices in the swimsuit area.  I love to swim, and for years now, I have been wearing long shorts and a long sleeved tshirt to swim.  I have tried different materials, but unfortunately, the skin tight spandex seems to be the best choice for comfort, quick drying, and coverage.  Lately I have run across some great styles in modest swimwear, and hope to make a new modest swimsuit for myself for next year.  My favorite style is from Simply Modest, and consists of leggings ending just below the knee, and a tunic style shirt with short sleeves (which could be lengthened) and the tunic ending just a few inches above the knee, thereby covering the hip and buttocks area.  I am not sure how this would do in the water, but from my experience with the tshirts, I believe the spandex on the torso would stay put, while the longer area may ride up in the water, but could be smoothed back down upon exiting.  Another trick to keep in mind here, is choosing a patterned material for the top to de-emphasize the cling, and a solid, darker color for the leggings, for a slimming effect.  As for men and boys, I appreciate the long, baggy trunks, held up, of course, to cover their "cleavage", and the mesh shirts, popular for many sports are preferable, in my opinion, to a bare chest.  On a purely practical level, the more covered you are, the less need for sunscreen.

So there you have it - my take on modest dressing.  Now that I'm started, I'm sure I'll have more to say in future posts.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Recycling - Sorting and Storing

Recycling is a big part of our homesteading lifestyle.  Getting the best and most possible use out of everything we have just seems like good sense since we're trying to live simply and keep expenses down.  It also helps to have a place to put things so they are not cluttering up our life.  So recycling is not just about saving every scrap, but also putting it to use. 

For large items, such as lumber, scrap wood, posts, fencing, and potential water tanks, etc., we have a "bone pile", a designated area of the yard where these things are stored until needed.  Things such as "oops" paint, caulking, and other chemicals or supplies that would not do well out in the elements are stored in a shed.  For aluminum drink cans and other household recyclables, we have an old dog run where we have sorting bins.  One for aluminum drink cans, another for tin cans, one for plastics, which are further sorted by number or letter code at the recycling center, one for newspapers, cardboard, glass, etc.  We find this keeps these items from blowing around the yard with our frequent high winds, and the sorting bins keep the project manageable and easier to haul to the recycling center.  Also, when a need arises for a gallon plastic jug, or some newspapers, we know exactly where to find them. 

Inside the house, there is a smaller scale sorting system.  All junk mail, as well as waste from bills, etc., gets sorted into files:  letter size pages with one side blank are used in the copier for copies that don't need to be "official"; smaller papers and envelopes with a blank area are filed for further processing into notepads, which we go through an abundance of; burnable, non-glossy pages are put in the firestarter box, along with toilet paper rolls, cereal boxes, and other small, burnable packaging; glossies go in the trash, as they don't burn well.  When we had a paper shredder, we would shred alot of our junk mail, including glossies, to use as bedding for the animals and nest boxes.  From there, it would go into the compost heap or be used as mulch.

In the kitchen, vegetable and fruit trimmings and peels go into a bucket for the compost heap; other scraps go into a bowl for the dog or chickens; eggshells are dried in a pie pan in the oven (on pilot light), then crushed and fed back to the chickens;  coffee grounds and tea bags go into the compost bucket.  We have a trash can and a recycle can.  All cans, glass, and plastics get rinsed out and placed in the recycle can, later they are sorted into thier containers in our sorting bin area.

In the laundry room, worn out clothes, towels and bedding are washed well and placed in the rag basket.  Some are taken to the workshop for use there.  Some are placed in a mesh bag out in the tool shed to be used as oil rags or for other outdoor purposes.

Of course, many cities now have recycling programs as part of their trash pick up service.  Even so, in the city one can still set up a system that works for their particular situation.  If there is a recycling center nearby, you may wish to bring some items in for cash.  You may want to have a compost bin for your garden; you may want to recycle junk mail for the copier or notepads, as we do; worn out clothes and such are always good for cleaning rags.  In future posts, I will examine each area of potential recyclables, talk about how we repurpose them, and offer other ideas in each category.  Here's to a greener life;)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

by Jamie Ford, (c)2009,

An old hotel, a Japanese parasol, a secret World War II internment camp.  What do any of these have to do with a Chinese widower trying to get on with living?  "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" tells a story of lost love, family betrayal and wartime oppression, set in Seattle, Washington.

Henry, a Chinese boy, and Keiko, a Japanese girl, become best friends shortly after the start of the Great War.  When Japan bombs Pearl Harbor, the United States government starts "relocating" U.S. citizens of Japanese descent as well as Japanese immigrants, forcing them to abandon homes, businesses and treasured possessions.  Ford's depiction of the internment camps, though not as inhuman as the Nazi concentration camps, is nevertheless a frightening image of what a government is capable of, given too much power.  As grown-up Henry works through his grief and guilt after the death of his wife, events unfold that give him new hope and purpose in life, and maybe, in love.

This was our September Book Club read.  At first I thought it was a romance, which I don't care for.  After sneaking a peek at the first and last chapters, however, I realized it was historical fiction, which I greatly enjoy.  I could not put it down, and I appreciate that it addresses one of the "dirty little secrets" of our great country.  One of the benefits of books and now of the digital age, is the ability to expose such wrongs and make the general public aware, so that we can prevent them from happening again.  I highly recommend "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" for middle schoolers through adults.

I checked this book out of the local library, through our Book Club.  No compensation was received for this review.