Thursday, April 27, 2017

More Photos: Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany

Leopold and Helena forever😍

Since my blogs on Prince Leopold are popular (you never know which subjects will be a hit!), I will share a few more photos I love, but did not use in the 1st or 2nd post. In truth, I am touched by the Prince's personality and life story and now consider him my Victorian history pet. So if you find any rare photos of Leopold or his wife, Princess Helena, Duchess of Albany, send them my way!

I love the top left photo of Prince Leopold taken in 1875 at Oxford University by Alice In Wonderland's author, Lewis Carroll. Wearing a gorgeous suit and shoes, Prince Leopold is handsome in his cap and gown. It is my favorite college photo of him, despite initially posting one of the Prince standing and looking into the camera.

The top right shot of Leopold's wife, Helena (a/k/a Helen), is a bit washed out, but I like how she faces the camera looking like a lovely doll in her wedding attire. So often Victorians look off to the side, or stare at an object, such as a book, but she looks directly into the camera. Smiling in photos came later. At this time, it was thought to be a sign of insanity. Yikes!

Here are a few more images:
Prince Leopold with friends at Oxford
It took nearly a year of careful persuasion for Prince Leopold to convince his mother, Queen Victoria, to let him attend Oxford University. Had she refused, nobody could have overruled her. The Prince's Oxford years (1872-1876) were happy ones for him. 

As a prince, he lived in a house with a small staff: a gentleman's attendant and cook/housekeeper. Sometimes a doctor monitored his health. Victoria kept a close eye on him. He was allowed to throw small dinner parties (inviting sons of "respectable families"), which is probably what the above middle photos show.

Leopold embraced his studies; became president of the Chess Club; made life-long Oxford friends; and joined a musical group (the Victorian equivalent of a rock band, if you think about it.) In fact, he was a founding member of the Oxford University Music Club.🎷🎹🎻
Prince Leopold is the 4th man from the left. He was a gifted pianist, flutist, tenor singer and played other instruments. Obviously, bands wore off-beat, tousled grab even in his day!

The above left image is one of Leopold and Helen's engagement photos, taken in November 1881 in the Princess' German hometown. I think her casual posture shows her warm personality; and how rare in a Victorian photo for an engaged couple to be torso touching, no? (You never see it with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert even after having 9 children together!)

Again, I adore Prince Leopold's tailored clothes and beautiful shoes! A stylish couple, despite the corset high society women were required to wear! I have no idea how a woman sat down with a corset sticking out the back, nor why such an exaggerated bum-hump was considered flattering! But one can't judge another era with contemporary eyes.

The above right photo with their baby daughter, Alice, was taken in 1883. She was born 10 mouths after her parents April 27, 1882 wedding. Most Victorian couples had their 1st child within a year of marriage, since the only sure form of birth control was abstinence (and who wants to start a marriage practicing that?). Helen had 3 pregnancies [resulting in one miscarriage] in 23 months of their marriage, which was not unusual. Also, childbirth was dangerous even for royal women.

In Victorian times, it was vital to have children (boys in most European countries) in order to pass on titles and property. During an era when many children died of disease, people desired large families.
Here are Queen Victoria's 9 children as adults: Vicky (b. 1840), Bertie (b. 1841), Alice (b. 1843), Affie (b. 1844), Helena (b. 1846), Louise (b. 1848), Arthur (b. 1850), Leopold (b.1853) and Beatrice (b. 1857).

I'm enjoying reading about the Victorian era. Now I'm waiting on the arrival of a book called, How To Be A Victorian: A Dawn-To-Dusk Guide To Victorian Life, written by the historian, Ruth Goodman. But make no mistake, I don't wish to be a Victorian, only to learn about the era and how people lived at the time. 

There are lessons for us in submerging ourselves in history. Nonetheless, I'm too much of a diva ever to endure such harsh times. I need hot running water and indoor plumbing at all times. Also, keep your mitts off my blow dryer and spandex, mister

Now that women can vote, own property and earn money, there's no going back.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Garnier Whole Blends Smoothing Shampoo And Conditioner Coconut Oil & Cocoa Butter Extracts

Weighing price, convenience and effectiveness, I lean towards organic personal care products. When it makes sense, I switch from drugstore brands to products with cleaner, organic ingredients. It's difficult to go totally orgainic, but we can be mindful to reduce the amount of chemicals we use in our beauty products.

Most shampoos will clean your hair just fine, but the commericial hair conditioners still work better than any organic conditioner I have tried. Plus, the mass produced name brands of shampoos and conditions are less expensive than many organic brands. If you wash your hair every day, it's worth considering how much money to wash down the drain. Will it be pennies, or dollars? Sometimes it's worth the extra cost, sometimes it is not.
Photo credit: Jacqui Writes
I always return to the drugstore brands of hair conditioners. Recently I tried Ganier Whole Blends Smoothing Shampoo and Conditioner Coconut Oil & Cocoa Butter Extracts. Forumulated with South Pacific coconut oil and African cocoa butter extracts, the shampoo and condition tames and smooths hair. It has a clean, coconut scent and leaves a shine. Thankfully, both shampoo and conditioner are paraben-free and gentle for daily use.

While it is always wise to check ingredients, drugstores are responding to customer demands for better, safer ingredients. For the price, effectiveness and hair sans frizz, I recommend this new Garnier forumula. Try it, you'll like it! 

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Introducing Lori's Shoes Of Chicago

Lori's Shoes Of Chicago is a fabulous find! Launced in 1983 in a vacant storefront on Armitage Avenue by Lori Andre, the entrepreneur has two passions: shoes and gourmet cooking. Thirty-four years (and three sons) later, her business now includes several other brick and mortar stores, as well as, a thriving website. 

Moreover, Lori's business model remains the same: Offer fashionable, high-quality shoes that customers won't find elsewhere at affordable prices. The retailer's shoe buyers select styles from small factories in Italy that are new, fresh and fashion-forward, but not so bizarre and aggressive as to be impractical. 
Some of the shoes are made in the very same factories as well-known couture brands, but Lori's Shoe stock is aimed for people who don't spend $1,000+ on footwear, yet still covet well-made shoes.

As reported in The Chicago Tribute, her top selling brands include Bernie Mev, Jeffrey Campbell, Franco Sarto, Sam Edlelman and many contemporary brands. The inventory now includes some apparel and accessories also.

Personally, I scored a sleek pair of leather sports ballet flats for $29 (+$8 shipping). With great arch support and athletic rubber soles, they are marked down from $100. What a steal!

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Easter Holiday

Easter is this Sunday ... and not a moment too soon. Old Man Winter begone! On the Western Hemisphere, it's symbolic how Easter arrives as spring begins. In the west, we have persevered through another cold, harsh winter when nothing grows, and now can look forward to sunny days as a new cycle of life begins.
Christianity recognizes that not all is right in the world. Both good and evil exist. There is much suffering and injustice on earth. In fact, history is a solemn record of hard times marked by hunger, disease, death, natural disasters and political unrest, etc. But Easter reminds us to look at the big picture. Find the light at the end of the tunnel. With perseverance, good can ... and will overcome evil.
Explaining why evil exists is difficult, and yet without strife, there is often no growth. I have heard it said, we learn as much from our hardships and failures as we do from our successes. Easter reminds us to look on the bright side of life! Be positive. Have hope. Opt to do good. Keep striving, and never give up! 

A Happy Easter! Likewise, a Blessed Passover. ðŸŒ·ðŸŒ»ðŸŒº

River Jordan 
The Secret Sisters
'Go to the river Jordan', said the prophet to the king
'Wash in that murky water seven times and you'll be clean'
Yeah, that deep rollin' river's gonna make you new and whole
And the faith acquired of you will save your soul
Let's go down to the river, raise our voices in prayer
And get ourselves a snow white robe to wear
Take away the earthly stains, remove each and every one
In the name of the Father and the Son
Jesus said to John the Baptist, bury me in that cold grave
Made of Jordan's icy water, I will show you all the way
And a light came down from Heaven saying this is My Own Son
And I sure am please with what has just been done
Let's go down to the river, raise our voices in prayer
And get ourselves a snow white robe to wear
Take away the earthly stains, remove each and every one
In the name of the Father and the Son

I'm looking for the river Jordan, that old life giving stream
Within its waves of mercy sweet forgiveness ever teamed
I'm a weary broken soul living in a house of clay
And that river's gonna wash my sins away
Let's go down to the river, raise our voices in prayer
And get ourselves a snow white robe to wear
Take away the earthly stains, remove each and every one
In the name of the Father and the Son ... Bury me, river Jordan
Songwriters: Laura Elizabeth Rogers / Lydia Lane Rogers
River Jordan lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Inge Christopher Makes Cute Party Bags

To be honest, I only own 3 party bags. One was a gift, the second a hand-me-down from my mother and and the third one, I bought for under $50. And ... I can't claim to personally own a costly clutch purse, made of silk, or decorated with glittery Swarovski crystals. But that doesn't stop me from recognizing beauty when I see it. 

Inge Christopher makes some fine party purses! You will pay 3 to 6 times more than what I paid for mine, but will get upscale silk, snakeskin, leather, metal or wood, as well as, eye catching embellishments. If you're always partying, you can justify the greater expense as an investment. 
Many of the clutches are designed to hold an iphone, and there is a wide selection of materials, shapes and styles. I picked a few of my favorites. As you can see, I tend to stick with a classic style, but you might like something more unique like the Luma Mini Tote.

When putting on the Ritz, most of us want to look our swanky best, which just might include a quality, durable clutch! Let's take away some style tips from Inge Christopher. We can either search for a budget-friendly knockoff, or better yet, catch a sale on one of these lovely bags!

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Unshrinkit Sweater Restorer

Have you ever wished you could unshrink a wool sweater that got ruined in the wash? Now you can by hand washing it in a liquid solution called, Unshrinkit.

Unskrinkit was invented by Harvard Business School graduate, Desiree Stolar. She teamed up with a chemical engineer and fellow graduates to develop a product that interacts with shrunken, bunched up wool, cashmere or angora yarns, straightening and lengthening the clumps of yarn back to their original size.

It's safe, fast and easy. You pour a bottle of unshrinkit into a a tub, add water and your shrunken sweater. Soak it in the solution for 30 minutes. Raise, stretch and lay flat to dry. Voilà ... back to its original size! 

The Unshrinkit restorer works on fabric that is at least 10% wool. Wow, like a miracle!