Archive for February, 2009

Hymn to everyday beauty

February 24, 2009

Practicing the maintenance of extreme delight.


Percy Shelley, calling your inner poet

A while back, I read an interview with the brilliant Amy Adams. I’m not even sure why I was drawn to the article since I usually don’t enjoy reading about celebrities. (Honest.) I think I’m still so mesmerized by her performance in that scene around the kitchen table in Junebug that I couldn’t resist finding out a little something about her.  (Seriously, I don’t usually read about celebrities! Why can’t you believe me?)

Anyway, she told the interviewer the most delightful thing. She was talking about how much she loves drinking coffee. I’m paraphrasing here, but she said that sometimes she’s so excited at night, knowing that she gets to have a cup of coffee when she wakes up the next morning, that she can’t get to sleep. I just love that. I mean, I really love that.

I love that she reminded me to be intensely happy whenever I’m so inclined. The Charm-o-Matic revels in those moments.

When you think about it, this feeling of extreme delight is the stuff of poetry. It’s the essence of an artist at work. It’s about finding the happy bits of your life and celebrating them with the abandon of a poet. Who can forget Shelley’s famous line from Hymn to Intellectual Beauty, “I shrieked, and clasped my hands in ecstasy!”

You don’t have to be one of the famous instigators of the Romantic movement to find inspiration. The switch from grand poet to everyday person is simple: You’re not writing lines of verse, but you’re at work on your life, and your job is to enjoy it. Your art is in allowing the small things that delight you to bring inordinate pleasure. This goes deeper than a mere outpouring of emotion, though – our own Emily Dickinson thought of it another way: “To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”

That’s tapping into the charm happening all around you. Either that, or it’s just a really, really, really good cup of coffee.

More face time for Jane Austen

February 12, 2009

Deciding whether to fend off or embrace Facebook and zombies, Jane Austen shows once again that she really is just like us.


This online gem has been gaining fame the last few weeks: It’s Jane Austen meets Facebook. And oh my, it’s charming, as long as you remember a few plot and character details from Pride and Prejudice. Some of my favorite updates:

  • “Lydia Bennet became a fan of Officers.”
  • “Kitty Bennet became a fan of Officers.”
  • “Charles Bingley created an event: Ball at Netherfield.”
  • “Kitty Bennet can’t stop coughing!!!”

Once the topic of Jane Austen comes up, I find I rarely can contain myself. Did you know, for example, about the upcoming Jane Austen zombie book? As the Quirk Books site explains, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies features the original text of Jane Austen’s beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action.” Please understand that the Charm-o-Matic rarely condones of any kind of brain eating or other crimes perpetrated by the undead, but every person of discretion knows to make occasional allowances.

Austen anticipating zombies?

Austen anticipating zombies?

Also by the same publisher is the delightful Jane Austen Handbook, a guide for those who long for a little Regency-era England in their everyday lives. And they’re not new, but I certainly hope you’ve been made aware by now of the Jane Austen puppet and action figure.

A sci-fi Austen-themed miniseries (Lost in Austen) debuted a few weeks ago on the Ovation network, but alas, my cable provider does not offer such gentle pursuits.

Oh, and Jane is podcasting, too. Actually Masterpiece asked life coach Cheryl Richardson to offer her take on what we can learn from Sense and Sensibility through a free, two-part podcast that you find by typing in Cheryl Richardson or Masterpiece on iTunes.

Now then, after this necessary discourse and before presenting you with more succinct linkage to the worthy endeavors I have put before you, I shall proceed to inform you that I look forward to attending an exceedingly good ball within a fortnight. Actually, my only certain plans within a fortnight include attending a hockey game. I dare say it will make a very pleasant evening, nonetheless (and ties in with the aforementioned bone-crushing in a most unexpected way). In the meantime, I trust you have found these niceties agreeable. I have every disposition in the world to join you again soon.

I am very much flattered by your attention, and I am ever yours,

Jane Austen meets Facebook, free site
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, pre-order for $7.77
Jane Austen Handbook, $11.53
Jane Austen puppet, $5.95
Jane Austen action figure, $8.95

Soft lips, full pocketbook

February 3, 2009

Just a spoonful of sugar helps your chapped lips go down, thanks to a budget-friendly DIY exfoliator.

Lip-smacking assemby line

My lip-smacking assembly line

Winter is taking a toll on my skin this year, but I’m pleased as sugary citrus punch to have found a solution for my lips that only cost me pennies. I’ve read this year that the secret to soft lips is exfoliating, and I decided it must be true a couple of weeks ago after several days of incessant lip balm applications were to no avail.

Then I ran across this post on Bella Sugar with instructions to make your own lip exfoliator. My personal talents usually don’t extend to the DIY realm, but this effort consists of simple ingredient assembly. I’d say my pet monkey could do it, but I think we all know I don’t have a pet monkey.

Just mix together a teaspoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of honey, two teaspoons of white granulated sugar and a dash of lemon juice. I didn’t have any lemons, so I settled for a lime. I also didn’t actually bother to measure anything. Then rub some onto your lips and sweep back and forth.

Before finding that idea, I’d had my eye on this prettily packaged tube of buffing beads from Benefit, which is one of the exfoliators recommended by the Law & Order: Beauty woman (aka “cosmetics cop”) Paula Begoun. (No, there isn’t really a Law & Order: Beauty edition … I’m just delirious from all the sugar on my lips.) The lip balm & exfoliator duo is cute, but I also had my eye on my budget, and I couldn’t quite pull the trigger on $32.

So read my lips and pull from your cupboards instead. The result is sweet, cheap and effective.

Lipscription, $32
DIY recipe, free

(I also found instructions for DIY lip balm, but that’s way out of my league.)