Monday, 22 December 2014

The Order of Good Cheer... Twenty-first Century Style

Yes, we Canadians have been dispelling the cold and the darkness of winter... not to mention scurvy... for many long years now. 

It all began when the original French settlers came to Canada (or New France as they called it) and settled down for their first winter on Ste. Croix Island in the Bay of Fundy. Only about half the inhabitants made it through that first winter, the rest dying from starvation and scurvy. In the spring, Samuel de Champlain moved the survivors to the north side of the Bay of Fundy, and on the shores of Annapolis Basin, they created the settlement of Port Royal. And to help his people survive the winter both physically and emotionally, Champlain decreed that they would establish the "Ordre de Bon Temps" or the Order of Good Cheer.
Throughout the winter of 1606, each member of the order took a turn providing fresh fish and game for a wondrous feast, then acting as "steward of the day," they lead a ceremonial procession to the table (The Canadian Encyclopedia.)

The settlers were often joined by leaders of the nearby native  Mi'kmaq community, who if truth be told were probably  instrumental in these newcomers being able to find the fish and game to begin with. And so the winter passed in a most pleasant manner. There was not only good food, but music, amateur dramatics, good conversation, laughter, and no scurvy. As Champlain himself wrote, "We passed the winter most joyously, and fared lavishly" (The Canadian Encyclopedia.)

Port Royal Historic Site in Nova Scotia
I've loved that story from Canadian history since I first learned it in grade seven. And being from down east, I've always felt connected to that idea, the tradition of "The Order of Good Cheer." 

And so Hubby and I (and about forty friends) continued the tradition when, on the Friday night before Christmas, we got dolled up for the annual 'partay' and feast at the home of our friends Ace and Michelle. Every year they host a fabulous Christmas party in their lovely log home. 

Most of the revelers are members of the "hockey gang." This is a large group of guys with whom my husband has played hockey for years (and years) and their wives or girlfriends. When I first met my husband, a scant thirty years ago, they had already been a tight-knit group for at least a decade. Since then we've been through a lot together: divorces, new partners, retirements, the challenges of illness and the loss of some really close friends. No to mention lots of great parties and funny stories... many, many stories. These people are family, now.

Michelle and Ace always lay on a great feast. And Friday night did not disappoint. This is just the appetizer table.

As per tradition, after the first round of food and drinks, the singing commenced. Accompanied by Ace's sister-in-law on the piano, we had to sing for our supper. 

These ladies are doing some serious singing. Always happy to oblige, they carried most of the rest of us. Well, some of the rest of us.... well, me at least. I can't carry a tune... so I joined in on the chorus, mostly

There are always some rabble-rousers in the corner, as you can see. And some of them are retired high school principals who should know better. I think I was being told, here, that I might have a detention, for taking too many pictures. 

Our final song was a rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," lead by Jan, who is a talented blues singer and musician. That's her in the red dress. Jan announced that we would be performing the song with accompanying "on your feet, people!" Jan was assisted by M.L and Sue... as moral support, I think. Or maybe to chastise any rowdies who might disrupt the festivities. This was a crowd that included many retired teachers, after all.... experienced disrupters. 

"On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... four calling birds..."


"Five...  golden...    rings..." 


"Six geese a laying?" Or was it "two turtle doves?" I don't know. I didn't get any shots of the rest of the verses... I was laughing too hard.

After the singing, we had a wonderful supper of lasagna, tourtière (traditional Quebecois Christmas fare) and salads. Followed by a table laden with desserts of all kinds. What with all the eating and drinking and talking and laughing, I didn't take any more pictures the rest of the evening.

I must say... I love all these people. They are the best kind of friends. We don't need to see each other every week to stay close... and if I (or Hubby) ever needed anything... not one of them would hesitate to jump into the breach. That's the very best kind of friends to have.

And it's evenings like this that carry on the tradition of the "Ordre de Bon Temps." We might not have had a "steward" to lead us to table... but we had Jan to lead us in song. And we had great food and lots of laughter that could dispel even the most dire of winter blues. And if that rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" doesn't count as amateur dramatics...well... I don't know what does. Oh... and definitely no scurvy. 

To slightly misquote Champlain, "we passed the evening joyously, and fared lavishly."

Well, I must wrap this up... my own tourtière filling is bubbling on the stove and I haven't finished trimming the tree yet. 

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season, whatever holiday you celebrate. 

P.S. I apologize for the quality of the pictures. My i-pad takes terrible shots in low light. 

P.P.S. I'll be taking a bit of a break from blogging for a week or so. I'll catch up with you in 2015. And thanks for reading. 


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Still Dreaming of a White Christmas...

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I was dreaming, and dreaming, of a white Christmas. 

Of course, I had that famous song in my head, like every year. 
And of course, I was hoping for lots of snow and great skiing and all. But that's not really the white I'm talking about. I just couldn't get white sweaters out of my head. Lovely, creamy, soft, white sweaters that go with everything. Vanilla ice-cream-y knits that look chic and still feel snuggly. And ... sigh... see what I mean?

This preoccupation was partly due to an outfit I saw on when I was writing a post about festive party outfits in November. A beautiful, cream sweater worn with black leather pants similar to mine.
And then, I saw this ad for Brooks Brothers a couple of weeks ago. Cream and tan and white look lovely all layered together, don't they?  Like dipping shortbread cookies into a cup of eggnog with a sprinkling of nutmeg or biscotti into a frothy cappuccino. Yum.

Then Adrienne and Jill announced that the theme for "How I Wear My" in January would be winter white. "How I Wear My" is an on-line outfit jamboree hosted each month by bloggers Adrienne of  The Rich Life (on a budget) and Jill of Everything Just So.  And thus I started thinking about white sweaters and blouses that I owned... and what might go with what.

And then.... a couple of weeks ago.... I was Christmas shopping. 

I had only a couple of items left to buy and my shopping would be finished. But I had a 40% off e-mail coupon from Gap in my purse. I had printed it off the night before, just in case I happened to ( maybe, possibly) see something that I really liked. I wouldn't want to miss out on a 40% off opportunity. So I strolled into the store at Bayshore and ... well, this soft, white sweater called out to me. "Sue, Sue. Look at me. I'm soft and snuggly. Think about eggnog, and biscotti, and vanilla ice cream. Think about all the things I would go with in your closet." Really, I was doomed. I was no match for logic like that; I never stood a chance. I tried it on. Loved it. And plunked down my credit card. 

And seriously... it was a steal at 40% off an already very reasonable price. I've paid more for mascara than I paid for this sweater.

And it IS soft and snuggly. It's long enough to hide what needs hiding, and falls loosely without looking sloppy, and has little slits in the sides.  And it DOES go with everything. 

Like my white cropped jeans, and these old Stuart Weitzman boots that I bought in New York in 2006.

And my Max Mara coat from a few years ago. 

And my Anne-Marie Chagnon earrings and necklace. I love her stuff and you can get her whole line at Magpie Jewellry, in Ottawa.

In this outfit I felt like... well, not exactly eggnog with nutmeg... but, maybe cappuccino and... cinnamon? 

And that's not all. This sweater goes with almost everything I own. My black leggings and grey wool scarf. My tan Tory Burch cords. My dark brown Yoga jeans with this funny little brown and grey scarf that I bought years ago in New Zealand.


And I can wear these white Kate Spade hoops and maybe even a toque with my new favourite sweater. Or recycle these old hoop earrings with the baubles on them. Or tuck a blouse underneath, like this Gap gingham shirt.

Yep, as far as wish fulfillment goes, this sweater ticks a lot of the boxes. At least for me, and my white sweater dreams. However, I had one problem left... since I did not, exactly, finish my Christmas shopping that day two weeks ago, getting sidetracked, as I did, by the siren call of a 40% off coupon, and one very insistent sweater.  

I still had shopping to do. And since the weather looked like this, rain, fog and melting snow... a different sort of white on white...

I thought I'd try my new cream sweater with the Gortex jacket I bought a few weeks ago. I actually needed it for skiing and canoeing and other outdoor pursuits. But it was raining, and I kind of liked it with my black leggings, and my new sweater with the gingham shirt underneath. And maybe the toque? Or not.

And so, as much of our snow melted away... I was still dreaming of a white Christmas, snow white. Dreaming and hoping. And singing that old song in my head.

How about you? Any white Christmas dreams you'd like to share?

Sunday, 14 December 2014

It's All in the Numbers... Slippage Part III

Yesterday Hubby and I went cross-country skiing for the first time this season. The weather was gorgeous... sunny and -5 Celsius. Perfect skiing weather.

The river looked beautiful in the sunshine.

I've been sick with a cold and sinus infection this week, so getting out in the fresh air felt magnificent. 

Come ON... let's go.

 I was happy to be able to ski yesterday, not just because it felt wonderful to be out in the crisp sunshine, but also because not to have done so would have really messed with my weekly numbers."My Stats." That's what Hubby calls my obsessive record-keeping with respect to my fitness goals and activities. I call it battling the "Slippage." 

I first wrote about "Slippage" back in September...  about how the decreased stress and the increased leisure of retirement were having an insidious effect on my body. You can read that post here. Then, I wrote an update in October (here) about what I had decided to do about the problem (i.e. move more.) My plan was to power walk twice a week, skate once, and ride my exercise bike three times, combining the exercise bike rides with a weight work-out. 

And as Dr. Phil might say to me..."How's that working for you?" 

Well..... ok-ay. I guess. But how do I know if it's working? How does one measure success? Or at least success in this endeavour?

Do I climb on the bathroom scales every week? Is that a number that I want to use as a benchmark? Really? And if it is... keeping in mind that muscle weighs more than fat... how does one take into account the increased muscle mass due to more frequent weight workouts? Not to mention building some new muscles from new activity... like skating. Skating uses leg muscles that I'm pretty sure I have never used in any other activity I've done... at least that's what it feels like the next morning. So, assuming that my weight doesn't balloon (or plummet... and I don't want it to do either,) the scales are not really going to help me track my progress. 

So I decided to look at a different set of numbers. Since I love record keeping of any kind, lists, journals, whatever.... keeping a fitness log is right up my street. And that's what I've been doing. I track my cardio minutes each week. It's easy. I just jot it on my calendar when I sit down at my computer each day and total the number at the end of the week. I set a weekly goal and focus on trying to meet it. If I miss a cardio workout one day, I can work a few minutes longer in each of the other workouts and still meet my weekly goal. My goal for the past two months has been a minimum of 240 minutes of cardio a week. 

This is what my November calendar looked like. 

On the positive side, I did really well with the overall minutes. But I was only able to squeeze in two weight work-outs (at the most) a week. Hubby, however, thinks that this is sufficient. And I bow to his greater expertise. He is, after all, a former phys. ed. teacher and life-long athlete... he knows his stuff. And he knows me and my limitations, having had the endless patience to teach me so many new sporty things since we've been together... including skiing. 

December has been a bit more of a challenge, though, since there has been no power walking for a couple of weeks. Freezing rain and sloppy snow are not conducive to remaining upright on the trail. So I'm down to skating and exercise biking (and weight training) only. But, the good news is that I'm finding that I don't really need one rest day a week, that one non-exercise day in ten or eleven is fine for the moment. Once we start skiing a couple of days a week, I'll have a chat with my knees and see how they are managing. 

Which brings me back to the fact that I was happy to start skiing yesterday. Cross-country skiing is such awesome exercise, in every way. It's a fabulous cardio work-out. And, it really works the muscles in both your upper and lower body. I can feel muscles in my arms and legs that I haven't noticed... since, well, since last ski season.

So to sum up, the "Great Slippage Battle" continues. For the next couple of months, I hope to be able to ski twice a week, skate once, and ride my exercise bike two or three times. I plan to do only two weight work-outs a week, at most. I'll probably increase my weekly cardio goal to 260 minutes. And ...we'll see how that goes. 

And speaking of skiing and numbers. Hubby and I went cross-country skiing on our first date. And that was thirty years ago next Saturday. Yep... date number one... was on December 20, 1984.  

See, I told you I was obsessed with numbers. And while we're talking about obsessions... 

I must admit that as bad as I felt all last week... I wasn't too sick to keep my hair appointment on Friday. Hair obsessed people like moi have been known to rise from their sick beds rather than miss these crucial appointments!

So that's two obsessions. And three posts on "Slippage." But who's counting, eh? Well... probably me. It IS all in the numbers after all.

How are you doing in your "slippage" battle? Or maybe you have other obsessions you'd like to share with us???

Linking up with Thursday Blog Hop.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

A Seventies State of Mind

I'm in a very seventies state of mind these days, feeling nostalgic. Especially when I'm perusing the pages of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. Of course, for a while this fall, everything made me feel nostalgic. That's because I attended my 40th high school reunion in September. That was so much fun. 

But it's not that. Not now anyway. I think my current state of mind is down to the fact that fashion seems to be having a prolonged seventies moment. Maybe even a seventies season. And that takes me back to my own memories of the seventies and what I was wearing then. Because the seventies is when I grew up. I don't mean that I was a child then, but I was a teenager in 1970, and in my early twenties when the eighties finally came along. So I guess you could say my "coming of age" occurred in the seventies. 

My fashion memories of the early seventies include images of Gloria Steinem in her tight jeans, wide belt and tinted glasses. In fact, I had a belt just like the one she's wearing in this picture. She was awesome, wasn't she. Still is.

And, of course, I remember all those shots of Ali MacGraw. Long and lean in her knitted cloche, skinny-knit sweater and flared jeans. Please tell me I'm not the only one who obsessed over Love Story. I read the book by Erich Segal in junior high... like, a million times. I had most of the first page committed to memory...."What can you say about a girl who died? That she was beautiful. And brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Beethoven and the Beatles and me."  Well, not quite, but not bad after forty+ years.

I have always loved this look. Boots and a long skirt. And a peasant blouse. Remember peasant blouses? We all wore them.

And a couple of years later. We tucked our pants into high boots so they puffed out over the top. Like Ali is doing here.

I remember in 1975, I wore a tweed blazer and black turtleneck, with black dress pants tucked into my Fry boots. Just like these, actually. I was surprised to find out that you can still get Fry boots.

The fashion of the mid-seventies seemed more grown-up than that of the sixties. The midi-skirt was cool and the mini was not. Tie blouses were big too. Just like this season.

And menswear inspired suits. Like these. I remember that I had a black and white, striped tie blouse that I wore with a button-front black vest and black pants. Very corporate. And good for my first foray as a student teacher in 1976. I was twenty, and I looked about twelve; I needed all the gravitas I could get. A class of thirty+ grade eight kids can be daunting.


And check out Farrah Fawcett in this shot. Sweatshirt, flared jeans, Nike sneakers. Very current. Well, except for the hair. The hair is all seventies.

And then. Well, then, a couple of years later, there was disco. Love it or hate it, people... you can't deny that it certainly changed the face of fashion. The Bee Gees, Donna Summer, "Le Freak." Glitter and glam, too much cleavage, too much make-up, high heels, and dancing, dancing, dancing. This is a shot of Bianca Jagger and Liza Minnelli with the fashion designer Halston, at New York's famous Studio 54. Halston was huge in the late seventies. Of course, I never wore anything he designed...I was too poor... but I did wear his perfume for a while. 

And I might have been persuaded a couple of times in 1979, when I first came to Ottawa, to visit our version of Studio 54... namely Disco Viva, across the river in Hull. Maybe a couple of times. In my teal green, silk blouse and high-waisted pants, and my sister's burgundy high heels... I was ...maybe not the 'Dancing Queen'... but close.

So you can understand that after perusing Vogue and Harper's Bazaar this fall, I was definitely in a seventies state of mind. 

The long lean looks, the high waisted, flared pants. Like these two looks from the December and September issues of Vogue. I love those camel Altuzarra pants on the right. And while I wouldn't wear pastel pink pants anymore (not that I ever did, actually)... I love the shape of these Louis Vuitton trousers, especially with the Bottega Veneta baseball-style jacket. 


And this look from Emilio Pucci in the September Harper's Bazaar is very seventies. It seems sharp suits and tie blouses are back, big time. I could certainly be persuaded to wear the blouse and jacket with jeans. But my power suit days are definitely behind me. 

As are my "overall" days. Very definitely behind me. So this seventies-inspired image from does NOT tempt me.

You see, I've been there. Done that. Got the fuzzy photo to prove it.


But there are other seventies-inspired looks that do tempt me. I might don a pair of flared jeans with heels again. And a short jacket.  

But no more Fry boots. And definitely no more Disco Viva. Even if it still existed. I'm more inclined to dressing down these days than up. Besides, I'm sure by the time things liven up on the dance floor... it would be way past my bed time.

It's funny that the seventies began with images of distressed jeans and women's lib and ended with the flash and glam of disco. What a decade. 

I wrote a post last spring about fifties fashion. It seemed that last spring fashion was having a Fifties Moment. We seem to be working our way through the decades. 

Oh. No. I hope we're not due for an eighties revival. 

Big hair, shoulder pads. Please. Say it isn't so.

What do you think about the seventies revival? Are you in a seventies state of mind?

Linking up this week with Passion 4 FashionFriday Fab FavouritesVisible MondayManic MondayLet it ShineWhat I Wore and Style Me WednesdayThrow Back Thursday.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Memories of the Past...a

We had friends over for dinner on Friday night. I made my homemade pasta.... from scratch. It's my thing... pasta. And by that I mean, it's the one thing I do well in the kitchen. Or at least the one thing I am confident that I will do well when we have "company." 

We haven't entertained in a while. Not since Hubby had his heart surgery in 2013.

Oh.... I've had the gang of women I used to work with over for a barbecue a few times. But that's always easy. I'll do pork tenderloin and grilled vegetables on the barbecue, salads will be made before hand, dessert and appetizers, I buy. Everything served buffet style. 

And of course we have had family. My sister and husband for Thanksgiving in October. No stress there. And Hubby's family (cousins and spouses and grown kids) for a buffet dinner one night over the Christmas holiday last year. That was fun, despite the fact that our oven had given up the ghost on Christmas Eve. So we cooked tourtière and seafood casserole alternately in our little toaster oven... keeping them warm with aluminum foil and trivets on the stove top. Again salads and bread were already prepared. Dessert, I bought. Easy. And if the crust on the tourtière wasn't perfect, I could blame the toaster oven.

But we haven't "entertained." You know... sit down meal... first course required... fancy main course... home made dessert... none of that "boughten stuff" (as we say in the Maritimes.) 

But our good friends R. and E. have had us for dinner numerous times, especially when Hubby was recovering from his surgery. And we stayed with them in Florida for a week last winter. We really, really had to have them for dinner. 

So to minimize the stress, I decided to stick with tried and true. Pasta. Something I am guaranteed NOT to mess up. 

I've been making my own pasta for years now, since the 1980's. In 1983, I quit my high stress sales job in Ontario and moved back home to the farm for a year. Growing up in Fredericton, our version of Italian food had been the Pizza Delight restaurant... and my mum's homemade lasagna. And little had changed when I returned home after four years in the big city. So when I remarked one day that I could kill for a meal of fresh pasta, my mum looked at me over the top of her glasses, mouth set in a firm line... that no-nonsense-from-you-missy look that I knew so well from childhood. And she replied that if I wanted fresh pasta, I would just have to make it myself. And her gaze directed me to her library of cookbooks from around the world. My mum is a great cook and has two large bookcases of cookbooks. 

And so I did... make it myself, I mean. I took down Mum's The Cooking of Italy book, and found a recipe for "pasta all' uovo." 

My stained  pasta all' uovo recipe that I copied from Mum's book.

And then I mixed and kneaded and rolled and sliced. Then I drove into town to find a chunk of fresh Parmesan cheese... only one store in town had it. And by the time my stepfather came in from the barn at suppertime, we had salad, Mum's fresh bread and fettuccine al burro all ready. I waited while my step-dad tasted his dinner. "You know, Snooze (he always called me that,) a man could live on this." Well, Mum and I grinned, this was high praise indeed from a life-long meat and potatoes man.

That year I lived at home, I made fresh pasta for anyone who would eat it. My friend and I greeted her mum with Caesar salad and fettuccine Alfredo when she came home from work one night. 

I made it a few times for my sister and her family. My sister C. and her Swedish husband had returned to New Brunswick too. At the time, they were living in a big, drafty, old house set in the rolling hills, thirty minutes outside of the village of Perth-Andover, while my brother-in-law worked hard to get his forestry business off the ground. A few weekends that year, I took the bus from Fredericton to Perth, lugging in my weekend bag all the fixings for my new "speciality"... plus a bottle of good red wine. While my sister C. and her hubby attended Saturday evening mass, I stayed with the kids and made dinner... pasta, of course. Or as my two year old nephew would say ..."Tusie's making chini." Then, when C. and P. arrived home, and the kids were in bed, we would eat the pasta, drink the wine and then play Trivial Pursuit, with P.'s opera tapes playing in the background. I have such fond memories of those weekends.

Swinging with my niece and nephew one weekend in 1984.

I moved back to Ontario in the fall of 1984, met my husband, and he bought me a pasta machine. (Of course, other things happened in there as well... just nothing relevant to pasta.) So now I don't have to smooth the dough out with a rolling pin until it's paper thin, and roll it up like a jelly-roll and slice it into noodles with a knife. The machine does those bits. But I still use the same recipe. 

I will say that I don't make fettuccine Alfredo (or al burro) anymore... all that cream and butter is NOT good for a heart healthy diet. But I make my own pesto, with parsley and basil from our garden, and use it to make a lovely sauce with Persian lime olive oil, diced tomatoes, onions, peppers and sliced carrots. Yum. 

I'm in love with infused olive oils these days, thanks to my friend E.'s inspiration. E. is a fabulous cook. And since it was she and her husband that we were entertaining on Friday night... well, you can understand my trepidation.

   My new secret ingredients: Persian Lime Olive oil and Cranberry Pear Balsamic Vinegar. 

But as it happens... as these things usually happen... I worried needlessly. The pasta did not disappoint, the first course salad was yummy (thanks to my new friend at "The Unrefined Olive" who recommended pairing the lime olive oil with cranberry-pear balsamic vinegar for the salad dressing) and the dessert was... fine. Not stunningly delicious, but fine. And we had a lovely evening with lots of laughter, a few political rants, and raucous stories of our respective childhoods. Fresh pasta to the rescue... again.

After our friends went home and Hubby and I cleaned up, I literally fell into bed and slept like a log, dreaming of my pasta memories. Two nights of all that needless worrying can be exhausting, you know. 

Do you have a "speciality"... a go-to dish that always saves the day...or the evening?

Linking up this week with Thursday Blog Hop.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Polar Chic: The Challenges of Staying Warm and Stylish

Winter's not on its way, people; it's here, now. And here to stay this time. Temperatures below zero, wind chill making it feel a lot colder. We had our little reprieve last week, temperatures on the plus side, the grass making its last, brief reappearance until April. 

Hope you're ready for it. And I'm not talking about putting on your snow tires, or stuffing the freezing rain shield into the back seat, just in case. I wrote about all that in a post last week. I mean ready for the cold itself. Ready to sally forth in the morning cosy and warm in your winter togs... looking fabulous.

And in a Canadian winter staying warm usually means a down coat, jacket, vest or whatever. Not to wear all the time necessarily, but to have when it gets really cold. 

I bought my first down coat in 1989. Until then I had eschewed all forms of puffy wear, parkas, fur-lined hats or anything bulky. Yuk. But that winter I was coaching the girls junior volleyball team at my school. The season was from November to February. Practice was three times a week at 7:30 A.M., which meant that I had to be out the door by 6:30. In the dark. In the cold. Lugging my briefcase, my gym bag, my lunch, my purse, and my teaching clothes on a hanger. Sometimes (okay...often) while I was shivering and scraping the car windows, Hubby would race out to the driveway, calling to me and gesticulating with my lunch, or briefcase... or something... that I had forgotten in my rush to get out the door. Have I said that I'm not an early morning person? Anyway, the cold finally won out... I capitulated and bought a down coat. I was still rushing every morning, but at least I was warm. 

Sadly, in my big, bulky down coat, I looked a little like these guys. Scratch that... I looked a lot like these guys.

Down coats can make us look like these penguins!

Thus was my hate-love-hate relationship with down clothing born. Until then I had only hated it, but ohhhh it was so warm....creating a major internal-fashion-conflict between my desire for style and my need for practicality. 

Last winter I went looking again for a down coat. If you remember anything about last winter you will remember the cold... and possibly my whining about the cold. Polar vortex, anyone? 

And much of what I saw was, well.... see for yourself.

Too long and shapeless... and simply unflattering.

London Fog at

Too puffy. Seriously, this Moncler coat looks over- inflated. And cinching it at the waist like that just looks weird. 

Moncler  at
Ugh. Too many buttons and flaps on this Burberry jacket. And the Dawn Levy coat. Really? The shiny material, is well... shiny, and then add faux fur and chevron-shaped down pockets and then a hood. Whoa. I'm even starting to like the Moncler coat above... just because it's not as bad as these two.

                                                                                     Burberry Brit at                                                                              Dawn Levy at

And this DKNY coat is just plain ugly. And kind of... square? Note to self...always check the rear view image. 

And they're all black, or grey. And depressing.

But I did not give up. I did not fall into "the depths of despair" as Anne (with an 'e') would say. There would be a coat out there for me somewhere. A coat that was not too long, or too bulky, or too shiny, or have too many doo-dads on it, or make me look like a bus from the back. A coat in a lovely colour, that would cheer me up on a cold winter's day. A coat that would fit properly, and not be too tight over the hips or too puffy. A coat that would be a bit fitted through the waist, and thus be flattering. As flattering as it was warm.  

Maybe a bit like these.

                          Bernardo at                                                                       Bogner at                                                                                    Herno at

Or these.

                                                                                              Vera Wang at                                                         Hunter at

I love all of these coats. They all have something that makes them chic. Good cut, some detailing...but not too much. I could go home with any of these and be happy... and warm. 

But what I found last winter was not one of these. But something more like this. In fact quite like this.

Vince at
See. This is my new-ish down coat from Zara. It's a bit more burgundy than the Vince coat. It's a bit puffy, almost as puffy as the Moncler coat, that I hate, above. But because my Zara coat is nipped in at the waist, and a bit flared at the bottom, the puffiness doesn't add width around the middle. And this is verrrry, very important. It's not too long. And although it has an elasticized belt, I never wear it belted. I think belting it destroys the line of the coat. So I just tied the ends of the belt into the belt-loops like my friend Liz taught me. 

My Zara burgundy down coat.          

I love my down coat; it's stylish and practical. I especially love the colour. Burgundy is a good colour for me; it makes me look less pasty in the depths of the winter. It goes with everything... grey and black and white...and my brown Yoga jeans I'm wearing here. And it looks great with several of my winter scarves. I'm a happy down- coat-owner. You could say that my down coat and I have a love-love relationship. 

Yep, my little journey has taught me the secret to wearing down clothing; it's kind of like the story of that little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead. When it looks good, it looks very, very good. And when it looks bad it looks horrid. 

So if you're shopping for a down coat this winter, and I would highly recommend that you do if you live in Canada. Please, please shop around. There is a coat out there for you somewhere. A coat that is not too long, or too bulky, or too shiny, or with too many do-dads on it. A coat that will be as flattering as it will be warm.

Oh.... and don't forget to check the rear-view image. This is verrrry, very important.

Do tell.... are you ready for down coat weather? Or maybe you don't even need to worry about the cold. Sigh. Lucky you.

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