Sunday, 18 December 2016

Home for the Holidays

It's been party central around here lately, folks. Probably the same where you are. Festive pot-luck buffet dinner. Hockey gang party. Girls' dress-up night; we did a small sit down dinner for eight this year. Good friends, good food, wine, and much laughter. And singing. You might have seen my shaky video of the hockey gang singing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram. Shaky because it's hard to hold the camera steady and laugh at the same time. 

Our singalong before supper at our friends' beautiful log home. Near North Gower, Ontario
Singing before supper. The annual hockey gang party at our friend's beautiful log home. 

Girls' dress up night. Dinner for eight. Barrhaven, Ontario
Les girls.... some of. Three more of us in the kitchen. 
So now that the partying is over, it's high time I buckled down and did some work. Aside from choosing party outfits and shopping, I've done nothing to get ready for Christmas. Yet. And Hubby and I hit the road on Wednesday. For the long drive home for the holidays.

Maritimers heading home for Christmas is a long-standing tradition. I wonder if that's because so many of us have, over the generations, left home and moved to Ontario or "out west" for jobs which have always been pretty scarce on the east coast. For years and years, the annual question Maritimers who live away are asked by family and friends is "Are you coming home for Christmas?"

One year back in the early eighties, long before I met Hubby and started teaching, when I worked in cosmetics at Simpson's on Sparks Street here in Ottawa, my roommate, me, my sister, and two boys we knew from home and who worked in the shoe store next door to Simpson's were all booked on the same flight home. On Christmas Eve. 

We all had to work Christmas Eve, but had permission from our bosses to leave early, in time to make our early evening flight. I remember Debbie, my roommate, and I packed and lugged our suitcases on the bus to work that morning. My sister would meet us at my work and drive us all to the airport. Then it started to snow. Really snow. And all day we worried. And called each other, and the airport. By noon the storm was so bad that our flight to Montreal had been cancelled. If we could get to Montreal (two hours away) we could still pick up our flight to Fredericton. Fat chance of that. Then while we fretted and dithered, the flight from Ottawa to Montreal was reinstated. Phew. 

By 4:00 pm Debbie and I waited impatiently at the back door of Simpson's for my sister. She was late. It was still snowing heavily. The roads were terrible. Downtown hadn't seen a plow for hours it seemed. Carolyn's tiny car bumped and slewed through the ruts made by other vehicles all the way to the airport. We worried we'd never make it. But we did. The flight to Montreal would be late leaving, but was still flying, so we were happy. And in Montreal our ongoing flight was delayed. Twice. I think we finally took off around ten o'clock. But, better late than not at all. Hopefully, we'd still be home by Christmas.

And as I'm sure you've guessed, we were. When we finally landed at the small airport in Fredericton it was close to midnight. There was much laughter and high spirits among the passengers. And our friend Mark who was a great joker and who had a window seat, looked out onto the runway and said to me: "Wow. Look Susan, Santa himself has come to meet us." Ha. Very funny Mark. 

But as it transpired, Mark was not joking. When we stumbled down the steps onto the tarmac, there was Santa. Red suit, white beard, chuckling and shaking everyone's hand. "Welcome home, folks. Merry Christmas." And inside the airport in the arrival lounge, my stepfather, who'd been there for god knows how long, patiently waiting for us

Ah. That's one of my favourite Christmas memories. 

I know, as a travel horror story, this one doesn't have much in the way of drama. I've been on much longer, more stressful flights many times since. In particular Hubby's and my convoluted and emotional journey home from a tiny island north of Broome, in Australia, when my stepfather died in 2008. But, back in 1981, as a recently transplanted Maritimer, newly trying my wings away from home, I don't think I could have imagined, at the time, a fate worse than NOT getting home for the holidays. For Christmas. 

And on that theme, have a look at this lovely, quirky video by Wes Anderson, starring Adrian Brody.  

Of course experience teaches us that there are many worse fates than not being home on Christmas. Obviously. There are those who are experiencing their first holiday season since losing a family member. Like my friend about whom I wrote a couple of posts ago. And of course there are those many, many people caught in tragic circumstances around the world, with no home at all... anymore. 

Hubby and I don't go home for the holidays every year. And I'm grateful that we can make the trip this year. Grateful for family that we'll spend it with. And grateful for all the years, and all the Christmases, spent with family and friends who are no longer with us. We'll be thinking of them. And no doubt swapping stories about them. And raising a glass to them, I imagine.

Now I really must go. I've baking to do. Tourtières do not make themselves, people. And I have to start packing. Depending on the weather we may leave a day early. Because...well... freezing rain... snow... you know, the usual. 

I don't know if I'll have time to post again before Christmas. So let's just say our seasons greetings now, okay? From our home to yours. Wherever that is. Whatever holiday you celebrate... I hope it's wonderful.

Linking up today with Saturday Share Link-up at Not Dressed As Lamb  and Thursday Favourite Things at Katherine's Corner

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Resisting the Siren Call of the Couch... Staying Fit After Fifty

It's winter. And it's snowing, or raining, or freezing raining depending on where you live. And cold. So, what should you do when, like the song says, "the weather outside is frightful... and the fire is so delightful?" You may not want to hear this... but... resist, my friends. Resist the temptation to hunker down and stay indoors. Resist the urge to curl up on the couch by the fire with some shortbread and a good book. Resist the temptation to NOT go outside... until April. 

Cross country skiing on the Osgoode Trail, Osgoode Ontario. Gortex jacket, and fleece from Mountain Equipment Co-op. Turtleneck by Columbia. RayBan sunglasses.
Last winter on the Osgoode Trail near our house. That's Hubby in the background.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Wrap It Up... The Season for Layering

Now that it's December I'm thinking of layers of all sorts. Sometimes I dream of the chocolatey, fudgey, mocha, whipped creamy layers in concoctions like this one. A small 'sliver' wouldn't upset the fitness regimen too much. Would it? Of course when you pile that 'sliver' on top of tourtière, roast turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, mincemeat tarts, and other seasonal fare... I might have to crank up the exercise bike a notch or two. Or ski a couple of extra hours a week... or a day. Ha. 

Chocolate truffle layer cake from Food and

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Just sayin'. Thoughts About Grief.

You know, normally I'm not at a loss for words. On the blog or otherwise. But this week. Meh. Not so chatty. You see, the young son of a good friend just died. He was fourteen. And we're all kind of gobsmacked. 

His mum is a good friend of mine. She's much younger than me. In fact we met when she was hired as a new teacher and I was a fifteen year veteran. Her desk was next to mine. That year we bonded over grade nine English lesson plans and moaning about our wardrobes. I left the next September to take a headship in another school, and we have met every few months for lunch or dinner since then. We've sipped wine or coffee, and yakked, mostly about work and clothes, for almost twenty years. Since then she's married, become a department head herself, then a vice-principal, and now a principal. And she's had three lovely sons. She calls me her "mentor" and I'm flattered to be thus characterized. Flattered because she's smart and kind and funny and a seriously hard worker. She didn't need me to get where she is. But it's nice to be thought of that way. 

So what exactly does one say to a much younger friend when one has no idea how they must be feeling? How it is to be so devastated by loss. How it is to even have a child, let alone lose one. What to say, or do, when one frankly has no clue how to be helpful. No clue at all.

Late fall on the trail

Saturday, 3 December 2016

If Wishes Were Dresses ... Festive Dressing Decision Time

So... the other day, when it was still November, I was on my exercise bike pedaling my butt off (not to mention other body parts that have grown in girth lately.) And I was flipping through magazines and Pinterest, and dreaming of wearing something like this dress to the deluge of festive parties that I will be attending this year. Okay, maybe not a deluge, exactly, but more than two. 

Sigh. If wishes were dresses this would be in my closet right now. A lovely full-skirted, red, satin dress with high heels and an edgy leather jacket to keep it from looking too ladylike. But... wishes are just wishes, and there is no lovely, full-skirted, red dress hiding in my closet.

Red full-skirted dress, black leather jacket, black hose, red fur bag, from winter 2017 issue

Monday, 28 November 2016

Family Dynamics... Fictional or Otherwise

I come from a big family. Well, big enough. A brother, two sisters, and a step-brother, with whom I grew up. And a half brother with whom I didn't. Three sets of grandparents. Lots of uncles and aunts. And cousins. Numerous great aunts and uncles, in Mum's family, whose names I could never get straight, or whether they were Grammy's brother or sister, or Grampy's. Funnily enough, I seem to remember all the greats, not as individuals, but as pairs. Aunt Laversa and Uncle Sam. Aunt Ada and Uncle Ernest. Aunt Lenora and Uncle Ben. Then there were Grammy's two brothers who married sisters, making all their children what we called "double cousins." Yep. That's a pretty big family. And pretty complex, I'd say. So even though Hubby and I don't have kids, family, and family dynamics, has always been important to me. Important, enriching, infuriating, always fascinating, and the subject of endless analysis and story-telling. I could write a book. We all could. Which is where I'm going with all this. Books about family dynamics.

Hen's nesting box with three eggs.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Keeping Winter Real ... In Fashion Blogger Land

Sometimes I think that maybe I'm too immersed in fashion-blogger-land for my own good. That maybe I subscribe to far too many fashion websites, e-mail updates from fashion brands, fashion blogs, Pinterest and Instagram accounts exclusively about fashion, yadda, yadda... you name it. All this in the name of staying current with what's going on out there in fashion-land. Which frequently, I have to say, has little or nothing to do with what's going on in my own small closet... or in the closets of anyone I know. Even more so during the winter... especially during a Canadian winter.

Ottawa commuters waiting for their bus during a winter storm that hit Ottawa in February 2013. CTV photo.
Massive snowstorm hits Ottawa in February 2013  source
Take for instance, the "cold shoulder" sweater. Now, I'm not much of a fan of the "cold shoulder" look; you know, those tee shirts and blouses with the cut-out shoulders which were all the rage last summer. But I could at least see the sense of them in the summer. When colder shoulders might be desirable. But when I saw this Nordstrom ad for a "cold shoulder" chunky knit sweater, I had to laugh. Really? Does that make sense to you? 

Nordstrom chunky cold shoulder sweater in charcoal.

Which made me think of the off the shoulder look below from Balenciaga. As Morwenna Ferrier asks in her article in The Guardian: is it a jacket or is it a stole? According to Ferrier's article, Top Shop's creative director Kate Phelan is embracing off the shoulder puffer jackets (can't quite believe I'm even writing that) in a big way. Saying they represent a "new sense of heightened reality happening in fashion...." Ok-ay. And, Ferrier goes on to say that, while the Balenciaga version is only 'styled' off the shoulder, the Top Shop version, which she dubs "winter's answer to the Bardot top," is designed to fit like a stole. The "ready-off-shoulder" coat, as Ferrier puts it, requires perhaps more "commitment" than the Balenciaga version. Unlike the Balenciaga coat, there is no way to pull the Top Shop coat up over one's shoulders when one is, inevitably, freezing one's butt off. Or one's shoulders. Ha. 

Red Balenciaga puffer coat with the off the shoulder look, winter 2016
Balenciaga's "cold shoulder" down jacket. source
And since fashion is known for going from one extreme to the other, I present what Disney Roller Girl calls the "duvet coat." Love that term. And I actually love the colour of this Marques Almeida coat. And it certainly would be toasty warm in a Canadian winter. Nevertheless, I think this might be just a teensy bit too much coat for me. That collar would certainly be a driving hazard. Still, if the early snow we've had this year, which doesn't seem prepared to go anywhere, is a harbinger of the winter to come... wearing too much coat might be preferable to wearing not enough coat.

Marques Almeida down coat, winter 2016
Marques Almeida AW 2016 source
The other coat that seems really big (no pun intended) this winter is the faux fur. I love faux fur coats. I have ever since I didn't get one for Christmas when I was nine or ten. You see, one night a few weeks before Christmas when I was nine (or ten), my mum brought home a lovely, cream, fake-fur coat (much like the one on the right below) for me to try on, saying that our neighbour, Penny, was wanting to buy it for her niece who was my age and size. In fact, the coat was for me, but Mum was reluctant to spend her money if the coat didn't suit. So of course, it fit perfectly, and I inwardly swooned. But when Mum asked if I would like a coat like that, I demurred. In my nine-year-old head I thought I knew that Mum could never afford such a coat, and so to avoid getting my own hopes up, I tried to be grown-up and practical, and said that it wasn't for me, and, anyway, it would probably get dirty too easily. So Mum returned it. Gad. She really wanted me to have it, and I really wanted it... and we were like those two characters in that O. Henry story "The Gift of the Magi." I learned my lesson that year. Always tell the truth, people, especially about presents which come disguised as gifts for other little girls. 

Faux fur coats from Marni, Top Shop, and Made to Measure
Marni Shearling coatTop Shop pink faux fur, Made to Measure faux fur coat
Unlike the off-the-shoulder puffer coat, faux fur coats make a lot of sense to me. They're warm, and they look great, and they don't cost the earth. But I did have to laugh when I read this post on the blog Le fashion, about "teddy bear coats." Reminded me of the time, years ago, when a student of mine came into my class wearing a vividly spotted, faux fur coat. Seriously, that coat looked like it was made from the sabre-toothed tiger on the Flintstones cartoon. "Allison," I admonished, in my best, stern teacher voice, "how many stuffed animals had to die to make that coat?" She stopped, looked quizzical, then rolled her eyes, "Ha ha. Good one Ms. B."  So yea. I like faux fur. I just have a hard time with the coats that look like they might have had a previous life as some little kid's stuffed animal. But if you like that look, and I'll admit that it's starting to grow on me (a little), there are a few pretty ones here

Faux fur coats aside, I'm not fond of the cartoon sabre-toothed tiger look. Especially in boots. Especially those with four inch platform soles. Like these Maison Margiela boots which were featured in Elle magazine's 10 Most Wearable Winter Trends for 2016. Most wearable, eh? Oh my. These boots made me chuckle. Winter. Cold. Ice. I spy a broken ankle just waiting to happen. 

Maison Margiela faux fur, platform boots from winter 2016
Martin Margiela boots source
So, yep, there are a few trends in fashion-land which have me scratching my head. But that doesn't mean there aren't lots of examples of chic, comfortable, realistic winter looks out there. Outfits that won't look ridiculous on me now that I'm a woman of a certain age. That won't have me freezing my butt off, nor looking like a walking example of fashion victim-hood. Outfits like these ones.

Two winter looks from
From Sandra

Green scarf and sweater and grey coat on
From Le
  Gorgeous, lovely, layered outfits, that keep fashion real, and are warm enough for a Canadian winter. With great boots, luxurious scarves, and fierce coats combined with panache and enough elan (love that word) to inspire me, and reaffirm my belief in fashion. And make me want to get dressed even on the coldest, snowiest days.

So yea, I probably do pay too much attention to all the fashion palaver on the web and in magazines. And sometimes it exasperates me. But I'm never put off for long. That's because, to me, fashion is like that crazy, lovable, wonderful, embarrassing at times, but always interesting aunt or cousin. Sure sometimes they're weird, and silly, but they're always fascinating, and so entertaining, and you love them to death. 

So while I'm here keeping winter fashion real... or trying to... what have you been up to, folks? 

Fashion-wise or otherwise?

Linking up this week with: Visible Monday#IwillwearwhatIlikeWhat I WoreStyle Me WednesdayThursday Favourite ThingsFun Fashion Friday, and Saturday Share Link-Up.

Monday, 21 November 2016

As Long As You're Dressed For It

Winter has come, folks. Mother nature threw us a curve ball yesterday, and suddenly our predicted flurries turned into fifteen cm of snow. And high winds. And, as of 5 o'clock this afternoon, it's still snowing. Why, it's so miserable even the geese are leaving. This November is turning out so very different from last year. Remember last year, with its sunny days? And its sunny ways ... but let's not go there.

Geese leaving the Rideau River during the first big snowfall of the season
Our resident flock of Canada geese...going, going, almost gone. 

Friday, 18 November 2016

Seasonal Musings: Late Afternoon Walks, Good Books, and Black Friday et al

'Tis the season, folks. The clocks have been turned back. The sun sets an hour earlier now. Some days Hubby and I are pressed to get our walk in before dark. It used to be a tradition for us on Sundays, in the late fall, to pop dinner in the oven and then go for our walk. Returning to the lovely smell of roasting chicken... or roasting something. Ironically, now that we don't have to wait for Sunday, we don't very often do the big roast chicken, mashed potato, and gravy thing any more. Still we love the late afternoon walks. And when we time it right... we are treated to views like this as we turn and head for home. 

November sunset, near Rideauview Golf Course, Manotick Ontario
Our sunset walk along the edge of Rideauview Golf Course, near Manotick

Monday, 14 November 2016

The Wearing of the (Prada) Green

Ah, it's a grand day in the neighbourhood, so it is. All blue sky and sunshiney. The man is off playing golf. And I'm after having a wee fashion show, so I am. With my new, green Prada jumper. And whatever I can find in my closet that goes best with it. 

Like this khaki, suede biker jacket that I won last spring on Alyson Walsh's blog That's Not My Age. The khaki suede looks lovely, I think, with my new green sweater. Please note: I have dropped the annoying faux Irish accent... bet you're relieved. Anyhoo... I'm also wearing a Theory white shirt, and Citizens of Humanity cropped jeans. This is a good outfit for a day like today. Crisp, and a bit breezy, but with warm sunshine. No need for a scarf or gloves. Well, you might want gloves if you're raking leaves. Which I'm not.       

Friday, 11 November 2016

Coping Mechanisms

Phew. It's been a helluva week, hasn't it? 

On Monday when I was writing my last post I was "prepping" for a routine colonoscopy for which I was scheduled the next day. And may I say "prepping" is the nicest possible way to describe that nasty, day-long, 4 litres of gunk to swallow process. If my post on vintage fashion sounded a bit herky-jerky, it's because I wrote it in snippets, in between excusing myself to... well... never mind. Then, since I don't cope well physically with not eating, I had a raging headache, and once the "purging" began, the chills and then the shakes. Finally by bedtime I was so swaddled in robes and shawls that I'm sure I resembled my Irish great-great-great grandmother as she huddled in front of her turf fire during the long, cold winter in County Kerry. The test on Tuesday went well, however, and Hubby and I returned home in sunshine and warm temperatures. Perfect for a late afternoon walk. 

Sunny fall day on the Osgoode Trail, near Osgoode, Ontario.
Osgoode Trail, Tuesday afternoon.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Vintage: The Best Way to Do Slow Fashion?

It's November and in Ottawa that means frosty nights. Remembrance Day, of course. Some gorgeous sunsets on the river. And for vintage clothing lovers, the annual Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show

Vintage hat, Max Mara tweed blazer
Vintage hat I bought last year at the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Miracle on 34th Street ... Finding My Perfect Fall Coat

I've been fall coat shopping. For a while now. I needed a coat for those fall days when it's a bit too cold for a blazer, and not yet cold enough to haul out the winter coat. I want to delay that  event as long as possible. Because once the winter coats are out of storage....they tend to stay out for months... and months. 

A good coat has long been part of my wardrobe philosophy. Years ago, before I started teaching, when I was working as a pharmaceutical sales rep, I realized that if I had a great coat I didn't have to worry much about what I wore underneath it. Because it rarely ever came all the way off. I'd perch on the edge of a chair in doctors' offices talking quickly and wielding my fancy, colourful, statistical charts, squeezing my sales pitch into the three or four minutes before the doctor had to get back to work and pitched me out the door, metaphorically speaking. There was definitely no time to take off my coat. I learned to wear good boots, a black skirt, a blouse, often with a tie at the neck to make a scarf unnecessary... under a smart looking coat. Good coats aside... I hated that job. The most important thing I took away from that experience was not to be seduced by the offer of a shiny company car ever again. How much crap doctors have to listen to from sales reps in order to get the drug samples that they can then hand out free to patients who many times can ill afford to pay for them. And the importance of a good coat in looking pulled together and, in this case, professional. 

Monday, 31 October 2016

In Praise Of Nasty Women

There's been a lot of palaver in the last couple of weeks about "nasty" women. Well, actually, one so-called "nasty woman." I was in New York the night of the last Clinton-Trump debate. Elizabeth and I hived it back to our hotel room after dinner, changed into our jammies, and settled down with a glass of wine in front of the TV. We didn't want to miss any of the drama. Sorry if that sounds flippant. But to us Canadians, the election drama south of  the border is pure theatre. I do realize that it's serious business if you are American. Probably more serious for us than we realize, too. But I don't want to talk about that here. 

I do want to talk about "nasty" women. That word has been on my mind ever since I came home from New York. How it seems to have become a rallying cry for some women. How society has historically tended to demonize strong women or women with power. And I've been thinking about all the nasty women I know. And have known. 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

How to Dress Like a Canadian Visiting New York

Last year when Hubby and I were planning our trip to France, I stressed over what to pack. What to wear in Paris? How to be chic, or at least pulled together, and yet comfortable? I read way too many articles on how to dress "like a Parisian." And then I fussed, and fumed, and shopped. And then I decided to stop sweating it and keep it simple. Good jeans. Good tees. A good jacket. A raincoat. Comfortable, but not ugly, shoes for walking. One pair of dressier shoes. And a scarf. I'd dress like me, a middle-aged Canadian women, visiting Paris. C'est tout. Turns out that's how women in Paris dress anyway. 

So a few weeks ago when I began to plan my outfits to take to New York, I thought it would be a doddle. Fall, cool, but not cold = jeans, a coat sweater, long sleeved tees, a jacket. You know. Paris but a bit cooler... and by cool I mean temperature. I kept thinking about a line I read on the blog Une Femme d'un Certain Age. Sue said that the measure of an outfit for her is the question: "Would I wear this in Paris?" I loved that. And as I was trying on outfits that I actually had worn in Paris, I kept thinking "Well, if it was good enough to wear in Paris..." And so I planned and pre-packed happily. Until I read the New York weather forecast, and although it was wonderfully fall-ish in Ottawa, New York would be back in summer temperatures by the time we arrived. As hot as 28° Celsius. Crap. 

Times Square during the October heat wave October 2016.
Sleeveless in NYC. Elizabeth's shot of Times Square our first day in New York. 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

New York Stories. Well... Some of Them.

In a moment of beautiful serendipity, I sat down at my computer this morning, to start this post about my trip to New York. The shopping. The theatre. The art. And on CBC radio, Michael Enright began interviewing Ross King, discussing King's new book Mad Enchantment, about Claude Monet and his famous water lily paintings. Two of which I just saw... like... three days ago!  At Moma in New York. I love it when stuff like that happens, don't you? 

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's begin at the beginning. Elizabeth and Sue went to New York. On a plane. They stayed four nights, and saw and did many exciting things. These are their stories. And pictures, of course.

View from our plane as we approach New York
Glued to the window. Waiting for a view of the New York skyline.

Monday, 17 October 2016

New York State of Mind

This post will be short and sweet. Short because I'm flying to New York City tomorrow with a girlfriend. And there are outfits to be tried on, ironed, packed... etc etc. And sweet because... well ... tomorrow I'm flying to New York City with a girlfriend. And I'm excited. It's my sixtieth birthday treat to myself. Albeit a few months late. But who cares? As my friend Elizabeth said when I asked her if she wanted to come along... "Autumn in New York. Sounds good to me."

New York City

We've had our flights and hotel booked for a while. What will we do when we get there? We've done our homework. We've lots of ideas, and recommendations, and we've narrowed down what we don't care about, and what we do. But as for making specific plans.... we've not made up our minds yet. We plan to walk a lot, and shop some. See a show, or maybe two. Visit some museums, we're not sure which ones yet. And other than that... eat, sip wine... and enjoy just being there. 

Just being there will be great. 

So, my friends. I'll be in touch in a few days. In the meantime. I am truly in a "New York State of Mind." 

Love this Billy Joel song.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

What To Wear When You Don't Have Time To Wait for Inspiration.

What should I wear, today? What, what, what? Sigh. How many times have I stared blankly into my closet and asked myself that dreaded question? Ha. Many, many times, my friends. 

To be truthful, I haven't done it in years. But when I was younger... well... that was a whole other thing. Back then I might go through several outfit changes each morning, tossing aside unwanted items as I became more and more frustrated, and had less and less time before I had to be out the door. Then, when inspiration failed me, and time ran out, I'd root through the pile of clothes on my bed, haul out a favourite and too often relied upon outfit combination, and rush down to the basement to plug in the iron. Because, of course, the blouse or skirt was now hopelessly wrinkled, having been discarded early in the process, and lying under a growing pile of other discarded items. I'd press the wrinkles out, toss on whatever it was I'd chosen, and dash out the door, coat flying, twenty minutes late, knowing that if traffic was heavy my first morning class might be in danger of starting without me. And that would be bad because I was the teacher. Phew. So glad those days are over.

Wouldn't it be nice if we all just looked like this every morning? source

Monday, 10 October 2016

Fall Wilderness Wanderings : Good for the Body and the Soul

A couple of weeks ago, when I returned home from New Brunswick... home from home, you might say... Hubby and I packed the truck and headed for the hills, and the valleys, of the Bonnechere River. We have been making this fall camping trip for many years. Getting away from the city... or near city... where we live. Getting out in the bush, or as close as we can get to the bush with our truck and tent trailer. Soaking up the fresh air and sunshine. And sometimes the rain. But let's not go there. 

Road to Bonnechere Provincial Park, near Alice, Ontario
On the road to Bonnechere
Fall camping is the very best of the best of wilderness experiences, as far as I'm concerned. Crisp mornings and warm sunshine-y afternoons. Dusk coming early. Sitting around the campfire after supper, cradling a glass of wine, and watching sparks disappear up into the night sky. Makes me all calm just thinking about it. 

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Shoe Story

What's the story with women and shoes, do you think? Is it a truth universally acknowledged that every woman is "obsessed" with shoes? Nah. I'm not buying that. 

Despite what I discovered during my painstaking, and painful I might add, research. All the gushingly, hyperbolic blog posts about shoes, and the articles showing the supposedly 'enviable' fashionista closets, and the many hundreds of pairs of shoes certain celebrity fashionistas have in these closets. Apparently Celine Dion confided to Ellen Degeneres that she has over 3000 pairs. Or was that Imelda Marcos? I'm a bit confused. And no wonder... I've seen way too many pictures of pink closets today, with rows and rows of gold shoes... hmmm, whose closet was that? Oh yes, Mariah Carey... I think. But despite all this palaver over shoes, I don't believe every woman is obsessed with shoes. I know I'm not. 

But that doesn't mean that shoes aren't an important, even vital, part of a great outfit. In fact, quite the contrary. Shoes can make or break an outfit. The minute you put them on and look in the mirror, you know. They're either too chunky, too prim, too flat, too high in the heel, not high enough... or just right. And if they're just right, they make a good outfit look even better. Right?

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Fall Camping...Far From The Madding Crowd

October. Fall. Temperature dropping. Sweater weather. Most people are putting their gardens to bed and packing away lawn chairs and beach toys. Yet, we're packing and loading the truck and heading up the Ottawa Valley for our last camping trip of the season.

Fall is my favourite time of year. As someone who has spent most of my life as a student or as a teacher, September has always meant back to school for me. And I have always loved the feel of things kicking into gear in the fall. Usually by early October I would be back at work. Prepping lessons, getting to know new classes, bracing myself for the onslaught of marking before the midterm report in a few weeks.

But I retired from teaching in early 2013. And this September was my fourth September of freedom. And while fall still seems like a time of beginnings.... they are beginnings of a very different nature now.

Hubby and I love camping. Summer camping is great for swimming and canoeing and fishing. But fall camping is the best. Our favourite. And now that we're both retired, we don't have to wait for Thanksgiving Weekend for our fall camping trip. And this makes fall camping even better.

And here's why.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

What to Wear While Strolling Down Memory Lane

Today is my last day down east with my Mum. I'll be heading home to Ottawa tomorrow. And I've been thinking tonight about how much time I've spent, this past week, wandering down one lane or another. Literal and figurative. Once the rain stopped, a brisk breeze blew in sunshine and lovely crisp September weather. Perfect for donning sneakers and sweatpants and getting outside.

old farmhouse basking in the autumn sunshine
The old farmhouse basking in the sunshine

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

When Inspiration Fails To Strike

What do you do when inspiration fails to strike? I sigh. And mooch around the house as if I'm afflicted by bored-angsty-teen syndrome. Which of course I am. Then I read. Good fiction. Or non-fiction, mostly articles. Looking for ideas. And I go for a walk, or a run, or a bike ride. And eventually when I least expect it, inspiration strikes.

Corn fields and an old wind mill, while walking near Osgoode, Ontario.
Walking near Osgoode, Ontario

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Finding My Perfect Timeless White Shirt

I know, I know... the iconic white shirt has almost become a cliché. If you pay attention to those "Five Things Every Woman Must Have in Her Closet" articles, you'll have read that a white shirt is a "must have" in every woman's closet. Apparently. Well, I don't know about that. I mean, if you don't like white shirts, then don't wear one. And clearly we shouldn't pay attention to those silly, bossy, one-size-fits-all lists. But I will say this. I love a white shirt. Always have, since I was a kid. And a white shirt is always on my personal "must have" list. 

I mean just look at Lauren Bacall in her white shirt in the 1948 movie Key Largo. She looks cool and casual and elegant, doesn't she? And Bogie doesn't look half bad in his white shirt either. 

 Bogey and Bacall in their white shirts in Key Largo

Sunday, 11 September 2016

My Fall Colours

I've been wishing and hoping, as the old song goes, for fall. And it looks like my wishes just might be coming true. Last night we had a spectacular thunderstorm, and high winds. And I awoke this morning to find the stultifying humidity gone, replaced by cool temperatures and a wonderfully fresh September breeze that has me reaching for my jeans and sweaters. Ahhh. That's much better.

Paug Lake in the Ottawa Valley 2014
Fall's dark reds and deep blues. Taken on our last fall camping trip in 2014.
Hubby is away fishing this week, and while I've been cleaning, and shopping, and picking and processing tomatoes... we are inundated with tomatoes... I've also been thinking about fall colours. Luscious burgundies, and cool blues, and crisp whites. Like the image below from this week's's magazine The Edit.

Image from magazine The Edit
Elie Saab jacket and blouse, and Stella McCartney pants in's magazine The Edit

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Getting My Domestic Goddess On

See that face? What does that say to you? Yep, Lucy's face pretty well sums up my feelings about housework. Meh. Blech. Sigh. I am not a domestic goddess. I hate to clean. But, you probably already know that if you read my blog regularly. I wrote about my lack of domestic skills back a few months ago. Okay, not so much lack of skills, as I said in that post, more like lack of motivation. 

Lucille Ball's look expresses just how I feel about cleaning

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Thrift Shop Shopping: A Sisters' Adventure

About a month ago my sister Carolyn sold her home and she and her husband moved to a smaller house. And because she has so much on her plate these days, I asked her what I could do to help, that did NOT involve lifting. Because... uh, back issues... the month last winter that I spent in physio has me not wanting to go there again. So Carolyn asked: "Could I go through her clothes closet and make her a shopping list of what she might need?" Could I? Had I not recently spent a week editing my closet, and then writing about curated closets, and capsule wardrobes?  I sure had. Am I not the one who loves to organize, not to mention the one who loves to boss people around? I sure am. So, I was happy as a clam to help her unpack her clothes, organize her new closet, and help her to decide what was wearable, not wearable, donate-able, or throw-out-able. 

cheeky decor at The Frock Exchange in Kanata
Some of Fiona's funky decor at The Frock Exchange.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Rainy Day Books

It's been a long hot summer here on the Rideau. Hot, humid, and with very little rain. Lots and lots of sun, and not many days like this. To be fair this shot was taken last spring when it's supposed to rain. But still. The odd rainy, unseasonably cool day over the past few weeks would have gone down a treat with me.

Rainy day on the Rideau
A rainy day on the Rideau... perfect for reading.
That's because I've been stuck into a great book a few times this summer... unwilling, and even unable, to come unstuck. And there's nothing better than a cool, rainy day to justify doing nothing but read... all day.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Dipping My Toe in the Dress Over Pants Trend

Like most women who love clothes, I like to keep up with trends. I like to know what's in and what's out, and whether what's in or out will ultimately have any effect on my wardrobe. I like to look polished, pulled together, and current, but I don't usually like to go off the deep end when it comes to trends. Especially if it means spending money on something that might look dated next season. But shopping my closet for pieces I can recombine, or re-purpose to replicate a trend that I like. Dipping my toe in the water, so to speak. Maybe even wading in a little. Well, I'm all over that. 

The dress over pants (or trousers for you Brits) trend isn't new. It's been around off and on for ages. In one shape or another, one era or another, or one culture or another. I love this gold and red confection from the fifties. I can't say that I'd wear the skirt and pants... bit too dramatic for me. But those gold, kitten heel pumps would suit me just fine.

Skirt over pants in the fifties

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Why I Love Golf. Ha. And It's Not Why You Think.

I love golf. I started to play not long after I met my husband. He's an avid and excellent golfer and has been playing since he was a teenager. 

It all started with his teaching me to swing the club on the front lawn. Then we played our first game and I parred my first hole. Yep... I hit that darn little (one could even say minuscule) ball into the equally tiny hole in 4 strokes! Mirriam-Webster on-line dictionary defines "par" as "the number of strokes a good golfer is expected to take to finish a hole or course." Pffft, I thought dismissively... this game is easy... and fun. 

For a few moments I dreamed of playing at some of Prince Edward Island's fabled courses when we were at our rented cottage that summer.

And then later sipping afternoon tea on the veranda at Dalvay By The Sea... me in my fetching little golf skirt and sun visor.

Dalvay By the Sea
Then my husband cleared his throat and said, "Suz, you need to tee off." And with the second hole, the fun ended. For years. 

Thursday, 11 August 2016

To Cruise... Or Not To Cruise

A while ago Hubby and I were at a party. And while he was standing with his buddies drinking beer and talking politics, or baseball, or golf, I was sitting with a group of ladies I've known for years, but usually only see at parties like this. Hockey parties. Not parties where hockey is played or watched. But parties held a few times a year where a group of up to twenty assorted couples get together, a group connected, at least initially, by the fact that the husbands play hockey together. And have for years. And years. 

So anyway, I was sitting that Saturday night, talking to Sue and Sue. Yep, there are a lot of Susans in our group. Our conversation was in part about cruises. Sue #1 had been on a Caribbean cruise last spring with three women friends and, although I had seen photos on Instagram, I hadn't spoken to her about it. She had a good time, she said. Everything was lovely. But she said there was a sameness to the daily island excursions that wore a bit thin after a while. And then we discussed the idea of cruises in general. Pros and cons. And, given that we're all getting older, whether cruising is something we might like to do when our current favourite mode of travel becomes unfeasible. Too exhausting or stressful or unmanageable. Sue's hubby and mine have known each other since they were teenagers playing junior hockey together. And they're similar in many ways including the fact that their wives both think (or know) that their husbands are not really cruise people. 

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Old Blogger Approved

Have you noticed that for a while, in internet-land, fashion blog post titles which read something like "Six Blogger Approved Ways to Wear Culottes" or "Blogger Approved Denim" were ubiquitous? Well, trust me, they were. Please note the use of the past tense here, and I'll explain a bit later. 

For now, let's focus on this pair of cropped pants which I bought at Nordstrom a week or so ago. Unfortunately they weren't part of the Anniversary Sale... but they were on my list for fall. And I love them. So they came home with me. Yep. These Veronica Beard navy, cropped "scuba" pants are definitely "blogger approved." At least by this blogger. Over the hill, and well past my sell-by date though I may be, I still love (dare I say obsess over) a great pair of cropped pants. I love the look of a polished cropped pant. They suit my body-type and my style preferences. And these pants in particular are stretchy and really comfortable, with edgy seaming down the back. And being navy they go with everything in my minimal closet. All of my tops, and most of my shoes and sandals.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Why the Internet Makes Me Crazy.

You know, some days I just want to smack my computer. Or something. Not someone... because I know that's wrong.

Like the other day, I checked out my Instagram account while I was pedaling my exercise bike. I should probably say here that, while I like social media, managing several different accounts means that it can eat up my day if I let it. So my time on the exercise bike is the time I've set aside to pay attention to my Instagram (and Pinterest and Twitter) account. Anyway, I saw that I had several new followers. Okay, that's good isn't it? But when I checked out my new followers, I was surprised that they had chosen to follow me. Not sure what a shirtless, twenty-something male, for example, would find interesting in my posts. Me... a retired, middle-aged, book addict posting about walks in Algonquin Park, bike rides on the Rideau... or my new skinny jeans. I didn't follow back because, well, I'm not interested in the photos this boy posts. And then the next day I saw that I'd been "unfollowed" by the same four followers I'd gained the day before. Presumably because I didn't follow them back. Ah well... easy come, easy go. But seriously, what were they thinking to begin with? Who has time for this nonsense? I mean, I follow those accounts which interest me, and expect that others will do the same. Sheesh... sometimes the antics on the internet... who follows whom, and how many followers does whomever have ... just make me laugh. Or roll my eyes. Or both.

Rolling my eyes on Paris.
Big eye rolls (and too many chins) in Paris last year. 

Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Ongoing Battle With My Authentic Hair

So here's the story. For months now I've been battling with my hair. Or to be more precise battling with myself, over my hair. Trying to back off, be a little less controlling, a little less of an annoyingly anal perfectionist. Trying to let my curl go its own way. At least some of the time. And it ain't easy. 

It ain't easy when my cut and colour are fresh. Let alone when it's been weeks and weeks since my last cut and still two more weeks to go. So that my hair is too long and heavy on top making it smush down no matter how much I fluff and scrunch. Not to mention the frizz enhancing humidity we've been experiencing. Humidity that kinks and fuzzes my bangs. And makes colossal whoop-de-dos exactly where I don't want them. 

So despite my best efforts to look like one of these ladies...

various short curly cuts that I love.
I aspire to make my hair look like any one of these cuts from my Pinterest board.

I end up looking a little like Schroeder, from the Peanuts comic strip...

Shroeder has hair just like mine

... with a quiff on top that looks very much like Tin Tin. Seriously. I'm not joking. 

My hair sometimes resembles Tin Tin's.