Friday, 28 December 2018

Reflections on 2018... Wardrobe Wise.

The week between Christmas and New Years is a good time for reflection, don't you think? And for the past couple of years I've spent some time doing just that during this week of metaphorical treading of water, this week of skiing and eating, reading and lolling, and listening to Hubby shout from the living room about a hockey goal, or not a goal. 

This time last year, and the one before, I reflected on my wardrobe, and in particular on my shopping habits. I totted up my purchases for the previous year to see how I had measured up in my quest to become a more ethical shopper. I'd read an article in Bust Magazine that the average American shopper in 2013 purchased seventy items of apparel. Seventy. And I wanted to see how I stacked up. In 2016, I bought twenty-six new pieces of clothing, accessories, and footwear. And in 2017 that number was almost unchanged at twenty-five. You can read those two posts here and here

three shots of a woman in jeans, scarf, and white down jacket
Out and about lately in navy and cream.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Merry Christmas, From Us

We've had some Christmas tree controversy in our house this year, folks. I've struggled trying to decide on a name for our tree. It's an adorable little tree, perfectly round, and sweetly shaped. I initially decided to name him Boris. 

"Boris?" my mum said in dismay over the phone last week. "That's a harsh name to pin on a little tree isn't it?" "Well, maybe it's Boris as a youngster," I replied, "When he's little, and roly-poly, and everyone loves him. You know, before he takes over the Politburo. Or makes all those scary movies. Or helps to engineer Brexit" 

Okay, maybe she did have a point.

Man squeezing a Christmas tree through a door from outside
Boris comes in from the cold. Ha. Russian joke there. 

Monday, 17 December 2018

Over the Backyard Fence: Musings on Friendship.

When I was a kid, my sister used to laugh at how much my friend Debbie and I talked on the phone. She was right; we were always on the phone. Through elementary school, and most of high school, we talked on the phone every afternoon, or evening, about what had transpired at school during the day. 

I remember my sister saying she had a vision of Debbie's and my future. We'd be like Lucy and Ethel. We'd both be married with small kids; our houses would be next door to each other; the supper would burn, and the kids would run wild while Debbie and I talked and talked over the backyard fence. Ha. Despite the dated preconceptions, I still love that image.

two girls laughing in a photo booth
Grade eight in the photo booth at Zellers. 

Friday, 14 December 2018

Going Cold Turkey: Two Weeks Without Eye Make-up

It's highly ironic, I'd say, that just when I get my make-up professionally done, learn new tricks to help my aging skin look brighter, purchase a few new products and learn new ways to use the old ones, including eye shadow, I have my eye operated on and have to go for weeks without eye make-up. 

That's right, since my cataract surgery, I've gone cold turkey. Not a thing applied to my lids or lashes. Nothing. Nada. Zip. For two whole weeks. Gasp.

three young women in Regency period dress
Misses Marianne, Margaret, and Elinor Dashwood are my inspiration. Sense and Sensibility, 1995.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Travel Without Breaking the Bank

When I was young, I always thought how wonderful it would be to travel to far away places. To hike mountains in another hemisphere, ride a camel, or sail around tropical islands. To walk the cobbled streets of towns and cities, and see the same sights that I'd read about in books. But really, I thought, how would I ever be able to do all that? Travel was for the wealthy. Wasn't it?

Sunset camel ride on the beach in Broome, Australia
Funny, isn't it, how you can get things so wrong when you're a kid?

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

New Tricks

Be honest. How do you feel about running a brush through your hair in the morning, maybe gathering it into a ponytail or stuffing in under a toque, then pulling on your clothes, and heading out into the wide world completely barefaced? All you, nothing else but you, un-retouched, except for sunscreen. If that's your daily normal, then I salute you. Me... I'm way too chicken. Unless I'm going skiing, fishing, canoeing, or walking the trails, I don't show my face in public without make-up. And I haven't since I was in high school.

Of course, the way I make up my face has changed a lot over the years. Make-up itself has changed, fashion has changed, and I've changed (a whole lot) since I received my first mini-make-up kit from my big sister for Christmas when I was in grade nine. And for the past few years, learning to make-up my old(er) face has required me to learn quite a few new tricks. 

profile of woman in burgundy sweater,wearing dark lipstick
All made-up and no party to attend tonight.

Friday, 30 November 2018

The Accidental Shopper

This year, I accidentally shopped the Black Friday Sales. Really, I did. 

I'm usually anti-Black Friday; I've even written about it here on the blog. I abhor the whole frenzied shop until we (or the sales staff) drop thing. I've always eschewed the Black Friday sales here in Canada because, well, aren't they supposed to be an American thing? I mean, our Thanksgiving is in October. 

Of course, I'm not opposed to saving money on clothes that I would probably buy anyway. And if I could shop a sale without the crowds and the frenzy, find something that fills a niche in my wardrobe, fits in with what I already own, and with what I'm currently hoping to find, and which is even on my list for that season... well... that would be wonderful. But usually next to impossible. 

I normally have to put in lots of legwork to fill empty niches in my closet once I've identified them. And I'm totally unaccustomed to finding pieces when I'm NOT even looking for them, most especially when they are on sale. I'm normally a very deliberate shopper. Accidental shopping does not usually happen to me.

woman in checked pants, and burgundy sweater and loafers.
I love my new checked pants which I "accidentally" bought at a Black Friday sale. 

Monday, 26 November 2018

A Little Bit of Canada This November Morning

So. Late the other night, replete with good food and good conversation, I drove home from my book club meeting. My headlights piercing the darkness, I watched for black ice created by snow blowing across the open fields, and listened to a wonderful interview with Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright on CBC radio. 

Moon over Ottawa as seen from our plane as we arrived home from Rome in October.

Friday, 23 November 2018

The Long and Short of Personal Style

There's so much talk these days about the difference between fashion and style, personal style. How women needn't be slaves to the most recent trends, how we should dress to please ourselves, how style is what we do with the clothes we buy. Okay. I agree with all that. But what the heck do we do when we can't find anything that flatters and looks good on us? When the stores are filled with trends that leave us cold? 

woman in plaid pants and grey sweater sitting on a rattan chaise
Let's talk about the long and short of personal style, shall we?

Monday, 19 November 2018

Teaching Empathy in the Age of Trolling and Scrolling

Still at Mum's this weekend. Just finished reading a book that partially dealt with a daughter helping an aging, irascible father to cope with his altered state in life. And listened to a CBC radio program yesterday about caregivers for family with dementia, and the need for more empathy. Then I thought of this old post. On empathy. And reading.

Apparently we can be taught to be more empathetic. Really. Good news, don't you think, in this mean old world? This world where we seem to be getting a little bit meaner each year, unable or unwilling to put ourselves in another person's shoes, unable to understand, care about, or even identify how others must be feeling. This world of scrolling and trolling. Where we consume information, opinion, and hyperbolic headlines with the flick of a finger. Where the distance provided by our screens enables us to respond to what we read and see... instantly, sometimes anonymously, impulsively, and often free of consequence. Yep. This world definitely needs more empathy. 

And you know how we can learn to be more empathetic? And teach others to have more compassion for others? By reading more fiction. I swear. This is not just something that we dedicated readers have cooked up to justify our many hours of splendid isolation, slipper-clad feet up, balancing a good book in one hand, and a nice cup of tea in the other. It's true. Science says so.

"The Explorer" Rebecca Campbell

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Vintage Connections... Wearable and Otherwise

Hope you don't mind, my friends, but this is a "reprise" post. I'm still at Mum's and we've been busy with no time to blog. I missed the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show this year because I was in Fredericton. Next year I'll be there, hopefully.

Sunday an old friend and I attended the Ottawa Vintage Clothing Show. This is what I wore. Yep, I finally, finally mustered my courage and wore one of my vintage hats... out in public. I love vintage hats. But, I buy them, plan an outfit around them, and then at the last minute chicken out before I make it out the door. Not this time.

woman in black jacket and pants, on a lawn with river behind
On my way to the Vintage Clothing Show, in black and vintage.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Time Marches On and All That

You might know, if you read my last post, that I'm home in New Brunswick for the next while, visiting my Mum. As I sit in Mum's kitchen this morning pondering how to begin this post, I keep thinking of that Hilary Clinton book It Takes a Village. Because I've been saying all week to my mum that it takes a village to care for us, not just when we're young, but when we get old as well.

When we're young, most of us have parents, extended family if we're lucky, teachers, family doctors, and even the guy who drives the school bus to care for us. It takes a community of people to help children to grow and learn, and be safe and happy. 

The picture below is of my grandfather and grandmother Sullivan and most of their family. It was taken sometime in the nineteen-thirties when there were still two more sons to come, plus twins who died in infancy. That's my mum nestled up beside Grammy, with the cheeky grin on her face. I always smile when I look at this picture. At how my grandfather's hair looks as if it has a life of its own. At how my uncle Pius Jr. (who we all called Buddy) standing in front of Grampy, in his rubber boots, with his hands clenched into fists, looks like he stepped out of an episode of "Spanky and Our Gang."

You'd certainly need a village to raise this brood: extended family, older siblings looking after younger ones, neighbours, even the town cop. I remember Mum telling me the story of her weekend job at the Rainbow Diner during high school, how she got off work at midnight, and had to run all the way home to get there before they turned the streetlights out. How the town cop had to climb the tall pole in front of the Catholic Church to throw the switch. And how he'd always wait for her, hear her running footsteps, and then watch to see that she made it home safely before he put out the lights. I love that story.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

When the Skies of November Turn Gloomy

What should one do when, in the words of the famous Canadian singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, "the skies of November turn gloomy?" How will you manage when the temperature drops, the rain lashes your windows, and you haven't seen the sun in days? Actually, I think you know the answer to that question perfectly well. Read, people, read. Build a big fire in the fireplace, make a pot of tea, snuggle up with your significant other, and read. 

Last of the fall  leaves along the Rideau Valley Conservation Society walking trail
Weak sunlight and fallen leaves on my walk the other day

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Fall Rhapsody in My Closet

Fall is glorious in our neck of the woods. It's my favourite season. Not just because of Hubby's return to his rightful place in the kitchen, our very own version of "Return of the King," without the hobbits. Ha. But also because of the glorious fall colours, on the trees, as well as in my closet. 

Like the colour of my new (new-ish, now) Uniqlo light down vest. I love this piece. I love the rich burgundy, the weightlessness, the fact that it's not too tight but not too bulky, the length which covers just enough of what needs to be covered, and the added warmth it provides. 

I wore this vest a lot in Italy, with jeans, sneakers (d'uh), a striped cotton sweater from Massimo Dutti, and my Burberry scarf.  I chose the colour of the vest to go with my Max Mara tweed fall coat, and hopefully with my burgundy Akris turtleneck from last year. It works beautifully with both. And I've worn it pretty much constantly since we came home. 

woman in burgundy sweater and vest, scarf and blue jeans, standing under a tree amidst fallen leaves.
Heading out to meet my "To Hell with the Bell" lunch group last week

Monday, 29 October 2018

Italy: Taking the Roads Less Travelled.

Snow is falling this morning, the leaves that haven't been raked yet are a sodden mess, and everything everywhere is melting and dripping. Hubby is up to his usual late fall tricks. It's too soppy and slippy to walk, or golf, and not cold enough to ski, so he's alternating between chopping wood for the fireplace, and cooking. I do love having a husband who is easily bored. Ha.

And I am... well... as you can see... venturing back to Italy. 

Road up to Campo Imperatore, in the Gran Sasso d'Italia mountain range
Outside of L'Aquila, heading back down from Campo Imperatore

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Italian Chic: One Canadian's Perspective

Hubby and I love to travel. But when we're away for a few weeks, we start to long for home. And certain things at home. Popcorn, mashed potatoes, tea and toast, the view of the river from our sun room when dusk falls and the geese are landing. And my wardrobe. Well, I long for my wardrobe. Hubby doesn't care one way or the other. Ha. And if we're away when the seasons change, well that just makes my longing even more pronounced. 

So while it was still a balmy 25°C in Rome last week, I was gazing in the shop windows at fall fashions and kind of whimpering. That, and looking wistfully at all the chic Italian women I saw on the street, on the subway, and in shops. My well-edited travel wardrobe was wearing a bit thin by this time, and I was right royally sick of black, white, and grey.

I've been itching to share some of my observations on Italian fashion with you. Very non-expert observations, of course, from the perspective of one Canadian woman... of a certain age. So, let's take a break from my travel narrative, shall we, to talk fashion? 

Gucci shop window in Rome
Gucci shop window in Rome

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Italy: The View from My Couch

We've only been back in Ottawa for four days and already Italy seems long ago and far away. 

Rome was a faint memory when we arrived home a few nights ago, the wind blowing fallen leaves against my ankles as I fumbled in the darkness to unlock our back door, opened it to a slightly musty, closed-up-house smell, and glimpsed the film of dust on everything. Venice, and moonlit walks along the canal in Murano, seemed a lifetime ago as I winnowed down the mounds of laundry, hanging a load on the clothesline, then rushing out with the clothes basket when it began to rain, and then snow. Okay, it was only a few flakes. But still... snow!

View of Florence from Piazzale Michelanglo
View of Florence from Piazzale Michelanglo

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Italy Prima Parte: Water, Water Everywhere

I'm sitting in our B&B room in Agerola, high above Amalfi, as I write this morning, looking out at the clouds that sit on the terrace, with the windows wide open desperately hoping that the underwear and socks and tee shirts we washed by hand yesterday morning will somehow dry. Ha. Faint hope, I think. 

View of the Amalfi coast from Agerola
View of Amalfi taken as we walked the steps down from Agerola

Thursday, 20 September 2018

23 Days in Italy: Packed and Ready to Go

I have a new mantra for travel packing, my friends: pack to please myself. Period. That sounds so obvious, doesn't it? But since last week when I decided on my wardrobe plan for this trip, I've been waffling. Suffering from middle of the night second guessing precipitated by way too much time on Pinterest, and way too many of those bossy blog posts of the "how to pack" variety. Still, despite all this doubt, I've decided to stick to my original colour palette of black and white basics. For twenty-three days in Italy, I'm packing only outfits that are comfortable, reasonably polished, and in which I feel well and truly myself.

three shots of women in black sweater, sneakers, jeans and black cross-body bag
Black and black and blue. Not exciting, but comfortable and covered.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Much Ado About Very Little

It's the calm before the storm around here at the moment. Hubby and I are treading water, not quite twiddling our thumbs, finishing up tasks on our list that need to be done before we leave for Italy, and generally trying NOT to get too excited too soon. 

I shopped last week. I found a great new travel purse, and a black Madewell tee that will round out my warm weather travel choices. I may have purchased a gorgeous pair of burgundy Paul Green loafers for fall. But you'll have to wait until we return from Italy to hear about those. I'm thinking they will lessen the post trip let down, when I know I'll be thinking, "Manotick is lovely, but it ain't Rome." Nothing like planning a new outfit to lift one's spirits, eh? 

This week, I'll be finalizing my packing lists, and then, well, packing. And trying to maintain my equanimity. I've been listening to books on my Audible ap on my phone. If outfit planning can lift one's spirits, there's nothing like a little gentle reading, or listening, to calm them. 

cover of the illustrated version of Pride and Prejudice

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Planning My Travel Wardrobe for Italy

Our three weeks in Italy are coming up very soon. So, obviously I've been musing about my travel wardrobe. That's nothing new. What should I wear? And, how should I decide what to wear? These are perennial questions for me.

woman in white jeans, black jacket, black loafers, and scarf sitting on a deck
Still musing about what to pack for three weeks in Italy

Friday, 7 September 2018

On Being a Tourist

Hubby and I are off to Italy before too long. Our plans were mostly completed months ago. Right now we're refreshing our memories, reviewing all the arrangements we made way last spring. Reconfirming accommodation reservations that probably don't need re-confirming, but we'll do it anyway just for peace of mind. I'm researching details of what we might do with our days in Venice and Florence and Rome. Hubby is re-acquainting himself with the driving routes we'll take after we leave Florence, how we plan to get from one small place to another, what interesting roads we'll attempt. I have a rough plan for how I'll proceed with my jobs. Research. Shop. Pack. Go. 

And bubbling underneath all our suppressed excitement. While we're busying ourselves with everything that needs to be done, checking items off our list so all will be ready in a timely fashion, but not ready too early, which will only cause anxiety for both of us. Underneath all this and mostly unspoken is our desire to be on our way. To be tourists again.   

man and woman eating chocolate covered ice cream
Our chocolate-dipped-vanilla-ice-cream-face selfie.  Île d'Orleans, Quebec, 2014.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Summer's Last Gasp

It's the last weekend of summer. The autumn of summer, we might say. Soon we'll be saying, "Ah yes, remember last summer? Those white hot days at the beach, the languid afternoons, the warm, starry evenings of wine and song? Ha. As if.

Red barn with white trim and the shadow of clothes on a clothesline
photo courtesy of Aethne Hinchcliffe
More like... remember the searing, jabbing pain of that freaking shingles virus, the fog of pain meds, the creeping boredom of yet another day of enforced reading and reading and nothing else, except more moaning and cold compresses? 

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

The Vicissitudes of Travel

I write quite a lot on my blog about Hubby's and my travel adventures. We love to travel. But appearances on Instagram to the contrary, travel isn't all beautiful sunsets and stunning vistas. Sometimes it's exhausting, stressful, disappointing, and even painful. 

Sometimes you get to that beautiful beach, but the water is too cold to even paddle in the shallows.

woman wading in the sea
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, France 2015

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Curating My Fall Closet

Let's talk fall fashion, shall we? It's almost the end of August and high time I did my fall closet inventory. Time to look at what I own, decide what I plan to do with what I own, and figure out what I need.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Happy Birthday, Mum!

My mum's celebrating her birthday this week. And, for the first time in years and years, I won't be there for the festivities. As long as Hubby and I have been together we've made the trek down east in August. With the exception of this year, and two other years when we went home in July for different celebrations. 

This is a shot taken at Mum's 65th birthday party. That's my stepdad, my sister Connie, Mum, me, and my brother Terry. We're all laughing at the dancing flower in the cake my sister made for Mum. Every time someone laughed the flower danced and sang. The cake was made in a big plant pot, with Oreo cookies for the "dirt," and even a handy spade to "dish the dirt," so to speak. It was delicious, as well as hilarious, as I recall. 

Birthday shenanigans circa 1992.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Of Sweat Shirts, White Jeans, and Cross-Body Belly Packs.

I'm a great believer in stocking my closet with good quality basics. That sounds kind of self-satisfied, doesn't it? A bit preachy. Nevertheless, there are certain items which I always have in my closet. A pair, or three, of good white jeans for summer. Black flats, in this case my trusty black patent loafers from Stuart Weitzman which have been doing yeoman service since 2014. And, for most of my adult life, a good quality black sweatshirt. 

woman wearing white jeans, black sweatshirt and black loafers sitting in a red deck chair
Loving my new black sweatshirt from Aritzia. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Lost in Mitford Land... Again

Is it a bad thing, do you think, that I can name all the members of the Mitford family, from left to right, without checking to see who is who? Does that mean that I'm "obsessed"... to use an on-line cliché which I abhor? 

Unity, Tom, Debo, Diana, Decca, Nancy, and Pamela Mitford. 

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Outfit Dreams

I'm dreaming of outfits these days. When I'm lying in bed at night. Or drifting off to sleep for an afternoon nap. Or lazing in a deck chair. I'll put my book down, watch a boat go by on the river, and imagine what I'll wear when I can stand to wear normal clothes again

woman in white tee, white sneakers, and denim skirt leaning against a red car.
What I wore on my last day of freedom.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Funny Women

I read an article in The Atlantic a day or so ago called: Plight of the Funny Female. It's all about why men don't like funny women. And, you know, something clicked. Really? Could this be the reason for all my dating disasters in my twenties? If I'd just stopped trying to be funny would I have been more desirable to men?

woman in black turtleneck and suit jacket wearing a hard hat and a Groucho Marx disguise.
Staff party 1985. That's not my real nose, by the way. ha. 

Sunday, 29 July 2018

On Uniforms and the Evolution of Personal Style

I've been thinking lately of the idea of style uniforms, and how our adult style, our personal style, if you will, evolves. Of course this is because my uniform for the past week has been leggings or pyjama bottoms, and a loose, soft tee. So no style, and no brassiere. Because of a painful shingles rash, I haven't even been able to consider wearing a bra. And this reminded me of the early-seventies, when barely a year after I needed to wear a bra, I stopped wearing one. 

The irony is that I'd been so delighted when I actually needed a bra. In fact, I wore one needlessly for two years just because everyone else had one. I remember telling my mum tearfully that I simply couldn't attend my friend Mary's pyjama party in grade seven and be the only girl wearing an undershirt. Ha. 

teenage girls at a pyjama party in the sixties
Pyjama Party 1969

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

When Plans Get Derailed

Let's talk about derailments for a moment, shall we? I have a story to tell. There may be profanity. So be warned.

a lake in Algonquin Park at dusk
Achray Campground in Algonquin Park.     Photo courtesy of Turnipseed Travel

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Shirt, Skirt, Sneakers. Repeat.

I seem to be stuck in a fashion rut these days. Very happily stuck, I might add. Happy to pull on what has become my style uniform this summer. 

For running around doing errands, meeting a friend for lunch, shopping, whatever... I've been wearing a shirt, a skirt, and sneakers. Over and over. 

two shots of a woman in a denim skirt, white tee and white sneakers. One with a jacket and one with a sweater.
White tee, denim skirt, sneakers. Again and again.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

A Passion for Books

I have a passion for books. A deep and enduring love of reading that began early in life, and which has not abated in the ensuing years. I'm sure that as a kid, many summer days when I should have been running around outdoors, I had my nose in a book. 

In fact, I've written here many times about how much of my life I've spent with my nose in a book. I've written about books I love, and those I don't love quite so much. And even about the fact that finding a new and captivating writer can be very much like falling in loveThat's what happened when Hubby and I were on our camping trip last month. I fell head over heels for a new writer. 

photo of woman in black sweater
Author Susie Steiner   source

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Hitting a Shopping Home Run

Shopping can be a lot like baseball, you know. Sometimes you strike out. And sometimes you hit a home run. And sometimes you hit that home run without even trying. To do that takes one talented shopper. Or a very lucky one. Or one who has a secret, or maybe not-so-secret, batting technique, if you'll excuse the strangled metaphor. 

If I am very lucky in my shopping ventures, it's usually due to hard slog: lots of preparation, wardrobe assessment, research, and then tramping around to a million stores to find out what I want. Or... it's because I arrange to go visit my friend Liz, for lunch or coffee at Nordstrom, and she says she has something to show me that I might like. And I do, and it comes home with me. Wham. Home run without even trying. 

That's what happened the other day.  

woman in navy skirt and jacket, white tee, and white sneakers. Posing in front of white hydrangeas.
What I wore on my lunch date aka accidental shopping adventure.
Veronica Beard jacket, Burberry denim skirt, Vince tee, Michael Kors bag, Stan Smith Adidas.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Why I Am Not On A Diet

Let's get this straight, I am NOT on a diet. I don't believe diets work in the long-run. And most experts who aren't trying to sell you a diet plan will agree. 

But. And here's the kicker. Despite the fact that I exercise most days, and even though Hubby and I have made numerous healthy changes in our diet since his heart surgery... I've gained five pounds in the last three years. Now, how the heck did that happen? I was shocked when I stepped on the scale a couple of weeks ago, even though it only confirmed what I'd suspected. I had gained weight. My jeans and my mid-section had been telling me the whole sad story for a while. 

woman in blue pants suit and red loafers. White sweater, sneakers and black pants. Black dress, sandals and jean jacket.
Looks that hide what I want to hide  

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Everything is Better With Some Cows Around

Yesterday was my step-father's birthday. He would be ninety-six if he were alive, but he died ten years ago. We still miss him. Lloyd Samuel McGibbon was quite a man, you know. Kind, strong, patient. He had to be to take on us lot all those years ago. Ha.  

Lloydie on wheels. Making good use of my step-brother's old bike. Sometime in the 1980s.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Too Hot to Handle

The weather, I mean. The weather has been too hot to handle lately. And I am not good in the heat, especially when it's thirty-five degrees Celsius with a humidex in the low forties. 

To be honest, summer is not my best season. 

Everyone else adores summer, but me. I struggle. I do.

My hair frizzes, and seems to grow in volume the second I poke my nose outdoors. And when it's humid and windy, like at an event we attended the other night, well, the result is not pretty. A free-form, wind-sculpted, frizz extravaganza. I don't deal well with summer humidity. If it's very humid, outdoor exercise is a no-no for me because I'll struggle to draw a breath. The bugs love me. I puff up with insect bites, and the red lumps itch for what seems like weeks. I freckle easily and burn quickly in the sun. I don't tan. Actually I did have a rather nice tan for a few years in my thirties, when Hubby and I were golfing regularly. But years ago, probably around the time I gave up golf, I began to slather sunscreen and stopped worrying about being pale all summer. And... when it's really hot, I puff up all over, and my jeans seem to shrink. Ha. When it's not too hot to wear jeans. Or long pants in general.

Seriously, I should just stay indoors until September. But that is not an option. In fact, I can't imagine anything more depressing. So today I shoehorned myself off the couch where I've been ensconced with my book for the past day and a half, and rummaged in my closet to see if I could find something reasonably cool and comfortable to wear shopping and errand running this week. 

woman in striped skirt, white tee, white sneakers standing by blooming hydrangeas
Billowing skirts on the Rideau. 

Saturday, 30 June 2018

It's Summer... Are You Bored Yet?

Hubby and I are still away on our camping trip. So this post on summer boredom... or lack of boredom... is one from a couple of years ago. Hope you don't find it boring:)


I could be wrong, but I can remember only once in my childhood, saying, "Mu-um, I'm bored." My mother's solution, while I can't remember it exactly, had something to do with tasks that did not appeal. At all. Like cleaning my room. So I found something fun to do on my own. Problem solved. And more importantly, lesson learned.

vintage photo of bored child
Writing a post last week about boredom with my summer wardrobe started me thinking about those long, hot summers as a kid. And how we mostly relied on our own initiative to amuse ourselves. And how the possibilities of what we might do to amuse ourselves were constrained mostly by our own imaginations. And only occasionally by the fact that some things "weren't allowed." Which ...actually... to be honest... didn't always stop us. Sorry Mum.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Crazy for Georgia O'Keeffe Reprise

I may not know much about art or artists, but I know that I'm crazy for Georgia O'Keeffe. At least I am since I returned from a two day mini-vacation in Toronto last summer where I took in the Georgia O'Keeffe retrospective at the Art Gallery of Ontario. 

Posters for the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario
Posters for the AGO Georgia O'Keeffe show were plastered all over downtown Toronto in June 2017.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Play Clothes

Remember when you were a kid and you came home from school, or from anywhere really, and automatically changed out of your school clothes, or church clothes, or going into town clothes? And then put on your play clothes? 

Remember the end of June, when you wore your best party dress to the last day of school for the "school closing ceremony"? At least that's what we called it where I grew up. You know, where they handed out prizes, and the choir sang, and some kids played the recorder really badly, and the principal made a speech, and everyone jumped for joy when it was all over? And then you went home and took off your party dress, and put on your play clothes... and wore them for two whole months. Sigh. Remember that?

older girl with two younger girls, all in summer shorts and tops.
Our summer play clothes: shorts and a pop top. 

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Words Matter

I'm a language nerd. I love words. And I really believe that choosing the best words to convey one's meaning is very, very important. That sounds like a no-brainer, I know.

scrabble letters spelling out "words."

Saturday, 16 June 2018

How We Decide What We Wear

Alyson Walsh over at That's Not My Age has a new feature on her blog. A series of posts called What Women Wear. She says her intention is to talk "to a range of women about their personal style and what they wear." 

This kind of thing is such a breath of fresh air in the blogosphere. I love to read about what other women wear, and why, and how they come to decide what to wear. And knowing Alyson (not personally, mind, but through reading her blog), the women she will be talking to will be chic, and quirky, and an inspiration to those of us who no longer fit the Forever 21, fast fashion, mold... if we ever did. 

So I'm looking forward to this new series because, as far as I can see, real women like me need help deciding what to wear. 

When I'm trying to decide what I want to wear, I look to a wide variety of sources for inspiration: fashion shoots in magazines, images in blogs and on Pinterest, my own memories, or glimpses of other women in real life, or in films or television. Sometimes I simply see an item hanging on the rack in a store, and it suggests ways to change up my wardrobe. Often, an image in my head inspired by something I've seen, coalesces with what's actually hanging in my closet, and a eureka moment produces an outfit idea. Sometimes I already own everything I need for the outfit, other times I shop long and hard to find the final perfect piece to fulfill the image I have in my head. And sometimes achieving this image requires a change in mind-set, and the expert skills of a seamstress. 

woman in a navy pantsuit, white tee, and white sneakers sitting in a red Adirondack chair
Max and me together again. 

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Tales from My Travel Journal: One More Portage

Years ago when Hubby and I were on our first canoe trip in Algonquin Park,  I thought we would never, ever get to our campsite. Paddling is slow business, and takes endurance and patience. Like the proverbial kid in the backseat of the car, I kept asking, "how much further?" And he replied, that we could stop right then, if we chose, and take a nearby campsite. But the best fishing, the best campsites, and the best wilderness camping experience depended on us going "one more portage" than most people. So we did.

For those who aren't familiar with Canadian history, the term portage originated with the early French-Canadian voyageurs, fur-traders who transported their cargo in canoes, and by times had to "portage" or carry it overland between navigable waters. For us these days, it means when rapids or some other impediment requires that we stop paddling, unload all our packs and fishing gear, and carry everything along with the canoe through a trail in the bush to the next lake or river. 

Over the years of canoeing with Hubby, I've walked a few portages, and in time came to believe that the idea of pushing yourself to go "one more portage" is a pretty good motto for life. 

Most of the time. Ha.

woman holding two packs in a wilderness setting
Not looking like a happy camper, July 2014.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Summer Dresses and Feeling My Age

I've been feeling my age lately. Maybe I should say, noticing my age. And not in a bad way. Not in a "woe is me, I'm getting old" way. Rather, in an objective observer, almost out-of-body-experience way. A kind of... huh... I'm sixty-two... waddya know... way. If that makes any sense. 

woman in denim jacket and black dress
Noticing my age: the lines on my neck, around my eyes, and on my upper lip. 

Monday, 4 June 2018

Dressing Like a Grown-Up.

I love to look at clothes, even if they're clothes I can't afford to buy, or clothes I'd never wear myself. And I usually love how designer collections, and the fashion shows that introduce them to us, are built around a discernible theme or idea. But what gets up my nose are the shows and the collections that depict women in ways that... well... get up my nose. Let me explain.

I recently saw on-line the Chanel 2019 Cruise Collection. And as I scrolled through the pictures of models strutting down the runway in an array of outfits, I couldn't help thinking that Karl Lagerfeld was taking the idea of "cruise" literally when he designed this particular collection. Dressing models in various interpretations of sailor suits, with wide-legged sailor pants, sweaters with the iconic inter-locking Cs that look a bit like anchors, navy double-breasted jackets, white skirts, and what looked to me very much like a sailor's midi-blouse under a couple of the jackets. Don't get me wrong, I love some of the clothes like the pink suit, and the navy jacket, below. But something was niggling away at me as I continued to scroll. 

two models in nautical-style jackets and skirts
Two looks from Chanel's 2019 Cruise Collection

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Bridget Jones Does Book Club

I'm hosting my book club luncheon meeting in two days. I fear it will not go well. I'm not a natural at entertaining and hosting and such. Very unnatural, I would say. Ha. And hosting this bunch of ladies all of whom seem to entertain large groups of guests as easily as drawing breath is, well, intimidating. 

I laughed the other day when Hubby asked me what I was planning to serve. I told him, and he said after a short pause, "I think you might want to consider something that has fewer moving parts, Suz." "Oh, good call! " I gasped. "What was I thinking, anyway?" Juggling too many things in the kitchen, and getting the timing right, or wrong, more likely, is the hardest part for me. Partly because once guests arrive I start chatting and then forget what was being cooked, and where, and what needs to be basted or turned or whatever. And partly because I get all "flappy," as we say in my family, when company comes. 

I keep thinking of that scene in Bridget Jones's Diary where she has her friends over for dinner and it is such a spectacular disaster. Blue soup, congealed main course that doesn't get served, and a gooey dessert that tastes "like marmalade," as one character describes it. And unlike Bridget, my Mr. Darcy will not be here to remind me to do this or that, or to rescue the whole meal if required. He'll be off golfing. 

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Spring Summed Up

Summer is here, folks. Not officially. But now that the long Victoria Day weekend has passed, and my birthday has come and gone... no more almost sixty-two... it feels like summer to me. Time to sum up spring. Wardrobe wise. 

This time of year, I like to assess how my new purchases fared, whether the new pieces fit in with the not-so-new, and what's working for me versus what's just hanging around in my closet.

I'm happy with my spring purchases. I bought a Montcler spring coat, two tee shirts (a white, short-sleeved Eileen Fisher one, and a Zara message tee), a pair of AG jeans, a Vince sweater, my red Earth brand loafers, a red cross-body bag, and three scarves. 

woman in three outfits with navy Montcler anorak and jeans

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Curating Confidence

So the other day, I had one of those confidence sapping moments I am wont to experience every now and then. I was walking back to my car after a lovely lunch with former colleagues, wearing my current favourite outfit: red and white message tee, navy Veronica Beard suit, red loafers, and carrying my new red bag. 

I'd felt like a million bucks when I left the house that morning. But as I hurried to my car, past a long row of tinted, plate glass windows, the kind that are perfectly mirror-like, I caught a glimpse of myself. Horrors. Leading with my chin as I do when I'm walking quickly, I looked round-shouldered, and thick through the middle. And for a moment, I thought, "What.. am.. I.. doing? An old lady, in skinny pants and message tee, trying to look cool, but succeeding only in looking like mutton dressed as lamb." I know, I overreacted. As usual. 

woman in red shoes, navy pants suit, white tee with red lettering and red shoulder bag   

Sunday, 20 May 2018

What Goes With Vanilla?

The answer to that question is, of course, everything. Everything goes with vanilla... ice cream. But vanilla crocheted cropped sweaters can be a bit more problematic.

vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries, and mint
I bought this vanilla crocheted sweater by Vince a few weeks ago and it's been "seasoning" in my drawer ever since. I love a crisp white or creamy sweater for summer. I have visions of this one over a loose sleeveless cotton dress, or with a creamy camisole and a pair of high-waisted pants, or over a long, loose tank ala Eileen Fisher with cropped jeans and sandals.