Sunday, September 25, 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

So, several times this week I hit the walking trail that runs along the Saint John River near my Mum's house, to get some much needed exercise. The trail is lined with wild apples trees, wild grape vines, and choke-cherry bushes... all laden with fruit.

Wild apple wind falls on The trans-Canada trail near Keswick, New Brunswick
Part of the Trans-Canada Trail near Keswick, New Brunswick

I love it when the leaves start to turn. This is a view of one of the islands where the farmers used to graze cattle in the summer. This part of the river between the channels is called the "Grand Pass," and from here I can see the fishing hole everyone calls "Burpee Bar." Not named after me, by the way.

The Grand pass on the Saint John River, Douglas, New Brunswick
The Grand Pass on the Saint John River

When I wasn't speed walking the trail in sneakers and sweatpants, I was tramping up the brook and across parts of the old farm that I haven't visited for years. Exploring corners that have fallen into disuse. But are still lovely. The patina of age making them all the more poignant to me.

The old spring fed watering trough is falling down
The old spring fed watering trough

Mother Nature has turned the old cattle watering trough into a perfect parallelogram. It's a bit sad to see things sliding into disrepair. But, I'm glad that I can still visit these spots when I'm home. Leaning against an old fence made from wood that my stepdad probably cut and milled himself, or finding an abandoned chisel with a homemade wooden handle in the grass. Vestiges of the past.

My favourite bit of old moss covered fence. Douglas, New Brunswick
I love this bit of old fence

On this day it was misty and cool, so my rubber boots and a rain coat were in order. Ha. Posting this makes me laugh. I don't think I've included many make-up free photos on the blog.

Leaning up against the moss covered fence, in my rubber boots and Michael Kors rain coat
Roaming in my boots, raincoat, and a trusty walking stick.

And it wasn't only literal pathways and lanes I was wandering down this week. I made connections with a few friends that I haven't seen in years. And years. I had dinner one night with Elizabeth, a high school friend that I haven't seen since... well... since high school. We talked, and laughed, and talked, and chortled, and had a wonderful evening. I commented that I might need throat lozenges when we had finished catching up. This is a conversation that we'll continue the next time I'm home. Because, as she said in a text the next day, "We aren't done yet, my friend."

This is what I wore. My new Massimo Dutti white shirt, cropped Citizens of Humanity jeans, Stuart Weitzman loafers, and my Vince coat sweater. Some old pieces, some new. Appropriate for new beginnings to old friendships, don't you think?

Vince coat sweater, Citizebs of Humanity jeans, Massimo Dutti white shirt, Stuart Weitzman loafers, Marc Jacobs bag
On my way out for supper and yakking with an old friend

On Saturday night I attended a reunion for my junior high school class. This was something that three friends and I cooked up two years ago after our 40th high school reunion. Not that we didn't love that reunion, we did. Re-connecting with high school friends was wonderful. But we felt that we didn't see enough of the kids with whom we had journeyed through elementary school. You know that long road from Barbie lunch boxes and Dick and Jane readers through to first dances and training bras.

With junior High friends at Marysville Heritage Canter in my Veronica Beard suit and Stuart Weitzman loafers
Mary, Donna, Colleen, and me

That's my new Veronica Beard suit I'm wearing. With my Stuart Weitzman loafers and a white cami under the jacket. I'm so glad I bought that suit. It looks polished, but casual, and is so very, very comfortable. I love how Donna's kicking up her heels in this shot. Such a fun night. And at the end of the evening, pretty much everyone stayed and helped us take down the tables and the decorations and pack away all the leftover food. As one classmate said in an e-mail this morning... "The fact that so many people stayed to clean up waaaay after their bed time speaks to how much fun we were all having." Ha. You got that right, Kim. Midnight is long past bedtime at our advanced age!

You know it's funny that in the past two years I've made more connections with old friends than I have in a long time. Partly it's because my 40th high school reunion reunited me with many old friends I hadn't seen since my twentieth reunion. Partly it's because now that I'm retired and my mum is widowed, I make the journey home more often. And thus I'm in town many more days a year. With more time to see old friends. And partly it's because of the magic of the Internet. After my high school reunion, I connected with a ton of people on Facebook. People see that I've posted something on my blog or on FB about being "back in the 'hood." And we exchange messages to arrange coffee or supper get-togethers.

And the result is that as I move forward into my sixties, I'm getting to know friends from my childhood all over again. And that's pretty cool for someone who has been gone from this place as long as I have. Home has always been special for me. I've always cherished this old farm. And now I'm loving getting re-acquainted with some of the people who knew me way back when.

I didn't spend my whole week wandering down lanes literal and figurative. Mum and I did stuff too. Shopping, and making meals together, and drinking tea and reminiscing. I even tried my hand at putting her hair in curlers one day since her regular hair-dresser is away. Not sure how successful that was.

Here's Mum and me today as we headed outside to clean up her garden tools and put them away for the winter. Mum's wearing one of my step-dad's old hats. Well, it does match her jacket. Good thing she had it on; by the time we made it back into the house, the wind had picked up and it was pouring rain. You know, she's going to kill me when she sees that I've used this shot in the blog post. She said when she saw it earlier today, "My goodness, Susie, I look like an old woman in that picture." Nah. I think you look pretty cool, Mum.

But just to be safe. I'm glad that I'll be winging my way back to Ottawa by the time she sees this. I may be sixty years old, but I still don't want to get in trouble with Mum.

heading out to clean up the fall garden
Mum and me in our garden garb

So that's what I've been doing this week. Strolling down real lanes, and memory lanes. And what I've been wearing. What have you been up to my friends?

Linking up with Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, #I willwearwhatIlike at Not Dressed as Lamb, Hit Your Style Sweet Spot Link-up at Over 50, Feeling 40, What I Wore at The Pleated Poppy, and Style Me Wednesday at Shopping My Closet, Thursday Favourite Things Link-up at Katherine's Corner and Fun Fashion Friday at Fashion Should Be Fun and the Saturday Share Link-up at Not Dressed as Lamb

Tuesday, September 20, 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

Except for this week. I had all kinds of post ideas in my head, but they flew away. And my trusty topic list in my journal is not inspiring me. I'm at my Mum's in New Brunswick again, by myself this time. Hubby is at home supervising our deck rebuild and golfing his brains out. So being at Mum's, I am trying to keep the sighing to a minimum. And of course I am trying to refrain from the bored-angsty-teen syndrome thing, having inflicted that upon her once already, back in the day. And I finished one book I brought with me. And am having a hard time getting into the second. And it's been humid, or rainy, or just too darned foggy and drippy to walk. And I don't run anymore. Bad knees. And I didn't bring my bike... on the plane. So. You see my problem. Sigh.

A cloudy September day looking over the old pasture on the farm in Douglas, N.B.
Clouds and more clouds over the old pasture

Partly it's the weather. Gad, I hate a heat wave and a rainy spell all at the same time. Especially when I packed for crisp September days which is what the weather forecast had predicted. So. Inspiration-wise, I got nothin' folks. At least right now. I have lots of longer posts planned for later in the fall. Books I've read. Some more stuff on "Slow Fashion." But Sunday, when I planned to write this, and yesterday, and today... I seem to have nothin' to say. Or at least nothing worth writing about. That you might find worth reading.

Oh... except this. I recently read Christopher Brookmyre's book When the Devil Drives. Brookmyre is a Scottish writer of exceedingly wry mysteries. I really like his plots and his characters. And I love his humour. In this particular novel the main character is Jasmine Sharp, a young, sometimes hapless, former actress, now female detective. She actually puts me in mind of P.D. James' Cordelia Gray in An Unsuitable Job for a Woman... one of my favourite of James' books. Anyhoo. Jasmine's car gets torched, and her insurance won't pay for it; I told you she was hapless. However, in the epilogue Brookmyre writes that, "five days later O'Hara shows up at the office and handed her an envelope containing ten thousand pounds in cash. Shoppiness ensued."

"Shoppiness ensued." That line made me laugh out loud. I wouldn't be at all surprised if that doesn't become incorporated into my lexicon of shopping lingo.

There are some lines in some books that just make the whole book worth reading, don't you think? Or lines that seem to be speaking just to you, so much so that they stay with you, for decades. Like in Anne Tyler's novel Saint Maybe when one character is moaning about his unhappy life of drudgery and unexpected responsibility, and asking when his "real life" will start. And an older character replies, "This is your life. Lean into it." I read that probably twenty-five years ago and never forgot it. Or that line from Consequences by Penelope Lively, where she says that books "take you out of yourself and put you down somewhere else from whence you never entirely return." Sigh. Love that one too.

Oh, there are so many that I just shouldn't get started. So. That's it then. Other than a little book talk. I got nothin'... else. For now.

Burpee Street in Fredericton
That street has my name on it

Except. Can anybody tell me why my i-pad thinks it knows when I want to end a sentence better than I do myself? Sheesh. It puts periods and capital letters in the weirdest places! Auto-correct. Along with lack of inspiration, a primary cause of angsty-blogger syndrome.

So, dear readers, what do you do when inspiration fails you? Any tricks you can share with this angsty-blogger? Any favourite lines from a favourite book that you can share with us? Any answers for the auto-correct conundrum, that do not involve an open window and a good throwing arm?

                      Linking with Thursday Favourite Things Link-up at Katherine's Corner

Thursday, September 15, 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

And nobody could rock a white shirt like Elizabeth Taylor in my opinion. I love her in this shirt in a scene from the 1958 film Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the notched collar, and the sleeves rolled up just so. Gosh, I love that movie. So, even if you don't want to wear a white shirt yourself, there's  no denying that it is one item of apparel that never goes out of style. It's pretty much timeless. 

Liz Taylor in her perfect white shirt in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Last year I eschewed the white shirt, ignored the fact that my old Theory white shirt was looking a bit tired, and bought a blue shirt instead. I branched out, so to speak. I still love my blue Equipment shirt. But this year there was just no getting around the fact that I still needed a white shirt. With my old white shirt now looking downright exhausted... I really, really needed one. 

So I've been looking for a white shirt for a couple of months. Every time I'm out and about, in whatever store, I do the rounds of the white shirts. Most of them are too short and tailored, or too long and baggy, too wrinkly, too thin and too cheaply made. Well, you get the idea. 

Then last week, I discovered this shirt at the newly opened Massiimo Dutti store here in Ottawa. I've admired Massimo Dutti ads in fashion magazines for a couple of years, the minimalist feel, the clean lines, the classic clothes. I was excited when I emerged from the parking garage at the Rideau Centre, and there in front of me was the new Massimo Dutti store. Took me about ten minutes to find the perfect shirt. It's loose without being baggy, neither too short, nor too long. Collarless, which is nice for a change. Made of crisp cotton poplin. And with just enough seam detailing at the waist and on the sleeves to make it interesting. Perfect. 

white cotton poplin Massimo Dutti shirt
You can find this Massimo Dutti shirt here
And today I decided to try to take some shots of my timeless new white shirt. In a timeless location, you might say. At the historic mill here in Manotick. Perfect.

Historic Dickinson's Mill on the Rideau River in Manotick
Historic Dickinson Mill in Manotick on the Rideau River
Okay, to be honest, we have workers at our house demolishing our old deck in preparation for building a new one. And I just couldn't see myself prancing around our sun room posing for pictures while they were right outside the patio doors. So I scouted an alternate site on my way home from my walk this morning. The mill and the dam on the river would be perfect. But then when I arrived back at the mill this afternoon, there were workers doing repairs on the dam, so I was relegated to the little park on the far side of the river. 

My shots are pretty bad, aren't they? I'm a total newbie when it comes to "shooting on location." Ha. But, at least in this shot, you can kind of see my new grey All Saints tote that I bought at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale in July. 

white shirt Massimo Dutti, black pants Vince, black Stuart Weitzman loafers, All Saints grey tote

And in this shot, at least you can see some of the details of the shirt. I'm also wearing my black Vince leggings and my Stuart Weitzman loafers. 

white shirt Massimo Dutti, black pants Vince, black Stuart Weitzman loafer

And in this one, bleached out as it is, at least you can see the split at the side of the shirt. And the fact that I'm wearing my new old bracelet which I bought at the Merrickville Antique Show in August. 

white shirt Massimo Dutti, black pants Vince, black Stuart Weitzman loafers

Here's a better shot of the bracelet. The vendor said that it was made by Léa Stein,  a French jewellry designer who worked in the mid twentieth century. My bracelet is probably from the sixties.

Lea Stein bracelet

And in this shot you can see that I'm a bit worried about all the bird action in this little park. Of course, as you know... me and birds... we don't get on. Crap... is that one coming down here?

white shirt Massimo Dutti, pants Vince, Stuart Weitzman loafers, All Saints bag

So while my very first "shoot on location" was not perfect. My new white shirt is. A versatile addition to my curated closet, it will go equally well with dressy pants or with jeans. Under a coat sweater, or a jean jacket, or a blazer. With or without a scarf. 

So I've been thinking, instead of reading all those lists written by other people who say what we "must have" in our closets. Maybe we should make our own list. Scratch that. We should definitely make our own list. Five things we "must have" in our closet. And if they wear out we "must replace" them. My list would include great blue jeans, black pants, a heavy turtleneck, a good blazer, and a white shirt. I have other pieces, of course, which I love equally as much. But these pieces are always there. They always get replaced when they wear out. Decade after decade. They're timeless, at least in my closet. 

Your list might be completely different.

So do tell, friends, what five things must you have in your closet? And does that list include a white shirt?

Linking up this week with these great blogs: Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, #IwillwearwhatIlike at Not Dressed as Lamb, What I Wore at The Pleated Poppy, Style Me Wednesday at Shopping My Closet, Thursday Favourite Things at Katherine's Corner, Passion 4 Fashion at Rachel the Hat, Friday Finds at Forage Fashion, and Fun Fashion Friday at Fashion Should Be Fun.

Sunday, September 11, 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
Or this gorgeous Vanessa Bruno suit that I first saw in a post on Tish Jett's blog A Femme d'un Certain Age. It seems that deep reds, and wine, and burgundy are everywhere this season. Lucky me. I have several burgundy pieces from past seasons. I've always loved that colour. 

Vanessa Bruno velvet suit
Vanessa Bruno suit can be found here.
And I adore burgundy with navy, and fresh white tees or sweaters. Like this outfit from Midwestern Miss on Tumblr. 

Midwestern Miss on Tumblr
Midwestern Miss on Tumblr

And while I've been thinking about fall colours, I've also been thinking that part of simplifying one's closet should be choosing a colour palette for the season. Last year I was all about grey. Having purchased my grey Vince coat sweater at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale in July, I made sure that whatever I bought after that worked with the sweater, to get maximum wear from it, and thus lower my "CPW"... or "cost per wear" as Stacy and Clinton used to say on What Not to Wear. And this season, well, I'm all about navy. Or to be more specific... navy, and burgundy, and white. Because I simply love that combination. But also because I bought a navy Veronica Beard suit at Nordstrom in July. 

I'm wearing the navy pants here. With my navy and white striped Alexander Wang tee, my Stan Smith Adidas, and my Marc Jacobs burgundy bag, all from last year. I bought the burgundy scarf at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale this past July. Navy with white is always lovely, if a bit tame. But add burgundy and it becomes rich and yummy, and well... almost edible. Don't ask me to explain that last bit of weirdness. 

Veronica Beard pants, Alexander Wang tee, Nordstrom scarf, Stan Smith Adidas, Marc Jacobs bag       Veronica Beard pants, Alexander Wang tee, Nordstrom scarf, Stan Smith Adidas, Marc Jacobs bag

I'm wearing the Veronica Beard jacket with the matching pants below. Same scarf and bag. The jacket has a really cool grey hoodie attached. Well, part of a grey hoodie... more like a dickie... just the front part and the hood... and it zips out if I want to wear the jacket with something else underneath. I simply added a white cami here. 
Veronica Beard jacket and pants, Nordstrom scarf, Stan Smith Adidas, Marc Jacobs bag

I've already worn the pants several times with a tee and my loafers, or with sandals and a light tunic. And I know I'll get a ton of wear from the jacket this fall...with or without the hoodie. With the matching pants, or with blue jeans, or my burgundy jeans from last year. It's quite sporty, with a snap closure instead of buttons and zippered pockets. Sigh. This outfit is pure me. Narrow pants, a trim jacket, overall sporty and still a bit classic. Just the kind of look I want: comfortable, casual, no longer working but still hoping to look as if I'm not ready for the rocking chair just yet.

Veronica Beard jacket and pants, Nordstrom scarf, Stan Smith Adidas, Marc Jacobs bag     Veronica Beard jacket and pants, Nordstrom scarf, Stan Smith Adidas, Marc Jacobs bag

Now, I must run. Enough talk about my fall colours. My tomatoes have probably cooled enough to package them. And the wind has blown down a pile of apples from our tree this afternoon, so I have to go pick them up before the chipmunks get them. Hubby has a love-hate relationship with the chipmunks. He thinks they are adorable, but they are hell on the windfall apples. They scamper over, take one bite, and then move on to the next apple. It drives Hubby mad. He keeps picking them up and raging, "One bite. One. What the bleep, bleep is that?"

 Our backyard apple tree.
Fall is here. Our apples are looking and tasting wonderful.

So, what about you, friends? Have you chosen a fall colour palette?   Oh... and by the way...anyone need any tomatoes? Or apples? Anyone?

Linking up this week with these great blogs: Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, #IwillwearwhatIlike at Not Dressed as Lamb, What I Wore at The Pleated Poppy, Style Me Wednesday at Shopping My Closet, Thursday Favourite Things at Katherine's Corner, Passion 4 Fashion at Rachel the Hat, Friday Finds at Forage Fashion, Fun Fashion Friday at Fashion Should Be Fun, and Hit Your Style Sweet Spot Link-up at Over 50, Feeling 40.

Thursday, September 8, 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

I tried role-playing. Maybe if I look like a fifties housewife, I'll be better able to clean cheerfully? Ha. In the absence of anything that resembles fifties housewife attire, except capri leggings and a head scarf, this is my attempt to play the part. "Now, I just know one of these thingies is supposed to be for dusting." 

My fifties housewife imitation.
Hey, the red stripe in my apron matches my vacuum cleaner. So, not a happy homemaker, but a colour coordinated one.
Okay, not funny. I'm not that useless. Truly. All joking aside, that post I wrote last winter was partly about the problem of the division of household chores in families, and the impact of that division on marriages and relationships, and some interesting statistics around the issue. And it was partly about me and my lack of desire to clean which is, ironically, inversely proportional to my desire for a clean house. Sigh. A conundrum right up there with being a control freak who has out of control hair. 

Readers of that post shared some great ideas. Riley's comment introducing me to "Fly Lady" was very helpful. Riley said Fly Lady's suggestion that we can do anything for for fifteen minutes changed her life. Even if, in that fifteen minutes, we don't fully complete a task. Like cleaning the fridge. I hate, hate, hate that chore. Pulling everything out and stacking all the food, and bottles and jars on your counter. Dragging drawers out and washing them in the sink, slopping soap and water everywhere in the process. Wiping all the shelves down. Then when you pile everything back into your pristine fridge, your kitchen looks like a cyclone has hit it. Now, after Riley's suggestion, I do it a shelf at a time. Yah. And... and... this is my own special newly invented trick. When a bin is empty I vacuum it out, then wipe it with a soapy cloth, then dry it. Presto.  And... I'm on a roll here people... I thought if that works for fridge drawers, why not kitchen drawers? So when the cutlery drawer, for example, is mostly empty because the dishwasher is full, I take out what's left, vacuum the drawer of all those little crumbs etc and wipe it out. Gad, I'm a genius. I've cleaned my fridge and my kitchen drawers, not all at once mind you, and I've hardly noticed. 

Another one of Fly Lady's suggestions is to "take your time and enjoy the process." Okay, a fair enough idea. But I can "enjoy" only if I can take my mind off of housecleaning, which I will never enjoy... let me make that perfectly clear. This is my secret (or not so secret) cleaning weapon. I've been doing this for years. I figured if listening to books on my i-pod helped me to stay on my exercise bike, it might help me to do mundane, boring tasks like dusting, or vacuuming. Works a charm. This month I'm listening to the latest Rhys Bowen book in her Royal Spyness series. I love Kathryn Kellgren's narration. And Bowen's light-hearted stories are kind of Nancy Mitford meets Agatha Christie. 

My secret to stress free cleaning. Books on my i-pod.
Maybe not a happy homemaker... but happier, listening to books on my i-pod
And as for the suggestion to "take your time." Like the fifteen minute thing, I can't think why that didn't dawn on me years ago. When I was still teaching I was always super organized about getting my marking done...not super fast, just organized. I would sit down and list all the class sets of tests, essays, projects etc that were coming in over a two or three week period, then draw up a schedule to get them all done. I'd plan to mark maybe 5 or 6 big essays every night after dinner, at fifteen minutes an essay that was about my maximum concentration time. Then if I was still feeling fresh I'd mark an extra one or two. I'd squeeze marking shorter assignments into spare moments during my day at work. That way I didn't find the constantly towering pile of papers too daunting. I had a plan to get it all done. And I always apprised my students of how long it would be before their papers were returned. They knew not to ask if I had their essays marked the day after they submitted them. Ha. Because I could go home after work and mark for six hours. Ri-ight.  But back to my point. That's what I do with housework now. I don't wait for a day to clean the whole house; I chunk it up. I might clean the bathroom on the day I do laundry. But after the bathroom is cleaned and the first load of laundry is in the washer I get out of the house. And Hubby and I go biking or for a walk. If the rest of the laundry doesn't get done that day. I finish it the next. Then I don't get exasperated, and resentful that I'm not doing something else I enjoy more than housework. Which would, of course, be most anything else. 

This week Hubby is off in the wilds of Algonquin Park. And I'm home alone. Getting my domestic goddess on. I made a list of everything that needs to be done. Today I did stuff that I only do occasionally. I shampooed the sofa cushions, I pulled all the furniture out from the walls, in order to dust and vacuum behind and wash down the baseboards. Then I dusted book shelves with a damp cloth and in the back of the television and the stereo stands, where all the cables and stuff are. I did this only in the living room and sun room. Took me a good while. But I had "Her Royal Spyness" to keep me company. 

So that's enough for today. I'll clean the bathroom, dust, and vacuum on another day. And I'll save the moving the furniture kind of cleaning in the other rooms for next week. Or the one after. I've got my list, and if everything doesn't get checked off right away, it will eventually. In the meantime, I can't wait to start the new Julian Fellowes book which I've been saving for when Hubby is away. My treat for my week at home alone. 

After the cleaning, comes the reading.
After the cleaning comes the reading
I know, what you're thinking... why doesn't she just hire someone to clean her house? Well, Hubby and I did discuss hiring a house-cleaning service the other day. You see, he has finally capitulated and is hiring a lawn service for next spring and summer. Hubby hates mowing grass, and with the flower beds, and the large vegetable garden something had to give. So, feeling guilty that he was avoiding a job he hated and I was not, he suggested we get a cleaning lady again. I always had one when I worked full time. 

"Nah," I said, "let's leave it for now." It's hard to explain, but sometimes a cleaning lady is more stress than I want. Every cleaning person that I've had in the past has been great for a time. Then they start not doing certain tasks that were agreed upon. And I have to leave notes to do, or redo, certain jobs. And they rarely clean like I would, or do things that you might expect someone to do in their own home. I mean who dusts and vacuums the living room and doesn't plump up and replace the sofa cushions? Or not notice that Hubby has tracked mud from the garden down the basement stairs and maybe they should be vacuumed? I had one person who I discovered, thanks to a particularly convenient ray of sunshine, only dusted around the ornaments in the bedrooms. And here was I thinking how good she was in putting everything back the way I liked it. Ha. The stuff had never been moved. Sigh. And then I always have to have "the chat" with them. How I hate that. I spent thirty years in the classroom making kids do things they didn't always want to do, and having conversations with parents when they didn't always like what I had to tell them. I'm so done with that. 

Sheesh, I sound whiny, don't I? And like a demanding control freak. So... maybe it's better if I just clean my house myself. For now, anyway. And the upside of Hubby's not doing the lawn... is he might have more time to help. 

Now. I have to go and start my fall wardrobe inventory. I'm pretty sure what I need to put on my list. New white shirt. A couple of tee shirts. And a coat, maybe tweed. Tomorrow I'm shopping. All day. And maybe having coffee with my friend Liz at Nordstrom. Then it's home for dinner, a nice glass of pinot noir, and that Jane Eyre film that I ordered from the library. 

Hubby may be away fishing with his buddies this week, but being home alone doesn't mean I have to suffer. Now does it?

What about you my friends? Do you have a cleaning person? I know I already asked you this in that other post... but do you have any tips to make house cleaning more... if not enjoyable, than at least ... palatable? 

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

Saturday, September 3, 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.
We had a lovely afternoon and, at the end of it, with everything hanging or folded neatly in its designated spot, or piled into bags to be donated or thrown out, I came to the conclusion that my sister had been right all along. Every time we discuss shopping she sighs and says, "I have nothing to wear."  "You're right. You have nothing to wear," I said as I stood in her edited closet and laughed. "You need pretty much everything, except party wear, and event clothes to wear to a wedding or a conference dinner." 

My sister was in this fix partly because she's really, really busy, and when she finds the time to shop, it's always for some specific event she needs to attend. Like a step-son's wedding in Newport, or a conference somewhere hot. And partly because she suffers from what I call "white coat syndrome"... as a pharmacist, she can cover up whatever she wears to work with her white lab coat. So work clothes, as long as they're clean and the pants are presentable, don't really matter. White coat syndrome allows the sufferer to put off shopping until they are really desperate. Thence my sister  had almost nothing to wear to a casual dinner, or to the movies, or... say... shopping. Hardly any every-day, non-work, real-life stuff. And what she did have she was right royally sick to death of. If you'll pardon my ending that sentence with a preposition. So we needed to take action because, once we had cleaned out her closet, she needed some clothes to wear. D'uh. We set a date to go shopping... for basics, mostly tops. And since we were planning to buy more than one thing, I suggested we save some money by starting at my friend Fiona's secondhand clothing shop.

cheeky window display at The Frock Exchange in Kanata
Fiona's window display for her summer sale event.
Fiona's store The Frock Exchange, is not exactly a thrift shop. Her clothes are second hand, but they are sold on consignment. I take my stuff there when I edit my closet. I love what Fiona has done with her shop. The antique furniture she uses for fixtures, like the china cabinet below which holds jewellry. And the whole cheeky, British vibe. Like dressing those window mannequins, above, in scarves with the Union Jack motif, and sneakers... for her summer sale event. So cute. To be truthful, I think Fiona has a teensy crush on anything British. I hear her husband refers to her childhood home as "little England." Ha. Given that most of what I read or watch or listen to originates in some part of Britain or Ireland, I should talk. 
          jewellry display at The Frock Exchange in Kanata

So on the appointed day, I arrived early at The Frock Exchange bringing a bag of my fall clothing for Fiona to look at, and possibly to consign. While I waited for Carolyn, Fiona and I chatted, she went through my things, and I searched the racks for jeans and tops that Carolyn might like and which were her size. Then when she arrived we ensconced her in the dressing room (unlike most second-hand store changing rooms Fiona's are lovely) to try everything on. I fetched and carried, and Fiona brought more 'possibles,' including several things that had come in only the day before. 

shoe department at The Frock Exchange in Kanata
Shoe department at The Frock Exchange. 
Like this luscious faux fur jacket in a deep, deep blue. The fabric is synthetic, but it looks like Persian lamb, and feels wonderfully soft. A perfect late fall or winter jacket to throw on over jeans and a white tee, and make you feel all cozy and pulled together. 

Carolyn in her new faux fur

Carolyn in her new faux fur
Happy sister. It IS a wonderful life.
See? Somebody looks happy. And with good reason. My sister went home with the faux fur jacket. A pair of black jeans that fit her to perfection... this despite the fact that, according to Fiona, jeans are the hardest things to find when thrift or consignment store shopping. So many styles, so many sizes, and each pair a one and only. A striped sweater from Brooks Brothers (that's exactly like mine, I might add.)  A Ralph Lauren denim shirt. A black v-neck, long, loose tee. A green quilted jacket that makes her green eyes pop. And a black Cole Haan bag. And all of this for less than she'd pay for the Cole Haan bag new. 

What my sister got.
What She Got.
I did not go home empty handed either. Pun intended. Fiona recognized my bracelet (below) as an Anne Marie Chagnon and said that a ring which might match it had just come in. Well, spotted Fiona. That ring came home with me. 

Anne Marie Chagnon bracelet and ring
What I got.
I resisted all of Fiona's further tempting, even said no to a sweet military style coat that was very cute, and fit me perfectly, but which sadly was not on my list for fall. The secret to being a good shopper, as far as I'm concerned, is knowing what you need and want.... and also what you don't need. 

Although I consider myself to be a good shopper and I do love to shop vintage, I am no expert on thrift store or consignment store shopping. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Ever since I wrote a post about the Slow Fashion movement last spring, I've been trying to keep more of an open mind about consignment or thrift store shopping. Trying to do better when it comes to being a more "ethical shopper." I mean beyond just consigning or donating my own clothes. I found this article on the value of thrift store shopping on a very cool site called Unwrinkling. Great title, eh? Much of the article is common sense, but still worth a read. 

When my friend Elizabeth and I started planning for our trip to New York at the end of October, and we decided we might like to sample the vintage and thrift stores there, I contacted Patti of the blog Not Dead Yet Style... who I know IS an expert on thrifting and vintage shopping. Especially in New York. She sent me a long list of her favourite stores. Thanks Patti. I know we will visit Saks and Bloomingdale's et al... but vintage or thrift store shopping in New York will be very cool. 

Now, back to our sisters' adventure. Eventually, Fiona packaged up all of Carolyn's purchases. I wore mine. And we decamped to scarf down A&W Teen Burgers and root beer for lunch. Shopping is hungry work. And thrift store shopping followed by Teen Burgers makes for a throw-back afternoon all round. A&W was our first fast food restaurant in Fredericton back when I was a kid in the late sixties. I still have a nostalgic love of their root beer. 

And so, as Mr. McGarrity said to Maggie Muggins: "All in all we'd had quite a day." We spent some money, but not as much as we might have if we'd shopped somewhere else. Fiona gained a new customer in my sister. Carolyn found some great things that she'll be able to parlay into numerous outfits. And we spent some 'quality' sister time together. Win, win, win, I'd say. 

How about you friends? Are you thrift shop shoppers? Or consignment store customers?

If you live in the Ottawa area, stop into The Frock Exchange at 471 Hazeldean Road in Kanata and say hello to Fiona. You might even find something to take home with you. 

Linking up this week with these great blogs: Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, #IwillwearwhatIlike at Not Dressed as Lamb, What I Wore at The Pleated Poppy, Style Me Wednesday at Shopping My Closet, Thursday Favourite Things at Katherine's Corner, Passion 4 Fashion at Rachel the Hat, Friday Finds at Forage Fashion, and Fun Fashion Friday at Fashion Should Be Fun and with Saturday Share Link-Up at Not Dressed As Lamb