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.
I met Liz for lunch at Nordstrom, and she said there was something she wanted to show me, after we'd eaten. A jacket she'd pulled for me from the summer sale rack. No pressure. But it was on sale at a great price, and she thought it might be something I'd like. Ha. I did. I loved it. She knows me so well. And she knows my wardrobe. 

And. And this is the really great part. She said it would probably be marked down again. So we waited. And, in the final analysis, it was on sale for more than 50% off. And I went in again to pick it up. Yah! That was the easiest shopping home run I've ever hit. 

Eventually I came home with this gorgeous navy Moncler baseball jacket. Hence the baseball metaphor. Actually, Moncler calls this the "Maglia cardigan." But it looks like a baseball jacket, with a zippered front closure and zippered pockets.  

woman in white jeans, red loafers, and a navy, red and white baseball jacket, standing in front of white hydrangeas
The sleeves are nice and long, but I like them pushed up anyway. 
I love my new jacket with my white Frame straight leg jeans, my white and red message tee from Zara, and my red Earth brand loafers. It also looks good with a striped tee, a navy tee, a red tee, or a plain white tee. If I were wearing blue jeans with the jacket, I'd probably wear the plain white tee, or the red one, and sneakers. The jacket also looks great with my Burberry denim skirt, and a tee shirt and sneakers, the same outfit I wore to shop that day, except with my new jacket instead of my Veronica Beard blazer. I plan to try it with my newly refurbished Max Mara wide-leg pants, as well. 

The jacket is the perfect length to cover what needs to be covered. The sleeves are long enough for me, which is not always the case. You can see the line of the back here in this shot. It's not puffy like jackets of this style can sometimes be. Trust me, I do NOT need any more puff around the middle.

woman in white jeans, red loafers, and a navy, red and white baseball jacket, standing in front of white hydrangeas
I like the fit and the cut of this jacket. I'm wearing a size large.
And it's really easy to style. An outfit home run every time without even trying. I think the red loafers and the red and white striped trim on the jacket do all the heavy lifting when it comes to accessorizing. So I'd probably not even bother to carry a bag with this outfit. The jacket has roomy enough pockets for my car keys, a credit card and my phone. 

I didn't go looking for this jacket. In fact, it wasn't even on my radar. But, it fits so perfectly into my wardrobe, with my jeans, and skirts, and dress pants, and with my loafers and sneakers, it works so well with all of my navy pieces, and with the red accents I've been wearing this spring and summer, that I consider buying it a wise shopping move. 

woman in white jeans, red loafers, and a navy, red and white baseball jacket, sitting in a red Adirondack chair
I'm pretty pleased with my home run, I must say.
If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that I have a  very defined shopping philosophy. All about knowing what looks good on me, knowing exactly what I already own, and what I need to fit in with what I already own. I wrote about my "shopping rules" over at Brenda's blog 1010 Park Place last week. You can read that post here if you're interested. One of my rules is all about getting good advice. 

two women in a coffee bar.
Having coffee with Liz at Nordstrom e-bar the other day. 
As I've said many times here, my friend Liz is the personal shopper at Nordstrom. With her knowledge of fashion and of her merchandise, her understanding of me, my style, and my wardrobe, she is my secret shopping weapon. 

I don't understand why more women don't take advantage of some of the talented people who work in retail. By that I mean seeking out a shopping advisor, like Liz. Seriously, you should get out there and find your own Liz, wherever you live. Whether they are a personal shopper, or a skilled sales clerk, they need to be someone who knows clothes, knows their merchandise, and is willing to build a relationship with their clients. It might take a few tries until you find someone who suits you, but it is sooo worth the effort. 

Now I have to go and do my fall shopping research. It feels a bit scandalous to be thinking of shopping again, after so recent a purchase. But the Anniversary Sale is coming up, and my sister and I will be charging into the melee, hoping to see something we love on sale for fall.

I'll be looking for travel pieces. And maybe a skirt. I don't own any fall skirts. Maybe knee high boots, if I find a skirt. But, ultimately, it will depend on what's on offer. We'll see if we hit any home runs. Or strike out altogether, and just go for lunch. I'm happy either way. I've learned that navigating the Anniversary Sale is all about not having too many expectations. 

I'll let you know how we get on. 

D'uh. Of course, you knew that already. 

Now, how about you my friends? Have you hit any shopping home runs lately? 

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  
Now don't go all preachy on me, people. Or try to talk me out of the idea that I need to drop a couple of pounds. I know what I look like when I step out of the bath, and you don't. Thank goodness. Ha. I also know what I look like in my jeans before I don that artfully draped scarf, or the loose tee that falls to just the right place to hide what needs to be hidden and not hide what I'm still happy to show the world. 

And here's the other thing. Those artfully draped scarves and tees weren't always doing the job anymore. This, in part, contributed to the confidence-sapping moment that day a few weeks ago when I caught sight of my profile in a store window. 

Once my suspicions about my burgeoning middle were confirmed, I thought I knew the reason why. 

Despite daily exercise, I move a whole lot less than when I was working. Teaching burns calories. Talking to a room full of teenagers, animatedly waving my hands around, moving up and down the room, up and down the halls, and up and down the stairs at school all day helped me stave off what I call "slippage." That slippery slope of weight gain that creeps up on most of us in middle age. I wrote several posts about slippage a while ago, starting with this one

So what can one do? I guess I could go back to work. That would be simple, right? Ha. But not feasible, even if I were so inclined. Should I stop doing whatever I'm doing that keeps me sitting in my chair more than I should? Like reading, or writing this blog. That's not going to happen. I'm not going to give up what I love in order to shed a few pounds. So... should I go on a diet?

The answer to that question is a resounding NO, according to my sources. Especially if that diet includes making drastic changes to my eating habits, changes that will be insupportable in the long run. Like the "boiled egg diet" which seems to be making the rounds of Facebook these days, claiming to help you lose 20 lbs in 14 days. Just for fun, I checked it out and it prescribes as many as four eggs a day! Four eggs a day! With nary a warning to people who might have cholesterol issues. If Hubby's cardiologist read that, he'd have... well... a coronary. I'm also not going to go on the South Beach, or the Sonoma, or the Beverly Hills diet. I won't be climbing onto the Wheat Belly bandwagon, which the dietitian at the Ottawa Heart Institute completely debunked at a workshop we attended a couple of years ago. Nor am I going caveman with the paleo diet, or the ketogenic one. I'm sure all of these plans would make me drop those five pounds in a few weeks. But what then? 

In this article, Jennifer Kuk from York University says, if I diet, my body's "resting energy expenditure" will drop, and when I stop dieting I may be one of the fifty percent of the population for whom this will be permanent. Which means I will gain back the weight and more because, just by living, I now burn fewer calories than I did before I started dieting. Apparently something called the "Biggest Loser Study" says that "six years after the show ended, the contestants in Season 8 found that their metabolism was still down an average of 499 calories a day." 

The idea of rebound weight gain is nothing new. We've all heard about it. But now scientists are finding the data to support what we've really always known, but rarely admit. Neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt, in her Ted Talk "Why dieting doesn't usually work," says that people who lose 10% or more of their body weight find that their "resting energy expenditure" drops, and they will need on average 200-400 fewer calories a day to simply maintain their set point, the weight at which our body seems most comfortable with itself. She adds that successful dieting does not lower one's set point because, unfortunately, our bodies work hard no matter what we do to keep our weight stable. She does add that our set point is not a specific weight, but a range of usually 10-15 pounds. And that it's conceivable that we can "use lifestyle choices to move our weight up and down within that range." But outside of the range... it's a losing battle against biology, hormones, and our brains. 

So what am I doing about those five pesky pounds? Well, while I've not been on a diet for the past couple of weeks, I have been on a fact finding mission. 

I'm using a free on-line food tracker to record what I've been eating and how much exercise I've been doing. I always track my exercise, partly because I love numbers, and partly because I work best if I have specific, measurable goals for myself. For the past year I've been trying for 300 minutes of cardio a week. This on-line program helps me to see how many calories all that cardio actually burns. And how many calories I'm consuming daily. I know it's not just about the calories, but seeing the numbers always helps me... because for all my airy-fairy tendencies, deep down I'm a numbers person. I want to see the numbers generated by my food choices. 

Turns out I didn't know the whole reason for my weight gain. What I've learned from my food journal is that I have fallen off the healthy eating train that Hubby and I boarded together five years ago. Too many treats, too many MacDonald's french fries, too many lattes, too much bread, not enough fruit and veg with breakfast and lunch, and too little portion control. So, I'm not going on a diet, I'm just going to make healthier choices more often. Putting back into play all those wise decisions that Hubby and I made about our eating habits five years ago, and which I've let slide a bit lately. I won't be making major changes, just tinkering. Just being a bit more mindful. I figure that I'm following Ms. Aamod's advice and "using lifestyle choices" to play within my set point range. 

As far as exercise goes, I'm already walking and cycling or pedaling my exercise bike as much as I can. But I'm trying to fit in more weight work-outs. I've let those slide a bit. Mostly because this time of year I prefer to get outside for my exercise, and a weight workout is definitely an indoor activity. Maybe I should move my weights to the deck? Now, that's a thought. 

I know there are other solutions that I could consider. But whatever I choose to do has to be something that I will be able to maintain, that I will want to maintain, and not something that I will dread. Like yoga classes or swimming. Both fine forms of exercise, but not for me. 

This afternoon I was discussing this post, and my research findings, with Hubby. And we were talking about health and diet and the importance of having a realistic self-image. I do realize that it would NOT be healthy to expect to ever again weigh 125 lbs. Or even 135. But it's not unrealistic to want to be a bit better than I am at the moment, whether that's three or four pounds lighter, or a bit more fit, and stronger. I think Hubby still holds a faint hope that I'll carry the canoe one day. Ha. 

As Hubby and I continued our conversation, I related to him what I'd read about all those famous diets, the boiled egg diet and the Beverly Hills diet which are so unhealthy, the South Beach and the Atkins diets which were so popular in their day, and the current keto craze. 

And it occurred to me that the problem with all those diets, even the ones that prescribe healthy foods, is not that they don't help people to lose weight, but that they do. Because according to the experts I listened to and read today... that's when the really big problems start. 

And that, folks, is primarily why I am not on a diet. 

Have a listen to Sandra Aamodt's Ted Talk for yourself. It's pretty interesting.

Now, I must run. Hubby is watching the World Cup, and I'm making dinner tonight. Yes, I am. Don't fall off your chairs in amazement. I haven't entirely forgotten how to cook. 

So, how about you my friends? Any diet or fitness challenges that you've faced lately? Any that you want to tell us about, that is? 

Linking up with Thursday Favourite Things,  #SaturdayShareLink-up, and #fakeittillyoumakeit 

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   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. 

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Romancing the Readers

Okay, be honest with me here folks. How many of you like to read romance novels? I ask this because I heard an interesting segment on CBC radio the other morning. All about the romance novel, the genre so many of us love to laugh at, openly scorn, and then often read in secret.

shelf of several romance novels
I like a good romance although I've never been a fan of the Harlequin variety.
In an episode of The Current, host Anna Maria Tremonti explored the much despised and derided genre that has spawned a billion dollar, global industry by speaking to its detractors and its defenders. And all of this was triggered by the fact that the Toronto Public Library has recently announced its next Writer-In-Residence will be a romance writer. 

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Message Tees and Other Trends

I'm not much for jumping on trend bandwagons. I love to keep up with trends, in that I love to research, read, and look at pictures of what is on trend. But shelling out my money for trends, especially of the 'here today gone tomorrow' variety... not so much. 

smiling woman in white tee and navy jacket
I'm looking pleased with myself, aren't I? 

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Childless By Choice or By Chance

At my book club a week or so ago, we discussed the use of the term "childless." I say "we" but, actually, I started the discussion. Someone used the term innocently, in a comment, and I admit I ranted a little. I hate that word. And the slightly condescending implications it packs. Not that my friend was being condescending in any way. Not at all. Still... use of that particular term to describe a couple who do not have children always rankles. 

Hubby and I do not have children, a fact I'm sure you've surmised if you've read my blog before. I don't usually discuss the fact that we don't have kids. Or the reasons why that happened, or didn't happen as the case may be. It's nobody's business but ours. But what I am not shy about discussing are all the assumptions made by people, by society, if you will, about the state of not having kids. I'm sure that most people, friends, and even some family, have no idea why we never had children, or how I feel or have felt about it. They just think they do. 

I love my nieces to pieces.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

My Blue and Yellow Period

Wasn't it Picasso who had a blue period? Supposedly inspired by his "emotional turmoil and financial destitution," partly triggered by the suicide of a dear friend and by his own struggle to survive as an artist, he painted mostly in blue for a while (source.) 

Me, I seem to be having a blue and yellow period. Or blue and red. But always blue, more specifically navy. Suddenly everything in my wardrobe is navy. Which can be a good thing because I love navy. Navy and white, navy and red, navy and yellow. But it can be a bad thing for blog post variety. "Ah well," the blogger sighs, "in this case art is supposed to imitate life, and not the other way round." That's if blogging can be considered art, I might add. So if I'm wearing navy in real life, then navy it must be on the blog as well. 

Triple navy outfits. Does that skirt look a little too short to you?

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Flood Stories

Rivers and rising rivers have been a part of my psyche all my life. I've pretty much always lived on a river. First, as a child, on the Nashwaak River in New Brunswick, then on the Saint John River after we moved to the farm, and now for years, on the Rideau River in Ontario. 

So rivers, and rising rivers, and flood stories are part of my narrative, shall we say. Every spring, as we watch the river rising, we ask, "Remember the year school was cancelled for days because the water was over the road and the buses couldn't get through?" Or "Remember the year when the water and ice took the bridge out?" 

Danger water over road signs
Road closures during spring flooding in April 2014

Saturday, 28 April 2018

The One Scarf

Weirdly enough, I've been quoting (or misquoting, actually) Tolkien a lot in the past few days. Ever since I found the perfect scarf. The one scarf.

You know the line I mean, from Lord of the Rings: "One scarf to rule them all, and in the closet bind them"... or something. "Them" being all my jackets and coats and sweaters and shoes. The one perfect scarf I need to unite all my reds and my blues. 

It's a gorgeous Burberry scarf. Navy and white and red plaid. And since it's Burberry I paid too much for it. I know. But it is the perfect navy, and the perfect red that I need to go with my new Montcler anorak, and my red loafers. 

woman in navy coat, jeans, white tee, plaid scarf, and red shoes
The exact scarf I need to match my new coat and loafers.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Lunching Ladies

I love to meet friends for lunch. In big groups, or small groups, or when it's just two of us. We catch up with each other's lives, trade travel stories, or family stories, swap books... whatever. I guess you could say, I'm a lady who lunches. An unrepentant lady who lunches. 


Saturday, 21 April 2018

What To Do When You Can't Muster a Half-Decent Outfit Post

It's official. I am declaring that I have been totally out of sorts for at least a week. In fact, I've been downright cranky. Not to mention pouty, crabby, grouchy, snappy, and cross. Sigh. I blame mother nature. I mean, snow and sleet and miserably cold weather in April will defeat anyone's Pollanna complex. 

Being cranky means I haven't felt even remotely inspired fashion-wise. I tried to muster a few outfits and some decent photos on a couple of days this week. Most of the shots I deleted. Outfit combinations were decidedly uninspired. And the pictures were worse. Both days were cold and blowy, with snow and no sun. So no outside shots, and not very well lit inside ones. I couldn't scrounge up a happy smile, no matter how much I played Pollanna's "glad game." 

three shots of woman in blue suit jacket, blue anorak, jeans, red shoes, and coral scarf
Uh, okay. How come these pieces, all of which I love, look "meh" together?

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

In Praise of Solitude

We're having a resurgence of winter here in eastern Ontario, indeed in most of Canada, it seems. Snow and sleet and freezing rain. And high winds. Yesterday, I ensconced myself by the gas stove in my sun room, and read. And napped. Most of the windows looking out onto the river were frosted from the freezing rain. I could just make out the ice covered tree tops lashing about, and hear the wind blowing the ice off the branches and up against the windows. It was a day good for nothing but lounging about with one's book. 

Painting of girl reading by Harold Knight
Girl Reading. Harold Knight. 1932    source

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Making Ourselves Up

I saw this picture in Vogue magazine a while ago. It made a shiver run down my spine. And brought back memories of my teenage years. Of making myself up every morning before school. Because, of course, at sixteen, I felt strongly that a good coat of something, or numerous somethings, was needed to disguise my true, freckly, pimply self. Like Clearasil cream, green eye shadow, and peachy cream blush. And, the pièce de résistance, Mabelline Great Lash mascara, huge swaths of it, at least three sticky coats of the stuff. What followed were eyelashes which required some major de-clumping. Hence, the safety pin.

I've been making myself up, so to speak, ever since I hit puberty. Applying make-up to create a better version of myself. A stronger, more confident, better able to face the world version of me. 

shot of someone using a safety pin to separate eye lashes
DIY eyelash de-clumper in Vogue

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Looking for Sunshine in My Closet

Yesterday, I read a post on my friend Frances' blog, Materfamilias Writes. She talks in the post about wanting a little colour in her outfits while she waits for spring. "Spring," I sighed. 

I am pining for spring too. Or at least for weather that encourages me to think that spring might just possibly be possible this year. We've had cold, grey weather this week. And I'm pining for warmth and sunshine. And oddly, as a result, pining for yellow. If I can't have warmth or sunshine, then I'll settle for the colour of sunshine. 

While I've been on my exercise bike, lately, I've been scrolling through Pinterest, and pinning pictures of everything yellow. Flowers, old farmhouses, lemon yellow quilts. And some fashion, of course. If I can't have sunshine in real life, I'll have it on my i-pad. You might say all that pining has lead to a lot of pinning.  

painting of woman and yellow jonquil flowers
The Jonquils by Childe Hussan 1904    source

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Tales from My Travel Journal: Adventures Downunder

"Stop!" I shrieked as we hurtled along the Bass Highway, south of Melbourne, Australia, "Stu-u-u... sto-o-o-op. It's the giant worm!" 

Ha. Writing that makes me laugh. When I shouted at Hubby to stop, we were on our way from Melbourne to Victoria's Ninety Mile Beach, and from there heading up the Great Alpine Road to our motel in Bright, in the last month of what we called our "Great Adventure Downunder." Aptly named because everything in Australia seemed to be great. Or Giant. The "Great Ocean Road," the "Great Alpine Road," the "Giant Orange," the "Giant Pineapple." I could go on. So before we headed up the Great Alpine Road, we had to stop at the famous "Giant Worm." I mean, we had to, didn't we? 

woman on second floor balcony of an Australian pub
Our pub accommodation, somewhere in Australia, 2003. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Should I Elevate My Off Duty Wardrobe?

Last weekend I opened an e-mail from which outlined the "essentials" for great weekend style, and offered advice on how to "elevate" my "off-duty wardrobe." That gave me pause. "Off-duty wardrobe. I don't have an off-duty wardrobe anymore," I thought. Simply by virtue of the fact that I don't have an on-duty wardrobe. When I was still working, my closet was filled with clothes I wore to work, and clothes I wore on the weekends. Now it's all weekend wear, all the time.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Of Boots, and Bonnets, and Baby Sisters.

I've been rhapsodizing over Easter bonnets quite a bit lately, it seems. On this blog and over on Brenda Ray Coffee's blog 1010 Park Place. Waxing nostalgic over Easter bonnets, new shoes, and other spring finery. It's a perfect year to be sighing over Easter bonnets, since puffed sleeves, frills, and furbellows of all sorts are on trend this spring. 

But I fear my days of frills and fluffiness are long gone. And, as much as I love to remember them fondly, my Easter bonnet years have come and gone too. These days I'm more into jeans, and raincoats, and rubber boots. 

Like today. Hubby and I went for a long walk on the bush trails where we've been skiing all winter. It was beautiful and sunny, and the trails were just muddy and squashy enough to require rubber boots.

woman in rubber boots, sitting on a log in the bush, holding a stick
Our Easter ramble in the bush today in my brother's hat.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

How to Have a Frugal Spring

It's grey out today. The skies are grey, the river is grey, the melting snow is grey. The wind is raw, and seems to cut right through you. It might be spring, but it's not the kind of spring day we imagine when we long for spring in the middle of winter. Not one of those blue-sky, sunshine-y, warm breezy days that make us think of tulips and daffodils, and getting our bikes out of the shed. 

Nope, mother nature is being rather frugal with her spring weather this week. A little miserly, a tad stingy, economizing on the sunshine, and even when she deigns to bring us some sunshine it's often paired with a crisp breeze. She doesn't want us to get soft. Ha. 

So I'm looking for something to wear today that will be a nod to spring even when it doesn't altogether feel like spring yet. And I'm going to dig into my closet and find some stuff I haven't worn in a while. Stuff I haven't worn since last fall, or last spring, or even ten springs ago. 

two shots of woman in navy blazer, white shirt, jeans, white sneakers, pink and green scarf
My frugal spring outfit

Friday, 23 March 2018

Just One of Those Weeks

You know, people, this week has been "just one of those weeks." Not in the way we usually mean that phrase, not "one of those weeks" where everything that can go wrong does. 

Instead, it's been a week which cannot be faulted. Not really. I haven't won the lottery or had anything big happen to me. It's just that thinking about this week makes me feel grateful. And I don't think I say that often enough. 

afternoon sun. melting ice on a river
A late afternoon on the river. 

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Shopping Diary: Spring Coat Quest

I've been on a major quest to find a new spring coat this year. This year, and last year, and the year before that. I've done my research. Pinned lots of images. And over three springs, tried on what seems like a million coats. Three years ago foiled by the yawning chasm between what I wanted and what I found in the stores, I bought a light spring jacket from Theory instead. Last year I gave up, entirely. Everything was too long, too short, too lightweight, too cheaply made, or too expensive. 

This year, as usual, I sought inspiration first. Vogue predicted that trench coats would be a big trend this season. Maybe I'll be lucky in 2018, I thought. As it happens trench coats are a big trend; emphasis on big. Over-sized has become the new black, it seems. 

woman in an over-sized trench coat
Trench coats are a big trend this season.  source

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Have Books; Will Survive Winter. Maybe

I am so sick of winter. Tired of being cold. Tired of wind. And snow. Of trying to convince myself that spring is just around the corner. Tired of pretending that I'll be wearing spring jackets and sneakers any day now. I give up, people. I'm waving the white flag. I'm retiring to my couch to whimper by the fire with a cup of tea and a good book. Or five. 

This is what I've been reading lately. Mostly mysteries and crime fiction. I haven't had the patience for anything more literary. And as I've always contended, there are many fine and literary mystery writers out there from which to choose.

Three books on a table
Recently finished and currently reading.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Thinking Aloud About Clothes

I've been re-reading this week, in fits and starts, my absolute favourite book about fashion, The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant. I love that book. I've written about it here on the blog before. About how, when I read it the first time, I felt as if I had found a kindred spirit in Linda Grant, so much so that I speculated maybe Ms. Grant awoke one morning and thought, "I think I'll write a book for Sue B." In fact, back when I was still teaching, I used to bring the book to school and read passages aloud to my lunch companions. Some of whom were even interested. Ha. 

two books. Diana Athill's A Florence Diary and Linda Grant's The Thoughtful Dresser
My non-fiction reading this week.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Spring Rite of Passage: Wardrobe Inventory

I don't know about you, but when the end of winter is in sight I regress. I become the small girl who couldn't wait patiently for the seasons to change, who longed for fall when it was summer, and for winter when it was fall. But I think the season I always longed for the most was spring. 

I longed for the snow to melt and trickle across the fields and into the ditches, so we could pretend to be engineers and build dams. For the ground to become soft enough, so we could make potholes with the heels of our boots and play marbles. For the playground to dry up enough, so we could bring out the skipping ropes. Skipping was my most favourite thing in the world for a few years, second only to Mum's seasonal unveiling of the treasures in the cedar chest.

fields, melted snow, tree and a fallen wooden fence
Snow melting in the fields back home in 2016.
Sigh. That was a yearly rite of passage. When the temperatures climbed, and we shed our winter coats, and mittens, Mum levered the top off the big old cedar chest and we dug out our spring and summer clothes. Oh, the anticipation. What would fit me this year? Which of my sisters' dresses might I finally be grown up enough to wear? Would I need a new spring coat, or a new pair of white sneakers? New white sneakers being as coveted by me as a new skipping rope.