Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My New Dresses and What I Wore to Pick them up!

After what has seemed like quite a long time, the dresses I bought a few weeks ago were finally ready.  So I gussied myself up to go and pick them up!  Though I am having a decidedly casual Spring, I like the idea of dressing up to run errands in town.  Plus I wanted to get my red dress altered, so wanted to have bare legs and my wedge heels.

Today's outfit is an oldie, but a goodie: the schoolboy Morse code blazer, which really can only be worn in Spring or Fall due to its heavier weight, last year's pencil skirt in the bright pear colour and my Pink Tartan blouse with the bow tie collar.  I am a sucker for those little details, and I wanted to do a little pattern mixing.  I wore this with my Tory Burch wedges, which were very comfortable for walking around downtown in.

Close-up with blouse:

This outfit was dressy enough for my old job and it was fun to be a little fancy after mostly living in jeans lately.  My daughter and I went to return all of the books she had borrowed from the university library first, mailed a package, sent her old, salt-laden Uggs off to Montreal to be refurbished (for $50 which I consider a steal compared to buying her a new pair!) and then went to the shop to pick up the dresses.

I am very happy with the dresses.  The first dress is a simple black vneck linen dress.  I did not have a black dress for summer and I have wanted a linen one.  There is a viscose lining and it is very comfortable.

The dress is a-lined and has a little row of ruffles on the bottom above the straight hem and around the vneck, which makes it look dressier if you want to wear it dressier.

I paid less than $100 for this and consider it a good deal and imagine it will get a lot of use this summer.

The other dress is my new Nougat London dress.  I really am crazy about Nougat London; they make interesting clothing that has a timeless appeal to me.  This dress is a cotton shift in a watermelon/white print with a vneck again - yes I am listening to you ladies!

It has been perfectly altered to me, which is very nice indeed.  The back of the dress has an exposed zipper, which I quite like, but I know that is a show-stopper for some of you!

It is 100% cotton and a very sturdy cotton at that.

And on:

It actually looks more flattering than this in real life, but I was too lazy to go find my daughter to take a picture!

There was one more goody in this shopping spree of a couple of weeks ago:  A pale pink top by Nougat London:

100% cotton with little appliqued and crocheted flowers.

This is just the kind of piece that I am always drawn to and that Nougat London does exceptionally well.  It's what the love child of a meringue kiss

And Battenburg lace might look like...

When I brought it home and introduced it to the closet, guess what it decided it wanted to meet first?  The pompon pants of 2012!

Flowers echoing flowers, tone on tone.  I sort of felt like I was channelling my inner Ema!

Well then I had to look and see what shoes it might want to meet.

There seemed to be a great camaraderie with the vince camuto rose gold sandals as well as a lovely pale pink pair from J Crew from a few years ago which have held up remarkably well.

When the Kersh cardigan showed up it was old home week.  The top has expressed interest in many other items in my closet as well and I plan to start rotating this right away, now that the weather is warm!

After the excitement of picking up the new lovelies, I went in to have the red dress altered.  My tailor is a lovely Romanian immigrant who is very blunt.  "This is a crazy dress with too many pieces." she told me, pinning here and there.  "This dress is too big in some places but the wrong places!"  Finally, she figured out how to fix it and sent me on my way.  It was quite a morning!

All in all, I feel quite set for summer.  I really hope the white skirt works, as it would go very nicely with many things, including my two new Nougat London tops.  I will cross my fingers! 

Have the loveliest of Tuesdays and stay safe out there!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Expecting Company

Well, we had a gorgeous weekend.  I spent half of it in the yard, still cleaning out flower beds, and have a few more to go today.  Today, the temperature is slated to hit 70F/20C and I think my new dresses may finally be ready from the shop, nicely altered for me.  I am also planning to take my red dress in to get taken in a bit as per all of your advice last month when I picked it up in NYC. 

When you live in a place that is freezing cold for 6 months of the year, cool for 2 and really only warm for 4 months, you tend to get giddy in the early days of warm weather.  Honestly, I feel like running around to find a sailor to recreate this famous photo of joy:

Yes, I have spring fever. 

I am also getting ready for visitors.  You know I have a bit of the geekiness about me.  One of my favourite things in the whole world are the hummingbirds that spend the summer with me.  Yes, they spend the summer with ME.  I am quite sure they know all about me and likely read this blog in the winter months when they live elsewhere and were probably thrilled that I have posted the odd photo of them:

My feeders have been up for a week and I have been faithfully reading the hummingbird migration
map.  You don't read the hummingbird migration map?  Well you can do so here.  It is great fun to see them coming along the eastern seaboard.  And yesterday, someone in my neck of the woods reported seeing a hummingbird at their feeder!  You can see the Canada map below for the arrival of the ruby-throated hummingbird.

Ruby-throated map for Canada

So I am all set, am starting to change the food faithfully every three days, and waiting for my little buddies to arrive.

I know, I know - you are hoping I get a new career soon!  But honestly - who doesn't love a hummingbird? 

And speaking of things I love.... Though I love peonies, lily-of-the-valley and lilacs best, I am pretty sure if I was a flower, I would be a pansy, like these lovely ones I put in my planter out front.  They just look so darn cheerful don't they?    One of the funniest stories about myself I ever heard was someone asking a friend of mine if I was "always so f#$%$!ing happy".  The answer: yes, pretty much.  Just like these pansies!

Have a lovely Monday and stay safe out there!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday: Review of Featherweight Merino Vneck, Christmas Roses and a White Skirt

About a month ago, I decided that I had a gap that needed fixing - I wanted a navy lightweight vneck.  In her blog Friday, Fred posted here about how it feels as if the J Crew delivery truck is just circling her neighbourhood.  I typically have the opposite problem.  I place an order and then wonder when the hell it will actually show up.

The navy vneck (which sadly is off the site today or I would post the JC picture) is a staple.  I could imagine wearing it with my trousers and with skirts, shorts, etc.  It is just the right shade of navy - a true, dark one.  Normally, I would take a medium in these sweaters, but I wanted a slouchy, casual look and I did not like the colours in the Boyfriend version, so had decided to go to a Large.  Of course the Large was sold out.  However, I am not one easily deterred so I called JC to have someone do the store search.  "We'll look they said, and someone will call you in the next two days"   Well no one called.  I assumed it wasn't coming.  In the interim, I decided to order the black featherweight cotton vneck, my second choice, but the closest I could find to what I was looking for (and believe me, I checked all the sites!).

So imagine my surprise when the sweater arrived on Friday.  It is gorgeous and exactly what I wanted.

Here I have paired it with my old domino cafe capris in navy and a navy tank, which is not really required, but it was cool yesterday!  It is slouchy, which is what I wanted.

Back behind the plant, with my little metallic blue ballets.  I love those shoes and wore this outfit to go grocery shopping in the morning with my fatigue jacket. 

And on the bed so you can see the blue in another light.  I would ask that you turn your gaze towards the dresser and my jewellry cabinet in the background, both of which are completely covered in my husbands clothes...

This is a lovely sweater and if you can get one, I would highly recommend it!  Of course, I decided that today I must remember to cancel the black, which was scheduled to ship on the 30th.  Of course, I arrived home from my party last night only to see that it has already shipped.  Sigh... I will not be keeping it, so another return charge.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day and I spent a good two hours in the garden.  I still have so much cleaning up work to do, but it is coming.  My little patch of crocuses or croci were looking so brilliant against the drab spring world:

Gardeners like to read about other people's gardens and those stories don't even need a lot of pictures.  Garden writing is its own genre and I am definitely a fan.  One of my favourite garden writers is the late, great, bon vivant, Beverley Nichols.

Beverley was a prolific writer, writing a whole series of books about the houses and gardens he loved, imparting both wisdom and catty humour in every one.  The first trilogy, about his little thatched cottage and its garden (and the nosy neighbours) in Glatton, Cambridgeshire, is my favourite, but the ones about his years in his house Merry Hall is also wonderful.

The books have lovely illustrations and photographs and it is like taking a trip back in time, especially the first trilogy, which was written in the 1930s.  They are stories, how-to's and glimpses into how the genteel, wealthy gardened and are just wonderful!  There are also little stories about his social life, with mentions of the set Nichols ran with: Noel Coward, Cole Porter, etc.

Beverley once wrote:

"I never say to people 'would you like to look at the garden?' because any lover of gardens, even if he sees only a lawn and a solitary herbaceous border, will ask to see it himself."

And he is right!

I recommend starting with Down the Garden Path and then reading the books in order. 


One flower in particular that Nichols wrote that caught my attention is the Christmas Rose.  I had never heard of this type of rose before reading of his adventures in growing them.  Once I looked into it, I realized that they are known here in Canada as a Hellebore.  In England, where Nichols lived, they bloom at Christmas time, hence the name.  So imagine my delight two years ago when they started carrying them at my local nursery.  I bought three plants and planted them and waited.  The second year, there were no blooms, but this year, every one of the plants is getting ready to bloom.  What the plants look like:

And the beginnings of a bloom:

I was on my belly taking this shot!  They are lovely and delicate and if the nursery has more this spring, I will add more to the garden!  So they bloom in England at Christmas and in Atlantic Canada in late April/early May!

As you know, I am still looking for a lovely skirt like M's.  None have quite done it and so I have decided to wait rather than settle.  However, I did finally bite on this J Crew sale, after much careful consideration and filled a gap: the white skirt.  I have none and I would like one, so I ordered the daisy skirt in the end.

Daisy lace mini

 All cotton, it will be very nice when the temperatures rise and the white pants can no longer be stood!  It is hard to imagine that this morning, but it will come soon enough!  The pool cover is off and the pool man will be here tomorrow to get it all set up and then the water man will arrive Tuesday to top it up.  Barry anticipates we will be able to swim within 10 days.  We shall see.  I hate being cold!  And even if the pool is warm, the air needs to be cool, too!

And an update on last night's shenanigans - it was a wonderful party!  I knew most of the women there, but met some lovely new ones and we laughed and ate and just had fun.  Our hostess, who is one of the loveliest and kindest people I know, had little gifts for all of the attendees and we did a yankee swap.  Much hilarity ensued as people traded nail polish for books and napkins and candles.  I came home with napkins, and paper clips shaped like dolphins.  It was great fun!

So have a wonderful Sunday.  If you stop by, check the yard - I will be out working again!  Stay safe out there!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Random Saturday Musings

Well it is another lovely Saturday around here and I have a full day planned: groceries, housework, yardwork and then tonight, I have been invited to a girls-only social evening at a friend's house.  There are about 20 women attending and they are all quite excited.  Lots of food, some wine and a lot of talking, I imagine!  Will let you know how it all goes tomorrow!

But first, we have Wendy's Random Saturday Musings!

1) George Jones dies at 81

I have to confess: I am not a huge George Jones fan, though I did enjoy some of the music.  What struck me the most about this news was this: GEORGE MADE IT TO 81!  I mean, George was a country star but he lived a rock and roll lifestyle.  My husband saw him 30 years ago in concert; he was so drunk that he had to be helped to and from the piano and then had to stop the concert after 30 minutes.  But he lived to be 81 years old.  Go figure.  Why am I worried about the odd cookie?

2) And speaking of Country Music...

One of my favourite country/folk songs is "The Farmer's Song" by Canadian Murray McLauchan, with it's lovely chorus:
Straw hats and old dirty hankies, moppin' a face like a shoe
Thanks for the meal, here's a song that is real, from a kid from the city to you
You can watch it here if you like.  It is just lovely.  But it is the straw hats that have me dreaming this morning.  I love a straw hat and have been looking around for a new one for summer.  Can you ever have enough?  I admit to being a bit of a purist: I prefer my straw hats to be natural straw or black.  Stripes are divine.  J Crew has a couple of lovely options:

Summer straw hat

 Summer straw hat in stripe
 Don't want a wide brim hat?  Tory Burch has a lovely little fedora with a jaunty yellow flower on it:

Natural Raffia W/ Daisy Grosgrain Tory Burch Raffia Knit Hat

My other fetish, no surprise, is straw shoes!  J Crew has a lovely pair of ballet flats in straw in this new release - if they ever make it to sale, they will be mine!

Classic straw ballet flats

But if my pockets were really deep, I would scoop up these valentino sandals, which scream BEACH to me...

RED Valentino sandals

 3) Tilda Swinton, scamp

Oh Tilda, I am getting such a girl crush on you!

Oh sure, you are a great actress.  But your recent "nap-in" at the MOMA just made me smile...


Read all about it here.

But it gets better!  On April 20th she led 1500 people in a dance-along at Ebert-fest, the late Roger Ebert's Chicago Film Festival.    You can see it here.  There is nothing I like more than a dance-along.  Which naturally leads me to my last random thought of the day...

4) the 30th Anniversary of Beat It

It was 30 years ago this weekend that Beat It made it to number one on the charts.  Oh say what you want about Michael Jackson.  I know I will.  But I defy you to hear this song and not want to get up and dance.  Or have a dane-off with your friend after a couple of drinks (am I the only one who has ever done that?  Really, you ought to come by the house some Saturday night if you have a hankering for that kind of thing...)  An homage to West Side Story, this video and song are classics. 

So I will leave you with the video and wish you all a wonderful, safe, Saturday.  Stay safe out there!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Miller Time Friday - Sunny, with a chance of shoes...

Happy Friday! 

Many thanks to all those who chimed in with words of encouragement as I try valiantly to "stick to the plan!"  Or perhaps, simply shop more mindfully. 

In that spirit, I decided that I must stop talking about getting out all of my things and ACTUALLY get out all of my things.  Today, that involved shoes. 

I don't have enough room to store my shoes and boots from all four seasons together.  So down into the hellhole that is my crawl spaces to get the spring/summer shoe bin.  I thought that would help settle in my mind what the gaps were in my shoe wardrobe.

First I went through all of my fall/winter footwear.  Never wore most of it, though that was in large part due to my personal circumstances after Christmas.  I certainly was not going to give away or throw out something out for that reason alone.

However, I was going to rid myself of things that were

a) uncomfortable
b) too high for me
c) simply old and worn out and worst of all
d) never really fit me. 

Now you know why I order and try on and send back.  I find trying on things in the boutiques here very misleading.  If I bring it home and wear it for an hour or two around the house, I know that it is good or bad. 

So a lot of shoes left, because at present, it is not my intention to work in a 9 to 5 Monday to Friday corporate environment again.  So if any of you are a size 6 and would love a pair of nude Ivanka Trumps for spring or lovely Cole Haan black patent leather peep toe high heel slingback sandals for all 4 seasons, let me know - you can have them for the price of postage!  The rest have gone to other homes and to charity!

And then I went through the summer shoes.  Again, worn out things were thrown out, similar criteria used above.

Here is what's left and it is still a LOT!

I have two pairs of pumps - one black, one nude left, the sequined pumps I bought last fall and my new Tory Burch wedges.  A lovely pair of tortoise shell/leopard print wedge sandals from Pliner and another pair of leopard print peep toe slingbacks from Nine West.  That is the really dressy stuff I can pull out for meetings between me, myself and I.  I realized I have 13 pairs of ballet flats.  Yikes!

And then all of the sandals, sneakers and flip flops!  I could not believe how many pairs of sandals I have, most of them quite pristine because a) the summer is so short around here and b) most of them were too casual to be worn to my office.  I realized I do not need gold or platinum sandals this summer - got 'em.  I have navy, royal blue, yellow, an orangey yellow, cream, ivory, black as well.  I am set (although I did notice that I do not have chambray blue espadrilles!).  It's like my summer footwear knew I would leave the corporate world before I did!

I did note some particular favourite that I will make a big effort to plan outfits around:

The espadrilles I bought in Normandy in 2008.

Wendy, that tortoiseshell bracelet would match me perfectly....
The Pliners.  I have been mostly wearing these with black.  Can I treat them as a summer neutral? 

The Vince Camuto rose gold crystal sandals.  One of the blouses that I bought from Nougat London is the palest peachy pink, and I think it will go great with this.

Looking at my shoes, there is nothing there I would not wear now.  There is still too much, but I have decided that I do not need anything, though I might benefit from some walking sandals.  I will likely do another purge and weed out more at the end of the summer that do not get worn.  I also think that my feet are getting wider as I age, which is why I am finding some of my shoes uncomfortable.  Anyone else over 40 finding that?

I can see the benefit of a list and a plan.  When I see all of these shoes, besides the obvious embarassment that I have so many shoes, I am also struck by the fact that if I had gotten them all out sooner, I would never have thought that I SHOULD have purchased those marina espadrilles this year.  So the inventory I shall start immediatement!  And then I need to shake it up and put together some outfits and see if I have a colour story (cause usually it feels like I have a "paint thrown up against the wall" story!  :-)

In honour of the shoe follies, I propose we mix up some Blue Suede Shoes cocktails:

  • 1/2 oz Southern Comfort
  • 1/2 oz Creme de Banane
  • 1/2 oz Blue Curacao

Pour ingredients over ice. Shake and strain.

Short and sweet!  

I hope you are all having a wonderful day and if nothing else, are getting a chuckle out of the fickleness that is me!  Have a great day and stay safe out there!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The thrill of shopping, the agony of shopping!

Oh dear.

Old habits die hard.

As you know, I have put myself on a clothes budget for both fiscal and self-reflective reasons.  My closet was the burial ground of fads and things I "thought" I needed.  I am trying really hard to stay on track.  And as you know, I just purchased some lovely things a couple of weeks ago that had me borrowing against my may and June clothing allotment (and by the way, those alterations are still not complete!  I had to call this a.m. To remind them about me!).

But then the companies have new releases and then other people start buying things and I think " hey, I could use that, too!"

Today was one of those days.  I got home from the memorial service (hmm, do you THINK my shopping is ever stressed-related?  Someone call Dr.Freud!) and was looking at the blogs and the JCrew and Madewell sites and started seeing things I needed.

But of course I didn't need them.  For 2 hours I mindlessly surfed sites and put things into virtual shopping carts.  2 hours!  I could have read a book, solved world peace and learned to crochet in 2 hours!

I eventually placed an order for the following things:

The Marina mini-wedge espadrilles in chambray:

Marina mini-wedge espadrilles in chambray
Now this might be a gap, but how would i know as I haven't gotten my summer shoes out yet!

The daisy lace mini.  How cute would this be.  Size up a size and it goes to the knees. I was imagining it and the shoes above with the lovely Nougat London Boho top I recently purchased.  

Daisy lace mini

Oh and I was pretty sure I needed this tortoise shell bracelet, too!

tortoise circle link bracelet

So I placed the order, then 10 minutes later, I cancelled it.  I love clothes.  I would even describe myself as bing mildly obsessed with them! 

But I wasn't shopping because I had a gap (though I am pretty sure those espadrilles might fill a gap!).  I was shopping recreationally and I was shopping mindlessly.  I was shopping because I was seeing things on others that I wanted to be a part of too!  Every new sale and rollout does not require my participation and the difference between 30% off and 25% is miniscule and does NOT require a decision of what to buy at that very moment.

I am sitting here writing this post and looking at my closet, which I perceive to be bulging.  I have enough for the summer from my purchases to date this year and from previous years.  In fact, I would say I have more than enough.  Even if the espadrilles are a gap, I can live without them.  At the very least, I need to think seriously about them before I buy them. 

So I will keep on keeping on.  I know we are a whole culture built on consumerism and that my struggles to cut those ties will require vigilance and an ability to live vicariously through others' purchases!  I would love to hear about how you make out with all of this.  Do you ever buy things you wish you hadn't bought or don't need?

On a decidedly less whiny note, the memorial service at the nursing home was lovely.  The head nurse became visibly choked up when she described each deceased resident in turn; she had a little story to tell about each one that was unique and personal.  The folks at this place were lovely.  I am not sure if I told you this before, but in the 2 or 3 days prior to my day's death, we had been playing Christmas music for him and telling stories.  The night he died I had gone home for a couple of hours to sleep and shower.  All of a sudden, he started to pass away, and they called immediately for us to return, which is approximately a 10 minute drive.  While they waited for us to arrive, and as he passed from this life to the next, they put on his favourite Nat King Cole christmas music for him to see him out as they knew that.'s what I would have done.  That is a kindness and generosity that always humbles me. In the perfect world being born can be a wonderful, joyful experience.  The same can also be said of dying when one is old and one is supported by people who want to make it a loving, positive experience.

What's on tap for today?  I am running to take my car to the shop to get the winter tired off and then I may do housework today as the next two days are supposed to be lovely and I could get a lot more of spring yardwork done.  What about you?  what are you up to this fine day?

And for those of you who did buy yesterday: today's post is no judgement of that at all - this is just my stuff that I am working through!  And I feel better having written it down!  ;-)

Have a great day and stay safe out there!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Style question Wednesday: repurposing your clothes, is Madewell reading the same books as me and a review of jcrew blazer in antique linen

So last summer, I bought bright fuchsia pants from the Gap.  They were cute, but they were an impulse purchase.  Every time I went to put them on to wear them out, I always hung them back up.  "Do I want to wear fuchsia pants to grocery shop/run errands/go for coffee?"  And I never did.

hmm - september of last year- not loving this outfit.

But I paid $40 for them and they were cute.  What would I do with them?

I would re-purpose them!  This Spring, they are my yard work pants.  And I must say, they are the brightest, boldest gardening pants on the block.  And they are filthy today!  I must confess: a lot of clothes I tire of, if they are comfortable enough, will become my yard or my housework get ups.  And most of them can be quite gaudy.  I am no Miss Dani when I am out working - think of me as looking like Little Edie B. rather than her lovely cousin Jacqueline Onassis or our Dani B! 

Today, I was wearing the loud pants, an old maroon oversized ugly fleece jacket and an old beige knit hat and my gardening gloves! I am sure the neighbours talk, but I don't give a hoot!  I need tough clothes and if fuchsia pants fit the bill, all is well.  I am sure the bees will love them!

Do you re-purpose clothes like this?  Do you have your own special getups, or are you always coordinated?

And speaking of coordinated, I believe that myself, historian David McCullough and the scarf designers at Madewell are in some kind of bookish love triangle.

First, I read Mr. McCullough's book Americans Abroad, about Paris in the 1800s.  Madewell makes the Paris scarf:

Nice coincidence you say.  Perhaps.  Then I read his book on the Brooklyn Bridge and the designers come out with his scarf:

Hmm, you say, and hmm, I say as well.  But today, was the weirdest. This week, I began the hstorian's book on the building of the Panama Canal.  And then today, in the new releases, this:

Panamania Scarf

You tell me.  Get ready for the Teddy Roosevelt, John Adams or Johnstown flood scarf.  Just sayin'...

Finally, a quick review.  I recently got my new jcrew schoolboy blazer in heringbone in antique linen.  Needed a light coloured blazer and am pleased as it will go with lots. 

A bit of a closeup:

That will be it for me for neutrals this season.  I am set.  Now I am looking for something fun! 

Hope you all have a great Wednesday!  I am off to get my hair cut and coloured!  This afternoon, my dad's old nursing home is having a memorial for the patients that died this year and since they will be acknowledging my dad, will go to that as well. Will be glad to see the staff again who took such good care of him before he died.

Stay safe out there!