Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday in Soggy Land

Well it is the last day of June and when I think of June 2013, I think of rain...

We have broken records for rain this month.  I think we have had exactly 5 days of sunshine.

This makes me sad.  I adore summer.  I adore my garden.  I don't mind the odd rainy day.  But here's the thing: I haven't really been doing any gardening at all in 10 days.  It has been too wet and the mosquitoes and black flies would make you weep.  I have officially become old moss-back Wendy and it can be only a matter of time before I start sprouting leaves and become an Ent....

Butch was as high as the roof, but has been beaten down from all the rain...

But there is still lots of beauty, if you can run outside quickly before the mosquitoes carry you off to their evil Mosquito King...

The honeysuckle is in bloom....

So is my clematis, though worse for wear...

Someone forgot to tell this peony not too look so damn cheerful...

The creeping thyme is doing just that.  Sh!  We won't tell it that a bunch of its flowers are going to be in my salad tonight...

A lot of weeding is needed...

But the Sweet William is keeping the morale of the troops up.

This chair was supposed to be repainted this month, but am thinking this is just a lovely shot of faded glory, the first peony that bloomed in my garden giving its all before its moment in the sun is done.

And the weigela is waiting for someone to pop by and take a look....

And my foxglove is a lonely sentinel in the rain...

If you like moss however, you are in luck: it is doing awfully well.

I am feeling much better having gone out and actually talked with them all.  They have missed me.  Why, the mosquitoes kindly walked me around the garden, keeping me good company while I snapped this pictures this morning!  It was quite heart-warming.

I was wearing my bright red bathrobe.  You can do that when you live in the middle of the country and are surrounded by forest!  I do think I should consider some new fancy PJS after reading Tiffany Roses's blog this morning....

But the thing is, I want it to get sunny.  I want to be out there.  I want to be hot.  I don't want to look at the fireflies through the pouring rain.  I know it will happen, but wish it would happen SOON!  And I know I shouldn't complain, what with the terrible times our friends have been having in Alberta.  So I will now suck it up, and appreciate your listening to my whining!

How has the weather been your way?  Any big plans on this lovely Sunday?

I think I am going to cook - I have a lot of rhubarb and I may make rhubarb jam...

Have a wonderful day and stay safe out there!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Random Saturday Musings

Happy Saturday!

this has been a long busy week, and lots going on!

1) Google Reader

I must tell you all the truth (do I do anything else?) - I don't really understand this.  My technical adviser, GetFresh, she of the much greater brain than mine, has told me not to worry, but that options are good...  So now along the side you will see that I have the Eiffel Tower icon if you choose to follow me with bloglovin instead.

Am I the only one of you out there for whom the internet, the blogsphere, well everything, is kind of this technical miasma?  I know that they supposedly write the technical help explanations for a grade 8 level and this is humbling to me as I don't always even understand those.  I don't know what I will do when my children move out.  I am thinking of making a suite for GF and her DH...

Anyway, I don't really know if you need to follow me on bloglovin, but like my "just in case" preparations for the zombie apocalypse, it can't hurt, can it???  :-)

2) The Portrait of a Lady

Today is book club day over at Dani's.  I am chomping at the bit to discuss the book!  It has inspired me to read another book I have never gotten around the reading: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.  I am going through Edith Wharton country soon and hope to see her house, The Mount.  This will hopefully get me in the mood.  I am also about to begin Khaled Hosseini's new books, And the Mountains Echoed.

And The Mountains Echoed

I loved his two earlier books and am anxious to read this one, which makes me ask...

3) Am I the only one who reads multiple books at once and what does that say about me?

Right now I am reading Kate Atkinson's Life After Life, finishing up Deepak Chopra's Super Brain and reading a Middle Grade novel, The Mysterious Benedict Society.

This seems like a very scattered and silly way to read, but I almost always have a novel, a nonfiction book and another, usually a middle grade or young adult novel (I like to know what is out there) going all at once.  And then there is the gardening book that is open on my coffee table and that I refer to constantly.  I am always curious as to others' reading habits - are you a one-book-at-a-time kind of person?

4) Scandal

Oh I know, I am late to the game.  This TV show has been on for the last year and half.  But for some reason, I never got around to trying it out.  I had missed the beginning, etc, etc.  But fast-forward to this summer, when there is NOTHING on TV.  I thank god regularly for apple TV and Netflix.  Well last weekend, my daughter and I decided to download season 1 of Scandal, the wonderfully delicious soap operaish-come-political-thriller series starring the amazingly beautiful Kerry Washington and WE ARE HOOKED.

There is a twist in every episode.  There is snappy dialogue.  And then there is her wardrobe!  Every outfit that Kerry wears as the brilliant Olivia Pope is to die for.  Out of curiousity last night, I did a google search on Olivia Pope + wardrobe and the number of websites and pinterest boards about just that are astounding!


Almost always neutrals, but all in exquisite fabrics and cuts!  The Escada jacket above is my personal favourite, although I am partial to the Escada cardigan above as well..

I am hoping that Washington will inspire many young women to dress better at the workplace (and no, that doesn't mean Escada or Max Mara necessarily!).  Over the last decade I have seen a gradual casualisation of the workplace and love to see these classic looks!

5) Every once in a while, I think I am doing okay as a parent...

Dear son is a card-carrying member of the local young feminist club, which works to educate young people of both sexes about intimate partner violence, sexism, etc.

Anyway, last night the group was raising money for the local women's shelter by holding a coffee house.  Son asked Barry and I if we'd attend.  We said yes, and headed off to the event.  We were the only ones there who were over 20 years of age.  We stayed for the first set only, mostly because it is my experience that one doesn't want to wear out one's welcome when one is invited to participate in an event with one's children's friends.  The music was interesting and I sort of felt like I was in a John Hughes meets Wes Anderson movie.  They were all funky and artsy.

It is a nice thing when your child invites you to something.  I know it was a fundraiser and they need money, but there must have been 40 kids there and we were the only parents.  The fact that he will take us out in public says a lot.  I am sure I would not have done that with my parents.  So we felt good!  But we were home by 8:15!

So these are my musings today!  I need to do some cleaning and straightening.  My SIL and niece arrive to stay the night with us on Thursday.  She and my brother are coming for the weekend and we are heading away for the night Friday to bury my father with my mother on a little town on the coast where my dad grew up.  I am quite looking forward to seeing them and getting him where he needs to be.

Have a great day and stay safe out there!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Miller Time Friday: An easy, over-sized tent shape - those peasants!

Oh J Crew - you do turn a head with your descriptors!

As you know, I decided in my wisdom to try and find a top that would help me replicate the look Julie Delpy sported in Before Sunset:

The J Crew eyelet peasant top seemed like it could fit the bill, catapulting me into the realm of Parisian femme fatal, boho chic extraordinaire, etc, etc (cue Yul Brynner to read last line, someone!) but the descriptor easy, over-sized tent shape, scared the bejesus out of me.

See here is the thing:  I can easily replicate easy, over-sized tent shape myself without the help of a blouse, thank you very much....

That scamp Ema tried it on, and it looked awfully cute on her here.  But let's call a spade a spade, Ema and I are, ahem, not exactly shaped alike.  So it was with some trepidation that i opened the box yesterday and put my little pup tent on...

Oh just look at me in all my cute Julie Delpy-like splendour.  It does pouf, but not in an awful way:

It has satisfied my urge for the chic peasant top for now, though Ema, is right; it is definitely a summer black, not a dark winter black:

with black cotton cardigan - it really does look almost navy..
Ethan - where are YOU...........

In honour of my success, we really should have a lovely little cocktail.  How about

Caiprinha The Little Peasant Girl


1 3/4 oz. Cachaca Fazenda Mae de Ouro 
1/2 Lime Tahiti 
2 tbsp. Sugar Superfine Cane (more Sugar drinks)


Cut off the ends of the lime and cut it into eight even wedges. Be sure to remove the white core. Sprinkle the sugar over 4 lime slices in the bottom of an old-fashioned glass. With a wood pestle; press only the core of the fruit, without pressing the rind. This prevents the drink from becoming sour. Fill the glass with crushed ice and add Cachaça Fazenda Mãe de Ouro. Shake or stir well. Serve in a glass decorated with a slice of lime.

Oh Lord!!! Am I the only one who has no clue what the heck Cachaça Fazenda Mãe de Ouro is?

here it is!

A lovely rum from Brazilian sugar cane (I think - GF?) - the descriptors are vague on this...
On the other hand, as a little woozy peasant girl, will it really matter if I don't know the origin of what I am drinking????  What do you think?  Do you think Julie drinks them?
Any great plans for Friday?  I think it will be a quiet one here - thank goodness!  Stay safe out there!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The End and a New Beginning and Love, Actually

I have a confession - I forgot to take pictures last night!  I was so busy talking that I forgot to take pictures!  This will come as no surprise to you, I bet!  I am sad about it, as it is so rare that I get all the people I love (minus a few that couldn't make it) in the same room.

What I can advise: my house looks like someone died; there are flowers everywhere!!  See below:

What I can also advise:  people appear to bring flowers AND wine and now there is a lot of wine in the house, despite a lot of it being drunk last night!

What I can finally advise: I wore fancy pants and my old disco fleur J Crew sandals.

Women's new arrivals - shoes - Disco-fleur sandals - J.Crew

I was over the top, dress-wise - full on Marie Antoinette meets Gayle from J Crew.  More was more.

But now that is done.  Last night was the most meaningful of the retirement fetes; this party included my friends and family, the people who supported me through it all - through the early years, the years of hard work, the years where they hardly saw me because I was working so much.  I was lucky to have them through it all and am still lucky to have them!

The thing about life is this - we rarely know the significant moments/decisions when they are happening.  It is only with time and the filter of our own perspective of what happened that we ascribe the events with significance or meaning.

But retirements/Marriages/funerals/births/milestone birthdays are different; we know something is happening.  We celebrate and acknowledge them.  Or we hide from them, depending upon our personalities.  I've hit three of those things in the last seven months; now I am ready to turn a page.

So now I embark on the new adventure; working for myself.  Ultimately, I am hoping someone will pay me for the things that I write; until then, I will cobble together lots of things to make a living and a life.  It is scary and exciting and thrilling and nauseating all at the same time!

In my old career, I was at the top of the ladder.  I understood everything about my job and how the system worked.  I do not know how to be a writer.  I am starting all over at age 50 feeling much as I did when I entered the civil service at age 26 without knowing how to write a bureaucratic sentence or do research.  But I learned.  And I will learn this too.

What I also know to be true is that if you are open and honest and truthful, if you share your love of life and your love of people, it comes back.  The people in that room last night love me.  It is always a mystery to me how we find people and make friendships, but I am grateful for everyone.

It is also a mystery to me how people show up exactly when you need them - not before, not after - exactly when you need them.  One of the folks that visits here emailed me last night with some wonderful advice about getting published and establishing myself as a writer.  I was gobsmacked by the generosity and that someone would take a moment to give me advice.  And boy do I need it!  It just seems to me that there are people, guides, who are always available to us if we are only open to them, and I try to be one for others myself.

Every day, I try to come here and come to the rest of my life with joy and kindness and hope.  And every day, that optimism is returned to me ten-fold.  You are all so kind that it is actually quite humbling to me.  Your kind remarks about my one year blogiversary really made me feel quite good yesterday, but any enjoyment you derive from popping in here is dwarfed by my own joy in getting to know people here.  I like to think of this blog as more of a maritime kitchen party - people pop in and out, tell us what's going on, give their two cents worth and head off to the next party!  And that is just how I like it!

Last night, and this blog community on an ongoing basis, made me think of the voice-over at the beginning of the movie, Love Actually.  Yes, I am just that kind of sap - I love that movie.  Yes, life is hard.  Sometimes it is easy.  Sometimes it is crazy.  Sometimes it is humbling.  But there is always someone there to give a hand or a kind thought.  I won't "out" the person who wrote me last night, but know that I am deeply touched that you would take the time to share your thoughts and experience with someone who is a complete neophyte in their newly (and it seems to me at times, insanely!) chosen profession!

So to start our day, I'm sharing what Hugh says at the beginning of the movie.  It's not a bad way to start a day, I think:

"Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion... love actually is all around."

Yup - I AM just that kind of sap....

Stay safe out there!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Style Question Wednesday - Summer Party Dressing, one year of blogging and World War Z

I realized this morning that it has been exactly one year since I started this blog.  It has been a really interesting experience and I want to thank my initial "followers" - I think in the beginning there were maybe 6 of us and I was just thrilled that I wasn't talking to myself (though I do that, too!)  I always find that word follower so odd; it conjures up images of Jim Jones and Guyana, but is that just me?  Wouldn't subscribers have been a better word?  But I am always thrilled when anyone chimes in, follower or not!

I have mentioned before that this daily blog has become my version of morning pages from The Artist's Way.  When I began writing here one year ago, I was heading into a crossroads year; I was finishing my fourth decade, I felt emotionally and physically exhausted from my work, my family responsibilities (especially the needs of my very frail father) and from the sense that I had "settled" for a career, which though I was good at it, did not make my heart sing.

The writing of this blog rekindled my passion for creating.  I thought I was starting a blog that would help me transition my style into my 50s, but it became something almost completely different.  Through this blog I have made many friendships and in fact, I consider every person who is kind enough to drop in to this very non-exclusive clubhouse a friend and try very hard to treat them as such.  Because of you all, I was able to test ideas and actions that I might not have been so brave to do in my non-virtual life (we do need a new glossary of terms for all this, don't we?) and you have always been enthusiastic and supportive and that helped me be brave!

So wanted to give you all a status update on how the writing is going.  I have finished my middle-grade children's novel and am now cold-shopping it to literary agents, which I imagine will take some time.  I am currently 5 chapters into my next book which is a Young Adult Fantasy novel.  Writing to you all every day, which often makes me feel like a Jane Austen character, helps me keep going with this dream of being a published author and you have become my "work" colleagues.

I do worry at times that I share too much or can be a little dull (really, I do not lead an exciting life), but I guess that is like all conversations - some are more exciting than others!  So a heartfelt thank you - your presence here has meant more than you can know!


But now on to the style question!  Barry is throwing a little "do" in my honour tonight.  Honestly, this is the last of it all; but this is just friends.  Most of them are friends that I see regularly, some of are work colleagues who became friends over the years.  We are having a drop-in-bring-what-you-want-to-BBQ-or-your-bathing-suit-or-just-have-a-quick-glass-of-wine right after the workday.  Yesterday, it was 33C and sunny - today, of course, it is going to be 20C and rainy.  Oh well - people will get to know each other in my little house.

So of course, I need to pick an outfit!  And that is where you come in!

Should I wear a dress:


or fancy pants


What do you think?

Don't worry - I will take pictures!!!

Most of today will involve housecleaning (only light vacuuming and straightening - I have learned in life that with 30 people a spotless house is lost within 5 minutes and your floor washing is best left for the morning after though the bathrooms MUST be washed in advance!)


I went to see World War Z with my son and his girlfriend yesterday.  I had just read the book and really liked it.  The movie is VERY different; due in large part to the serial and first person narrative stories in the book which would be difficult to film I guess, though I think a documentary style approach might have worked really well.  Having said that, it is a good, interesting movie, though significantly less cerebral than the book.  I wish Hollywood would give the public more credit.  Maybe that is due to the IQ of the filmmakers in Hollywood themselves, but who knows?  Having said that, it is a fun, thrilling two hours and a good summer movie!

What are you up to today?  Stay Safe out there today and if you see a zombie - be VERY,VERY quiet...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stretching Myself (Literally and Figuratively!)

Happy Tuesday!

Oh my gosh - have been dying to tell you about my yoga/painting workshop.

The workshop was put on by a wonderful lady named Donna Mulholland.  You can see her wonderful blog and work here.

I knew Donna when she was a civil servant like me.  She was always so smart and had such a joyful personality.  One day, she just left her job (sound familiar?) and followed her dreams, which in her case involved teaching yoga and painting.  She is good at both!

My friend Ger told me about this day long course and I signed up.

Here is the description:

I have taken one watercolour painting course.  My yoga is done at home to DVD.  Was I nervous?  Yes!!!!

The day, thanks to the instructor, was joyful.  We did a lot of gentle yoga, a lot of guided imagery and meditation.  I never felt intimidated once.

There were 7 women in the class and I knew two of them.  The rest were lovely and friendly and my friend Ger and I had lunch with two of them.  

We learned to paint with acrylics, and how to build up acrylic on canvas.  So much fun!  The point was not to come out with a great work of art, but to come out with something that was symbolic of where we were.  I chose a butterfly - it was symbolic of both shedding old skin and the fact that I am feeling more beautiful as I age!  It was interesting; each time before we did a layer, we would take a moment and center ourselves and identify our intention.  Such a great way to paint and one I will definitely replicate!

My work of art at the end of the day:

NO piece de resistance, but considering there are 4 layers of paint, quite fun!!!

Me this am in an old Joe Fresh dress and my panama scarf.  I actually took some time to "sort of" straighten my hair, but my daughter was horrified when heI came home and did it properly!  it is such a bother to do, but fun!

So my lesson from my workshop is this: try new things, don't be shy, don't judge anything!  My word for the day yesterday was "open" - I wanted to be open to everything.  And I was!

What are you up to these days???  I'd love to know!

Stay safe out there!!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday, Monday - French Style, Part Deux

Happy Monday all!  Yesterday was great and I will do a longer post on it tomorrow.  Between the day-long workshop and then the graduation party for son's girlfriend, am just getting to my post now!

Many thanks for the advice yesterday!!!

This month's issue of Vanity Fair (yes, the one with Channing Tatum looking over his shoulder at YOU) has a great article called Liberté, Fraternité, Supériorité by that scamp James Walcott.  He discusses the whole genre of books that have cropped up since French Women Don't Get Fat was published and the North American woman's obsession with them.

Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

I admit to owning a few of these books.  Their content can be boiled down to the following maxims:

1) French women have more self-control than anyone else when it comes to a) eating b) drinking c) shopping

2) French women are inherently chic and do not chase fashion trends like their non-french counterparts

3) French women are more discreet

4) French women need less clothing because they know what to do with the clothing they have

5) French women cook better than the rest of us and they don't overeat

Walcott argues that everyone else's obsession with the the French Woman is due to a desire to return to a time where people dressed up, knew how to cook and had MANNERS.  His only lament is that there is not a similar series of best selling books for non-French men.

There IS certainly something to this argument.  I have also heard arguments that the rise of these kinds of books, along with the rise of shows and blogs showing us how to have style, or whole networks designed to teach us how to cook are someone's idea to get us consume more.

The thing is, these things are hits because WE made them hits.  The last thirty years of casual-ness, a natural by-product of the sixties' desire to throw off the shackles of anything that smacked of their parents, of feminists' desire to not be shackled to the house or kitchen, but no one else really stepped in to do it, has led to an almost ennui in society and has, I think, led to a general confusion about how to live, look and eat well.

 Because regardless of the fact that you might be a feminist (which I consider myself) or a hipster or whatever, we all kind of want to eat healthy food, live in reasonably nice places and look nice.  And we have cut our school home economics courses and our arts courses, and have substituted these things with convenient food and clothes and told ourselves that it's okay if our houses and wardrobes look like everyone else's and come from big boxes.

In the main, the French have not forgotten some of these things.  

Every culture is different.  But every culture has, as its birthright, the right to live in beauty.  Because living in beauty and culture and the arts feeds the soul in a way that no trip to Costco ever can (no disrespect to Costco shoppers - I have a membership myself) and eating whole healthy foods makes you feel wonderful.

Wouldn't it be nice if non-French women (and men!) embraced niceties in the same way, eschewing brand names on butts for clothes that speak to them in a lovely way and for a kind, gentle (to themselves) way of living?  Wouldn't it be nice if French Women wanted to copy us?
But I leave a treat!  Speaking of Channing Tatum, catch the recent music video he just did with Jamie Foxx - it is a riff on a song they sang on Jimmie Kimmel in Jimmie's after the oscars show.  Hysterical and cheeky!

You can always count on Jimmie Kimmel to find ways to get celebrities to do the funniest things!

Have a great Monday and Stay Safe out There!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Other things that J Crew sent me and that I must send back...and a reno update..

Well okay.

The Kikis didn't just get here all by themselves.  They rode in withe THREE featherweight cashmere cardigans (you recall my interest in trying them on when they went on sale and then for 25% off that...), a pineapple tshirt and featherweight merino vneck to try on.  And then I found the damn (wonderful!) boots.

Okay - could use your advice and strength.  Maybe we should take a shot of something strong?

First up:

featherweight cardigan in morning sky.

This one didn't come out of the book, because, well, see for yourself (and then, by all means, mock me):

Morning sky is very similar pretty much the same as last season's periwinkle.  Little less grey, little truer blue.  Still embarrassing.  And I sort of knew it, as I think I might have written a snotty blog post on the similarity of colours this year.    GOING BACK.

The featherweight in navy is staying, I am pretty sure.  I do love it.  But I also really love vivid aqua:

Oh the healthy glow of it all!  The short shorts (didn't leave the house, no worries!)

Look at it with the nougat dress:

or last summer's fancy pants:

This one wants to stay.  Badly!

How about the pineapple tshirt?  I was meh, but my daughter loved it on me.  Thoughts?

And finally, the blue vneck:

Don't ask me what I am staring at?  My money, leaving?

What I am thinking is heading back - both blue sweaters and pineapple T.  Am I wrong?

On a sidebar, would like your opinion as to whether to keep this dress.  Bought it last summer and have worn it once.  It is a linen Sandwith dress, very comfy, but COLOURFUL!

Let's leave my closet shall we, and visit the local watering hole, where yesterday afternoon, I said "Welcome Summer" with a glass of Veuve Cliquot:

Welcome Summer, don't be a stranger....

The sky was a beautiful shade of blue...

barry's ear...

The reno of the family room is probably 64% done (how is that for precision?)  The far wall must be painted silvery blue and the white brick is being replaced by faux fieldstone.

This torn out cupboard

has become this DVD unit, built by Barry

 The TV has been moved over the fireplace, walls have been painted and new windows and blinds are in.  So from this...

 To this:

All of the clutter and books have been cleaned up and onto the various shelves!

 Now it is serene...

 And tucked in the shelf in the corner is my new fairy door.  Isn't it sweet?

 So well done Barry - just a little more work to go!!  Let's all cheer him on, shall we, as we need this room put to bed, so to speak!!!  Hip Hip Hoorah, Barry!

And now, since it is Sunday and I am just truly prattering on..

My groundhog has had three babies.  And though I know I shouldn't let them play out in my flower garden, I am...

They kind of whistle when they talk to each other.  I am sure they have a speech impediment like another famous friend:

Gopher, Winnie the Pooh
So I am letting them eat the swiss chard and the echinachea.  I know - I'm a sucker...

As I said, you won't hear from me till supper time!  Will have lots to report back on the day tomorrow!

Stay Safe out there!