Monday, 31 March 2014

What Was I Thinking?

I admit I can get carried away at the thrift shops.  We don't have many good ones, which probably helps keep me under control, but sometimes I come home with things I love and have no plans for.   It might be something like a glasses case I will never use because my glasses are always on my face.  I actually bought it thinking it might make a good case for my pens and pencils but I think it's a bit too short for my pencils, at least until I have worn them down more.  No matter, I like how it looks sitting on my table.
I confess that sometimes I come home with clothing items I cannot wear, either thinking I will alter them or simply because I like the fabric and am thinking I will make cushions.  How many cushions do I need?  That must be the voice of my ex husband creeping into my head because of course there is no such thing as too many cushions!

 I was sorting through my bins of fabric, which also contain some clothing items and I came across some pieces which really do make me scratch my head and ask myself 'what was I thinking?'  I have some dresses that are too small. I need to buy bigger for my bust and then have them altered but even then the waistline of a dress is usually in the wrong spot since I am taller than average.  Sometimes I buy them thinking I will take them apart and just make a skirt from them.  I have done this exactly ZERO times.  But there is still one I am determined to work on. 

I also have an attraction to salwar kameezes due to the fabric and embroidery on them.  They are never in my size though.  I honestly don't know if they are silk or a high quality polyester type fabric but I suspect silk.  There is a slight roughness to the fabric like a raw silk.  So I find myself with a dress that won't fit and a salwar kameez that won't go on over my bust but could hold two of me in the pants.  I am tempted to take the pants to a tailor and see if they can be reworked into harem pants that fit me but we know I will never actually do that, don't we?

Free to a Good Home: Shawna's 'What Was I Thinking?'  Purchases

They are all a bit wrinkled, having been folded up and stored in a plastic bin for awhile.  I would have modeled them for you but, really, you don't want to see that!  If you think you would wear any of these or would like them for the fabric just let me know and I suppose I will go with first come first serve.  If nobody wants them they will go back to the thrift shop.

The top of this outfit makes a lovely dress.  It is  labelled by the thrift shop as size Medium, and is custom made so there isn't a label.  It fits me relatively well only is too tight across the bust and I wear a US size 12 dress most of the time sometimes having to size up for better fit in the top.  If you want the pants I will send those too.

I also have a really cute, homemade vintage look summer shift dress which is too small in the top for me but seems otherwise to be a US size 12.  I also find it a bit high/tight under my arms.  It is nicely sewn but unfinished with some of the seams  still in very neat basted stitches.   It's unlined but a nice quality cotton and goes quite nicely with my decor.

This one has slits up the side that are quite high and is obviously meant to be worn with pants as well but they didn't come with it. It fits me generously but looks a bit weird and is not my colour.  I bought it for the fabric but honestly I won't get around to doing anything with it.  I'd say it is a size 14/16 US.  It's a patterned sheer overlay on top of a solid fabric. Cat not included.

Sunday, 30 March 2014


Fashion offers a variety of silhouettes and often we can associate a particular silhouette with a certain decade or era.  More than at any time in the previous decades of my life,  I notice a great deal of variety in what is offered in hemlines and trouser shapes for women.  I am newly fascinated with the perspective of the top heavy or bottom heavy silhouette, and what can convey and I really enjoyed  this article which I found when Sally McGraw of Already Pretty added it to her Lovely Links post for this past Friday.

Do you have a preference for a top heavy or a bottom heavy silhouette?  Do you prefer top and bottom to be equal?  According to fashion illustrator Danielle Medor, the top heavy silhouette includes shoulder pads, structured jackets, big hair and large hats.  The bottom heavy includes voluminous skirts, bell bottomed jeans and platform shoes.  Although I experimented with the top heavy look in the eighties, (did I have much choice?) I think I tend to prefer the bottom heavy look although I won't be wearing any crinolines anytime soon.  I like to feel grounded and I am not particularly interested in looking like a leader or in standing out; I want to go my own way and be left to my own devices.  That's what makes me feel strong.

A case can be made for various silhouettes being either restrictive or empowering but  different individuals interpret those in different ways.  What makes me feel empowered might make you feel restricted and vice versa.  I can never feel comfortable in a blazer no matter how much it might flatter me or make me look like I'm in charge.  The closest I seem to get to the top heavy silhouette is my favourite casual look, the bulky sweater with a skirt and tights.  I balance it out a bit if I wear boots or a skirt with some pattern or ruffles. 

 The outfit below consists of skirt, sweater and boots all thrifted, the tights are a trial run of Target's Merona brand and the belt is also Target.  The necklace is made from sea glass and was bought at a market in Halifax ten years ago.  I am linking up to The Citizen Rosebud Second Hand First Link Up Project

Not only am I showing off my smashing thrift shop outfit, in which I am trying out a low slung belt for the first time and am not sure of it, I am modelling some new poses for you today.

This one is called The Half Angelina, named for her controversial Oscar's pose some years back. ( I look a bit cross-eyed here.  Not sure why )

And this one is called Red Carpet Ingenue. 

Thursday, 27 March 2014

An Eggs-cellent Lesson

I'm borrowing from King Solomon today and noting that "There is nothing new under the sun."  As someone who feels an almost aching need to create, to express my thoughts and ideas in a variety of mediums though most often words or images, this can be a little discouraging.  How can one be an artist if everything has been done before?  The internet is a wonderful thing for many reasons and it opens up the world to people, but it also quickly shows you that the brilliant idea you  just had while lying in the bathtub, has already been thought of and presented by someone else.  And probably someone else before that. How does one not just give up and stop trying?

I think the answer is that while it has been done before it has not been done by you.  Or it has not been done by me.  Striving to be first at something may be an exercise in futility, but striving to be your true self is your own form of creative expression.  Every day you get up and you are who you are that day.  You see the world, interact with the world and represent the world your way.  Some will think you are fabulous and some will think you are awful.  Perhaps the worst is that some will think you are mediocre.  Ignore all that.  The hard part is that in order to ignore at least some of the criticism you have to ignore at least some of the admiration.  Too much criticism and you may never get going.  Too much admiration and you may stagnate.  Beware of taking both too seriously.

When I was married my husband was the family omelette expert. He made us delicious breakfasts of bacon and fried potatoes and omelettes.  I had never made an omelette before and although I was a good cook in many ways, the omelette intimidated me.  There was already an expert in the house.  How could I possibly do a good job?

Years later, while living on my own, I was up to my usual trick of multi-tasking a little bit too much.  I thought I was clever enough to start some scrambled eggs and then go and check on the laundry.   I got the eggs started and on the stove at low heat.  My intention was to go and put the clothes into the dryer and then come back to stir the eggs.  Of course I forgot.  I got out the vacuum cleaner.  Something had caught my eye and it was crucial that I vacuum it up that instant.  I forgot all about my eggs.  I forgot about them for about 15 minutes.  Remembering them suddenly, I ran down the hall to the kitchen, frightening the cat into hiding under the table.  I looked at my eggs and saw what  looked an awful lot like an omelette ready to be folded.

I added mushrooms and some cheese and got out two spatulas and carefully folded it, holding my breath all the while.  It worked!  Soon I was sitting down to eat what was the most delicious omelette I had ever tasted.  Now I make omelettes all the time and sometimes they are a bit of a broken mess, but they still taste damn good.  Mushroom, spinach and feta is my house specialty.
What I learned from the omelette will be obvious.  You saw it coming, but it's always so easy to see what everyone else is doing wrong while we get stuck in our own patterns and mistaken thoughts.

Get up every day and be you.  That may not be effortless but fear not!  It's the trying that matters.  Anything that is worthwhile won't be effortless and in the process you may achieve something you hadn't expected, an omelette perhaps.  I'll end with a quote because I began with one and I like my omelettes and my blogs cheesy. 

                            The record shows I took the blows
                            And did it my way

                            -Paul Anka 

Thank You.   You've been  wonderful audience.  Good night!

Down the Technicolour Rabbit Hole!

Wow.  There is probably no school of creative writing that teaches students to begin with the word 'wow' but it's where I am going to begin.  I have been wandering around the internet for several years, and I've looked at many blogs.  Lately I have blundered into a community of wonderful, kind, compassionate, supportive and stylish women. Every day I am adding new blogs to the list I follow.  I don't even know which one  I started with, but one leads to another eventually.  I have always thought of myself as rather sartorially middle of the road.  I am beginning to think I might be dull.  Horrors! Please, style blogging  introverts don't disappear from the internet because I need to stand among you.  I am surrounded by brightly coloured clothing and tattoos, vibrant red hair, funky bold glasses frames, shoes that are art  and personalities just as colourful.  I feel like a sparrow in a flock of parrots.

Perspective is everything.  I am always saying that and I then I  cringe.    I'd rather say 'compassion is everything' or 'pie is everything' as both of those are much more interesting, but perspective comes up a lot because I am always analysing things and trying to describe things.  Once my mother said to me, "You really like to decorate yourself."  What she really meant was, "you decorate yourself differently from me and in a way I did not expect."  I would imagine this observation was triggered by my having a small stud in my nose and more than one piercing in my ears and a penchant for embroidered maxi skirts.  But don't we all decorate ourselves?  We groom and dress and choose even the most minimal of clothing and footwear based on what appeals to us and what we are comfortable being seen in.  Most of us are saying something with what we wear, even if what we are saying is "I really don't care much about what I wear." Or "I favour comfort."  What others hear us saying may not be what we think we are saying. 

Today I am going to say, "Hey look at this amazing pink sweater I found at the thrift shop!"  And I am going to let the sweater be the star of the show.It doesn't show up well in the photo but there are small beads hand sewn onto it and velvet trim along the cuffs and the front opening.  It fastens with little hooks that are set just inside .  Beads, velvet and embroidery!  Three of my favourite things all in one sweater!

For some people this would be just part of a bold ensemble.  For me it is a stand alone piece, something to elevate the jeans and tee shirt and let me pretend I am a spring flower.  The little girls I used to teach would have loved this sweater.  It's very soft and I can imagine how they would have stroked my arm and told me it was pretty.  Remembering that keeps me warm even if the spring weather isn't quite doing that yet. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Come on Over to My Dark Side

Okay, I confess.  My dark side is maybe only a slightly murky side.  Darth Vader wouldn't pay attention to me at all or try to tempt me further over.  My cat has a darker dark side than I do.  I am perpetually nice, promoting that silly Canadian stereotype everywhere I go.  I have been told things like, "You need to find your inner bitch"; "All of your paintings are so happy, you need to experiment out of your comfort zone"; and "I don't know how you do it.  I could not be as nice."  I am who I am.  I don't try to be this way and I don't try to be different.  But don't underestimate me, I'm not weak.    I bend instead of breaking and I will bend a little further than others might before I spring back up and shake off the weight of trouble.

I don't know how a woman is supposed to find her inner bitch and to be honest I don't want to. But I decided it wouldn't hurt to check out my artistic dark side.  It's still not very dark. In fact it's looking damn colourful.

                      Challenged by a friend to paint a skull in a fruit bowl.

                                Self portrait-mixed media/collage-done while in
                                 a dysfunctional marriage

And this one is still on my easel.  Honestly I don't know what the hell that one is all about.

So even when I get a bit dark I still choose colours I love.  I like to think that's representative of my persistent optimism and my strength.  I will survive and I will thrive.  It's in my colours.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Some Thoughts on Stockings, Magazines and Trends

I am absolutely a magazine addict.  I love magazines and  I read a lot of them.  I also love magazines for just looking at the pictures.  It's something that occupies me when the M.E.  has taken over my brain and I can't focus very well.  When  that happens I can't read the things I would normally read, I can't write and I can't create any art.  I'm not much inclined to watch television.  I do use the internet as entertainment and there are blogs and websites and Pinterest to give me the equivalent of magazines, but I still love magazines, turning the actual pages, holding it in my hands and reading it while lying down.   After all, I can't take my laptop into the bathtub!  I read serious magazines and frivolous magazines.  I love them all but the fashion magazines and the shelter magazines have those damn trendy things in them and trends can be irksome.

Even worse than a season full of fashion trends I dislike, is when there are things I really do like.  Then I have to decide if I can tolerate looking like I cared and ran out and bought the latest trend.  In fact I am a bit more inclined to run out and buy whatever has been just declared so over because I'm a bit contrary by nature.  (I mean, are hair scrunchies really so bad?)  So with that in mind, I perused the hosiery section at the drugstore recently thinking, well if nude tights, as they call them in the UK, or pantyhose as we call them here, are so horrible and unthinkable and not done such that  Cosmopolitan and Glamour magazine fashion editors would recommend against them, then perhaps I want to consider wearing them again.  According to Voguepedia (I had no idea there was such a thing until just now) nude tights went out of fashion in 1994 when designers stopped showing them on the runways.  Perhaps it was too difficult having to worry about S.A.


For those of us who are not runway models or who don't live in Florida or California or any other nice warm place in the world for that matter, bare legs with skirts and dresses is just not always an option.  In winter I wear opaque black tights but we are entering that transition season, where I want to start wearing less black, and yet totally bare legs get a little bit too chilly.  Since I'm old enough to remember once having worn pantyhose, I also remember that they did have a slight ability to keep my legs warm, which is the very reason I rarely wore them in summer.  So I examined the packages of pantyhose and stay up stockings with interest and did what I always do with hoisery, I read the size chart on the back.   Apparently anyone my height, which happens to be 5'9.25" and weight, which happens to be 165 lbs, does not exist.  I could be shorter and heavier, or taller and lighter.

I was so amazed to find out that I did not exist that I put the package back on the shelf, stunned, and confused and walked away.  But I have not given up on this idea just yet.  Stockings look old-ladyish some say.  No, say, I.  Only when they are beige, opaque, the texture of a tensor bandage and baggy around your ankles.  My quest is not over.  I am determined to get through spring with a pair of sheer black and transition to sheer nude stockings (not fake sun tan coloured) and I am determined to find some that acknowledge my size.  I will probably pay an arm and a leg, or perhaps through the nose, which sounds even more painful than losing arms and legs, and then get a run in them immediately upon wearing them.  Stay tuned for my rant about how the makers of stockings ought to be forced to watch endless reruns of Justin Bieber videos.

                                                    * * *

 A random thing:  Who knew Quakers made stockings?  I thought they only made oatmeal

I stumbled across this blog while doing internet research on stockings.  If you like vintage clothes, sewing your own clothes and the history of clothing, you might want to check it out.

Source for Chatelaine and The Walrus magazine covers featured at the top of the page:

Monday, 24 March 2014

A Visible Red Coat

 I have a variety of very distinct and fond memories of some of my childhood clothing.  My mother sewed much of it and she sewed beautifully.  I had many lovely little dresses, which I wore with knee socks and buckled leather shoes.  My first and I think perhaps my only full on outfit ever, was assembled somewhat by accident but I can still recall how I felt when I wore it.  I was perhaps five, but I felt like a grown up.  I felt stronger, more confidant and completely comfortable with myself.  There was a knitted dress, made by a talented friend of my mother's.  The top was a red cable stitch bodice and the skirt was navy blue with red and white lines which gave it a sort of simplified tartan look.  At the collar and cuffs  a row of white and a row of blue complimented the red.  I had navy, red and white buckled shoes, a red vinyl coat styled like a trench with a lovely buckled belt.  I loved buckles.  I still love buckles.  I wore red or navy tights and I even had a little purse in navy, red and white.

I rarely got to put this whole ensemble together, but the thrill of doing so, which may have happened only once or twice in my life, is still with me over forty years later.  Navy is a staple in my wardrobe and red is a special colour.  It's something I seem to dole out to myself in carefully rationed doses like I would with fine quality chocolate and I seem to favour it in outer wear.  I'm visible in red, so I'm linking up to Patti's fantastic blog and Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style.

                               I think this is my Napoleon pose.

In this, my favourite coat, I was always very visible while on the playground doing supervision duty.  Then we were told we had to wear reflective orange vests and what the orange did to my beautiful red coat, well it's no exaggeration to say it completely negated the uplifting feeling I got from it.  I couldn't let the orange ruin it so I stopped wearing this coat to work.  In my non playground supervising life,  being visible is not particularly my goal, but the coat feels lively and cheerful to me and I love wearing it.  I don't wear it for what others will see, I wear it for what I see, what I feel, whatever that magic thing is that red has always done for me.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Secret Confessions of a Baggy Sweater Wearer

I know it's difficult to believe but I don't always look fabulous.  Even in addition to the pyjamas and various elf costumes that are worn on my stay home and lie down days, I have a bit of a penchant for dowdy looks.  I think it might require a name like haute bag lady.  Perhaps it already has a name.  It's not a look I've actually attempted to wear, though I do love to toss on a baggy sweater and a pair of boots with my skirts.   It's a look I think of as winter hippie, it's clearly thrifted and carefully thought out and yet looks rather like any old thing was piled on just to keep warm.  It will nearly always involve at least two skirts, one longer than the other, thick socks and leggings, sturdy boots. multiple layers on top generally long and usually a scarf.  The coat, if there is one, will be a man's tweed jacket,  There may or may not be a hat. The colours will be dark, and muddy, which is partly what appeals to me.  The fabrics will be natural fibres, sometimes even looking homespun.

The woman who wears this outfit often has a dog.  She might possibly drive a vintage volkswagon or volvo but is also quite likely to get around by walking or cycling.  She shops at the thrift shops of course, but she isn't really lacking money despite hinting at that with her wardrobe.  She also shops at the alternative foods market, which has higher prices and exotic "health foods".
 I've never looked at such a woman and thought, oh you look fat in all those layers, or frumpy or dowdy.  I look at it and think oh cool.  I wish I had the courage to wear that.  I wish I could wear it and not look like some sort of ruffled sausage.  I want to thumb my nose at the idea of having to look sleek and chic. But of course I want to have my cake and eat it too because I don't really want to look like a sausage.  And I want to mix my food metaphors too because cake and sausages are all tasty.  I'm a rebel like that!

  She may or may not embrace various aspects of a modern hippie lifestyle but clearly she doesn't embrace the conventional ideas of how clothes should make your body look.  This appeals to  me.  I like this idea of messing with the standard ideas of figure flattery.  I like taking pretty things and making them a bit ugly.  I love the concepts of jolie-laide, laissez-faire, and deshabille and although all of those can be expressed without french, they just sound better that way.   I love juxtaposition and disregard for convention.  I also love my clothes to be comfortable and easy to throw on.  But apparently I want to both flatter my figure and not flatter it. 

It's a bit like makeup.  I know how to apply and wear makeup.  If I had to do a full face (and I can't really imagine why I would) I could do it and do it well.  I am just not interested in doing it.  I know how I am supposed to dress my body to flatter my figure.  I know how to pair up the pretty things and look like a lady out for tea.  Sometimes I need to follow those rules a bit, just to remind myself that I do have a shape, that I am capable of making myself look attractive.  And other times I want to say F**K it!  I am supposed to wear a nice fitted top with this so I'm damn well going to wear a big baggy sweater.  And boots of course.

And then how do I reconcile my love of beading and embroidery with deliberate frumpery.  Well that will be my own special challenge.  I'm sure I can do it.  It's cold and windy today.  That seems perfect for some artful layering and of course, a hat!  Here is a tunic dress recently purchased at the thrift shop, and a non-baggy sweater thrifted a few years ago.  Leggings are warmer than tights and with the addition of bulky socks and leg warmers even more so.


You might be thinking to yourself, she really needs some more accessories.  I would say to you, yes only I tend to forget them.  In fact it is a challenge for me to remember to put on my glasses, my watch and grab my cell phone before I leave home.  I will always have on earrings, as I can't stand the empty holes.  But the bangles and necklaces tend to decorate my dresser more than they decorate me.  Beading and embroidery is like accessories already there for me.


Friday, 21 March 2014

The Cockles of my Heart are Warm

Once upon a time a young supermodel was preparing to go out shopping.  She was going to the thrift shops of course and she was very excited.  It's the first day of spring, today, she thought.  I should wear a floral skirt to celebrate.  So she put on her favourite floral skirt and a sweater she knew would go well with it and then in a proper tribute to spring she clad her feet in shoes instead of boots.  She looked something like this.

But this would not do.  No this outfit completely lacked imagination, with her ubiquitous shapeless sweater, skirt and tights combination.  (She likes that word ubiquitous because it sounds smart) She wanted to push her boundaries and try something else.  So she sat and thought.  She put her thinking cap on and then, realised, That's it!  Maybe this outfit needs a hat!
She summoned up her baddest, boldest hattitude.
But somehow in the process she lost her feet.
Oh dear, she cried.  What am I to do?  It must be the fault of this baggy sweater.  I must try again.  I must not give up.
She thought hard and she mangled her hat.  Finally she had an idea and she put on this and it was almost perfect.
She liked the belt but knew that it had a tendency to fall off.  The alternative did not please her as much but at least the belt would stay on.
So off she went, but poor dear, her troubles were not over.  As she got into her car she realised she had not eaten and was feeling a bit peckish.  Remembering the stash of energy bars in her glove compartment, she rummaged around and got one out.  Unwrapping it as she drove, which is a very bad habit and you must not imitate her, she found as she tried to bite into it that it was frozen and quite hard.  Nothing comes between me and my Calvin's, I mean Clif Bar she declared sexily, and stuffed it under her thigh to warm it up on the way into town.

Alas, as hot as her thighs are, this did not quite do the trick and she was forced to leave the bar on the sunny dash board while she perused the fashions in the first thrift shop.  She emerged half an hour later with two skirts and an even bigger hunger.  She ate two Clif Bars.  She is not endorsing Clif Bars.  They happen to be her son's favourite and so she had some on hand.  She does, however highly recommend the peanut butter one and if Clif is looking for a spokesmodel she is available.

On to more shops where she tried on many skirts and blouses and pondered unusual purses which she did not need and tried on some boots that pinched.  She gleefully scooped up a brand new, labels still attached, leather jacket and fear not, she even paid for it.  Then her shoe broke.  The strap broke off the shoe and rendered the shoe most difficult to keep on her foot.  This was a perplexing problem because she liked these shoes, but they were old and they were cheap so really even if they could be repaired, which she doubted, it would not be worth it.  But alas the thrift shop had not offered up any suitable shoes and those boots really did pinch.

She paid for her selections and, gripping her shoe with her toes to keep it from flying off with each step, she made her way back to her car imagining the swoons of rapture from her new blogging friends when she showed off her purchases.  What did our intrepid super model do next, dear reader?  Well she drove to the shoe store, of course.  Alas, there were no shoes resembling any such as she dreamed about and the store seemed to have suddenly decided to specialize in wide width, which would fall off her foot just as readily as any broken shoe.  Then she spotted the boots.  Ah boots, how they warm the cockles of her heart.   She likes that word cockles and hopes that it isn't rude because she thinks sometimes her mother reads her blog.  Better yet, the boots were on sale.  And goodness me, vanity sizing seems to have extended to footwear now and she fit into a size she hasn't worn since she was eleven.  How delightful.

Our tired but satisfied super model wore those new boots out of the store.  She paid for them of course.  She is a very honest and law abiding super model.  When she got home that day, she looked rather different from how she'd looked when she left.  In fact she looked like this.
The Fonz would be envious.

Disclaimer:  As a fledgling, sometime style blogger, I realise I am expected to list the make and source of my garments.  Hah!  Well I will try my best but really, you will laugh.
Boots-ZigiSoho (I know, I've never heard of them either but they are real leather and were on sale and I like them.); tights-who knows, they will have been in a bargain bin and marked 'tall'; skirt-Reitman's brand (thrifted); tee shirt-Warehouse One; sweater-no label (thrifted); hat-Winners; vest-Woolrich (local boutique Sylvie's)'s a bit too big-needs to be altered, might be worth it; belts-Target; shoes-they are old and they broke.  Who cares?
earrings which you can't even see-gift

See, it really wasn't worth knowing all that, was it?

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Dreaming of My Spring Garden

The first time I was irked by something being trendy was about fifteen or twenty years ago.  I was an avid gardener at the time and had grown up with grandparents and parents who were also avid gardeners.  I didn't have any interest in gardening as a child, though I loved the garden environment.  I was too busy playing my imaginative games where patches of moss, half a walnut shell and a silky rose petal made a bedroom for a fairy.  Or gathering up fallen rose petals and soaking them in water to make some sort of murky looking perfume.  But when I grew up and had my own home and my own plot of land, I was immediately focused on filling it up with trees and shrubs and flowers and gardening became my passion.  Not long after that, gardening also became trendy.  For me it was a an artistic pursuit as well as the love of being outside with the soil and the insects and the birds.  I could lose ten hours a day in the garden during peak gardening season.  I spent all my spare money on plants and was given trees, rose bushes or perennials for birthdays and Christmases.  I had plants that had once been in my grandmother's garden or my great aunt's garden.  I spent winter scouring gardening books and magazines and deciding which were the next varieties of rhododendron or rose or peony I hoped to add.  I went shopping for specifically named plants, never just any old pink peony.  I moved things around my garden constantly, attempting to achieve exactly the look I wanted with colour and foliage texture.

But my chronic illness and my troubled marriage were both conspiring to take my garden away from me.  I reached a point where I could no longer look after the garden I had created.  When my marriage fell apart and I left, my ex husband retained our family home and my garden.  He doesn't have the time for it, although he always did love its presence.  It is falling apart now and I don't know if his new partner will want to restore it.  I hope she does.  I like her.  I wish I could walk through the garden with her and tell her the stories behind the different plants, why I chose them or who they came from.  Spring is the time when I miss my garden most.  Right about now I would be out walking around the garden to see what was coming up, or sitting in the window looking out at it.  This time of year is full of the promise of abundant flower and foliage to come and I would look forward to each plant reaching its peak in the same way one looks forward to greeting a friend.  I would also be thinking to myself, that plant really would look better if it were moved two feet to the left.

When I sat down to write this post, I was going to rant about trends that irk me.  Don't worry, I'm sure that will come.  But the garden wanted to be written about today.  This post wrote itself.  I don't have many photos of my old garden, but I do have some I took in my parents' garden about a year or so ago.  I will leave you with some of those today. 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Hair, it's Always an Issue

I think I am growing my hair out, well I know I am, I just don't know exactly how I want it to grow to.  I have worn my hair very long, very short and pretty much most lengths in between.  There are pros and cons to all of them.  I've been through the growing out process many times before, and I know there are nasty horrible awkward stages to come.  I even feel really guilty because I just found a great stylist who cut my hair two months ago and now I won't be going back for awhile and he will wonder if I didn't like him.

I used to cut my own hair.  I am not too bad at it, but my hair is very fine and copious so  that can get a bit tricky.  I promised my family I would get a proper hair cut.  Mostly I made this promise because I am prone to hacking all my hair off in the middle of the night and it really doesn't suit me.  Unfortunately I am not afraid to take the scissors to my head.  Fortunately  I have the courage and at least a bit of ability to cope with the little transitional trims that will be needed as I let my hair grow towards a different style.  This means keeping the back quite short for awhile as I head towards something that resembles a layered bob.  This alone will take about six more months. 

After that I am not sure what my plan is.  I also know there is a good chance that I will not like it when it grows out any more than I like it now.  You see, in my nearly 47 years of living, let's round that off to 42 and assume that for the first five years of my life I didn't pay too much attention to my hair, I have learned that it's really my head that I don't like, not my hair.   I can't change my head. 

I'm a low maintenance sort of woman.  I don't like to fuss with my hair and I am hopeless with a curling iron or flat iron.  My idea of using the blow dryer is to hang my head upside down and dry all my hair by aiming a hot blast of air at it from that angle and then finishing it off right side up.  My ideal hairstyle is bedhead. 

This is the before photo, with  slept on and unstyled hair- and a bit flat looking on one side of my head but I am prone to running my hands through it while I think so it's just amazing it's not sticking up.  It's  getting to bowl cut stage.  I'm not looking forward to that but I've got hair bands at the ready.  There is no makeup here; I'm ripe for submission to one of those makeover shows. 
But look, I'm wearing a blouse with a print.  That's rare for me.  I got paint on the sleeve today.  But at least it is blue paint.
I'm never going to stop looking like a teacher, am I?  Or possibly a librarian?  Not that teachers and librarians aren't some of the best people around, but who says "some day when I grow up I hope I look just like a teacher"?

Okay, now I'm off to bed to let my pillow style my hair. 

I Like my Peanut Butter Creamy and my Shoes Chunky!

This post actually has nothing to do with peanut butter, but I did just eat some and I do love it!

Many of us have certain ideas about how we want to look in our clothing, and we are likely to be influenced by a variety of things, including what we believe or have been told is not suited to our body type.  Many of us are trying or hoping to look taller, thinner, or curvier according to our culture's ideals and whatever it is we perceive to be lacking or flawed in our own bodies.  There are rules for footwear too, depending on the appearance of our legs, feet and ankles, though there is no reason at all that we have to follow these rules. It depends on your goal.  I have found there is conflicting advice out there anyhow and it's better to figure out for yourself what you feel you look your best in and what makes you happy to wear.

When it comes to shoes for my own feet, it is my opinion that I am more suited to chunky ones.  Delicate shoes just don't seem to suit me, and that isn't based on any rule I am aware of but simply what looks right to my eye.  I'm sure there are experts with opinions on whether or not chunky shoes are right for me but it's unlikely that I care.  If we all followed the rules wouldn't we only ever be wearing nude coloured pumps with a low cut vamp and four inch heels, or a black version of that in winter with our black tights?  Since it seems one's legs can never be long enough or thin enough, those would be the best footwear options.

My preferred shoes don't do much to elongate the legs, might possibly draw attention to my thick ankles, might look frumpy or matronly or just not be even remotely sexy.   I like them sensible, I like them comfortable,  I like them a bit chunky.  I love hiking boots, combat boots and motorcycle boots.  I have possibly never met boots I didn't love.  Doc Martens, Clarks, Birkenstocks, neither of them bring to mind sex appeal but them I rather like believing I can run and do cartwheels and jump off tree stumps the way I did as a little girl. 

I don't have much of a budget for new footwear this spring and I definitely don't need anything, but here are a few that caught my eye while "window shopping" online.  


                              Birkenstocks found here


Who doesn't want velvet high tops in these jewel tones?


                          And although these are only shown in black, if they also come in brown I want one of each colour to span the seasons.  Purple would be nice too.  Everything is nice in purple.

I have no experience or affiliation with nor any knowledge of any of the vendors I have linked to.  I have only been browsing and dreaming.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Don't Compare Yourself To Other People. Just Don't.

I spend a lot of time online.  At this point I am very sedentary and sometimes am even too tired to paint.  I read a lot of books and magazines but I also read a lot online.  As with the books and magazines I am interested in a wide range of things from the frivolous to the deep.  Sometimes I just enjoy images.  The internet is great for that too.  I read a lot of blogs.  And that's where I can sometimes fall into a trap, the trap of comparing myself.

 It's easy to be impressed by people who clearly have a life outside of home.  Or the people who are mostly at home but doing amazing things there.  Some people appear to be living quite fabulous lives in exciting cities.  They get out and see stuff, people, places, shops, museums, markets, parks, places I cannot go.  Some people live in beautiful rural areas and their focus is on growing their own food and preserving it, sewing or knitting or restoring furniture while raising children and chickens.  Some people have exotic wardrobes, shoe collections, hats or hairstyles.  They travel to exciting places.  They go out and greet the world in their colourful plumage.  They take on the day in a way I never can.

 Some people envy me.  Perhaps they would not if they knew the truth,  you should never envy someone who lives with a debilitating chronic illness, but we are not seeing people clearly when we look through green lenses.  When I was teaching part time, I would be gathering up my things and going home at the lunch break and  colleagues would say to me, 'Oh you are so lucky.  I wish I could work part time.'  I just smiled and said, 'Yes it's great'.  They didn't know I was going home to go to bed.  They seemed to think I was going off skiing.  Someone once said to me, 'Oh you are one of those lifestyle people.'  What does that even mean?  Apparently what he meant was I was choosing lifestyle over work.  My lifestyle is not what these people imagined it to be, but then if that is true, so it could potentially be true of the way I view others.

When I am grocery shopping and the cashier says to me, 'Do you have today off?'  I say, 'Yes I do' out loud and in my head I add, 'I have every day off.'  She doesn't know that the grocery shopping is the biggest thing I will likely do that week, that mostly I will sleep.   I will read, spend some time online, write a lot more blog posts than anyone wants to read, get myself some food and if I have more energy I will paint.  She thinks she envies me, just like my colleagues who imagined I worked part time because I had plenty of money and wanted spare time for skiing.  Because we see people and we think we know what they are about, what they have, what they do and if they are happy.  And we imagine it is better than what we have.

The flip side of those brief moments when I envy someone else her life, is that I sometimes think to myself, wow my life is so fabulous I feel a bit guilty.  I can sleep whenever I want for as long as I want.  If I am awake all night with insomnia it doesn't matter.  I can just sleep later; there is nowhere I have to be.  I can eat whenever I want.  I can eat in bed.  I can read and drink tea all day.  I have plenty of time to write and paint.  I'm single, so although I don't have a lot of money I can pretty much spend it however I like.  I found the best apartment in the whole town last year and bought it.  I am so happy here I even love the parts of it I hate. Like that funky kitchen floor.   My wonderful son lives a couple of blocks away and my very dear parents one block more.  I have a life you could envy.

But don't compare yourself.  Just don't.


Today's art comes at the price of not getting my dishes cleaned up. I often have to make the choice between cooking and dishes or art. I really need to teach Sophie to wash up. The mixed media poppies are kind of a work in progress which I had set aside and forgotten.  I made art journal pages, colourful and chaotic, inspired by spring flowers and rainy days.  And I started work on a water colour sea horse painting for my young nephew.  His mum wants sea life pictures to decorate his bathroom.

Monday, 17 March 2014

A little Poem from my Childhood

I had a little tea party
This afternoon at three.

'Twas very small-
Three guests in all-

Just I


And Me

Myself at all the sandwiches,
While I drank up the tea;
'Twas also I who ate the pie
And passed the cake to me.

-Jessica Nelson North