Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Sitting and Knitting

My knitting skills are best described as rustic.  No Aran sweaters, no Fair Isle, no sweaters at all.  Knitting is a form of meditation for me so I knit simple things.  My winter project stretched into spring but I've completed this blanket throw just in time for summer!

It's randomly created stripes of colour in 100% wool Roving.  The ivory colour was particularly prone to random breakage so whenever it broke I would just change colours.  No fancy stitches involved, as that would impede the meditative process. I used  large circular needles without knitting in the round and just changed colours whenever I felt like it or ran out.

My current project is a fine alpaca shawl in bands of neutral fawn, beige and grey.  I'm aiming to complete it in time to take on a flight to Nova Scotia this summer.  And after that I'm considering knitting or crocheting two placemats.  I don't have any at the moment and I am in need of two.  Sewing them is also a possibility.  For five minutes-no probably two minutes-I considered weaving some.  Hah! 

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Favourite Treats-Gluten Free, Low Carb, Grain Free

I eat gluten free and I generally also eat low-carb and grain free.  In addition to being diagnosed as celiac this just seems to be the diet my body is happiest on and I've tried many.  On a low fat, high carb vegan diet I was overweight and bloated.  I think we all have to find what is right for our bodies and not think there is one right diet for everyone.  I shun sugar but don't worry at all about fat.  Yes, there are things I don't eat or rarely eat that I wish I could but in the end my health and feeling my best wins.

Yes, this makes me one of those picky-about-food people, and I might not be everyone's favourite dinner guest.  It's all been a journey that grew from knowing that something was not working for me with regards to food and a determination to find what worked best for me and my body.  When it comes to low carb I eat that way 90% of the time but I do have treats and I don't worry about carbs if eating in a restaurant or at a friend's house since I do those things rarely anyhow. 

I like treats.  Some of my favourite things are just not reproducible in gluten free form and I have tried.  I've researched all of the recipe options and when it comes to the texture of real bread made with wheat flour and all the nice stretchy gluten, there is no replacement.  There is no getting around the fact that rice flour only mills down to something that resembles the texture of sand and while various gums can act as binders to mimic gluten the most commonly used one in gluten free baking is xanthan gum and I have a severe and quite unpleasant reaction to it.

Since really good pizza and pasta are something I will never again experience, I am not going to be deprived of cheesecake or brownies even if I do need to eat low carb most of the time.  In fact cheesecake can be gluten free and low carb quite easily but it can also be made single-serve in the microwave in a jiffy.  Here's how.

Microwave Cheesecake Snack -for One

4oz cream cheese- softened in the microwave for about 40 seconds.

1 egg
1/4 cup sugar or low-cal sweetener such as Splenda, Xylitol or Erythritol*
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp heavy cream

Whisk the ingredients together until smooth and microwave on high for 2 min possibly 2 min 30 seconds.  It should be solid enough that when lightly touched with your finger it stays firm.  It will resemble a baked custard.

Let this cool or even chill a few hours for most cheesecake-like texture and eat with berries and whipped cream.

I could have made this in mason jars and taken photos of it all with a pretty background and fancy filter but I'm not that kind of blogger.

Fudgey Brownies-Gluten Free (no flour at all, no xanthan gum)

1 cup butter, melted
2 cups loosely packed brown sugar (I've not yet found the right way to do this with just Splenda but 1 cup Splenda and 1 cup brown sugar probably works. Sugar gives texture as well as sweetness)
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup dark cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts optional

Mix all ingredients together in one bowl until smooth.
Grease a rectangular dish-9x13 or similar and spread the batter in the pan. 

Bake at 350F for 35 minutes.

It's always better to slightly under bake brownies than to over bake them. If you want thicker brownies use a smaller pan and bake a little longer but keep an eye on them.

These are very gooey so cool completely before cutting and cut with a sharp knife that you frequently wipe clean.

If you want a simple icing for them, sprinkle chocolate chips over the still warm brownies after removing them from the oven, wait a few minutes and then spread the melted chocolate with a spatula.  These are lower in carbs due to the absence of flour but the best texture I've achieved comes with sugar so still a treat if following a low carb diet.

I also have a new favourite breakfast that I'd like to share.  I am sure this can be tweaked according to personal preferences and my own measuring was rather approximate.

First I made a grain-free hot cereal mix like this:

1 cup Almond meal or flour
1 cup Unsweetened coconut
1 cup Golden Flax meal
1 cup Hemp seeds
 1 cup Chia seeds

Proportions aren't too important, and based mainly on taste preference.  The chia seeds are important for giving this cereal a creamy and glutinous texture like cream of wheat or oatmeal.  I put all ingredients in my food processor and ground them together.   You could include 1/2 cup your preferred granular sweetener and perhaps pumpkin pie spice if you wish.

Instant Breakfast Cereal -for One

To cook this the simple method you just add boiling water or hot milk/cream and stir until it thickens to your desired consistency.  Roughly 2 parts liquid to 1 part cereal works well.  If it's too thick you can just add more liquid.

My Favourite Creamy Vanilla Custard Style Cereal -for One

Heat half cup light cream in a small saucepan over low heat.
Add a slightly beaten egg slowly so as not to cook quickly**, stir constantly
Stir in 1/4 cup cereal mixture and keep stirring, drizzle in more cream if needed.
Add 1/2 tsp vanilla and remove from heat. 

Serve with berries, yogurt or more cream!

* Sugar alcohols (they end in -ol) can act as laxatives in large doses and Xylitol is toxic to dogs.  I generally use Splenda, which is sucralose, though have sometimes used Erythritol for baking as well.  It's more expensive and there is that laxative issue to consider.

** The fool-proof method of adding raw egg to hot liquid is to stir a little bit of liquid into the egg to gradually warm it up before adding it to the saucepan.  Add 1 tbsp hot liquid at a time and stir well.  

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Beyond Week One- Spring Outfits and Thoughts

I'm keen to be authentic, to prove that I wore what I said I wore, thus the previous post had photos of nearly every outfit.  But I don't enjoy modelling, I quickly get tired of photos of myself and I feel as though showing a photo of myself in an outfit implies that the outfit is special in some way that should be admired or copied.  I'm just trying to demonstrate what is working for me and document what I actually wear in order to be sure I'm not holding onto things pointlessly. 

So this time I'm just photographing the clothing and you will have to trust and believe that I wore what I say I wore.  Why would I make this up?  If I show you a clown suit, then you can be sure I'm lying about having worn that.  Or a bikini.  However, I do not own a clown suit or a bikini  so that problem is solved!

The look starts something like this and if I'm not leaving home it doesn't progress much further.  There will be some jewelry and possibly a belt.

If I leave home selections are made from these shoes-the Spring and Summer Options

And if it's below 18 degrees in temperature I will add a scarf but warmer than that and I get too hot wearing one, which means in April I probably wear one but by May and June it's less likely. 

Any given day in May can be as hot as summer (say, 25 degrees) or several degrees cooler.  It can warm up significantly as the day progresses too.  I need to be able to add a cardigan for warmth, or change from jeans to a pair of shorts part way through the day and not have to change the rest of the outfit.

This Week's Combinations

white sweater + grey jeans + birks sandals + default earrings

cropped jeans + beige linen tee shirt + taupe cardigan -no makeup, bare feet + default earrings + one silver chain necklace

cropped  jeans + light green tee shirt + taupe cardigan + silver and green earrings + silver chain + taupe mary-janes

cropped jeans + taupe/brown linen tee shirt + ivory-white cardigan + copper earrings

cropped jeans + teal cowl top +silver and green earrings + taupe cardigan + sandals

cropped jeans + white tee shirt + default earrings + birks sandals

cropped jeans + blush silk sweater + taupe cardigan + hammered silver circle earrings + no makeup and bare feet

Below is what has been worn in the past two-three weeks with no repeated outfit but individual pieces repeated.

                                  I have two identical pairs of faded, cropped Levis

Colours here are fairly accurate.  The grey tee shirt is more blue-grey than shows here.
Colours are fairly accurate here-the top shirt is teal and a bit lighter, the bottom right is sage green, and not as grey as it looks here.

                                               The casual cardigans

                         The formal cardigans-I'd wear the navy blue one year round.

I wore this leather jacket in April but probably won't put it on again until late September.

I wear the skirts less often than the jeans so don't pair as many different tops with them.

I should perhaps be ashamed of photographing this dress before it went into the laundry.  I am not.

                                         These pieces were worn this past week.

There's clearly a uniform here:  jeans and top to suit the season, a casual skirt or dress sometimes.  I resisted this jeans look for a couple of years, thinking it would be boring, that it would identify me immediately as a non-creative person.  But comfort, lifestyle, a disinterest in shopping or sewing and my preference for natural fibres, lead me in that direction and it all looks very much like what I wore when I was a 22 year old student.


The rejected denim skirt (last week) went into the donate/sell pile after another try on.  There is something about it being a bit of an A-line shape that I don't like. A stiff A-line doesn't work on me. I also put a blouse in the donate pile as the sleeves were a bit odd and unflattering on me and I gave up the grey jeans I've worn last week and this week.  They stretch quickly and end up more droopy and shapeless than I have a tolerance for.  I'm disappointed as I really want a pair of grey jeans but these are not keepers.

Three  items out means it was totally appropriate to find a great pair of shorts and a cardigan at the consignment shop this week when I took in three pairs of high heeled sandals to sell.  I had a pair of shorts on my shopping/wish list and since I live in cardigans adding another to my wardrobe is quite appropriate.  I have two formal/dressier cardigans one in navy and one in ivory which don't get regular wear and now two casual cardigans, ivory and taupe, which are worn almost daily.

Still In

What hasn't yet been worn, from my Spring/Summer grouping are the three pairs of shorts and three sun dresses which typically I wouldn't wear until the temperatures are a little warmer, either of my dressy cardigans and one white peasant style blouse.  I love the blouse but consider it more of a semi-dressed up look so am less likely to wear it just hanging around home.  I do expect to wear it more than once over the next four months though and anticipate wearing it the next time I have a coffee date. So it stays.   The same tops I've paired with jeans can be paired with the shorts though the cotton sweaters will not likely be worn in mid summer and possibly not the two skirts, but those will reappear in early autumn.  This is why I don't do a seasonal capsule.  I'm focusing on what I wear seasonally right now, to assist in keeping only what I truly wear but most of my clothing is good for at least two seasons but some items are more Spring/Summer and some are Spring/Autumn.  I am not interested in packing things away and making seasonal capsules, just in having only the clothing pieces I actually wear.

Minimalist gurus and capsule wardrobe experts sometimes toss out a recommended number-33 items total or 37 not including accessories.  If that works for some people, great.  I didn't follow that.  Interestingly perhaps, I'm not far off those guidelines and if I don't count scarves, handbags and jewelry I'm at about 32 pieces of clothing.  When counting, minimalists tend to count everything and capsule wardrobe makers are less likely to count their socks, underwear and pyjamas.  Without trying to follow any number rules, I ended up in the ballpark so something in the 30-40 range is probably comfortable for most people.  I don't want clutter but I don't want to have to wash everything twice a week either.  I'm wearing 14 pieces most often-jeans, tee shirts, cardigan, birkenstocks and Matty has not complained once that I look the same every day.

Friday, 13 May 2016


Every morning I wake up and say my mantra.  I tell myself English is  evolving, changing, adapting as it always has, and that there are more important things in life then getting upset over grammatical errors and malapropisms... and then I get onto the internet.  These days everyone is a writer, an author, a communicator with the written word, and no credentials are needed.  Websites, articles, blogs, memes created on some meme generator site by people who don't know when to use your/you're  or lie/lay leave me ready to put some whisky in my morning tea.  And don't get me started about the phrase 'could care less'.

I know, I know, I should take a chill pill. Get off the internet.   Even more than grammatical errors I am pulling my hair out over malapropisms.  The internet abounds with them and the more they are written and shared around and read by others the more they will be perpetuated.   And I tell myself it doesn't matter but that little voice pops up and says 'words matter', 'words have meaning' and I believe this.  I believe that effective communication involves accurately saying what you mean.  But we live in a time and a culture that likes ideas and the gist of things and what you have to say is more important than how you say it.  Perhaps that is sometimes true.  We don't need flowery or poetic language for everything but I will still argue for accuracy. 

And yet, the meanings of words do change over time and we all seem to survive that.  Sometimes they actually take on the very opposite meaning to what they original meant.  Sometimes we make one word good enough when we used to insist on two, as in further and farther.  The distinction between the two is becoming redundant and I see the point in that.  In fact any time I pull some hair out over a malapropism it's not that I don't know what the writer is trying to say.  The fact that I do know is part of what allows me to see that the wrong word has been used.  It's just that I love words and I love accuracy.  I love to understand distinctions and finer points. I have to admit that my own use of the language is not flawless though, and so I am trying to learn to let go in the same way that I have almost let go of caring how people wield a knife and fork.  If it gets the food into your mouth in a generally non-repulsive way isn't that all that matters?  The point of table manners is to be considerate of your dining companions' level of squeamishness and not to make threatening gestures with a knife.  I'd much rather my companion employ strange cutlery tricks than chew with mouth open.

Favourite Poem from Childhood

I eat  my peas with honey;
I've done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny,
But it keeps them on my knife. 


And so, I am trying to nit-pick less about language use and tell myself that I am glad, really glad, that English is not a dead language and remind myself Shakespeare would never have gotten past the Language Police.  Now, I'm off to put some whisky in my tea.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

What I Wore In a Week

 A Week in May

There's no Fashun Here!  This is regular person clothing, comfort is key and the lifestyle is very casual.  Some of these outfits were not seen in public.   In no way do I believe that I am sharing actual outfit inspiration.  This is not glamour, this is not fun, this is not unique.  This is comfort, simplicity and this is me figuring out that is all I want and need.  Oh yes, I want to look nice (and 'nice' is just fine with me as opposed to amazing or stunning or stylish)  I want to look recognizably Shawna.  I want to get dressed and forget about it.

I've got the body I've got, the budget I've got, the time, interest and abilities that I've got.  Profound, isn't it?  No outfit is going to give me a tiny waist or a J-Lo booty and happiness doesn't come of it even if it did.  Happiness comes from being myself, doing what I love, being with the people I love.  If I look like a busty rectangle in a pretty blouse or a slouchy pair of jeans, that's just fine.

brown cotton skirt + ivory cotton sweater + mary-janes + large silver locket

boyfriend jeans + silk woven sweater + birks sandals

boyfriend jeans + rose-pink tee + white denim jacket + birks sandals + purple pearl earrings

boyfriend jeans + striped grey/ivory tee + taupe cardigan + big multi-circle earrings

mauve cotton dress + mary-janes + white denim jacket + purple pearl earrings

boyfriend jeans + lacy taupe and ivory blouse + birks sandals + white denim jacket + large earrings

Loose grey cropped jeans + striped grey/ivory tee + pearl earrings + taupe cardigan

 This tunic sweater was too long and I shortened it to this length which gets me closer to a 1/3 2/3 proportion, usually more flattering.

                              A stay home, sit on the sofa, knit and read sort of outfit.
rejected this week:  3 inches above the knee denim skirt- try with tights in autumn/winter

Activities outside of being home alone were grocery shopping, a couple hours at a café alone, an hour at a café with my parents, son over for dinner and hanging out, Mother's Day visit to my Mum at her house, dinner out at pub with son and parents.

Accessories used this week were mainly earrings, as it's been warm and I've not wanted to wear a scarf.  For going out to dinner I used the small leather bag instead of my usual big cross body satchel style bag.  My regular cardigan is a very fine merino wool, in a taupe colour and gets worn often.  Here I am wearing it and looking glum.  Tired would be the accurate assumption. 

                           What looks black is dark brown. I'd like to replace the watch strap.

            The earrings top, right, are my default and I sometimes wear them for days on end including while I sleep.

I have clothing items still unworn and different combinations as yet unused.  I'm guessing I would not have to repeat an outfit in less than three weeks, though wanting to is entirely possible.  I could live in the mauve dress.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

A Cohesive Year Round Wardrobe and an Experiment

 In creating what I want to be a cohesive wardrobe of clothing that mixes well and works successfully in the transitions between seasons, I've considered all of the factors that I think everyone needs to consider and here I've explained how I've applied them to my own wardrobe.  This photo below is not as random as it seems.   I'm wearing a favourite cotton sweater in soft white and all my signature silver jewelry.  The hair is a little unstyled and what can we say about those eyebrows?  This is my signature look.

 Colour Palette

In my obsession with colour and finding the colour palette that would make me happiest, I figured out that I wanted lighter colours than what I was typically buying and that I don't like to wear high contrast, so having mostly medium value colours works best for me, then I can pair them with something darker or lighter or a make a mix of medium value colours.  I also figured out that not changing my palette much between the seasons means it's easier to have year round pieces that can be worn in any season except the coldest or hottest days.  I used to change my colours seasonally, going darker in winter and lighter in summer but now I have a more specific year round colour palette, with a smaller number of darker  colours.  I've made it a goal not to purchase anything new that is dark and to stick to medium values instead, which I prefer.  This means I also avoid dark denim even though it's what is always recommended to women for a classic look.  I have one pair of dressier jeans that are a dark blue denim but on a daily basis I prefer regular blue and even faded blue.

  I used to have the idea that only blondes wore light colours and because my hair is darker that I should wear darker colours.  While hair is a factor, skin tone is more important and the medium values work really well for me and I feel like myself in them.   I might have a darker purse or shoes, though I don't like the contrast of dark shoes with my pale bare legs so only darker shoes or boots in winter.

I've always matched tights to shoes so wearing paler shoe colours in winter means seeking out light coloured tights and that's a new challenge for me.


I like natural fibres and have begun to buy light weight wool for better warmth in winter.  Most of my clothing tends to be cotton though as it's more readily available so I might have a wool cardigan over a long sleeved cotton tee shirt in winter, or a cotton camisole or tank under a wool sweater.  Tee shirts and blouses I generally buy in cotton, some in bamboo-rayon.  I don't like stiff fabric so no stiff cotton button down shirts or structured pieces.  I look for softness and drape in all seasons and I layer things when I need to for warmth.  Thickness of the fabric will determine which season a piece is suited to and in some cases the darker colours tend to be in thicker fabrics so are also reserved for only winter wear.

Style -I have no name for my style.

I have little tolerance for bare ankles in colder weather so rolled up boyfriend jeans styles are abandoned after October.  I buy jeans that are long enough to wear fully unrolled.  In order to comfortably accommodate layering, I tend to have more fitted tee shirts in winter, so the long sleeved tee shirts are a slimmer fit and the short sleeved tee shirts are a looser fit.  I dislike trying to stuff floppy sleeves into a cardigan sleeve, which is probably why for the coldest months I prefer to wear light weight merino wool sweaters that have a simple tee shirt styling.  I find accessories pointless and in the way if I am just at home, so I don't use them much.  I also don't like them when it's hot.

My clothing choices as individual pieces might either seem classic, casual or boho but are not extreme examples of either category.  I am not sporty enough for casual, not tailored enough for classic and too simple for boho.  I like a boyish look sometimes, a minimal but feminine casual look at other times, and the more layers or accessories I use the more boho I look.  Summer clothing usually looks a little more boho in that California way but I don't wear cowboy boots with cutoffs or Navajo prints.

I've had to learn that my body shape is better with simple but body skimming lines.  I may be attracted to other styles but if they don't flatter or fit well they are a waste of money.  Lithe and slender bodies make great clothes horses, hour-glass figures can look amazing in the right clothes, but my body shape needs something that neither hides it nor shows it off.  In the end, if I want to draw your eye at all, I want to draw it to my face, not to my figure not to the clothes I am wearing.  Maybe that's why I have all the ear piercings and the nose stud.  Either I want to have a conversation with you or I want you to ignore me.  Look me in the eyes or look at someone else.

Seasons- Hot, Cold and Transition

We don't quite have four distinct seasons here and by most standards our hot isn't all that hot and our cold isn't terribly cold.  Winter is cool and wet, with the possibility of freezing temperatures from mid November through March.  Summer is mild but there is the possibility of a heat wave that lasts a month and June through September are likely to be warmer than room temperature.  The other months are transitions and slightly unpredictable.  We might have a warm or even hot dry spring but we might have a cool and wet one.  The wearing of sandals might begin in April or not until late June.  Autumn, if we define it as the season that is not as hot as summer, still dry and the air starting to get a bit  crisp, is pretty much just the last week of September and the first two or three weeks of October.   It might be appropriate to wear winter clothes but no coat, or to wear spring clothes with a jacket and boots.  At least half the year requires an expectation of rain and the appropriate clothing.


A pie chart just for fun!  The percentages are estimates, of course, but my lifestyle is predominantly casual and at home and I spend more time asleep than is reflected here, but I took into consideration that I don't need or want a large variety of pyjamas.  However, it's pretty clear that a jeans and tee shirt wardrobe is all I need and suits my life.  Considering that the at home activities are either taking place on the sofa or at my painting table, I really don't want to be wearing fancy, expensive or restrictive outfits.  The formal category is probably over-represented here but I like to be prepared for it just in case.

I don't have capsule wardrobes because I don't have separate situations to dress for.  I can see the logic of a work capsule and a weekend one.  Seasonal capsules work for some people but I don't feel the need.  I don't want so many clothes that I am actually required to pack away out of season clothing in order to make space in my closet.

On the other hand, I decided to try splitting my clothing into two season divisions and I've packed the things I would not wear from now until late October into one plastic bin and put that on the shelf in my closet.  I think I am doing this out of curiosity.  To see if I wear everything I think I am going to wear for the next five months.  The quantity of clothing for the warmer half of the year seems slightly greater than what I have for the cooler half.  My theory is that in summer I sweat more so might only wear a tee shirt once before it goes in the laundry.  My spring and summer wardrobe feels quite complete  at 35 pieces (I didn't count pyjamas and underwear) but I would like two more items in it.  I would like a third pair of shorts and I'm intending to sew some.  I would also like a silk (or more likely bamboo rayon) sleeveless blouse for a dressier look than my tee shirts give me.  I could sew this too.

The Experiment

The intended experiment is just to see if I really do wear everything that is in my closet.  Nothing is precious, so unless it is really not suited to the weather, everything I've got set out for the remaining five months of spring and summer should be regularly worn.  I predict a few of the items that seem a bit fancier to me will get less wear, perhaps only a couple of times for my fanciest blouse but I'm also feeling motivated to wear it because why not put on a pretty blouse to go and have coffee with a friend?  The goal is absolutely to repeat pieces and repeat them over and over.

 First Day of the Experiment

Brown cotton skirt, soft white cotton sweater, nude-beige mary-janes, favourite silver locket, strange smirk

This is as high contrast as I get with my colours and as usual the photo colours are not as accurate as I'd like them to be.  The more accurate I get the clothing colours the stranger my skin gets, giving me a sort of spray tan+ psoriasis effect.  I know that to some people these are not very exciting shoes, but I prefer the way they have little contrast with my pale legs.  The photo at the top of this post shows the off white colour of the sweater more accurately and the skirt is a medium grey-brown not quite as dark as it looks in the photo.

I'm dressed for leaving home, but at home I'd kick off the shoes, possibly take off the necklace and be very comfortable in this outfit.  If the weather were cooler I'd grab a scarf.  Any of my scarves would work.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar

Things are not always what they seem, not always what we think they are.  Sometimes we misunderstand, misperceive, misinterpret.  Take, for example, the breakup I thought was a breakup but wasn't actually a breakup more of a misunderstanding that involved "I thought you'd dumped me" and "I thought YOU had dumped Me."  Such a thing can last for a week and cause a person to distract herself with horrible experiences at online dating.

But that's about all I am going to say about that.  Now let's consider clouds.

I painted the moon recently, the way I often see it out my window right where my painting nook is.  Although the water is also out in front of me, I usually see the moon high in the sky and the west coast being what it is, the moon is often skirted with clouds.


I e-mailed a photo of this latest painting to my parents only to find out that a debate had ensued as to whether or not those were clouds or waves.  Mum, who tends to be right about things 98% of the time, which translates to "I am always right", was in fact wrong this time when she supported the wave theory.  Dad, was triumphant in his declaration that these are in fact clouds.  I might add that Dad had successful cataract surgery last year while Mum is still yet to have hers.

The urge to paint is strong in me right now, though I am not yet certain what my next subject will be.  Not a cigar, I know that much.

Totally unrelated Tip: 

 I just have to share, though maybe I am the last person on the planet to know this.  I bought a pair of shoes recently, love them, they are perfect but I did hesitate in the store because they squeaked intensely with every step.  I decided I could sort this out and I bought them.  Then when I got home I google searched how to stop shoes from squeaking.

Most of the advice was to use powder.  The powder gets under the insole which is the source of the squeaking and if the insole is not removable then you just shake the powder into the cracks at the sides.   I didn't have baby powder or foot powder and I didn't even have cornstarch in my cupboard but I did have arrowroot powder. So I applied it liberally and it has worked!  Now I can sneak up on people in my silent shoes.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Style Inventory Part Two: Accessories and Shoes

Paring down accessories might be trickier than clothing as it is more tempting to hold on to just in case pieces and sentimental pieces. I also tend to hold on to broken bits thinking I will fix them and never do but I do demand comfort of my shoes so it's not terribly difficult to part with a pair that isn't as comfortable as I want it to be.

This is my all-the-time look.  The basics in delicate silver jewelry that I pretty  much always have on, including three rings (sometimes more) that are not visible in the picture, and granted the nose stud is not highly visible in this picture either.  I might not think to put on makeup but I never forget the silver.

Even just hanging around home in shorts and a tee shirt I am wearing my silver bits. Matty has decorated the carpet with bits of silver fur.  It's cleaning day and by the time cleaning day arrives we are well decorated with silver fur around here!

The Obvious Keepers
In regular use are 7 light weight scarves and some pieces of favourite jewelry. I have 3 belts,  two hip belts and one waist belt and 2 pairs of aviator style sunglasses, one pair kept permanently in the car and the other in my bag.

Coats and Jackets
I've got two winter coats, a parka and a wool duffle coat but the duffle coat might be something I should give up.  It's oversized and quite shapeless and I am tired of the very dark navy colour.  I've had it for twenty years so I think it's fair to pass it on now.  I've got a sporty looking rain coat, a light leather jacket, a white denim jacket and a cotton anorak style coat, not waterproof.  There is no particularly formal coat in this collection but then I do not go to formal events.  On my wish list would be an ivory coloured wool coat but there is no hurry to get one so I search the second hand shops waiting for the right one.  I've got scarves that look good with each coat for situations where I need a scarf for warmth.

Hats, are a conundrum at the moment.  The shorter my hair is the fewer hat options that suit me.  I have to admit that my liking for hats outweighs my actual use of them.  It's rarely cold enough so the hat is either making me too hot or flattening my hair unattractively.

                                                   But I keep knitting hats.

Jewelry is another area where I am torn between what I feel comfortable wearing and what I like the look of.  Most of the time I wear a quantity of delicate silver items.  Bracelets and necklaces get in the way during normal activities so are only for formal situations where I am standing around looking fabulous. Or trips to the cafe to sit around looking Frawnch.  Rings and earrings are my staples.  Beaded necklaces and bracelets that I love but find myself  not wearing get strung about my home as decorations.  I don't think there is a single lamphade in my home that is not wearing a necklace.  I have three watches but find myself not wearing a watch much now that I am home most of the time. I am not ready to part with any of them yet though two need batteries replaced.

Bags have always been a bit of an addiction for me, loved perhaps second to shoes and boots.  I feel as though I've spent my life searching for the perfect bag, experimenting a lot and changing my mind too often.  I tend to like a large bag because I like to know I can stuff a novel or my journal in there if I want to.  I like satchels and cross body styles best for comfort and convenience and not too structured or formal looking.  I like brown.  I have...

-a formal evening clutch in matte black fabric which I have never used ever but it's there just in case. 

 -a semi-formal looking small saddle bag in matte black which is my idea of a practical formal bag.

 -a brown leather cross body satchel daily, year round

- a larger red leather satchel that can fit my laptop.  For all those business meetings I go to, of course.

 -two brown leather wallets-one that I've had for years, the other has a cross body strap

-a small cross body bag in two tone brown leather for those moments when I might want to carry just keys and a bit of cash.  Whether or not I need this bag is the question I am currently pondering.  I bought it four months ago and have yet to use it but am somehow convinced that I'll regret it if I get rid of it.  The plan is to keep it for a year and see if I ever use it.

                                    Random photo of some favourite winter boots

Shoes and boots, oh how I love footwear.  I also, however, love being comfortable and have tricky feet in that they are basically duck feet.  I have narrower than average heel width but regular width in the rest of my foot.  Slip on shoes slop, so shoes have to be tied or strapped to my feet and thus I love mary-janes.  I would love some penny loafers or ballet flats but they never fit properly so I've learned not to waste money on them.

2 pairs mary-jane type low-mid heel shoes, semi-dressy, taupe and nude/blush
1 pair soft matte black pumps, formal*
2 pairs high wedge heel sandals
2 pairs casual sandals, flat
1 pair white leather Keds
1 pair tan oxfords
1 pair mary-jane style,flat, brown, casual
1 pair hiking boots*
1 pair blue granny boots
1 pair brown combat boots
1 pair taupe suede western style boots, warmly lined
1 pair red closed toe sandals
1 pair snow/rain boots casual, neoprene*
1 pair grey mary-jane, elastic strap, very casual Keen brand shoes

Listing them makes it look like so many, though considering them seasonally helps take away some of that feeling as it's more like five boots/shoes per season and a couple of special situation pairs*.  I suspect  at least one pair of the summer wedges will be culled from the collection by the end of summer. I don't really like high heels and have only worn them once, which I did on purpose just to make myself wear them and it felt very contrived. Failed experiment; time to sell the shoes.

 Final Thoughts

Having purged and pared down and really considered everything I have, not only do I feel more organised and better prepared, I feel both lighter and yet also a sense of abundance.  I would not have imagined the two went together but they do.   I used to think I was a person who wanted options.  It seemed strange to me that anyone would not want options.  And yet, in getting rid of many things, in making my wardrobe smaller, I am aware of so many options, variations and choices that I have.  I realise that it's not really abundant options that I want so long as the limitations have been self applied instead of coming from an external source.  I do not like to be given rules but I do like to make my own.  I prefer a limited colour palette, a small variety of silhouettes and shapes and I don't want to spend more than three minutes thinking about what I will wear and what goes with what.  I do want simplicity.  I have a friend who wears jeans, plaid shirts and black sneakers year round.  She owns one or two dresses in case she has to go to a wedding or fancy dinner event.  I have only ever seen her legs twice.  Compared to her I don't feel like a minimalist nor like I have simplified my wardrobe at all.  Compared with hers mine still looks complicated, a bit fussy and excessive.  But that doesn't matter.  She wears what she likes and I wear what I like and when we get together we don't spend more than three minutes paying attention to the other person's clothes.