Sunday, October 23, 2016

T-shirt and Jeans My Way

Occasionally I'm asked by people who see me often if I ever go out wearing a plain t-shirt and pair of jeans.  When I go to the gym on the weekend and am coming straight home afterwards, I have been known to throw on a t-shirt and a pair of jeans for convenience sake, but it always feels like a muted version of "me".

It was darn cold here on Saturday (a high of 8 degrees celsius and a brisk wind) so layers were required, and I ended up wearing, what was in essence, a t-shirt and a pair of jeans.  However, it was my version - the long-sleeved t-shirt is an official Cirque du Soleil brand shirt that incorporates different fabrics (thrifted for $7, original price between $50 and $60), and the jeans are a pair of old Levi's 501's that had been made into a skirt by Melinda (aka The Sentimentalist) back in the day, customized with bleach.  It was a maxi skirt when I bought it from her, but she's taller than I am, so I chopped off several inches to make it calf-length on me.

I'm not a big fan of lettering on my clothing but at least the word "dream" is fairly innocuous, and the graphics are cool.  If you've never seen a Cirque du Soleil show,  I would recommend that everyone see at least one if they come to a venue near you.

My hair had been freshly shorn and I forgot how cold your head gets when not insulated by hair.   Winter is not the best time of year to be sporting a modified mohawk. I have a couple of very warm hats, but it wasn't quite THAT cold, so I found an inexpensive touque in the Halloween section at Shopper's Drug Mart.  I sense a theme.

I was wearing a coat (I will not freeze for style) which I found at Talize a month or so ago.  It's wool and quite warm, and I fell hard for the giant collar and flounces (and the $17 price tag), even though they make me look bigger and boxy.  Heck, we all look larger in the winter anyway!

The collar is excellent as a disguise if I wish to go incognito.

Heather was kind enough to stand in the cold and take these photos, but now it's time for a hot beverage - Gotta Go!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Thank You For Being a Friend

This being Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, I had originally set out to write a meditation on the nature of friendship.  I wanted to comment on how the definition of a "friend" changes from what it meant when we were small children (for me, it was anyone who didn't pick on me) to what it means when we are in the second half of our lives.   Then Sunday became Monday, and the laundry is still piled in the corner, and my friend's cats need feeding, and I decided this would have to have to be shorter than I originally intended, but the sentiment is still there.

This is my best chum Heather - the messy hair is my fault, as I had just told her to toss her head

And here is yours truly, finally feeling well enough to put together a good outfit and spend quality time with my bestie doing stuff we enjoy - a mini photo shoot, a hot beverage, thrift shopping, followed by a belated birthday burger (her birthday, not mine).

There's a significant age difference between us, and she's got way more stamina and strength than I do, which she needs in order to play roller derby, but it means that I leave her to enjoy the more strenuous, outdoorsy activities with other friends.  She's an academic, I am most definitely not.  She's been married to the same sweet guy for ages; I am contentedly single.  Our shared love of good books, furry critters, creepy and unsettling television series, thrift stores, and dark and inappropriate humour brought us together, and the sharing of individual joys and sorrows keeps us close.   We have pushed each other out of our comfort zones, physically and emotionally, and I feel like I've become a better person by knowing her.  

I have also been very lucky to make some dear friends who are closer to my age through my blog.  Unfortunately, they all live a significant distance from me, so our relationships are maintained via email, text, telephone, and occasional visits.  Their virtual presence has changed my life for the better - providing inspiration, support, and opportunities for adventures I would never have had otherwise.

Some gifts friends give us are impossible to measure or define, others are tangible, delightful things like these butter-soft leather shorts that the lovely Greetje, of the blog No Fear of Fashion, sent to me. 

This photo was inspired by "Queen of the Alley Photoshoots", my friend Mel, whose brilliantly creative blog posts are bits of infectious, stylish joy.  Here's my own version of unbridled joy in the alley. 

I hope my Canadian readers had a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving weekend

Monday, September 19, 2016

8 Of The Coolest Outfits Worn by 40+ Bloggers This Month

If you subscribe to the blogs you like via Bloglovin' you also find your feed bombarded with posts from Bloglovin' Fashion and Bloglovin' Lifestyle with titles like "How To Pull Off Pink Like a Fashion Blogger" and "How to Wear Ruffles Like a Minimalist".   I ignore most of these, but the one I find most annoying is the "The 7 Best Fashion Blogger Outfits of last Week".  As a 50-something blogger, I NEVER see anyone of my age demographic represented here.  I have even commented on one of the posts to point out there are much more interestingly dressed bloggers over 40 out there, but to no avail.  I assume the people who run Bloglovin' are most likely in their 20's and the blogs that get their attention are those authored by fresh young things who wear their designer duds with panache and the the right amount of insouciance.  But seriously, with all the attention being given to older women via blogs like Advanced Style, and Iris Apfel, Joan Didion, and Joni Mitchell appearing in ad campaigns for designer clothing and bags, Bloglovin needs to get with the program.

I realize the the word "Best" is in itself problematic - what criteria is being used to decide whose outfit is worthy of being included in a list of the "Best of"?  When I see outfits I love on other bloggers, words like "Creative", "Inspirational", and "Visually Engaging" come to mind.  So I decided to do my own list (because we know the way to get things done right is to do it yourself).  I chose outfits that had been posted on blogs I follow this month, and I acknowledge there are countless other bloggers over 40 out there who are beautifully dressed but I don't have the time to follow them all.   I can't help it if my friends are some of the most creatively-dressed and exuberant dames on the Internet.

The women below are not wearing expensive designer clothing (or if they are, they bought it secondhand), but they show a style and creativity in their outfits and accessories that comes from years of trial and error to discover what makes them feel confident in their own skin.  The outfits below say something about the people wearing them, and whether you like what they are saying or not, surely you will agree that they are not boring.  This isn't to say that there aren't young bloggers out there who wear eclectic, imaginative outfits, but they aren't getting the attention they should, and neither are the women featured below.

Yep, that's my pal Mel, from Vancouver.  She has some serious style-balls, that woman.  An avid thrift-shopper, she can figure out a way to wear absolutely anything, and make it look like a million bucks, and she is a talented artist with a a twisted sense of humour.  Of course, all this makes her a Star in my book.

Suzanne is also a regular thrift shopper (so much so that she is selling stuff on Etsy).  She's a talented graphic designer who loves pugs (that's Zoe in the bottom left of the photo), and she has a wicked sense of humour which makes her posts a delight to read.  Her gorgeous hair colour means she looks freaking awesome in the colour green.


Judith, aka The Style Crone, is consistently one of the most eleganty dressed women I know.  She is never without a hat, and not just any hat, but THE PERFECT hat for every outfit.  She writes eloquently about ageing in a way that makes you feel inspired and look forward to the years to come.


Pao's blog, Project Minima, is a showcase for her stellar sewing skills and excellent eye for shape and pattern.  She alters patterns to suit her mood and has the best collection of funky shoes, most from Ebay, I've ever seen.  


I've followed Vix's blog for many years, and she never ceases to entertain me with her colourful thrifted and handmade 1970's inspired wardrobe and tales of her adventures as a roving vintage seller.  She and her partner Jon are on the road selling at Vintage Fairs in England all summer, and she still finds time to whip up a ruffled, off-the-shoulder top from a sari, or a maxi skirt from a tablecloth.  

I've had the pleasure of knowing these two stylish dames (Jean on the left, Valerie on the right) for about 5 years now, and I look forward to reading about their adventures in fashion, art, and cocktails every week on their blog, The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas.  They hang out with the coolest people, have spectacular hat collections, and speaking from personal experience, they know how to show a visitor from out of town a great time.  They are definitely the poster girls for "Growing Old With Verve".


Sheila, whose blog, Ephemera, is a showcase for her eclectic wardrobe and jaw-dropping collection of Fluevogs, is also a fellow Canadian.  She makes office wear fun with the pieces she finds in local consignment and thrift stores, and her husband, L, who also loves Fluevog shoes, is a very stylish guy in his own right.  Along with great outfits, you can find photos of their mischievous cat companion, Vizzini on her blog.


Desiree disappeared from the blogging world for a while and has recently returned, better than ever.  She's an outspoken Aussie whose outfits often incorporate at least one piece of vintage lingerie as outer-wear, and we share a love of the series, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and it's delightful main character, Miss Phryne Fisher, who inspired her outfit in the photo above.

I am pleased (and surprised) to see that Bloglovin' saw this post, and featured it in their weekly roundup post of "inspiring stories" last night.  Thanks to Mel for the heads up.  Maybe there's hope for you yet, Bloglovin'!



Sunday, September 11, 2016

Saving Face

There are many losses you find yourself dealing with as you age.  There are life-altering ones such as the loss of loved ones, jobs, and good health.   There are losses that affect how your body looks - loss of muscle tone, smooth skin, a flat stomach, hair pigment, etc. which can affect your confidence and self-esteem.  We think we are prepared for these inevitabilities - after all, they happen to everyone eventually, although their approach can be slowed by exercise, diet, surgery, and hair colour.  One loss I was not prepared for was the gradual, but noticeable disappearance of my eyebrows.  It seems a minor thing when compared to all of the possible things I could lose, but it bothered me nonetheless. 

This is the face you're used to seeing on my blog.  I've grown accustomed to it, and on most days, I think it's a rather nice face, but it took years for me to accept I was never going to have the full lips or perfect nose the girls in the fashion magazines had.   I try to make the best of what I have, and never leave the house without lipstick.  Recently, one of the bloggers I follow, Greetje, of No Fear of Fashion, did what I thought was a very gutsy post on her blog where she showed the "Before and After" face of a woman over 60.  I'm not that brave, but I can show you a before and after eyebrow shot.

Yep, there we are, thinning brows and minimal eyelashes.  I would love to wear mascara, but I have a very annoying and occasionally painful condition called recurring corneal erosion, and I try to avoid eye makeup on a daily basis.  From the looks of that sun damage on my skin, I did not use enough sunscreen this summer.

Fortunately, disappearing eyebrows are easier to deal with than many of the other losses I mentioned.  For a few years I had been using another product made by Benefit called "Gimme Brow" which is basically a mascara for your eyebrows.  It looks natural and stays on pretty well, but I found it faded by the end of the day.  I wanted to try something that would give me some major brows that looked natural and lasted all day, so I chatted up one of the staff at my local Sephora.  She suggested a new Benefit product called "KA-BROW!", which is a cream-gel brow colour that comes with its own brush. It comes in six shades, and I picked #4, which was a bit darker than what I was used to.  It takes a bit of practice to perfect the light touch that is needed so you don't end up with too much colour - you can always add more, but once it's on there, it doesn't come off unless you wash it off and start over.

KA-BROW!  You can see that my left brow is a bit darker than the right, but as I said, it takes a bit of practice to get it right.  Not bad, eh?

BTW, I am not affiliated with Benefit, and am not being compensated in any way for this post.  I just like their brow products and I figure if they work for me, they may work for you.

I'm not a makeup junkie - my daily routine consists of a bit of foundation, brow colour, and lipstick.  However, I do like experimenting with lipstick colours, and after the photoshoot I did with Melanie when I was in Vancouver in May, I fell in love with blue lipstick.

A second trip to Sephora and I came home with this creamy blue lipstick from Make Up For Ever.  I put a bit of blue-tinted gel in my hair to amp up the Blue.  Now if only I could wear this to work.

And, a gratuitous rat photo...

 Those of you who follow me on Instagram know that I have had my sweet little rat nuggets back with me for a few weeks, and I've been able to manage my allergies with regular use of my inhaler and not handling them as frequently.  The three of us are much happier when they are with me, so I'm taking things day by day, and while I'm not expecting to be able to keep them with me continuously, we may be able to work out some kind of regular "respite" care where they stay with Heather for a few weeks at a time.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Summertime Blues

August has been a taxing month, and I will not be sad to see it end.  It had a few lovely moments, and many stressful ones, and at the time I was just too tired to write about them.

It began on a happy note with my favourite baby, Nicholas, celebrating his first birthday.  I have the pleasure of working with both of his parents, and have been able to interact with him during the first year of his life, and he's a total charmer who loves everybody.

Later that weekend, things took an unfortunate turn, and I ended up in Emergency for 4 hours one night and 7 hours the following day with abdominal pain that they were unable to diagnose, but during the hundred and one tests they did, they found a "hazy patch" on my lung.  Just the kind of thing you want to hear after having had little sleep, no food, and have been on IV painkillers for seven hours.  More tests and a doctor's appointment later, turns out I had a severe lung infection.   Cue to a week off work, and a lot of sleeping and watching Netflix.  It seems I am the person who gets pneumonia in the summer.

The cloud had a silver lining, in that it allowed me to binge-watch the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries series on Netflix.  I developed a huge girl-crush on the character of Miss Phryne Fisher (on the left in the photo above, pictured with her companion Dot), who is basically a female superhero.  The series is set in Melbourne, Australia in the 1920's and has smart writing, engaging characters, and outfits to make you weep with envy.   Click on the "source" link above to read one blogger's opinions about why it is such a great show.

 When I felt well enough, I did little walks around the neighbourhood and visited with some of the local critters.  Clockwise from top left:  Miss Kitty, one of the store cats at the Silk Road Store, attempting to do some fishing; one of the many (and I mean, many) cats that live in a house in my neighbourhood.  Most of the neighbours are aware of the "cat hoarding" situation and we keep an eye out to make sure they are not being mistreated or starving;  Varg, my neighbours' 14 year old chihuaha, whom I've grown very fond of;  and two more residents of the "Cat House".

I also was able to spend some quality time with my little girls, Ginger (above) and Ruby, though not in the best of circumstances.  Ruby got sick with a respiratory infection, and after a trip to the vet, I brought her and Ginger home with me while Heather and her husband were away on vacation.  It was a challenge given that my lungs were already compromised but I was careful not to handle them too much, and used my inhaler regularly, and we were fine.  It was obvious from their behaviour they were very happy to be home, and it made me happy to have them with me again.  Unfortunately, I can't keep them with me forever, so I'm enjoying their companionship while I can.

When I felt well enough, I did a bit of thrift shopping, because there's nothing like a bit of shopping to take one's mind off the fact your lungs are crap

My best score was this beautiful heavy silk, reversible embroidered robe.  The purple side has an orange dragon on the back and front.  I can't wait for it to get cool enough to be able to wear it over a t-shirt and pair of pants.

And I wore stuff....

Aside from a few basic pieces, most of what I wore this summer was purchased secondhand.  The two outfits above cost me less than $25 each.  On the left:  silk top from The Silk Road Store, skirt from Style 360 Consignment store.  On the right:  1980's shirt from The Sentimentalist, pants from Talize.   Fly London sandals with both.

By far, the pieces I acquired that received the most wear were this top and wide-leg denim trousers.  I found them at Talize at different times, both were $8 a piece.  I wore the pants at least once or twice a week unless the humidex was near 40 (which it quite often was).  The top was so comfortable in the heat and the polka dots made me smile, especially when I paired it with my yellow dot earrings from Value Village.   I had received good news from my doctor the day I wore this outfit - after two rounds of antibiotics, my lungs sounded much better, and if a followup x-ray in 4 weeks doesn't show any more infection, then I'm in the clear!

You never appreciate your health as much as when you don't have it, and it may be a cliche to say that "Without your health, you have nothing", but it's a cliche because it's true.  You can't fully participate in life if you're exhausted, going back and forth to doctor's appointments and medical tests, waiting for results, and generally feeling worried and unwell.   That being said, I was very grateful for our Canadian Health Care System which meant I was able to get the attention I needed in a timely manner.   It felt great to have the energy to go out on Friday night with friends to see a Flamenco performance, instead of feeling wiped out after a full day at work.  I was also happy that I felt inspired and well enough to write this post.   Hopefully it won't be so long before the next one.

Monday, August 1, 2016


OMG - it's August 1st ALREADY!!!  I can't believe two months have passed since I visited Mel in Vancouver.  I am starting to feel the travel itch again, so to sustain me until the fall,  I'm going to post some of the photos you haven't seen yet to remind me of an adventure that seems like it happened oh-so-long ago....

I stayed in a beautiful apartment via AirBnB and the photo above is the view from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room.  It has been about 20 years since I was last on the west coast, and there are certainly a lot more high-rises now.  Housing prices in Vancouver are outrageous, and I could never afford to live in a place like the one I stayed in.  My hosts were easy to get along with and very helpful and it made my visit so much nicer knowing I had a comfortable, friendly place as a home base.

The second night I was there I took a walk down to the water where you can catch one of the cute little Aquabuses that will take you over to Granville Island.

It looked like it might rain, so I decided to just do a short trip around False Creek.  It was nice being out on the water, but soon the wind picked up and the skies grew very dark so I cut my voyage short and arrived back on dock just as a thunderstorm hit (which are apparently rare occurrences in Vancouver).

I met Barbara, a lovely woman who follows my blog (and Melanie's) for a drink at the historic Sylvia Hotel, where I stayed the first time I visited Vancouver in the late 90's.  The hotel lounge has a gorgeous view of English Bay, and I had an excellent cocktail (something with tequila and cucumber, I think).

A couple of friends had requested I bring them a pebble from the English Bay beach, so after I left Barbara, I headed to the beach (it had just started to rain, which was to be a theme for my trip) and caught this photo of a heron.
If the weather had been nicer, and I'd had more time, I would have like to have spent more time on the beach.  I find looking out onto a body of water to be very relaxing, and the beach, which was more shells (I'm assuming zebra mussels?) contained some interesting critters if you took the time to look.

 The Vogue Theatre on Granville Street opened in 1941 as a first-run movie house - its original appearance was restored in 1998 and now serves as a space for the performing arts.  The theatre is  home to the Vancouver International Jazz and Film Festivals.  Further down the street you can see the marquee of the Orpheum theatre, built in 1927.  It is now the home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.  The city I live in could learn something from Vancouver's willingness to restore and re-purpose old movie theatres.

The iconic John Fluevog shoe store on Granville Street, the oldest of the existing Fluevog stores

I think this poster was advertising a brewing company, which I wouldn't usually take any interest in, but I liked the artwork.

Recalling a tasty meal with Melanie at the Cactus Club Cafe that finished with a serving of their impossibly delicious Caramel Chocolate Mousse (warm caramel foam, crunchy sponge toffee, velvety chocolate mousse).  We were tempted to lick the dishes.

Downtown Vancouver is a mix of old and new buildings, and the gentrification of formerly affordable neighbourhoods, particularly on the Eastside, which has a large, low income population, has resulted in the wealthy and the poor living smack-dab up against each other.   On my way to meet Melanie for brunch at the Acme Cafe on East Hastings street, I decided to explore the neighbourhood and after walking along a block populated by rundown rooming houses and hotels, I turned the corner and found myself in front of the Versace Home Store.  

On my way to brunch on Sunday I took note of the public toilets that are a common sight in downtown Vancouver.  The idea of going down a flight of stairs into a dark, underground passage in order to relieve oneself doesn't sound like a particularly safe, or pleasant experience, particularly at night. 

I had a lovely, if all-too-short, time with this delightful trio of bloggers at brunch on my last day.  Left to right: Sue (A Colourful Canvas),  Melanie (Bag and a Beret), and Louisa (Damselfly's Delights)

The back view of Sue's marvelous coat, handmade by her talented self

Melanie gave me this funky Asian cotton robe that she had personalized with a sketch of the two of us on a piece of fabric she sewed onto the back.  Unfortunately it's been way too hot here to be able to wear it.

After brunch Mel and I took turns posing against a graffiti-covered wall by a parking lot, and managed to smile despite the aroma of urine that wafted from the pavement.  I gave Melanie the "corset" t-shirt she's wearing here and I love the outfit she put together around it.  A corset, skulls, polka dots, stripes, and a red patch on her butt - it doesn't get any better than that.   Spending time with Melanie inspired me to be more creative with my own outfits and experiment with my makeup (I loved my blue eyebrows and have been occasionally incorporating a more subtle version into my daily look).

Unfortunately, it's not possible to have regular visits when most of your friends live in other provinces or other countries.  If I won the lottery, one of the the first things I would do is go and visit all my blogging friends, and then fly them all to New York for one massive photo shoot!  Keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Rainbow Bright

Today was our annual Pride Parade, which caps off almost two weeks of Pride Festival activities here in London, Ontario.   Following this year's unusually small contingent of Dykes on Bikes was a group carrying signs with the names and photos of the people who were killed in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub on June 12th.  Most Pride parades that have happened since that date have included a memorial to the 49 victims.

I usually watch the parade from the sidewalk in front of my friends Mario and Sarah's house, and this year, there was to be a party on the porch after the parade to celebrate the impending nuptials of Mario and his fiancĂ© Leif.  Their sign generated a lot of well wishes from parade watchers.

My neighbours came to watch the parade with their kids, who brought a sign they made to hold up at the parade.  Good parents, great kids.

The police, paramedics and fire department all have small versions of their vehicles they use in the parade.  The guy driving the mini police van looked like he was having a good time.

The parade is very much a community event - while we don't have the lavish floats that parades in larger cities have, we do have a good turnout of people representing various local organizations.

Pole dancers from Studio Chic participated in the parade this year, to enthusiastic applause 

My favourite outfit this year was the head-to-toe rainbow worn by the gentleman above.  He is a familiar presence in the parade and I would guess he's in his late 60's.  He's got damn good legs!

These lucky women got to ride in a jet for the parade

The woman cringing on the left is trying to avoid the spray of water from Leif's garden hose

The guy with the bike asked to be sprayed and he got his wish.  In the background are members of the Canadian Armed Forces, who were marching in the parade for the first time this year.

It was cloudy, and we had rain later in the afternoon, but it held off until after the parade.  The street on our corner was wet from Leif's enthusiastic spraying of the parade participants.  It was hot and humid and many people requested they be hosed down, but two police officers came over and gave Leif a hard time about spraying people saying that "People who didn't want to be sprayed were getting sprayed" and they wanted him to stop.  He explained he was only spraying those who asked for it but they gave him a talking to for several minutes before they left him alone.  A few minutes later I was sprayed full on by a parade participant with a super soaker, without my consent, but apparently that was fine. Most of the police officers who work at the parade are great, but every now and then you get one or two that seem to feel they aren't doing their job if they don't give someone a hard time.

One of my favourite captures of the day

Naomi Nadea makes her own costume, complete with spectacular headpiece, for the parade every year, and I always look forward to seeing her latest creation.

Best spectator outfit - a combination Canadian/Rainbow flag as cape

That was the parade for this year!  It's an excellent occasion to get to know your neighbours and support your community, so if you've never attended, mark it on your calendar for next year.