Thursday, December 27, 2007

Coming To You...

from the library!

It seems the "network port" on my computer is on the $11 part that is going to keep me incommunicado for who knows how long.

I'll miss you!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to All--

One year in my late twenties, tired of pretending to be happy around relatives who had no use for me, I begged off, protesting I had too much work to do for school. The excuse was true--given it was an 8 hour drive each way without holiday traffic and I was behind on a slew of projects. But, I wasn't a practising Christian then, (I'm barely one now, but I'm trying) so the holiday, as such, meant nothing to me. I wanted to find out what I really thought of the "tradition" --was it just crass materialism and consumerism writ large on a canvass of hypocrisy or did it have some meaning for me I was too blind to see?

So, I stayed home. I worked round the clock and loved every minute of it. I decided to go for a nice long walk on Christmas day. I was surprised I felt lonely and left out. Then, like a gift, I saw two cardinals flitting about in some trees. They were so beautiful. The red was so intense against the green foliage and white snow, I cried. I decided Christmas did have meaning for me--it was a time, at least, to be with those who knew my name, even if I was the black sheep among them.

Christmas has had meaning for me ever since and the joy has gradually and steadily returned, even during these annually dark, hectic weeks.

It's been wonderful getting to know all of you. I hope you have a meaningful and joyous Christmas, whatever you do and whomever you are with.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A New Throne

The new toilet is installed. It's actually cute, in a totally porcelain way. (Item may not be exactly as shown)
I told the husband it HAD to be done by Christmas Eve--that's when my very pregnant half-sister is coming for dinner. (How pregnant? Her due date was the 21st). I really didn't want her to have to climb our stairs.
Now, we just need a seat!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Heliotropism or Turning Towards Daylight: Resolution #2.

We aren't quite as far north as Moscow, but we're still north of Amsterdam, Berlin and Birmingham. For those of us who live in the Northern Latitudes, the winter solstice (which was around midnight Friday) marks the turning point towards longer days. This is good--even though the rate of increase is only about a minute a day.

The last month has been difficult. It always is. As is usually the next. Our internal biological clocks run askew until our circadian rhythm has no rhythm at all but lurches and bumps along until one no longer knows when to be asleep or when to be awake. Pulling all-nighters and cat-napping become the norm, if somewhat unsettling. For one does need to interact with the schedules of the outside world, even though the shortest day is only 7 1/2 hours.

Not having any morning commitments outside the house only aggravates the situation. There are no external cues to coerce compliance. My husband, who must be out of the house by seven a.m. (and six on Saturdays) finds himself dragging at this time of year, his sleep compressed to a few hours a night as the children and I don't settle until the wee hours. I wish I was exaggerating.

The week before last we were all up until 2 or 3 am. That's when I decided that this week, from Monday to Friday, we would get up with the husband and drive him to work. (We became a one car family in September.) But then, exhausted, we would come home and sleep until noon. After four days, it was possible to stay awake on the fifth (though my son did climb back into bed for an hour). But things are not yet back to anything like normal. We slept in 'til 10am this morning. (And the puppy waited patiently. I was so impressed. He was in the house for about 12 hours without an accident.)

Until last week, I had no hope. I had thought our biological clocks ran on a 25 hour cycle, which meant that we would always be fighting our natural inclination to successively sleep and wake an hour later every day. My son has always had tremendous difficulties with sleeping on a consistent schedule....and I thought it only natural.

But I had out-of-date information. Apparently our biological clocks do re-set every 24 hours. And the best way to wind up the clock, it seems, it to expose oneself to a boost of sunlight in the early afternoon, every day. The light affects the regulation and production of melatonin, which, as we all know, is essential for sleep. Insulin levels also play a role, so switching our diet over to more low glycemic foods will also help.

So, creativity resolution #2 is this: We will get outside every afternoon, rain or shine. It doesn't sound like much, and I'm not sure I'm going to report it everyday. I'm not even sure how long we'll go out for, nor do I know when I'm going to implement it.

Today I had my son take the dog out until the dog wanted to come in (it was only minus 11 C, so it seemed reasonable). Tomorrow, I think we should all go. It's a bit of a challenge with the husband, though. He likes to go for Walks--at least an hour or so, and I just don't have the time or inclination for that. But a tour around the block might give us all a good night's sleep.

Keep your fingers crossed for us.
(image from here)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Phase One: Complete

January to December, in order.
I don't think there's any way in h*ll Staples can have the calendars done by Monday, but we can try.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Never Say Never

We have a dog.
I'm not sure how it happened.
The night before last I was looking things up on the 'net.
Last night I made a few calls.
Today at noon, I was rushing madly to my mom's for a "meeting" with a dog and its owner.
Tonight, I am forcing my lethargic son outside in -25(C) so the dog can do his business.
But that's why we got the dog. To get the boy off the couch.

In good news, the family helped me blitz clean and "puppy-proof" when we came home. There were still the contents of the medicine cabinet on the floor outside the bathroom, and other detritus that accumulates when you are deep inside a must-be-done-now-sacrifice-everything project. So, the house is halfway decent. Bonus.

Oh, for those dying to know, his name is "Stomper," he's almost 4 months old, and he's pure bred underdog. That's what the boy wanted.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Creativity Resolution #1

No surprise to any of you--I'm getting back to scrapping.
Actually, I already have. I've been working on "calendar" pages as a Christmas present for my Mom for the last 48 hours--pretty much straight through. This is not my preferred method....but it's working, sort of.

What I do is purchase a pre-made calendar and take one picture from that month (so January 08 has a picture from January 07), find a quote, do up the page and attach them to one side--just like those you get in the mail. So far, so good, you'd think. Christmas is days away. But the catch is, I take the scrapbook pages to Staples and have them "make" calendars for two other relatives and mail those. My Mom gets the originals--after Staples is finished with them and I've attached them. You see the problem? If this were November 19th I'd be in great shape. I usually work in a 6x6 format (with photos at 4x6 its ridiculously quick) but I couldn't find any 6x6 calendars this year, so I had to use 8x8. There's lots of 2" dead space at the top of these pages I just didn't have the time to deal with creatively.

OK, enough about that--I hope it made sense. I'm so exhausted I can't tell whether I'm making sense or not!

The resolution: Make one double page layout per month about that month. That way, I'll have a "Year in Review" album done this time next year. I was actually thinking about this last week. Today, my favourite scrapping magazine came in the mail--and it had this very concept as one of its articles. Of course, I can't put my hands on it at the moment.

But here's the deal. By the 15th of the following month, I will have the previous month's page spread completed. That will give me lots of time to get the pictures out of the camera and developed and write something up. The format will be two 8.5 x 11 pages per month. If you can stand it, I'll scan them in and post them when done.

This is the first of the calendar pages completed. It's even the first one of the year: January. (And it looks crooked. Probably is. Ack.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's All Your Fault

I keep moving my head up and down, up and down, like a dashboard bobble toy.
I am walking very carefully down the stairs.
I am not to drive for a few days.
I am so thrilled, I don't have the words to tell you.
I picked up my new glasses today.
And it's all your fault.
Thank you.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dressing Up

Both kids had their music recitals tonight. I decided I'd try to dress up just a bit. I put on a slip and some opaque black hose. Then, I took a mid-calf, full circle black jersey cotton skirt out of the closet and tried it with a beautiful Italian black and white knit top that had been in my Outbox. Baggy and loose. Nuh uh. I tried a teal cotton silk blend. Jewel collar, tunic length, big flappy dolman type sleeves. Much too unstructured and scruffy. So, I reached for the black short sleeved top that "goes with" the skirt. That looked good. I wished I had a tunic length vest to add a bit of colour, but I threw a headband on instead. (I don't have any fabric ones, yet. They're all the knit stretchy sort.)

I sketched some make-up on my face and went downstairs to pick out some jewellery. I discovered the clasp is broken on the longest silver necklace I have, so I slipped on my long celtic cross. You can see where this is going. It just wasn't going to fly.

So, I put on my trusty deep purple L.L. Bean dress and went out and listened to my children play.

I need something.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

More on Basics

I've been thinking about the "jacket" recommendations of the "style experts." I don't need a jacket in my life--for inside wear, a sweater is all I really need for warmth, for outdoors, well, that's a different category of jacket. But the point of the jacket seems to versatility. Jacket + Top A + Bottom A is a different look than merely Top A + Bottom A.

So, what could serve this function in my own wardrobe?

I think a vest might do it.

1. They are easy to sew, if I have to do that.
2. They are a great way of introducing a little panache and pattern to my wardrobe.
3. I have always liked them. I don't know why.
4. It's easier to do the dishes in a vest and top than a sweater and top!

Spit and Polish


It's just like getting a new pair of boots--without a nightmare at the mall.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Building Blocks.

Image from this site. I think I'm glad I found it.

I've been contemplating "Basic Wardrobe" lists, like this one. Anyone feel it's just too many clothes--or the wrong clothes? Here's another and one very specific! ;) This blog is utterly fascinating. The author took 34 pieces and created 70+ outfits. She even went on to create a more curated wardrobe.

Sam Saboura and the Budget Fashionista book I read have much more sensible lists. Sam is in blue, the Fashionista in red followed by my own comments.

Recommendations and Analysis

Little Black Number/Little Black Dress. For Sam this could be an exceptional pair of black pants and a special black top "perfect" for the event. I love the idea of this: I have no idea how to actually buy such an item--that is, I don't know what to look for. We're talking about something we can wear out to dinner right? or for a date? Well, back in the day, the husband and I would go to dinner, then listen to bands in bars--jeans were fine! But one does want something a little dressier for a play or a formalish I don't know.

Black Pants and Skirt/Black Suit (Jacket and Pants or Jacket and Skirt.) -- Completely unnecessary.

Basic Jeans/Perfect Jeans. Saboura recommends a dark "dressy" pair and a lighter "medium-washed" pair.--Yup, I agree. One dark, one "medium."

Chinos or Khaki casual pant. Um, OK. If they look good. I really like my knit trousers. Comfy and warm. Khakis or chinos are suitable for every season except "deep winter." (Nov-March)

White Cotton Button Down in long and short sleeves/White cotton button down dress shirt--interesting they both recommend this, and I don't have one. Would I get more mileage out of my wardrobe if I did? I have one with a mandarin collar in black.
Saboura also adds:
1. sexy black top
2. patterned blouse
3. casual shirts in bright colours and patterns
--is all this really necessary?

T-Shirts and Tanks. 5 each in long and short sleeves/Spandex or fitted T-shirt in black, white and "fun" colours.--Yes, I can clearly see the need for these. But they aren't a priority until about April or so.

Knit Tops
v-neck, OK. or something like the shirt from Land's End in the paper doll post. I have one in red, rapidly going rabitty.
turtleneck--at least four or five!
cardigan/Cardigan or classic twin set--Yes, a cardigan. I'd love a "twin-set" but goodness, I don't lunch, nor do I have any plans to do lunch.
"robe-style" knit. Um, no.

2 each of:
Girly jacket (fitted, cropped, in a texture or subtle pattern) --no thanks.
Denim Jacket/Jean Jacket or
Blazer (1 dark, 1 light)/Blazer--I think I'd prefer the Jean jacket. It'd be perfect for those summer evenings we go down to watch the sun set and throw rocks into the river.

Trench/Trench--no need.
Pea coat--I've wanted one since 1980, but I don't need it.
3/4 length coat-for spring and fall, yes.
dark coloured jacket "essential" to wear at night--no, it's not.
Winter coat--yes, of course!

Pumps with a thin or kitten heel/Plain black pumps 1-3" heel.
Flats in black
Boots/Brown or black leather boots. OK.
Sneakers/Sneakers. A-yup.
Sandals in brown or black leather--yes, I'd like something a little dressier than the boat hauling strap rubber soled sandals.
/Sexy Strappy heel. We don't have to go there, do we?!

Other stuff:
Knee length skirt--jury's out on this one until the Spring.
Leather Tote bag--well, a tote bag of some sturdy fabric, not necessarily leather.

A button down shirt I can layer over T-shirts would be nice, but it isn't really something I need. What I do need right now is at least one more turtleneck and a cardigan I wouldn't be ashamed to be seen in outside the house. It would be great to replace my rabitty red knit "shirt." Another pair of jeans in dark blue would be fabulous. (Wait until I tell you what I've discovered about my jeans!) Socks.

Come spring, I'll probably need various t-shirts and I'll look into that button-down shirt, perhaps. A Jean Jacket. A pair of casual pants, and probably some decent shorts. Somehow, I always seem to have a larger, better and more versatile summer wardrobe.

It seems that as a sahm, I'm right on track.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pile One: Analysis

The shape of my face is oval or oblong. Without a standard for each, I'm not sure which it is. According to this site which Wende referenced in the comments, I should be able to wear "any length" if I have an oval face, and if it is oblong, I should wear choker length necklaces because they reduce the perceived length of the face.

This site, tells me a choker length is 14 to 16" but that it is best I don't wear that length if I don't wish people to focus on "that part" of my body. Fortunately, I'm not so aged as that, yet.

Interestingly, I don't have anything in this length, nor in the shorter "collar" length (12-13" usually multi-strand) But it would be a good length for T-shirts wouldn't it? And collared shirts, with the collar open. I'd have to see. I know the 18" length I wear is a tad long for T-shirts. I do have an awful lot of 18" necklaces. Apparently this is the "princess" length and one's collar should be either higher or lower for this. (And on me, this is just about exactly where T-Shirt collars fall. That could explain why I don't wear them.)

The "matinee" length is 20" to 24." It's supposed to add elegance to work clothes and casual wear.

The rest of the necklaces fall into the "opera" length category, and as the name implies, they are for formal dress--at least that's what I infer from this:

Add elegance to your formal gown or blouse with an opera-length necklace. At 28 to 34 inches, it draws the eyes down to your chest and away from your neck. This is a good thing if your bosom is more attractive than your chin, but wear a good bra!

Speaking of which, (ahem), if one is well endowed, one should not wear necklaces longer than 22" (I think that's what it says). If one is full figured, one should wear "chunky" necklaces (and jewellery in general. I've heard this before). If your neck is thick, the folks at this site recommend staying away from shorter necklaces and opting for graduated, opera or rope (over 45" long) lengths.

This site also raises some interesting issues. If you don't want to draw attention to your bust line, wear necklaces either very short or very long. If you do want to draw attention, then a pendant or a knot right at the breastbone should do it.

Other questions they raise are so basic, I don't know why I've never thought of them before.

1) Do I want the necklace to contrast with my outfit and thus be a focal point or create a serene monochromatic look? Good question.

2) Do I want the focus on the jewellery or the clothes? (Colour is only one way to create contrast. One could contrast textures as well.)

3) Do I want it to sit on my skin or on the shirt? (I don't know. What's the effect of each?)

I decided to go Windows(tm) shopping to find a necklace for this turtleneck:

Using the model in the post below, I decided I wanted the necklace to fall between 24 and 30." This was not an easy length to find!

I like this one: it's pretty. Maybe it's a bit too delicate and fussy for a turtleneck. It is 48" long, so one can wrap it double.

As I looked at Google page after Google page, I realised I have a taste for hand crafted jewellery, as opposed to mass marketed or "rarefied" high priced "gem stone" pieces. I love beads and pendants. I love glass, crystal; sparkly things. And then I saw something from Etsy which led me to this:

It's from GlowNGlass. It measures 1"x2" on a 24" silver cord.
I think I'm in love. I can certainly make beautiful, one of a kind, artisan crafted jewelery a focal point with casual clothing when it's like this. And it's only $40.00. Thank gawd for Etsy.

ps. I've figured out that all those silver necklaces I own are "snake chains."

Variations On A Theme....Pile One

(image from this site, courtesy of Wende. (Thanks!)

Other than "dressing up" to go out, I don't wear anything beyond a watch, my wedding band and a cross on a small chain around my neck. If I had pierced ears, I'd probably have fun with earrings, but I don't and I have scar tissue in my ear lobes from two unsuccessful attempts, so wearing clip ons or screw backs is at most a three hour affair....

So, I've been through the jewellery, such as it is.
Pile 1: Necklaces.
Black and white coral.
Wood, glass and metal beads on string
Two pearl strands: one small and yellowish, one large and white.
Fine, fine silver (tarnishing)
Fine gold with five tiny pearls set like beads
Fine "knotted" silver
1/8" wide silver. This is the "chunkiest" of the lot.
Silver Celtic cross around my neck on fine silver chain.

Silver chain, less than 1/8" wide
Silver chain, about 1/8" wide

5 strand multi coloured shiny tiny beads in blue, purple, chartreuse.

Single strand pearls, neither white, nor yellow: they actually look like pearls!
Silver strand, about 1/8" wide.

34" or "Pendant"
hammered copper pendant on a thin leather strap
green soap stone (looks like a stylised comma) on a waxed string.
Silver Celtic cross on linked silver chain.

What's up with all the silver chains? Actually, they aren't really "chains." They aren't chain links: they are all sort of flatish--under a magnifying glass, you might say they are braided. I don't know the "correct" word. I have no idea why I have so many, more or less identical. Why all the pearls? I don't know that either. I probably read somewhere that a woman ought to have I do.

Why is everything so fine?
Well, that I can answer. I'm scared of jewellery as it calls attention to oneself and says things to others about your style, your savvy and your pocketbook. Until WT I hadn't anything I really wanted to say to others about myself. Secondly, when I'm thin, as I mentioned, I am rather fine-boned. Delicate, simple jewellery seemed to say "me" without broadcasting it, kwim?

But I now have no idea whether it is a) suitable, b) what I want to "say." Actually, I do know the answer to the latter. It isn't. But I feel rather mute. I don't know how to say anything with necklaces. I've highlighted the ones which interest me in purple.

I've taken pics of all of them, but they'll be in the camera for a long time....

So, now what?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Look! Land's End Paper Dolls

On some views of clothing, you can click something called "try it on." Up comes a little window with a "virtual model" wearing the item--and a list of suggested go withs--which you can also "try on". Like this:

(I really need to get off the computer!)

O Tannenbaum

The kids did well.
I confess I fussed with the ribbon a bit.

Whether the Weather Be Cold...

It's officially Spring sometime in March, isn't it? This is what it looked like here in 2006:

April is a good month to start evaluating the wardrobe again, but May is better--it is the most beautiful month. We're travelling East this year (to Montreal--man, would it be nice to have a sartorial shopping list for that trip!) for the last three weeks of May. So, as far as I'm concerned, the Spring Edition of WT can begin again whenever!

To help Wende out, perhaps you can all let her know when Spring becomes a reality in your part of the Continent in the comments section.

Someone Who Wants Therapy


At Dress-a-Day a woman posted asking for comments on her personal style. Her blog features pictures of herself, taken nearly every day, in various outfits.

What's the proper netiquette? I left a couple of comments...but perhaps I shouldn't have. But what I'm really wondering is: should we invite her to Wardrobe Therapy? Will there be another Wardrobe Therapy?

And what about all those women at that University party lorijo attended?

(image from this site.--really, very interesting!)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Stab at the Signature...

I was talking to a young lady today--she's the older sister of a friend of my daughter's. I think she's twelve--going on seventeen. She showed me her newly applied nail polish--loud hot pink. "Oh, that's bright," I said. Then I picked up my bottle of the palest neutral pink (as I had just cleaned my nails) and said, "Well, to me. This is what I wear."

And she told me, "I really liked that headband you were wearing the other day. It looked good. Other moms don't wear stuff like that." (They don't?)

But I think she has helped give me a direction on this "status" thing. (I'm going to call it a signature, 'cause "status" just doesn't work for me.)

I re-read all your wonderful comments back when I was struggling after that disastrous day at the Mall and you all used the words: smart, creative, capable, tough, independent, strong, cool, (and all those kind things Lynn said). I wish everyone had such a bunch of comments to refer too whenever they get down on themselves.

And I'd like to claim "cool, creative and capable." (Mostly 'cause I love alliteration.) First and foremost, I'm practical. I am also by nature a problem solver. That's how I approach decor: what's the problem? How do I fix it? Creativity and intelligence come into play as servants--not leaders. If I'm "cool"--well that's a happy accident--all the happier because you can't "try" to be cool--either you are or you aren't. And if it is as simple as wearing a headband...then, OK, I accept that it may apply to me--in a "mom, housewifely," sort of way. (Rather than, ahem, a New York Street walking way,

or a red carpet sort of way,

or any sort of runway sort of way.

even though I love each of these looks.)

So there. The outline will be "classic casual" --no sharp asymmetrical "statements" No frills that can get in my way. Nothing bohemian. Nothing intentionally preppy. Just well cut, well fitting staples like T-Shirts and turtlenecks, jeans and decent looking trousers. Even my favourite "dress up" dress is casual. It's from LL Bean and it is almost like this, but longer (which is good. This hem length looks dowdy to me). It has long sleeves, and two seams in the skirt underneath the waistband in the beautiful deep colour of my favourite jam: black currant. It's from many seasons ago. And tonight, I think it pretty much declares my "style."

Wherefore the "cool?" Whither the creative?
Well, how about one of these?
From Etsy, sellers, left to right: KitMit, PurpleLicious, ShirkDesigns

And there'll be a brooch on my coat.

As for other dashes of "creative?" I'll have to think on it.

Pretty 'n Pink

So glad Wende made it a priority to review this week. I have fallen off the bandwagon, but I solemnly pledge to get back on!

They aren't difficult or complicated: that was sort of the point.

1. Hair. I've been playing around with different potions and lotions a) some sort of lotion you put in when your hair is wet. Supposed to control the frizzies. It doesn't, really. And it makes my hands sticky. b) some potion from V05 that's supposed to do the same thing, only you can apply it wet or dry. It worked the first time I tried it, (in the car, right outside the store. My hair was driving me crazy.) But I haven't seen it since.

2. Showering at least every other day. The absence of a bathroom floor plus no heating plus exceeding cold = cowardice plus staying home.

3. Spritzing when I dress. Also gone by the wayside. I'm waaaay more interested in keeping exposed flesh to the minimum and dressing as fast as possible.

4. Goodness, eyebrows need a lot of upkeep don't they?

5. Nail polish. This has been going well. I now even have emery boards and cuticle cream in my arsenal. I'm finding I'm actually quite vain about them, even though I keep them short and shaped to the shape of my finger-tips.

6. Moisturizing my face. OK, again, standing in my bare feet on a freezing cold floor waiting interminably for the hot water to come up to the second floor and out through the taps is not a pleasant routine. However, things are warming up (it's only -5 or 23F today and is supposed to be that tomorrow too) so it looks like the hibernating, keep-all-windows-covered-wrap-yourself-in-a-blanket weather is over.

7. Lipstick. Haven't found a replacement for my replacement yet. And I'm almost out of it. Lip balm is working well, though.

So, there we have it. I've started again already and wow, it really does feel good.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Most Expensive Accessory I Will Always Own.

We did it.

Last week I saw an optometrist who diagnosed my current vision problem as the need for bi-focals. Bifocals! Let's officially join the old-fogey's club, shall we?

But encouraged by scb's advice that "seeing is good" The husband, the boy and I went frame shopping.

We chose these:
They are Burberry's in Gunmetal grey. They aren't exciting, they aren't a "statement." When it came right down to it I was nervous about putting something that looked "fashion-forward" and "fabulous" (with bling!) on my face that in ten years will look stupid, dated and silly. Of course, rectangular frames by then will scream "late oughts" just as my oval frames scream "mid to late nineties" now.
Oh well, I'm still excited. They should be ready in ten days.

AT: Mixing Dark and Light, Again

Sorry, I was going to add this to the already-too-long post below, but I'd thought I'd spare you. I converted this image from a magazine to black and white when I scanned it in. And, looking at it again tonight, I'm amazed how little black/dark there is. A couple of chairs and a tambouret. A seat cushion. A few pops in the pattern on a pillow and in the flowers and furniture legs. Except for the large pillow on the foreground sofa, there's very little in the way of medium tones as well. I thought there'd be more.

It strikes me that it is no accident that the mass of dark (the chairs and tambouret) are a grouping, instead of say, a sofa, and that the designer has placed them most deliberately there. First, the mass is not as solid as a sofa would be. There is air and light around it (and quite a bit of it too. Those are not Lazee-boys!). Second, it's placed right between the two seating areas: the dark makes them act like a divider, a wall--but one you can visually walk through. They're physically and visually a dividing line between the two spaces. Nice.

And look at all the texture! From hard glass to the softest, fluffiest rug, I'm amazed by the subtle tonal variations and interest they give the room. The objects are pale--but they are all a different shade of pale because each material reflects the light differently. It's not as apparent to me in a coloured photograph that this is happening: but it's very clear in black and white. I tend to ignore texture--I think, perhaps wrongly--that it is out of my price range. But perhaps not. I don't think I should ignore it anymore.

The Inimitable Jackie

From The New York Social Diary.
1975. By then Jackie Onassis, Jackie O, was the most famous widow in the world, the most glamorous trophy wife in the world; admired, even idolized, Mrs. Kennedy Onassis epitomized youthful middle-age of the contemporary American women. When she went to a store and bought two dozen sweaters of a certain style, and WWD reported it the following morning, there was practically a line around the corner of that store, waiting to get in to buy what Jackie bought. It was her fresh energy. Her self-confidence. Her classiness under all circumstances.

Scb wrote a wonderful, thoughtful post about trying to find the secret to Jackie's style. A link led me to this advice:

Want to dress like Jackie? Here are a few pointers.
*Keep it clean.
*Pay attention to details.
*Have your tailor fit the clothes to you.
*Know your style.
*Stand tall.
*Remember that less is more.
*Get your father-in-law to pay for it all. (In 1961, Kennedy spent more than $100,000 in clothing and incidentals -- exceeding the president's salary for the year. Her father-in-law, Joe Kennedy, ended up paying the bills so there wouldn't be a scandal.)

Ahhhh. The father-in-law. There's the secret!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I Ordered It!

AT: About Complementary Colour Schemes and Light and Dark...

Complemetary prairie-scape:

Poor cqindc. She wants to re-cover her couch. I want to re-do my living room which may or may not involve getting the couch slip covered. So, I've been thinking about colour schemes again and I tried to quickly dash off a few thoughts in the comments section. That's what I mean by "poor." I'm sure my attempt at explaining was torturous. So, I'm going to try and be more coherent here.

Complementary Colour Schemes.
These use two colours from opposite sides of the colour wheel. Red and Green, Yellow and Violet, Blue and Orange. Here's one in Red and Green:

I told cqindc that for the room to work, you need to either 1) vary the two colours in tone, ie, one dark, one light or, 2) if they're the same intensity, they need to be slightly off, like a raspberry and green, or a lime green with red. This is an example of (1).

The second thing I mentioned was that one of the colours should dominate, the other should play a secondary role. A dark, bright, warm or shiny colour will always stand out--so you actually need less of it than the pale, light, cool and matte. Or, to put it the other way, you need a LOT of pale, light, cool and matte to balance dark, warm, shiny and bright.

Though Maxwell's 80/20 rule is applied to neutrals (80) and colour (20) I think the "formula" can be expanded this way: 80% pale, light, cool and matte, 20% warm, bright, dark and shiny. (And you can start mixing things up, too, when you look at it this way. Something large, shiny and pale green could be balanced with something small, dark and red as long as there's lots of other things matte as well (like the walls). But I digress.)

Note the white at the top of the walls. It helps lift your eye so it doesn't just stop dead at the red. Now, use your imagination and extend the borders of this photograph...all the walls painted this green. How many more objects will there be in this beautiful red? Not many, I would hope.

aside: The big red chair in the bottom right actually bothers me: with the red curtains I'm afraid the whole room will tip colour-wise to the right unless there's another massive bit of red on the left--but that would be too much red, frankly. Something dark and green on the left would balance--but then the room would loose the light and airy feel the photographer and stylist created--and which I love. So, when living in this room, the big red chair over on the right doesn't work. (Maybe in real life it sits on the left. That's the trouble with getting decorating ideas from tightly cropped highly styled magazine photos.)

So, with an eye-popping red sofa, one needs all that lovely cool green and white to balance. Imagine this in reverse. What if the walls were red and the sofa, ottoman and chair were light green? Would that work? I don't think so. There'd be too much wall--too much red. The green would float away and look lost in such an intensely painted room. (Trust me, I tried. Red walls look best in either very large rooms with lots of natural light and white (high contrast) or with dark cozy highly polished wood furniture. (low contrast). That's why it works better in dining rooms and libraries than living rooms). The point here is that with dark walls and light furniture, the proportions would be off between light and dark.

Here is one of the loveliest examples of balancing the contrast of light and dark I've ever seen.

Everything is light here--except the dark tables and little pops of black on the sofa and floor cushions. This is how to balance the "dark" and still get "light and airy." It's beautifully done, even to the asymmetrical placement of the orange canvas. It shakes up the symmetry--without making the room less formal. (From Carmen's pops of colour in the AT Fall Colours contest.)

A complimentary colour scheme, as contrast is "built in," so to speak, ups the ante when balancing the proportions of light and dark. It is, therefore a bit easier to do (2) above--that is, combining a raspberry with green or a lime with red. Then, you have a hint of the "cool" in the red, or the "warm" in the green. It lessens the contrast slightly--and looks striking, as in this example.

There is so much to love in this picture, I scarcely know where to begin. I could probably write a novel about the rug alone. Here, the red hue dominates. But it's soft--not quite as bold and bright like the first. Note, though, that the walls are, again, light (and very, very high!). There are lots of legs showing, too, which keeps the whole thing elevated and airy.

One thing: Varying the intensities with orange and blue is trickier than with red and green. (Yellow and purple is almost impossible and best left to Jaimie Drake). No matter which way you go on the colour wheel, red-orange and yellow-orange are still warm. Blue-green and blue-violet are both still cool, though blue-violet is a titch closer to having a touch of warm than blue-green.

Just for fun, I toured flickr to get an idea of how to combine blue-violet with orange. Here they are:

Don't quite know what to make of it except that it's clear that if you use blue-violet in its darker manifestations it'll be really dark: with only the palest hint of orange alleviating it all. Probably depressing, if striking. The bottom right is beautiful and bright: Lots of green to bridge the two. But it isn't blue so much as purple, is it?

Here's what happens when we change the dark/light versions of blue and orange. In this case, the orange to rust and the blue to pale blue.
I think it looks like a great colour scheme for a nursery with the pink, though.

So, I think the tack to take with blue and orange is not to vary the intensities so much as to find a third colour to work. CQindc already has brown working for her with the pampasan and her furniture:

See the proportions? Perhaps the sofa should be brown and the poang cushion blue. Use the kimono and pillows to bring in the orange and given what you already have, you'll approximate these proportions here. I think it would be stunning. But again, I'm not sure about your walls being able to carry the dark brown. But with the poang recovered in this incredible ble (though, in reality, it'll be closer to the loveseat, right?) it may just work.

What about introducing yellow into the mix?

Of course, it can get very blotchy and cluttered to have four hues in a small space: and the blues here are much darker than your loveseat (which helps balance out all the brightness of the orange and yellow). Would this medium-dark blue work on the sofa? It might. I'm not sure. You might actually have to add yellow or orange to the walls with curtains to make the sofa work and then I think we're just getting too garish. The dark blue is balancing all that yellow and orange, so to put yellow on the sofa would skew the proportions too much. But, lets change the yellow to cream.

Again, the blue is lighter in tone than the loveseat and the orange has more red in it. But a nubby cream on the sofa and slate blue pillows would bring the room around. In this scenario, I'm wondering if the curtains should be this slatey blue, too?

But since cqindc is thinking of burgandy, I tried that, too.

Obviously, I tried to find images with burgandy, blue and orange. I wasn't terribly successful, as you can see. The oranges are more saffron--or yellow orange--and blue is nearly non-existent--except for the maples. And, I love that image so much, I'm going to suggest cqindc re-cover the poang in blue to balance the blue love seat when she re-covers the couch in the burgandy--and then leave the room alone. (Well, cream curtains in some sort of crewel work in burgandy or rust would be my mind's eye, anyway!) The kimono will work, the pampasan will work. Saffron pillows will bridge the look to the kimono--and we just might have something.
So, to sum up for cqindc: (1) recover the poang cushion in the same blue as the loveseat. Then, either recover the couch in brown and use orange cushions (my favourite) or recover the couch with the burgandy and use saffron coloured pillows. Evaluate what you may need to do with the curtains once you can see what you've got.
(2) cover the couch in a nubby cream, change the curtains to cream, keep everything else the same and use slate blue and red-orange cushions.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Top Ten: Winter

What an interesting idea--a top ten by season. I've seen top ten wardrobe lists before, of course, but not one just for the season. The list at TooFatForFashion is very practical, but also stylish. I'm thinking more along the lines of 10 essential items for winter...even though I may not wear all these items everyday, I couldn't survive winter on the prairies without them. (It also ties in nicely with out inner/outer theme this week).
So, let's see.

1. The Coat. I've talked ad nauseum about The Coat, so I won't go there again, now.

2. Boots. About, oh, 12-15 years ago I got very lucky and found the perfect pair of boots for me. They're calf height, low heeled and round toed. And lined. I know it's rather a fashion faux pas and it makes my legs look short, but I tuck my pant legs into them. There is snow on the ground, after all, and I hate having soggy pant hems.

3. Scarf. Hmmm. I like my pink felt, I wear it wrapped around my neck, under my coat. That way I can pull it up over my nose and mouth if needed. (Did I mention it gets cold here? I'm reading about how cold it was in NY--and I'm looking at pictures of people with coats unzipped. People, if your coat isn't zipped, it isn't cold.)

4. Gloves. Now, these I need. I'm wearing off-white knit gloves with holes in the index finger of one and the thumb is nearly gone in the other.

5. Hat. This is a tough one. Since I wear things in my hair to keep it out of my face, a hat can be a problem. As well, it needs to cover my ears (in which I do NOT wear earrings. Metal+cold=earache.) Right now I have a ratty black toque. I must do better. But all the hats seem to be very silly things with faux braids. What's up with the laplander look anyway?
Good grief, we're 1/2 done and I've only talked about the top layer!

6. Long underwear. I have children who like to go skating and sledding. I have a husband who likes to go on walks. I dream of the day I can afford thin super-miracle-fibre long underwear. Since we don't tend to like hypothermia, we don't actually do these activities below -15C so, I don't need the megatherm long john's. Ultratherm will do. For now, I make do with lots of layering and an old-fashioned "mormon" type pair of thick thermal bottoms. (The best I ever had were from the army. Yes, I had a brief stint in my late teens in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves. Believe me when I say keeping that underwear was more than a fair trade for all the rifle cleaning and boot polishing I had to do. (It's also the place I learned how to iron a shirt properly.)

7. Socks. Oh dear. I think I need support stockings. The current "sport" socks I wear (bought in a six pack from Wallyworld) are leaving nasty indentations on my ankles and lower calf. (Do you really need to know this? Does anyone?) I saw something called "diabetic" socks the last time I was there and I'd like to try them.

8. Proper slippers. This is tough. Since I need support for my feet every second I'm awake (and probably asleep, too, but I'm not wearing shoes to bed!) I just tend to wear my sandals, as I mentioned and then switch to my socks and runners as soon as I've drunk about 1/2 my coffee. But--sometimes even socks and runners aren't warm enough (and I can't curl up on the couch, either) I have "afghan" knee-high slipper socks. They are amazing things. They are knitted (presumably by women in Afghanistan) mucklucks, basically, with a leather sole. I have a beautiful purple pair which I attach to the bottom of my pants with safety pins. These are a close approximation from apathtofreedom(dot)com.

9. A really good moisturizing cream. If scb can include lipstick, I can include this! I like stuff put out by Aveeno.

10. A Colourful Accessory. This is a brilliant idea from TFFF. She cites a brooch--and I like the idea so much, I'd like to implement it. My coat is dark, dark, dark. It needs a bit of a lift of colour. A brooch, if not too precious could say "stylish and hip"--or would it say "grandmother and frumpy?" I don't know. The only person I've ever seen wear a brooch on her coat is my grandmother--and at this time of year it would be a brooch shaped by coloured stones making the outline of a Christmas tree. I liked it, actually. (She would alternate that with a brooch of a three dimensional bell that actually "rang". That one, I didn't like so much.) Interesting idea. Here's a few from a shop called SilverMe in Pasadena CA. What do you think? (click pics to make larger)

PS. This is not theoretical! OMG, I just called the frugal husband over, explained my thinking and we looked through these. Each one is about 1 3/4"--2" big, if "actual size" means anything on a computer screen. His favourite is the middle blue. I'm worried it won't show up that well against a black coat. Then, I saw the pink one and I think I love it. It would show up well--and as I pointed out to him, I could wear it for "Valentine's" as well. He said, "Go ahead and order it. See if it gets here before Christmas." Should I? Will I regret it? Is it too much? maybe the "wreath" makes it too Christmasy? I'd like to wear it all winter. Are they tacky? oooh, I don't know. Take a look at the others there, too, if you like. I'll take suggestions!

Added later: I keep coming back and looking at the one on the left. I just don't know what to think of it. Is it vintagy enough to stand alone after Christmas, yet festive enough for the holidays? And I also like the one on the right, though it really isn't Christmasy at all. And I do wonder about the blue being visible against black. Oh, there are so many pretties--especially in the flowers and vintage style sections. But this is for "everyday" while I run into Canadian Tire and Safeway and the Library. I'm also wondering if they are too small. If they were bigger--say 2 1/2" it would be dead obvious they're "just for fun." and not to be taken seriously, like I'm trying hard (but not hard enough). Nice "conversation starters" though--or maybe everyone will wonder why that crazy lady is so silly and overdressed? Man, this is more anxiety producing than picking paint colours.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside

You know, the best rendition of that song I've heard is in that terrible move "Elf."

I actually found it! Who knew Zooey Deschanel could sing?

I have a new winter coat. It's fine. It's not green and it keeps me warm. With temperatures hovering around -20C for the last ten days and an expected high of -13C on Friday (though I'm sure it will seem balmy by then), that's really important.

As some of you may remember I bought it last Sunday. We tried to find a replacement Monday. Tuesday we headed out again.

After three days of trying, we managed to find the Fen-Nelli, at the Bay, not Sears, but I needed to go up one size. It's the first one pictured in this post. We should have walked over to the "plus" section...but well, we'd been in the mall for three hours at that point and everyone was overwhelmed, tired and thirsty. I did go back to the plus section on Thursday--they had maybe three different styles of coats available--mine wasn't among them.

But knowing the exact size I needed, I decided to order it on-line Tuesday night. It's not available. The husband has conceded. He says, now, that the when he saw the coat I'd found on Sunday, he should have said "it was the best coat he'd ever seen." He's complimented me on it twice since then, silly guy.

I finally wore it out to the Christmas play we attended Friday night. And I've been wearing it since. It will be my winter coat until some disaster happens to it, or I shrink out of it. Let's hope when I need another one, the selection out there won't be so dismal.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas is All About Food, Isn't it?

On the first Tuesday of every month, grocery stores go crazy in this town. To lure in customers and encourage bulk buying every single one offers 10 to 15% off one's purchases this day every month.

I do my best to take full advantage of it. I buy the coffee I need for the month, the frozen pizza's, all our meat, canned goods, you get the idea.

To this month's Master Shopping List we're adding scads of butter, flaked coconut, chips: white chocolate, chocolate, butterscotch and dried cranberries.

Yes, I made The Cookie List.

I've also got the menu planned for Christmas Eve:
Tourtiere and Cream Corn,
Milk, and Coffee.

Christmas Day:
Pickle plate

Grapes and Cheese plate
Veggie plate.
Taco Chips smothered in ham, cheese and salsa, toasted in the oven. Served with sour cream and more salsa on the side. (Husband's contribution).

I'll make the pastry for the Quiche and the Tourtiere at the same time--hopefully this week. In fact, I plan to make the whole Tourtiere this week and freeze it. I can fry up the bacon for the quiche ahead of time too, and then all I have to do Christmas Day is whisk a few eggs, toss in the bacon, pour it into the pie crust and eat 30 minutes later. No muss, no fuss.

I think we're doing Christmas Day dinner at my Mom's. If not, I've got a ham in the freezer I can throw into the pot--and I'm not averse to leftovers, either. Last year my Mom got Subway to make up a couple of party platters and we had so much food (all together there's only six of us) we agreed we could have done without the turkey, the trimmings and all the effort it took. (Basting every 15 minutes for three hours or more just isn't as much fun as it used to be!)

I will miss the bacon-wrapped shrimp I used to make as hor's d'oeuvres on Christmas day--but perhaps we can do that for New Year's Day! (oops, I just realised I totally forgot to do New Year's menu. Oh well.)

image from Martha Stewart(dot)com.

Christmas Has Officially Begun!

We have the tree up.

It's a small (about 6 1/2 feet) artificial tree my husband and I purchased 10 years ago--at a garage sale--on our "Honeymoon." Someone had given us a free weekend at a bed and breakfast in a dinky town many miles west of here. Can you get a picture of how small it was if I tell you the only store was the Farmers Union Co-op? But, lucky for us, we landed the weekend of the town-wide garage sale. We had a good time, actually. And we were so smug about buying the Christmas tree in May. We were starting a new family, new traditions, and here we had the tree to go with our brand new made-up life.

The husband is talking about buying a new tree this year, after Christmas, when the sales are on. I don't really care that much about it. I no longer "care" about decorating the tree--I gave it up a few years ago. I string the lights, but I pretty much let the kids hang whatever they want from the "Christmas ornament box" wherever they want. It was just too stressful to treat the tree as my own decorating statement--and besides--who is it for, anyway? If I'm in the decorating mood, I have an artificial garland I attach with 3M hooks all around the arched entrance way to the living room and I "decorate" that. I may or may not do it this year. I'm feeling pretty low-key about it. I always do until about Dec 23rd!

We purchased the flooring for the bathroom on Sunday. It's some kind of miracle thing, called "fibre floor" put out by a company called Tarkett. The floor is backed with an underlay that doesn't need gluing! Just cut it to fit (with a box cutting blade) and put it in place. Nail in the corner round next to the baseboards and it's done. It's amazing. Of course, the floor one puts it on has to be absolutely flat and stain free. So, there's more washing and sanding required (plus, we need to make a small patch) before we can put it down. Meanwhile, the bathroom has thrown up all over the hallway outside it and I've got half a toilet in the entrance hallway and the other half in the dining room/office. The 8' bench from the living room is in here too--I finally took it out so I could move a chair to make room for the tree! I also washed the whole living room floor with vinegar and water, vacuumed the couch, etc, before I let the kids bring the tree upstairs.

I think the last time the house looked decent was when I took those pics for the slide show.
(image from

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bathroom: Second Thoughts

The floor is sanded. It was a heroic effort on the husband's part. We have to clean the walls and the side of the tub and re-install the toilet flange before we can put down the floor. I have purchased a new toilet. (Boy, I never thought I'd find buying anything for the house boring but choosing a toilet is dull, dull, dull). Yep, that's the company pic of the one we bought.

But the vinyl floor tiles we purchased?

Bad idea.

My husband was concerned about water seeping through the cracks. As we were reading up on installation we discovered he's right to be worried. So, instead of installing the tile tomorrow, we're going shopping for linoleum--or sheet vinyl, whatever you want to call it.

I wouldn't mind ceramic tile, small hexagonal tiles in dark, dark blue and white, but we don't know how to handle the threshold from the hardwood in the hallway to the bathroom floor. We just don't have any room to maneuver. (We even looked into cork for about 5 minutes until we realised that it's about 3/8ths of an inch thick. The husband figures we have about 1/8th of an inch--unless, of course, we take out the underlayment (which I've always thought was the sub-floor, but it's not. The sub-floor really is the diagonal bits we can see from the other side on the "ceiling" of the basement and runs the entire length and width of the house) and put in a newer, thinner one (if that's even possible). And underlayment isn't quite as DIY friendly as we'd prefer.

Yep. Hostages to the house. That's what we are.

And my daughter wants us to put up the Christmas tree tomorrow.
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