Archive for the ‘In the midst of life’ Category






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005crMy basic cooler weather wardrobe capsule suffers from a couple notable gaps. A handful of recent interviews prompted me to act on one of them and I added a black Rachel Roy blouse to my wardrobe. The blouse provides several options for business casual office or retail environments and would also work nicely for a night out so I’m quite pleased to add a piece with so much mileage in terms of expanding my wardrobe.

I didn’t intentionally walk over to Winners to buy a black blouse. It just happened; however, one of my wardrobe holes is a lack of dressier types of clothing so a blouse that I could wear with black denim was on my wardrobe planning wish list.

I’d never thought much about creating and building a wardrobe until a couple years ago. The two wardrobe planning sites I’ve learned the most from are the Vivienne Files and Into Mind.

Janice, the creator/blogger of the Vivienne Files uses several different concepts to build wardrobes. The one I’m looking at here for my cooler weather wardrobe is the 4×4. With this I have a core wardrobe of four pieces – 2 tops and 2 bottoms in the same neutral. Then, I have a second core of four in a different, or the same, neutral. Next up, four tops are added, which could an area in which to introduce prints, patterns or accent colours. And the last four clothing items are the expansion four, at least two of which should be tops. Accessories would be the next module but I’m stopping at the 16 core garments today.
Anuschka over at Into Mind provides a foundation, options and valuable insights for developing your personal style and wardrobe. One approach is using a combination of main colours, neutrals and accent colours. Another is developing your wardrobe from three categories – basics, in the middle pieces, and statement pieces. What constitutes a basic, middle or statement piece will vary by person. It seems I’ve adopted this second approach for cooler weather wardrobe planning. Here’s the same 16 pieces looked at using this method.
Differing lives, experiences, incomes, interests and aesthetics inevitably introduces individual adaptations and fine-tuning. Is there rhyme and reason in your wardrobe?

Ha, I should have included at least one coat so here it is as a 17th piece.


I’m linking up with Patti’s Not Dead Yet Style party.


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One of several sculptures commemorating the 38,000 Irish famine victims who arrived on Toronto's shores in 1847

One of several sculptures at Ireland Park commemorating the 38,000 Irish famine victims who arrived on Toronto’s shores in 1847.

It felt like a day for wandering along the waterfront. I appreciated my encounters with art, nature, coffee and other things on this day after Halloween, this Day of the Dead.

Part of Meryl McMaster's In-Between Worlds series

Part of Meryl McMaster’s In-Between Worlds series



Cutie-pie dog

Cutie-pie dog

It’s difficult to participate in life fully, i.e., have meaning, work and an income when the world doesn’t see you. So, even though I’m wearing the fall coat that I have on all the time I’m still linking up with Patti’s Visibles over at Not Dead Yet Style. I need another dozen years of visibility.

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On Sunday afternoon Todmorden Mills was the site of a precarious convergence of history, nature and thrifting.

The Northern Hemisphere’s cooler temperatures and vivid fall foliage induces people to get outside and, optionally, take photos. I really needed a nature fix. The Don Valley is the closest nature oasis to me. I had scored at the thrift shop on Saturday and also wanted an outfit of the day venue. My humble little Nikon Coolpix is such a sad camera but I put it to the task at Todmorden Mills.

Todmorden Mills currently functions as a museum, art centre and wildflower preserve. The site has experienced several adaptations. In 1795 two brothers were granted land to build the mill. A brewery was built in 1820. The mill was converted to a riding stable in the 1920s. It served as a German prisoner of war camp in the early 1940s. The site was modified and lost direct river access with the construction of the Don Valley Parkway. Jean Gertrude “True” Davidson, former mayor of East York, proposed it as a centennial project and it became a historical site in 1967.

I checked out the Watercolour Society’s art show in the Papermill Theatre and Gallery space. As often happens when I visit a smaller gallery I think back to how I assumed creating would be an essential part of my life and wonder why it isn’t. Flux. A poster reminded me that this space houses a community theatre group. Years ago I had been a member of a community theatre club in York Region and a few members were also involved with this club, The East Side Players.

I was meandering the grounds in several new to me pieces. I had purchased three items at the thrift store the day before. My eye was drawn to a rust and gray tones print blouse. It’s by Sandwich, a Dutch company, and I’ve had and currently have other items in this brand. It’s somewhat too big but the fabric is lightweight and semi-sheer so I can deal with it. I also spotted a black and white houndstooth scarf. I was surprised by the Burberry label and wonder if it’s fake. I was also quite pleased to take a black Tignanello clutch with removable strap home with me. I have a white Tignanello cross-body bag and I love the quality and design excellence of this Italian brand.

Also new are my Laundry by Shelly Segal black leggings. I picked these up a couple weeks ago at Winners (TJX Max). This is actually the first time I’ve worn leggings as pants. Yes, I’m late to the party. And, yes, I’m aware that there are very impassioned arguments for and against. I’ve worn them for yoga and fitness and with dress length tunics and skirts before but never with just a blouse. This is a long length blouse and I’m short so it’s more tunic length; nonetheless, I’d be comfortable wearing these leggings as pants with a shorter top. They also work with my riding boots (Franco Sarto, old, purchased on clearance). Change is a constant; flux is the norm!

In hindsight, I should have removed my jacket while taking at least some of photos.

I’m linking up with Patti’s Visible Monday party over at Not Dead Yet Style.

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A striped tee. An extraordinarily versatile garment that goes with everything. A ubiquitous wardrobe basic.

The original marinière was worn by French sailors so they’d be easier to spot in the waves. It had 21 stripes – one for each of Napoleon’s victories. It inspired Coco Chanel and she introduced it to the fashion world in 1917. It’s gender neutral and has longevity!

Here are a few of the ways I wear my black and cream variation.

Do you wear stripes?

Postscript – I’m taking this post to the party at Not Dead Yet Style.

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Being This, 2012

Being This, 2012

I was at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) on Wednesday evening. Liz Magor’s exhibition, Surrender, engaged me and is still on my mind. Her works explore our dependence on domestic objects and fabrications to create a sense of self.

Being This, detail

Being This, detail

Everything I own fits into a van and I’m still downsizing. I’ve tossed most things and started over a few times and, as a result, I’m not particularly attached to objects nor do I accumulate much stuff. Yet, I’m not a strict minimalist either. Or perhaps I’m a minimalist in training, still refining and building.

I wanted my own greenhouse and studio and, by extension, house. Up until a few years ago I still assumed I would at least have my own home. As my expectations, aspirations and general worldview have shifted I’ve developed an interest in fashion and personal style. In this sense, Magor’s work resonates with me. A relationship with things – a personal style – is part of a sense of self.


Part of Liz Magor’s Surrender exhibit

On Sunday I briefly poked around the St Lawrence Antiques and Collectibles Market to see what others were looking for or had discarded in their creations of self.

004crHere’s a fun quiz from Sylvia over at 40plusStyle if you want to check your style. I get casual eclectic, which, while not always expressed, does correspond with my sense of self.

I’m linking up with Patti and the Visibles at Not Dead Yet Style’s Visible Monday.

I’m wearing a blue-gray shirt (J Crew, old, thrifted), black tank top (The Loft), gray slightly asymmetrical skirt (Fresh Produce, old), and black/cream pony hair slip-ons (Campers, old).

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I’ve had my eye out for a fall jacket/coat. A few weeks ago I noticed Mountain Equipment Co-op’s Vizela jacket and its 56% clearance price reduction. Temperatures dropped this past week with a few early mornings in the single digit Celsius territory so I returned to MEC to make the coat mine. The colour, according to MEC’s website, is sleet but I’ll probably forget that and just think of it as pale gray. So far, I’m as pleased as can be with it.

The cooler weather had me wanting to make soup. I picked up the veggies at the market but couldn’t find celery. I don’t recall ever not being able to find celery before and put it down to shopping at the market stalls rather than a large grocery retailer. I made a delicious vegetable rendition with wonderful spicy notes of cumin and smoked paprika.

The missing celery reminded me that it is apple season. Aside from purchasing the usual local varieties I was thinking that maybe I should pick some crab apples and try making a jam or something with them. With seasonal harvest thoughts on my mind what do I see while walking through the park – chestnuts! A Google search reveals that chestnuts were almost entirely wiped out by a blight in North America during the last century. I didn’t know this at the time of my sighting but was still delighted to see the chestnuts on the ground. It reminded me of vendors selling roasted chestnuts from their carts when I was a child. Most chestnuts are cultivated in Europe (Italy and Portugal), China and Japan. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a chestnut but now I’d like to taste them. Simple pleasures.

I read my horoscope today. It suggested I seek out people and situations that inspire me and that I remind the world that I exist. Seriously! I’ll follow through on that by linking up with the Visible’s at Patti’s Not Dead Yet Style party.

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