Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Almost a Year of Grey

Since I was 12, I have been interested in fashion. I picked berries and baby-sat in order to choose and pay for my own clothes. I always loved reading the teen magazines and my cousin and I even attended Teen Charm School at a local department store.

I didn't have a lot of clothes but I rotated outfits and chose pieces that could be combined with others
to create a new look. Sometimes I chose fabric and my aunt or grandmother sewed for me. That was the sixties and as a teen, I worked within my means to create a look that suited my life.

In the decades that have passed, cheap available goods, credit and more disposable income has lead to excess. I have been "weeding" my closet for the last few months and I have learned which items are useful and are worn often and which items are seldom worn. I have chosen my neutral colours:grey and navy to suit my newly grey hair. It's almost a year without hair colour!
My grandma had nice grey hair.
In the 1980's, I had very dark (natural) hair with blue/green eyes and fair skin. Vivid colours with cool undertones were definitely my preferred palette. Nary an earth tone or a warm hue. Some time passed and my hair (now greying) became reddish. Rust, orange, khaki and brown were my warm go-to colours. I have gradually been eliminating bright colours and warm colours from my wardrobe.
Print has been a passion of mine for the last ten years. I've put on weight and it seems that larger (14-16) sized clothing seems to include a lot of pattern. As I age and (hopefully) shrink a little, my tastes have moved to the more subtle.

I have been greatly influenced by Janice Riggs' The Vivienne File blog and I am working on a basic wardrobe that can be dressed up or down with accessories of colour and pattern. The common core pieces (mostly grey) are my daily uniform right now. I am learning to restrain my buying which means "don't go to shops to pass the time or to visit with shopkeeper friends." There are a few things that I need: grey boots (low) and a grey bag but I am not going to be using them in the next few travel months so I don't need to buy them right now.
In 2013, I loved rust, orange and gold. There was no grey.

Grey is a life choice. I no longer have to spend 2 hours at the hair salon.

Grey can be dressy with lace and sparkly silver shoes.

A year ago, I had no idea about grey. I just wondered what it would be like to let my hair revert to its natural state. It is quite liberating to have little hair care time or expense. Now that I am retired, it seems comfortable to embrace my ageing self and to make simplicity a way of life.

Grey can go for a walk under October skies.

Friday, October 3, 2014

October Harvest

Westham Island Herb Farm
I love vegetables! All vegetables! So it seems reasonable that October is one of my favourite months.
Yesterday, Maman and I crossed the wooden lift bridge to visit Westham Island, a farming community about 20 minutes away. It takes such a short time to transport us from our busy suburban community to a rural one.
I love the golds, rusts and oranges of October.

One of our favourite places to visit is the Westham Island Herb Farm, a family owned farm that sells an assortment of vegetables, fruits, preserves, gourds, aprons and even bales of straw for those who wish to decorate. There are scarecrows, a haunted house and animals to visit. All within a short drive from home.
a wagonload of squash
I have been attending Weight Watchers for a few months and I am really enjoying the Simple Start programme. I enjoy preparing vegetables and I find making soup strangely therapeutic. A couple of years ago, I bought a Staub La Cocotte pot to replace my 30+ years old Le Creuset. I love the rich red colour of the pot. I rinsed and soaked lentils, chopped and simmered vegetables and seasoned with NoMu masala.
Terracotta, red and sunflowers are October.
I do miss autumn stories:Stone Soup, The Enormous Turnip…I started my writing course on Tuesday evening. I am working on a children's picture book based on the wartime evacuation of the Japanese from my local fishing village. The fishermen's houses and the boat works are now part of a museum.
Once this was a thriving fishing centre.
The houses and the gardens of the Japanese have been restored and I especially enjoy seeing Mrs. Murakami's garden. It is sometimes part of my walk.
Mrs. Murakami's garden. Mrs. Murakami may have been the last "picture bride."
October is a month to be grateful for the harvest and for the sunshine of early fall. It's a time for snuggly sweaters and corduroy pants. I like to light a scented candle as we don't have a fireplace and read my book. Right now, I'm reading Arthur and George by Julian Barnes. It is a book club selection and Monsieur is enjoying it more than I am. Mixed gender book clubs are tricky as men and women seem to have quite different reading tastes. That's a generalization but it is based on 30 years of library employment.
an October friend

Later today, I will be celebrating at a paycheque party as my teacher friends are happy to be back to work. October may also be the month to switch from Pinot Grigio to Malbec or Autumn Ale…So many decisions.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cleaning the Cupboards

Monsieur and I live in an apartment of just over 900 square feet. When we decided to live together 19 years ago, storage was very important to us. Monsieur had lived alone in a 3 bedroom townhouse with carport and my daughter and I had lived in a small townhouse. Since that time, I have acquired many clothes and  much stuff.

Each year since my retirement, I have rented  much smaller apartments in Paris and I have found the space to be adequate for myself and an assortment of visiting friends. All of my rental apartments have  included a bookcase of left or resident books, some CD's, some basic kitchen supplies and linens. With my single suitcase, I have been able to live for five months very comfortably. A few household items from Monoprix and fresh flowers served to personalize my living space. What I buy in Paris (household items) stays in Paris so the next guests benefit from my nesting instincts.
autumn nesting at home

At home, I have been cleaning cupboards as Monsieur and I do REALLY have storage but it is not well utilized. As winter is approaching, I have been dealing with clothing and household linens.  I will be travelling to warmer places in November and December (Caribbean cruise and then another Tucson casita with Monsieur), so I can't really retire my lighter clothing but I am developing an all-season wardrobe. I am reminded that one of the bloggers that I used to follow Four Seasons One Wardrobe has just returned  this week from a lengthy break. After giving birth to her first child, she has returned to blogger world. If you are looking to create a multi-purpose wardrobe, this might be a blog to consider.

I am still working with Janice Riggs' ( of The Vivienne Files)  planning sheets and I can readily select what is essential and what is not. Three pairs of grey jeans! How did that happen? Purchased last year before Paris trip. Two would have been enough. One goes to thrift. Black/grey/white long sleeve t-shirt can be worn with skirt, jeans and capris and can be washed out and dried anywhere…it's a keeper. My travel wardrobe for the next few years is taking shape.
It's getting there but there are still too many items.
The last days of summer are too precious to waste inside.

The linen closet seems to be filled with photo albums??? Do I need 3 quilts and a bedcover? We only have 1 bed! I bought some of those compression bags to store the extras but summer and winter quilts should be adequate. The extra could be washed and donated as cold weather is approaching. This kind of sorting can be quite intense so I always set a time limit. Later I'll be walking some books over to the community library. It's in our recreational complex so I could even reread my own books if I wished.

Living in an apartment is very different from living in a detached house. We have no garage, attic or basement in which to store our excess belongings. As we get older, our needs are becoming fewer and perhaps we need to reconsider some of the memorabilia that is taking up vital space.

How do you deal with storage? Have you ever paid an organizer? For me, I just have to persevere and not get sidetracked or sentimental.

I even have my daughter and my own Brownie uniforms.