Tuesday, 30 September 2014

How To Dress Like a Sorceress

When I was a little girl I really wanted to be a witch.  Not the kind with a crooked warty nose and a big chip on her shoulder but more of a magical earthy and pagan sort of witch.  It wasn't fairy tales which lead me to this image, for they generally portray the witch as crone unless she is a cranky step-mother.  As a little girl I could not relate to such women but at some point around the age of eight I read a novel about a young girl who had magic powers due to a magic stone she possessed.  Long before generations of children came to read Harry Potter, and little girls had marvelous heroines like Hermione Granger,  I was reading about and longing to be some sort of loner pagan magic girl.  My best friend and I played that we were witches, but I do not recall playing at being princesses.   In those days I was more interested in mixing up magic potions with a stick in a rusty tin can than I was about cooking or painting but when I swirl a paintbrush in some paint or a jar of water, when I stir a pot on the stove, I am mixing up a magic potion.  When I brew up a sink full of dye and alter the colour of my clothing, that too is a magic potion. When I pick up stones on the beach, I feel as though a magical connection called me to pick up that stone.

Words, to me, are also magical and powerful things.  Spells, incantations, curses, protective charms, all invoke words to lend them power and permanence.  Words, once uttered, cannot be taken back.  Once read, they can be erased from the page but not easily from the mind.  When I write poetry or snippets of ideas in my journals I feel there is power in the words, that I am writing personal spells that guide my life.  I have used words to explore who I am and who I am becoming, words have been guides on a new journey and familiar talismans like a wave worn stone I am fingering in my pocket.  A list of words helped me to make better clothing purchases, helped me make a more cohesive wardrobe of clothing that feels like me when I put it on, which is not quite the same as having a wardrobe full of clothing I like.  I like many things that I can admire on someone else but do not feel comfortable in myself. It took me awhile to sort this out and to avoid having a closet that looked like the domain of someone with multiple personality disorder or an acting career.  If the clothes don't feel like me they feel like a costume no matter how good they might look to others, no matter how flattering or appropriate or appealing them may be.

So when Keit, author of the blog Beauty In Insanity, told me I dress like a sorceress I was thrilled. I had not included sorceress in my list of words to guide my selections.  Now I shall not be able to forget.  The word has been seen and printed on my brain.  When I flip through a rack of clothing on the hunt for something that calls to me, if I am momentarily distracted by a pencil skirt and loafers I will ask, 'would a sorceress wear this?'  If not, then I can be pretty certain I will not feel right in it.  Perhaps it belonged in my past life when I probably asked the question 'would a teacher wear this?'  but for now I am a sorceress.


This title should probably be amended to read How To Dress Like a Friendly Sorceress Disguised as a Wood Sprite.  I doubt I would scare anyone or pull of a dark look.  Blues and greens are happily cheering up my moody black today.





Rumi is rudely barging into this photo but then it does add a nice splash of colour.  The hand warmers are sewn (not by me I'm afraid) from recycled wool and cashmere .


The layers here involve some nicely textured knee high stockings with cropped leggings, allowing the layered look I love without getting too warm.

Happy Tuesday all you lovely, sweet, intelligent, warm, talented and overall fantabulous people!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Saturday and Sonday

It was a beautiful sunny day on Saturday, with the temperatures in the high teens.  I had not intended to go out as I was feeling a bit tired, but dressed myself in layers of purple ready to settle in for a cosy day of cat cuddling, though I did put on my boots thinking I would take out the garbage.


Then  my son phoned wanting to come over.  There were a few things he had promised to help me with and he also wanted a haircut.  We decided that after that we'd go out for an ice cream and take it to the beach.  Did I change my clothes for this outing?  Of course not.  This is appropriate beachwear is it not?  I dropped an avocado on myself this morning anyhow so the dress no longer qualified as clean.  That made it quite suitable for sitting on a sandy log at the beach and probably spilling ice cream on myself.  I took off the granny sweater and shawl and chose different shoes and coat.  I added another skirt layer underneath along with purple stri-ped knee socks.



I am going to risk his displeasure by including this photo, but he was talking and laughing as he told me a story which makes this a photo I love and one he would probably hate.  Here he is, my most favourite redhead in the world.


It's not the prettiest beach we have here but we knew it would not be populated like the nicer ones so we chose this one as a place to go and sit.  We watched the sea birds, soaked up the sun and chatted happily.  I love this young man so fiercely.  Where did my little baby go?  Where is my little boy who would climb into my lap for snuggles?  He is there.  He is still there, though he does not fit well into my lap anymore.  We belong to each other and we always will.

Just to prove I do not always wear blue, I wore this rose and brown outfit on Sunday.

                                  The Return of Mushroom Head
Don't you love the vacuum in the background?  It's there just to make you think I actually do housework and to prove this is not a professional blog.  Nope-highly amateur.

I do not like this bright lipstick.  I thought I could like it; I wanted to like it, but I don't feel right in it.  This outfit, now that I do fee right in.  The rose coloured top was once beige and I dyed it. All but the pants were thrifted, though the pants come from a phenomenal sale where I bought four pairs in different colours. You have seen the teal and the red already. These shoes are the same as in the beach pictures; they are fantastic shoes recently found at the thrift shop for $10

This ring has super powers.  It's silver and onyx and I suppose they are stylised leaves but they seem like lightning bolts of super power to me.

This was the view out my kitchen window at 6:30 this morning when I made a cup of tea.  I snapped five photos but they all look pretty much identical.  Although it's a gorgeous photo the real sky had more pink in it as well as the oranges.

I ended my weekend with a bit of dumpster diving.  I used to live in an apartment building where all sorts of delightful treasures were tossed out in the bins or sometimes left in the lobby with a 'Help Yourself' sign.  I have no qualms at all about jumping up into a bin to retrieve something that looks good, and have done so.  This time I didn't actually have to get into the bin.  Someone had placed an enormous spider plant in a five gallon nursery pot beside the bin.  Obviously it needed a good home.  I picked it up and found it trailed babies for a good four feet.  I carted it up the long drive and up the three flights of stairs to my apartment.  Sophie was thrilled to see it as she loves to eat spider plants.  I took it out to my balcony and made a big mess of soil as I dumped it out of the pot and hacked up the root ball to make the plant more manageable.  I divided it into three plants, two smaller ones and then this larger section which I have put into the shower.  With the shower doors closed it is safe from Sophie's nibbling.


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Rainy Days and Long Skirts

What a surprise; I'm wearing blue!


      Staring off into space, I don't think I even knew the picture was taken.



While a rainy day seems like a good time to bundle up in layers and long skirts, some of my skirts are so long I don't dare wear them when the ground is wet.  Layers came off and went on again as I tried to figure out how much was required today.  The under skirt came off and a coat went on.  It tends to vary throughout the day as the weather and my personal climate fluctuate.  The presence of boots and bag tells you I went out and I did, but have to admit to being so damned tired I didn't really care much how I looked so accessories were the earrings and rings I never take off and my watch.   I had to go to the bank and was meeting my parents for lunch at their favourite local cafe.  Friday is mulligatawny day and they make the best one in town.  I can't have it because it is thickened with flour but it's mum's favourite.  Dad has a slice of the pizza and a date square after, which is so enormous he cuts it in half and takes the other half home.  The people working there know what mum and dad will order but I am less consistent other than aiming for something gluten free. 

I love this little cafe too, and it is indeed very popular.  The food is good, everything made on the premises and the owner and cook is a woman who seems to be doing this out of a love.  Among her staff are people who are differently abled, everyone is cheerful and friendly and the atmosphere is colourful and eclectic.  The mugs are not fancy and are quite varied.  I believe that last time we were there Dad's coffee mug had a Santa Claus on it.  While sometimes one might wish not to be a patron of a popular place, this little cafe deserves its popularity so I am glad to support it and that so many others do too.  One of these servers in particular always seems so happy to see us and today she announced that we are her favourite trio. 

After lunch I went to one of the two local consignment shops because my new accessorising strategy is to go shopping to embellish what I am wearing that day.  I bought a silver and onyx ring (which I will show in another post), pau shell earrings, a lovely purple waterfall cardigan (also for another post) and a blue velvet hat.  I love this little shop and I hope they can hang on in this economy and this world of WalMarts.  When I entered the shop a woman I know though have not seen in a good decade was trying on a pair of boots.   She looked up and said, "Oh we know each other" and immediately made to give me a hug.  In case she had not remembered my name, I said "Hi Pippa, yes it's me, Shawna."  I was then informed that I look great and smell good.  This made my head big so I had to buy a hat in a larger size.  A nice squashy blue velvet hat.  I am most pleased with it!


The earrings look like this. One is not actually darker than the other, that's just the lighting.


Surprises came in the mail so I am saving those for another post but I will tell you that Val is amazingly talented at wrapping parcels.  Unlike myself.  If you receive a parcel from me it will look like a toddler wrapped it.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Tie Dye and Toughness All I One Day

I woke up to weather pretending to have returned to summer.  Oh it's still cooler but the clouds and cleared and the sun was out so I decided to put on some tie dye for one last time before I put it at the back of the closet until next summer.  If fashionistas everywhere are not confidently breaking the no white after Labour Day rule surely I can break any possible rules about tie-dye too.


Digression: Friends in the UK, do you or did you have that rule in the UK?  There is no Labour Day in the UK so is it no white after summer?  Or are you free of such tyranny?

For a day staying home, I eschew accessories and footwear. The tie-dyed tee-shirt dress is one I wear a lot in summer as it is so comfortable and contains my favourite colours.  What more could I want?  I usually pair it with a layer or two and in this case I've got a purple peplum top (try saying that fast a few times) from the thrift shop and some cropped leggings.


Then I decided to play a little game of What If I Were Going Out.....


I may be breaking more rules here by chopping up my legs but I don't hate this.  And I love the leather jacket which I found in a thrift shop last spring, apparently new and not worn (still had tags).  I decided it was a bit too stiff and crisp for my liking though so for the past couple of days I have been scrunching it up and sitting on it.  I have since successfully hatched a softer and more used looking jacket.


My favourite orange cowboy boots!  Actually my only cowboy boots!  The magic waist thickening wool zipper sweater with the faux-fur hood is also a thrift shop find.

And then something odd happened to my head.....


It has something to do with the painting behind me, refelctions in glass and odd angles, but I now seem to have extra lumps on my head which detract from the lovely shawl and the stylish bandage on my arm.

I popped on a nice fuzzy blue beret but remained somewhat lumpen...

The navy cardigan is merino wool and features draped sides and a hood which you cannot see.  The cardigan remained on for much of the day as the clouds and autumn weather reappeared in the afternoon.

And Sophie, who had no interest at all in what I wore, happily played with her bubble wrap.


Oh I nearly forgot....yes I was tough today.  No easy feat for me, The Queen of Too Nice.  I employ a woman to help clean my home as I am not able to take on the tasks beyond cooking, dishes and laundry, or if I did I would have nothing else to my life at all.  Unfortunately, although she was very nice, she was not very good at cleaning.  For awhile I looked the other way, telling myself it was good enough, but after awhile I got frustrated with what didn't get cleaned and her apparent eagerness to leave ten minutes shy of the two hours I paid her for.  Was she taking advantage of my niceness?  Was she just sort of clueless about cleaning?  Is it some sort of combination of both?  I don't know but I called her and told her I no longer required her services.  I confess I did not have the courage to tell her it was due to sloppy work, but alluded to no longer having it in my budget to hire her.  My theory is that I don't.  I no longer have it in my budget to pay for a poor job.  I have hired a new cleaner and will do a better of job of making my expectations and standards clear and of speaking up if it is not good enough.  This will be easier because I have hired a company instead of an individual taking cash under the table.  If you are tougher than I am you might have handled this sooner and with more confidence but for me it is an accomplishment to have dealt with this.  As a parent or a teacher I have no problem being assertive but in many other areas of life I do.

This deserves a glass of wine and a nice bubble bath.  Oh okay I would have those things anyway, but at least I can feel proud of myself while I indulge.

Note:  I wrote this yesterday and then posted my gratitude post instead.  

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Big Little Things For Which I am Grateful


Today is a day of storm clouds back-lit by sun, the grey of the clouds and the grey of the sea bisected by a narrow line of dark green from the trees I see on the shore across the bay.  The trees in the foreground are silhouetted black filigree shapes against the sky and I take in this scene through raindrop splattered windows.  I am grateful to have such beauty available to me with no effort on my part.  So often I am so tired, just barely managing to get up for the day, dress and feed myself and when I do I then sit on the sofa tired from those efforts.  I struggle to make my brain work and it rebels like a stubborn mule sitting on its haunches and refusing to pull the cart forward.  I dangle the carrot, I whip the mule, I scold and I coax and the mule moves forward a few more metres only to sit on its haunches again.  I sigh in frustration and hand over another carrot which it chews contentedly.  I love this mule, after all, it is my mule, no matter how stubborn and impossibly behaved.

                                     
I am struggling to keep up with reading the blogs I wish to and leaving comments I wish to.  I plug away at it but am well behind,  and it has dawned on me that making daily rounds visiting online is not much less difficult than it would be for me to do that if I were hopping into a car and making visits to friends around town.  What I want to do and what I can do are so often not the same.  I struggle to figure out why it takes so much more energy or ability to read and comment than it does to bang out some sort of personal ramblings on my own blog.  I probably won't find a satisfactory answer other than the knowledge that different parts of the brain perform different functions and I do have a neurological illness and which parts of my brain get affected and which don't is not in my control.  For instance, I can often hold a deep philosophical discussion on a day when I cannot fill out a simple form or dial a lengthy series of numbers into the phone.

I love reading the comments you leave on my blog and I have always loved replying to them.  It is difficult for me not to both in that it is impolite to say nothing when someone addresses you and in that I love to converse with people.  Lately though I am finding those responses impossible to get out of the stubborn old mule just as I am finding it difficult to read and comment on other blogs.  Here though, on my own blog, words come tumbling out my fingers from a direct link to my brain.  Perhaps they are not brilliant thoughts but more of a stuck record (oh I do delight in mixing metaphors-it must be the rebel in me) offering up a repetition of my mildly neurotic thoughts.  I write because I must, just as I paint because I must.  I am both confused and grateful that both seem to be among the last functions I lose when my body and brain are refusing to cooperate.

Today, whatever else my brain is struggling with, it cannot let go of the gratitude for the many wonderful people I have met through blogging,  people who offer friendship,  kindness, support and affection, no matter how I perform.  You might wonder what the heck I am on about now, but for a good portion of my life I found myself entangled with people who did not offer such acceptance or understanding.  It was so pervasive that for years I did not even see it.  Now I am moving on in life and just being me, full of flaws and full of love, as I always have been, but now I find I am in an open space free to move as I must move, or not move, without judgment or external criticism.  I have found the space to be able to say, here I am so take it or leave it.  Thank you to those of you who take the time to visit and leave comments.  I know how much effort that requires and I am honoured.  Know that in my heart I cherish you all, even if I cannot make my actions reflect that as well as I would like.  I enjoy your blogs and who you are, what you do and how you express that.  Thank you for being part of my life.


And Now The Stuff About Clothes....



I got dressed today by rapidly grabbing colours that appealed to me.  They skew a bit warm so are perhaps not my best colours but it's only fair that I don't dazzle the world with my beauty every day.


I just love the embroidery on this skirt.  Yes you have possible seen it before, but I have two of them-one is brown on top and blue on bottom and the other is the reverse.

And for taking out the garbage and checking the mail box, a hat and boots were required.


Okay, the hat wasn't really required, I just like my hat and it fell out of the hat basket when I opened the closet and it asked me to wear it.  Who am I to refuse?

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Rainy Day Experiment in Mixed Patterns


My feet and are not actually this misshapen and lumpy, honest, nor am I one legged.  Sophie's feet are lovely as always. The socks are wool with a touch of nylon, which I like best for socks and I was both thrilled and disappointed when I found these purple ones because I am the sort who would buy three pairs.  Alas these socks were unique loners on the rack and nothing else like them was in sight.  The good news is that when I went shopping this week I found some more elsewhere. 

Digression:  That is a new purple textile at the foot of my  bed in the photo above.

My outing began with dull things like a trip to the bank and filling up my gas tank since the price had just dropped.  Speaking of dropping, our temperatures have dropped ten degrees and we have wind and rain which requires a bit of  bundling up, or so I thought, but I found it was still a bit warm and humid feeling and became a day where the layers were constantly removed and reapplied.  Hats are another matter though.  The havoc they wreak on my hair means that once I have put a hat on I am committed. 


I love this hat though I loathe the plastic buckle. I am aesthetically allergic to plastic.


After the dull errands were done I went to get some more painting supplies and then to treat myself to a coffee and muffin and a poke around a few shops while downtown.  The art supplies available here are somewhat limited.  Only two shops carry any at all and the selection is not large and there are no large sizes of anything.  I like to shop locally though and support community businesses so I only purchase the things I cannot get here through online retailers.  After getting my paints I went to  a thrift shop where I bought two books and a bracelet that happened to go very well with my outfit.  That seems to be my new strategy: Leave off accessories and them buy something that goes with my outfit while out shopping.

I made my way down the street with these purchases stuffed into my furry bag and decided, on a whim, to pop into the sock shop.  I have no idea how a shop that sells socks is going to survive in a small town but the owners are lovely and enthusiastic and I hope their business is successful.  The husband half of the team was in the shop on this day and he told me that they have learned so much in their first year.  I found some more wooly socks that appealed to me and decided to buy them because it would be good for him and good for me.  A win-win!  That seemed like as good a reason as any.  I noticed they had expanded their wares a little and were including a variety of foot and legwear and a few funky accessories.  I suggested that they should sell barefoot sandals and he didn't know what they were.  I was happy to explain and had the brilliant idea that his wife should make them.  She had, after all, begun sewing heelless and toeless sock things that were apparently much asked for by customers. He liked my idea and wrote it down in his notebook.

After eating a rather dry and disappointing gluten free pumpkin muffin and drinking a large latte breve (no idea how to spell that) I decided to move on and not linger in the cafe, since despite removing my jacket I was getting rather over-heated.  I went back out into the fresh air and made my way back up the street with no particular plans other than to eventually make my way back to my car.  On a whim I popped into the Art Gallery gift shop where I found some delightful treasures, two of which are gifts for my friend Sheila who has a milestone birthday approaching.  I cannot show them because she sometimes reads my blog. 


Items I purchased for myself include stri-ped purple socks (it must always be said like that, stri-ped) and a stri-ped bag for my phone.  The black and green blob on the right is a pair of handmade fingerless hand warmers in recycled bits of cashmere.  I found the phone case and the hand warmers at the Art Gallery Gift Shop.  The town of Courtenay has a very charming little downtown shopping area but it is endangered by the prevalence of big box stores and malls with chain shops.  I am trying to do my bit to help sustain this local economy and the inherent charm of downtown.


                                         A bit of Outfit Critique

I liked this outfit in theory but it didn't quite work.  Black on black doesn't show up well in my photos so I don't think it looked as blobby as it might in this photo but I will parse for you what I liked and what I didn't.

I love the boyfriend style jacket, which I thrifted last spring.  It's black linen or cotton; I'm not quite sure which but it looks like linen only doesn't wrinkle too badly.  It's possible that following someone else's rules I should not wear unstructured things but I prefer them.  the boyfriend jacket is on trend now or about to be, I am sure I read that somewhere and vaguely took it in, but it is a style I have always loved even before it was called a boyfriend jacket.  I had to get rid of a beloved one that was too big and really not doing anything for me so I was happy to find this one.


I also like the hat, the patterned leggings, the socks you can't see and my plush bag.  The tunic dress is one I was uncertain about and after wearing this outfit for the day I have decided it is going in the donation box.  I was first attracted to the embroidery and smocking and the black combined with bright pink and teal seemed like something that would work well in my wardrobe, but there is something about it that just doesn't feel right.

The other failure is the boots.  I am not certain if they were just wrong for this outfit or if they are wrong for me.  I have long calf muscles so shorter boots often hit me at a non-flattering spot on the leg, making them look thick and shapeless.  I tried to wear the boots loose and sort of undone so I could break up the sausage effect but it didn't seem to help.  This outfit might have worked better with taller boots and the boots work better with a longer skirt.  The tunic dress is not getting another chance as it's already had plenty.  The boots will stay.

Monday, 22 September 2014

My Brain is too Tired to Think of a Title

I am plodding along, both excited to create and too exhausted to do much of anything, either mood hitting me rather randomly and unpredictably, though non of this should actually be unpredictable anymore.  It is quite predictable how unpredictable my energy levels can be.  The massages are helping significantly but they also exhaust me, making me feel as though I have run a marathon.  Why am I beginning this post with a load of complaining?  Good question.  It is basically what has come pouring out my fingers as I compose my thoughts on the page at near thinking speed.  Like many women, many people I would assume, I am my own worst critic, with high expectations of myself and even less ability than average to meet those expectations.  I am quick to dismiss myself as not worthy, not good enough in many categories despite also having a general feeling of liking myself overall.  I doubt I am the only person in this world who is such a conundrum.  Always striving to be better has its up side as well as its down and I like to think I am always aware and always seeking balance.

                                   I have the right to bare arms.

It's in this vein of self-criticism and high expectations that I often struggle with my love of clothing.  Many of you know, having read other things I've written, that I struggle not to see my personal collection of clothing as frivolous and wasteful.  I apply this criticism to myself only in bouts of negative navel gazing I suppose.  I feel guilt at having and loving more clothing than I need while not feeling guilty about the same with regards to books, art supplies, sofa pillows or even food.   Today I am wondering if this is in part an apology for being female.  Not that I don't realise there are also males who love and accumulate clothes but I must admit I am under the impression that they are in smaller numbers.  Somehow I am trapped into worrying that a closet full of clothes is a marker of ever so shameful female vanity.  I have bought into this misogynistic idea that a woman is inherently vain and any indication of vanity in myself bothers me.

                                 I have the right to clunky shoes.

Of course this is not rational and one of my first clues that it is not is that I do not direct the same criticism at other females, only at myself, as though I have convinced myself that to love clothing or shoes is an artistic and creative outlet in others but mere frivolity in myself.  Nonsense but there is no accounting for the nonsense my mind can come up with.  It reminds me of how there was a time when a woman who was a writer was considered to be obviously more frivolous and there were many female writers who used masculine or ambiguous pseudonyms with those who didn't often being derisively referred to as a "lady novelist".  Jane Austen, although she used her own name, did not have the popularity she has now in her own lifetime and got her start by self publishing.  Her work focuses on the social conventions of a certain class and how it effected women.  Obviously frivolous and irrelevant stuff.

 
                         I have the right to wear boring outfits and post them.


When I looked at a couple of photos I had taken recently depicting what I wore, I hesitated to post them after having just listened to the ever impressive Emma Watson give a speech at the UN.  How could I reconcile this serious subject of gender equality with a couple of OOTD photos.  Fortunately my stupidity was short lived.  I could definitely reconcile it all and in fact it is all very relevant.  The quest for gender equality is about the ultimate freedom, the freedom to be your self, autonomous and unjudged as somehow less for being so.  Women are not the embodiment of frivolous interests any more than men are, we are all a complex mixture of frivolity and depth, and who is to say which is which in us?  My right to equality and freedom includes my right to do what I please with my body, to dress it and decorate it or not, to pierce it, tattoo it, or not, to exist in the size and shape that I am and not be valued any less for it.  Everyone has that right.

I am more than how I dress but how I dress is part of who I am.  All that I am is important and has value.  So I am indeed including this fantastic video of Emma Watson and her UN speech along with myself in two recent favourite OOTDs.  I hope you enjoy and I look forward to your comments.





I am linking up to the ever awesome Patti's  Visible Monday Yes-amazing!  I managed a link!