Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Life, home, thrift finds & style these days

Dress: UK, charity shopped
Wedges & cross-body purse: France, retail (sale)
Brass & ribbon bracelet: France, artisan
Shades & necklace: vintage.

I suggested to hubs before we moved back to the UK that we'd have to go on tropical holidays so I can wear all my sundresses. But much to my happy surprise, we've had (note continuous tense: I'm being optimistic here) a glorious summer - even a heat wave - and I ended up donning a good many, and even buying a few in the charity shops, like this pretty cotton made-in-India frock.

Close-up of my 1970s shades purchased years ago in Toronto from an optician.
The necklace is 1980s by Carol Dauplaise (via Etsy).
I have a collection of Dauplaise necklaces that I'll one day show you.

Thanks for all your super sweet comments about our happy news. After more confusion over my due date, I can now say with as much certainty as a woman can ever have about these matters that I'm now 27 weeks. Wow, time has flown by.


The new home is slowly coming along. The place had been renovated but had no closets or wardrobes, so we put them in. Above are mine - aren't I a diva? They take up a whole wall. You can see hubby's double wardrobe reflected in the mirror. ;)

I've never been into new, shiny stuff in the home, but I must say, the house has a clean, contemporary look to it now, and with the craziness of life these days, I'm really starting to appreciate crisp lines, neutral shades and minimalisn. Never fear, the bohemian clutterbug in me will reemerge at some point (when we have time), and Persian carpets, artwork, pillows and beautiful bric-a-brac will complement and enliven the white spaces.


Though there hasn't been heaps of time for decorating or adding those artsy flourishes I so love, our home, I'm happy to report, gets amazing light throughout the entire day - a welcome change from our cavernous French apartment hewed in by the charming but light-inhibiting ancient walls of the Old Town. So I've taken to decorating the ledge of this monstrous and wonderful window (which is only partially visible here) with a selection of glass paperweights. I love seeing the sunlight dance through them.


Some are from my Toronto days, while others, like these little guys, were picked up for a few pounds each in local charity shops. I must say, they're a current charity shop obsession.


I haven't been doing a ton of thrifting, aside from finding some great clothing for Adam, but I have picked up a few (mostly vintage) baubles. When I saw this purple-stoned bracelet for a fiver, I had to examine it more closely. The oval stone is huge. At first I thought it was plastic, but upon closer inspection, the murky, mottled tone of the purple told me it was amethyst. Quelle deal, eh?


This was a bit more pricey but so beautiful I couldn't leave it there. The woman at the charity shop who sold it to me said I was "really big."

I wonder why it's considered socially acceptable to levy what any one else would consider an insult at a pregnant woman? Not the most polite thing in the world to say, especially to a woman who already feels like the Titanic (but in truth could look way worse - I'm all bump). I sure felt like telling the lady she was over-tanned and ugly, but I held my tongue. Maybe she was just jealous of my pretty necklace.


This is a bit old-fashioned but I couldn't resist the purple, nor the shiny bits. I'm not sure if I'll wear it, honestly, and that's rare for me as I'm usually like a little kid with thrifted bling: I find a way to incorporate it into a look right away.


I've had plenty of wear out of this turquoise and silver extra long necklace by Swiss maker Rita & Zia (contemporary, not vintage). It was a b-day pressie from my hubby, which I picked out and told him to buy me, bossy wifey that I am.

These necklaces are hideously expensive and all the range in Geneva and Annecy, so I was informed - not that I wanted it for that. I just loved it on sight (the Celtic knot stands for serenity, methinks - and I could use a dose of that!). This one would have retailed for over 500 Euros but we got a special deal on it as a pal who used to wholesale them was liquidating her stock.


Speaking of bling, my new wardrobe includes a jewellery drawer. I know, I said it before: Diva! It holds only a fraction of my necklaces and rings, and they are crammed in, but I still love it. I find that if you don't see it, you don't wear it, so it's a functional thing as well as an aesthetically-pleasing one.


This huge glass box was perfect to manage some of the overflow, found at the online version of Brighton-based gift and housewares shop, Horsefall and Wright.


I still have a whack of 1970s necklaces in boxes. They're collectible costume pieces so I keep them there to protect them, for now. I haven't shown you hardly any of them, so hopefully one day soonish I'll do a wee show-and-tell.

Denim jacket: Canada, thrifted
Tie-dye sweater, pendant and purse: gifts
Shoes: Toronto $2 sale, used Kenneth Cole
Maternity jeans: retail, H&M.

On the style front, when it hasn't been heat-waving, I've been doing my best with maternity jeans and whatever top suits my fancy. I've been feeling rather flat when it comes to my wardrobe, but I realize I'm fueled by a need for comfort and also am facing diminishing options!

Black swing sweater: UK, retail half-off sale
Maternity leggings: Pebbles.co.uk
Maternity skirt: Canada, thrifted
UGG suede/cork wedges: Annecy, consignment
Bling: France, vide grenier
(Blackboard: Horsfall and Wright).

With really sore and tired legs, I've recently rediscovered the joy of compression leggings and tights (they prescribe them as a matter of course in France for pregnant women, to prevent varicose veins, but they also relieve discomfort and fatigue in your legs like you wouldn't believe).

Since I now cannot live without them and have banished my maternity jeans to the back of my closet, I have to say that this new development has precipitated a bit of a style dilemma: what the hell do I wear with them? Skirts and dresses, yes, but again, they need to fit over my growing belly ....


I've also been dealing with the aftermath of two of the worst haircuts I've ever had. Look at this shaggy mop - only a couple weeks since the last cut!

As you may know, I've been growing my hair out for some time. And I've been to TWO places since moving back, asking the stylists to thin out my mass of straggly hair into layers. Both failed abysmally. Depressing to to realize after a few days post-cut that your hair looks just as bad and unflattering as it ever did.


By the way, this was what I was wearing when the woman called me big. Sorry for the headless shot but I was sans photog and couldn't use the auto-time as my battery had died and I have no idea where the bloody charger is!

This French-made wool vest with darling front tie does accentuate my belly, I can't deny that. But I thought I looked pretty chic, especially with a barely-pink knit sweater and black skirt and tights. I found the vest at the Annecy thrift shop I used to frequent.

Rayban sunnies: France, antique market
Dress: Toronto end-of-the-line store
Blue swing sweater (yes, I bought several): UK, half-off retail sale
Tights: maternity compression, Pebbles
The rest: below.

Anyway, this is the made-over me, the product of haircut no. three and the ensuing wardrobe inspiration that often comes from a chic, new do.

I've discovered in the two months living here that no matter the weather, layering is the best wardrobing option. So I've layered a swingy cashmere sweater over a dress, and added my fave new thrift shop find, a colossal wool-blend scarf with ethnic print.

Funny, I was Googling "purple ethnic scarf" just the other day, in search of something similar that a crummy ex-boyfriend kept after I left him. And a day later, I find this in a Lytham charity shop, with the tags still on. I call that Thrifting Karma. It's my "new" Fall statement piece.


Aside from the amazing scarf, I'm accessorizing with one of my collectible costume pieces, a 1970s Cadoro necklace found for a song on Ebay (they normally sell for about $100 USD).

The boots you've seen a thousand times, my blue suede Italian boots thrifted in Toronto for $14.99 CAD years ago. Since one pair of my compression leggings are blue, I figure I'll be wearing these booties a lot.


The bag, of course, is vintage 1970s Mulberry found in the Annecy thrift shop for 10 Euros.

Little man's hoodie was thrifted locally (other items gifts). He matches Mommy!

So for now, that's my life! I keep wishing I can post more regularly, but I can never find the time. So for now, these mega-posts may be the norm. Hope you're all well. I'm checking in with your blogs, but not often commenting. xoxo

Friday, July 18, 2014

Back in Jolly Old


We went from this, the picture-postcard perfect Lac Annecy, surrounded by the foothills of the French Alps...


To this, Fairhaven Lake at the end of out street, just on the cusp of the sea ....




To rolling sand dunes ...


To the sea. A rugged, windswept beauty.

We don't miss Annecy at all.


We're back in the land of the friendly people, and we couldn't be happier.


The house is gorgeous, the weather's been wonderful since we arrived a month ago (locals tell me it's abnormal to have such a stretch of warm, sunny weather - yeeks!), and I'm having fun exploring nearby Lytham with Adam, and reacquainting myself with St Annes.

St Annes Carnival Day last weekend.

Though we're spending heaps on all the things we need for the house, I'm continually amazed at how much cheaper day-to-day items like fruit, milk and other basics are here. It's a refreshing change from France to not practically have a heart attack every time you see the grocery store bill.


I didn't realize Lytham and Fairhaven are so posh. I've never seen so many luxury cars and gargantuan gated homes in my life. That doesn't mean much to me, except for the fact that crime is low and it's deathly quiet at night - the latter being a welcome change from the din of Old Town Annecy.

(Wool carpet bought at my local charity shop for six pounds!).

Little Man has grown up since moving here. He's now walking, climbing up the stairs (baby gates going up today, thankfully), eating solids and on milk instead of formula. He's also in his own big boy room.

Our super private back yard - guess I should be saying garden now, eh?

Even though the house has been renovated, we still have a ton of stuff to do and buy. It'll be fun settling in. Life is crazy busy and there's not a lot of down time for me, but I'm getting used to the sleep-deprivation, being a new and responsible home-owner (so much more to do!), and running after a busy toddler.

Way back when, in Annecy: sundress & ballet flats, retail, Annecy
Denim jacket: thrifted in Canada
Bling: thrifted in Annecy
Tom Ford shades: Annecy consignment shop
Amazing Italian hobo bag: 1 euro at Annecy thrift shop vide grenier.

Since this is, ostensibly, a style blog, it's time to show you what I've been wearing of late. The last month or so in Annecy was glorious, with 30 degree C temps and no humidity. Needless to say, I lived in sundresses, my summer staple.

Spanish sandals, Banana Republic dress and light wool French scarf: Annecy thrift shop.

In between packing and cleaning, we spent our final days in Annecy soaking up the beauty of the Old Town and the lake.

Fave Ikat sundress: bought new in the Old Town, Annecy.

As I intimated in my last post, even with the awesome beauty of the place, we were more than ready to leave and begin the next chapter of our lives.

A.X.L. (now defunct Canadian brand) dress: end-of-line shop in Toronto
Kenneth Cole shoes, used: 2-dollar-sale in Toronto
Vintage Turkish scarf: Etsy
Rayban shades: Annecy market
Crossbody purse: see below.

Here I am the other day in St Annes. I'm wearing a vintage Turkish silk scarf I found on Etsy and my fave new wee bag purchased with some birthday money (I turned 44 a few days after we moved in June): a vintage Kantha quilt purse by London designer Tamara Fogle, which I've been lusting after since we left the UK two years ago. I snatched up one of the last ones as the designer has since moved on to making bags with different vintage fabrics.

Vintage 1970s Avon necklace: Toronto thrift shop
Bump: my husband.

As you can see, I've been secretive about a somewhat recent development in our lives. And now that the cat is out of the proverbial bag, I think I can most definitively say that my penchant for Slob Chic - ie: wearing loose, comfy clothing, for four straight months in the spring - was most certainly related to constant nausea and debilitating fatigue. Placenta making is a hard biz!


I find it funny that the French doc's estimation has pegged me at 21 weeks, while this week's appointment and ultrasound yielded a 22-week calculation. I'm happier with the latter as I already feel like the Titanic, and besides, I always had the feeling that I was further along than initially supposed. If you can't trust your own bod, who can you trust?

Oops: definitely wear a bra next time!
Silver shoes made in Spain: Annecy thrift shop
Vintage ring, Toronto thrift shop; necklace, had forever
Maternity jeans: retail
Top: St Annes thrift shop.

Of course, we're thrilled, though I must admit to feeling a certain sense of un-reality about the whole thing, even given my expanding girth. And yes, there is some existential angst over our being older parents. But Adam will have a younger bro, and we couldn't be happier about that.

French dress: Annecy consignment shop
Italian suede boots: Toronto thrift shop
Limoges enamel pendant: gift from hubs.

Since getting married 2.5 years ago, life sure has been a whirlwind! We're in for a crazy ride with two kids, but thankfully we're living in an area that we love, in a lovely home, surrounded by kind people who have a sense of humour. People, we discovered in France, can make or break a place.

After moving country three times, the prospect of putting down roots is an appealing one. And it's kinda cool that we've ended up in the same place, geographically, at least, from where we started. Because in every other sense, we've changed completely, and for the better.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Au revoir, Annecy

Wearing: tunic made in Nepal, a euro at my local thrift shop vide grenier
(They have them every Saturday in summer if the weather is nice);
Ethnic-y necklace, local thrift shop;
Tom Ford shades, local consignment shop, "Eclectik."

I guess it's not fair: I've been lurking on your blogs, rarely commenting but receiving regular updates on all your lives, and you've heard nary a boo from me, which has caused some concern, namely for a dear long-time reader in Toronto.


It's sweet that my online absence has been thoughtfully noted, but never you worry. It's been a rough few months, caring for a busy one-year old mainly on my own while hubs acclimatizes away to a new job, and I've been sick, exhausted, blah blah blah. But the fog is lifting. I'm feeling so much better and my energy reserves are fueling up again. I feel my spunky old self returning, at last.


Life continues to charge ahead. Our little man turned one a few weeks ago!


This one cracks me up. It looks like he's reading the card but it's a musical card so he's actually listening to it.


There are some big changes in the works for our wee family.


In just a few short weeks, we'll be leaving Annecy and returning to the UK to live in our dream home - pretty much two years from the day we arrived here.

It's a decision that's been in the making for months, when a new job gave us some flexibility as to where we could live. And though I had hoped to never again see the north-western UK town I lived in for three months after being married, after two years in a foreign country, I have long craved it.


So much is relative, I've discovered, especially when it comes to culture and your own sense of home within that culture. So many ways and mindsets in France perplex and infuriate me on a daily basis. I've come to realize I identify more with Brit culture than I do with my native Canadian (I listen to BBC 2 in the morning, not CBC, if that's any indication). And what used to piss me off two-plus years ago in the UK - for instance, being called "love" by the grocery cashier - has now made me want to run back with open arms after experiencing the aloofness (and rudeness) of some of the locals here.


There are lots of other reasons; most importantly, the move is good for our family. At some point, you want to not always feel like a foreigner and put down some roots. Buy a home with a big backyard after living in an apartment. Be close to good schools (not to mention friends). All those things that tend not to rate so high on your priority scale when your're sans baby.

As excited as we are, we'll miss many things about Annecy; namely, the lake. And the mountains. This is the west side of the lake, which I love as it's always less busy. If you follow this path around this side of the lake (on your bike, as we did many a time our first summer here), you'll find many beaches, some free; others private/pay-only. You may also find our fave bar on the water, just off the bike bath (a bit hidden), called La Bottega, where all the young locals lounge on sun chaises as they sip on wine, smoke, and dip their toes in the lake, which comes right up to the sitting area.



Looking across the water to the north east corner of the lake, you'll see the Imperial Hotel (the large white building in the distance) and the private Imperial Beach, which is lovely. During off-season the gates are open and you can stroll about the grounds. Wee Dinky's ashes were scattered in the lake just beyond this beach. Even though she's absorbed into the sand and the water, it will still feel like we're leaving her. :(


Cross the street and you're back in the Old Town, or rather just on the cusp of it. I like taking the back way into the Old Town, which bypasses the busy touristy area in favor of this pedestrian street, Faubourg des Annonciades, which has a back alley feel to it.

On the right, Russian-born shop owner "Tatiana" makes the most gorgeous embroidered wool coats in her studio and retail space called "Extravaganza". (I have a summer dress from there that I haven't shown you yet). Tatiana swims in the lake every day, even in the winter. What pluck!

In the distance, under the second pink and white archway on the right, is "Eclectik", the wonderful consignment shop I frequent regularly and also consign my castoffs to. Owner "Fabienne" is a real sweetheart. There's also a hip (as opposed to seedy) tattoo parlour on the street, several galleries, and a wonderful shop specializing in semi-precious jewellery where you can also buy huge chunks of pyrite for hundreds of euros - a very arty street!


Keep walking away from the lake and you'll come to one of the arched entrances to the Old Town. Just beyond it is Glacier des Alpes, the best gelato and ice cream place in town - if the super long lineups are any indication. Note: there's a gelato and ice cream shop every two shops in the Old Town, so you could try every one to see which you prefer, then work it all off my jogging up the mountains, as the locals do.


If you walk away from the gelato place, lake and mountains, then you're on your way to our place. Stop at 11 Rue Sainte Claire and try out one (or more) of the goodies in the oldest and best boulangerie in town (if you haven't gorged yourself on gelato, that is). Look up and you'll see the window of the apartment we once lived in. (Are the dead flowers still in the flower boxes?).


Who knows? If you're looking to rent an apartment, maybe ours will still be empty ....

Those are the many things we'll miss about Annecy. If I have time, I'll put up a retrospective or two, though there's still heaps of prep to do before we leave and the clock is ticking.

And though I've brought bags of my Skinny Minnie clothing to the thrift shop (sigh), I have managed to bring a few wee things home on the return trip.


I found these crochet gloves in a box full of super-tiny stained leather gloves. Amazingly, not only did these fit my long fingers, but they were also odor and stain-free. All for a euro. Where will I wear them? An English garden party, perhaps? The force of nostalgia was just too strong. I know gloves such as these were big in the 1950s and '60s, but we wore them in the '80s as well (except sometimes, they had the fingers cut off).


My twin sis had a pair that she wore to grade 8 grad, which were like the undersides of these.


I actually went back for this pendant the next day. Don't know why I didn't snap it up right away. It was all of 2 euros and has "Made in France" and some initials stamped on the back. I just love it. The faux suede cord was only a euro in the Old Town.


I bought the body form at the brocante market a few months ago. It was a really good price and I wanted to replace the ones I left behind in Canada. Normally, vintage Judys go for hundreds of euro here. I didn't want or need a vintage one. I want something to showcase my goodies for this blog and hopefully for when I start selling. This contemporary but slightly beat-up one fit the bill.


Speaking of having long fingers, I also have freakishly long toes (well, I was a dancer). In the 1980s we used to prance around in leather ballet shoes that had little heels on them, as part of our normal street-wear, a la "Fame" TV show inspiration. Again, nostalgia loomed large over the purchase of these metallic pink ballet flats I found for full price (double sigh) in the Old Town. And, unlike the many ballet flats I've tried on here, the toe was ample in its length!


I leave you with another peep at my shaggy do, which hasn't been snipped for over six months. It's driving me crazy!

I hope to post again before we leave, but if I don't, I'll catch up with you soon enough. Hope you're all well and staying true to your style and self.

I'm linking up to Patti's Visible Monday after a long absence. I may not be that visible these days, but I am, most assuredly, HERE!