Thursday, August 30, 2012

Handbags: the lost, the replacements, the found again

The thrifted leather doctor's bag I gave away: wah!!

This is a photo of me from a few years ago, pre-hubby. I'm wearing a thrifted 70s coat that I gave away to a pal when I moved. It stank of smoke so I don't miss it much. But I do miss the thrifted leather doctor's bag, pictured here, more than I care to admit - does it sound superficial to say that I regret getting rid of the MASS of thrifted items that I did before I moved overseas? This little number would have been perfect in France - the French ladies do tend to carry handbags such as this over their wrists, just SO - so stylish!

Another thrifted bag I gave away.

This all-leather baby was also thrifted for a couple bucks in Canada. It was given away too (note the passive voice? I can't even handle the guilt). Now, in France, with the cooler weather approaching, I find myself brown-bagless. How could I have given them all away? Was a completely nuts??

The replacement bag: 7 Euros on Etsy.
PHOTO: The Vintage Goody Shop, Etsy.

An obsessive troll on Etsy.com ensued the other night after yearning reveries of my lost bags, in which I tried to track down a worn brown leather bag. I found plenty of options at 40-50 Euros, a price I didn't want to pay to replace two bags that between them cost under 10 CAD. The Vintage Goody Shop came to the rescue with this uber distressed leather bag, on sale for the equivalent of just over 7 Euros! It's Liz Claiborne, not a vintage make or anything, but I've owned them before and the bags are well-made. Plus this one is banged up enough to constitute a Grunge Queen fave, I'm sure.

A second replacement bag, to make up for the ones below that I thought I'd lost.
PHOTO: The Vintage Goody Shop, Etsy.

For that price (so the shopping rationale goes), I could afford to buy another from the same shop, in this case a handmade bag from the good 'ole US of A, by SAS, in a tan distressed leather. It was a little more than 7 Euros but a ways off from 40 Euros, my cut-off point, so I snagged it. It will be my go-to every day bag, I can see it! I can't think of too many bag companies that are still manufacturing in the US, so I'm happy to have this little piece of  history.

Lost, then found again: hiding in my Mom's basement in a box!

The SAS bag was to replace this bag, a thrifted leather beaut I picked up in a Toronto vintage shop for a song last fall, which I thought I had lost forever ....

Remember the box of handbags I thought had gone missing somewhere between Toronto, Ottawa, and the UK, which I was hoping were hiding somewhere in my Mom's basement in Canada?

Another lost but found again leather beaut: hope we'll be reunited soon.
But in the meantime I have my replacement bags!

Turns out they're alive and well: Mom emailed (ironically right after I'd purchased the Etsy bags) to say she'd found the handbag box in the basement!! I made her show me every single one in the box over Skype, a total of 12 missing bags!! Whohoo! I ignored Mom's comment that she hoped I hadn't bought any handbags as I already had enough? (Well, how was I to know? I thought these bags were forever lost. It was only natural that I'd replace them, n'est pas?).

A Goodwill find that is in the bag box.
When I was working in Toronto, I used this 70s clutch as my lunch bag - most stylish lunch bag ever or worst fashion mistake ever?

And who knows when we'll meet again, since there's an ocean and expensive postage separating us? At least I know they're safe and sound at Grandma's, now residing in her cedar chest.

So glad I didn't give this 70s carpet clutch away.

Ditto for this wee patent baby found at Goodwill for a few dollars.

Vintage Missoni-esque carpet bag I will see again soon: can a gal love a handbag any more than I do right now?

It may seem silly to be so attached to my handbags, but I can't help it. They hold life's important baubles, everything from under-eye concealer to I.D. We should revere them, in my humble opin.

I gave away the wonderful patent bag and the plaid clutch behind it, but the wee suede doctor's bag in the front, which I found for .99 cents in a Toronto junk shop, made into the lost-now-found-again-box.
 It's got a red leather interior and is, simply put, utterly glorious.

I may need to ask Mom to ship a few of the lost tribe over to me. The rest can be stowed away in my sis (and her family's) luggage when they come on skiing holiday in the winter.

Isn't it nice to find stuff you thought was forever gone? Sometimes I'll even put things away, so I can experience the rush of finding them again.

Friday, August 24, 2012

On bikes, bijoux & boho style


I haven't had a new bike since I was 12 years old (red ten speed, for my birthday, which I rode the hell out of). Well in Annecy, you pretty much have to have a bike as driving/parking is impossible in centre town and besideswhich, there are bike paths every where. So hubby took me out early this week and we bought one for me, including cute pink helmet (not pictured here) and basket. I really wanted pink streamers for the handlebars, but none were to be found, wah! That afternoon, we biked to a beach on the lake for a quick swim. Heaven! It's been 34 degrees C here all week so it's great to have an easy, quick option to get to the lake. I'm wearing new sundress I picked up in the old town for 15 Euros. The only thrifted item is my faux Fossil purse found at a charity shop in the UK!


Not to be outdone, hubby got a new bike too - his was old and breaking down. So now we can cycle to the lake every day and view the mountains as we bike along the bike path and then drop into the wonderful clear waters of Lac Annecy! If you ever come to Annecy, you can rent a bike in a shop in the old town for half a day for 10 Euros. There are bike paths around most of the lake, though there is a section on the east side that is only road. We cycle on the west side, where there's a bike path that links you up to hotels, bars & restos, and, of course, beaches.


Here's a pic of us at one such resto, which is actually a hotel with a resto overlooking the lake called Auberge de Letraz. Not sure what the hotel was like, but our meal was lovely, as was the service (we were lucky to get in without reservations). Not cheap, but then you tend to pay for lake-side dinners in Annecy! I'm wearing a dress I bought at Macy's  in the USA for my best friend's wedding just over two years ago - it's not the same dress I met hubby in, but I did meet him on that trip! The shoes are Italian, thrifted, and the vintage necklace was a buck.


Other news: I've had some lovely new bling-y additions to my wardrobe of late. My husband found me this handmade ring while he was away, and he scored bigtime. He perfectly knows my love for sparkly stuff on the one hand, and for rough-hewn pieces on the other. Love!


He also bought me the bracelet on the bottom, a handmade filigree beaut with carnelian, possibly coral stones?

The blue one is another recent gift, this time from gal pal Diane who visited me a few weeks ago. She bought a similar one for herself so we're now bracelet buds. They're fabric bracelets with pretty charms attached to them, made by a young third-generation jeweller who has just recently set up shop in Annecy. A more stylish version of a friendship bracelet, I'd say!


The third one up I bought recently from a young lady who has also just opened a shop in the old town. I actually saw a similar one online and thought, "I could make that." But finding florescent ribbon and a brass bracelet in Annecy hasn't been so easy, so I bought this one pour moi.

The top bracelet I have shown here before; it was bought in a Toronto, Canada thrift shop last Fall, for maybe $30 CAD. Expensive for the GQ but it was so unique and in such good condition that I had to have it.


This pic is a bit blurry (still training hubby) but I wanted to show you what I call the "nightie" dress. I bought it (along with a bunch more, which I still have to show you) at the weekly market for 5 Euros. Yes, it's made in China and yes, it's not finished all that well (had to sew up a few seams before wearing it). But it's no different from the frocks in the old town I'd pay triple the price for, and truth be told, all you want to wear in Annecy in the summer is a simple pull-over-your-head sundress. I love the hippie style, one that's perfectly at home in bohemian-esque Annecy. I'm wearing it with Clarks sandals thrifted in the UK, and a 1970s "Jontue" perfume  disc necklace (with solid perfume intact, inside the disc!) with a teeny turquoise-hued stone in the centre. Bracelet was a two-pound find from a UK auction house.


On a final note, I had to show you a spider's home, woven into the grate of our bedroom window, which I snapped the other day. (Do I have too much time on my hands? Yes, but it's glorious). I wonder how long it took the little guy to make? I haven't actually seen a spider inhabiting it, so perhaps he's relocated to less sunny climes. Or maybe he's the one who's been hanging from one of the corners of our bedroom for the past few weeks? Regardless, I won't disturb either.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On castles, magic & mystery in Annecy


I've been MIA the past few weeks as we've had friends and family visiting us in gorgeous Annecy. It's been a busy, fun and often magical time. Aside from popping my head out of Medieval castle turrets (at the Chateau Montrottier near Annecy), here's what I've been up to of late (looking forward to slowly catching up with all of you too):


I've had a lovely little reunion with my longtime cat babies, Dag and Dinky, from whom I've been separated about six months. They made the journey from Canada in the plane's cabin with my fam and weathered the stress pretty well thanks to some natural calming pills. Now they're settling into their new French home!


I've basked in the middle of Lac Annecy in a rented boat. Lac Annecy is a spring-fed (and mountain-fed) lake that's super clear and clean. I wonder how much a second-hand boat would cost? All I want to do now is hang out on the lake. I'm wearing a swimsuit bought on sale at Monoprix, a French department store, and a hat picked up in the Old Town.


I've also explored a river gorge (Gorges di Fier) sporting a dress I found at the Annecy market for 8 Euros - I bought FIVE dresses from the same vendor for the same price. Lesson learned: look for rips and tears along the seams as none are finished that well - hopefully they won't fall off me as I wear them!


I've watched an amazing 70-minute firework display unfurl over Lac Annecy for its annual Fete du Lac on August 4th, an event that's been happening since Napoleon's time. It was set to music and was as awe-inspiring as the lake and the mountains....


Aside from visiting with and touring around the area with family, I also had the chance to catch up with a  Canadian gal pal I've known since I was a little girl. We went out every night and toured Annecy's sights my day - and also treated ourselves to French Champagne (can be pricey but a 20 Euros bottle, the cheapest in the store, was recommended to us by a local and it was just fine), meringues and raspberry pastries. Decadence!


We toured Annecy's famous prison, which has been around since 1325 and perhaps even earlier and has served various functions over time, including an old-folks' home and a mint. Today it is part art gallery, part museum.


It was a cool day so we went to the Chateau in Annecy, another Medieval gem which overlooks the lake and entire town and houses an avante-garde art museum as well as a museum about the lakes in the region.

I'm wearing my fave 7 for all Mankind jeans found in a UK charity shop, an American Apparel "Flashdance" sweatshirt, a thrifted scarf and pendant and my fave NEW shoes/sandals bought for half off in Annecy (loved them so much I bought a grey pair too, for shame!). I've been wearing second-hand shoes for so long that it felt good to indulge in some new ones, which of course have that chic French look to them.


This castle was so amazing. I wish they had more information on how people lived in these mammoth places.


We went back the next day to finish touring the castle and stood in fireplaces big enough to be small rooms by today's standards. I'm wearing espadrilles thrifted in Canada and my recent Etsy purchase, a lovely vintage Ikat purse. Orange looks crappy on me so I tend to be drawn to pumpkin-hued accessories.


We marveled over drawings on the castle walls (a partially-obscured gentleman wearing a feather-plumed hat and a lady walking behind him), which no one could tell us about, alas.


We also were astonished to see the bones of "sirens du Lac", or mermaids, found in Lac Annecy, and preserved under glass. There were extensive photos of the excavation site as well. I still need to investigate the full story here as the placards were all in French and we couldn't understand the explanation, other than that the bones were found in the lake exactly like this. Mmm.


This is the view from the front of the castle, which is accessible to the public only if you pay the few Euros admission. It's well worth it, if only to gasp at the lake and the rest of Annecy sprawling out from under the castle. I plan on coming back often. Wonder if they have a rate for locals who want to visit all the time?

I'm wearing: a vintage Tudor rose pendant by English maked "Miracle", thrifted at a Canadian Goodwill for a few bucks. Dress is a cheapie new one picked up in a tourist shop in the Old Town - perfect for the easy breezy summer style of Annecy!