Monday, December 30, 2013

Thrift shop voucher & "20 Euros in my pocket"


Hope you've all had a fab holiday season, whatever your tradition!

We had a lovely quiet Christmas here, with pressies in the morning, mostly for Adam, mimosas all day for Mommy and Daddy, and a cheese fondue in the evening. Adam took to his (thrifted) Fisher Price doggie xylophone right away. (His fancy new helmet is to correct a slight deformity).


Yesterday was my and hubby's two-year anniversary. So much has happened in two years: marriage to my wonderful guy, moving country twice, and of course, having Adam. So much to celebrate!

Unfortunately Adam and I were (and are) still recuperating from a nasty stomach virus, so we didn't do much. But these lovely roses my Mother-in-Law sent, in my fave colour combo for roses, certainly cheered the day (even if I did experience it from my bed).


I was bummed as I was sick on the day of the monthly brocante market, which was apparently really good this month, according to the hubs.

But hubby went out and bought me something that he tucked into my anniversary card, this lovely 1970s gold-plated glass and enamel pendant signed by a Limoges maker. What a sweetie pie. He knows my style so well.


I really do have the best man. Even though he hates the thrift shop, he often comes along with me when I want to go. 

The last time he was there, he snapped some pics of the place, and on Christmas Day, he tucked this thrift shop "Carte Cadeau" that he made for me into my Christmas card, featuring "the happiest pig in shit" on the front. Tee hee. That will be me at the thrift shop!


Taped to the back of the voucher: a 20 Euros note.

Aww. Just like the Thrift Shop song by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis: "... got twenty dollars in my pocket....". Ok, make 'em Euros and you have a deal.

So, just what can you get for 20 Euros at my local thrift shop?

Vintage cashmere sweater: Ottawa consignment shop
Kenneth Cole boots: Toronto thrift shop
Jeans (pre-pregnancy - whoo-hoo!): UK charity shop
Second-hand Tom Ford sunnies: Annecy consignment shop
Killer bag: see below.

A vintage (1970s?) faux fur/chenille coat by Cacharel.

Wool beret: Annecy consignment shop
Vintage Cacharel coat: Annecy thrift shop, 20 E
Vintage Mulberry bag: Annecy thrift shop, 10 E
1980s suede and leather boots: Etsy
Gloves and cashmere tunic underneath: retail.

A vintage (man's?) leather bag made by Brit maker Mulberry - for 10 Euros, marked down from 50 as the leather is slightly discoloured in parts.

Fellow stylistas, I had no idea Mulberry was a luxury bag maker and that new ladies' styles go for 1000-2000 Pounds. I just loved the bag and knew it was a quality piece. It's got the signature plaid lining, gold maker's disc, and serial number, the latter of which I need to look up on a purse forum - hopefully vintage bags will be listed there.

Turtleneck: Toronto thrift shop
Vintage Kenzo jacket: Annecy thrift shop, 30 E
Levis: retail
Vintage booties: Ebay
Belt: hubby's
Vintage Mulberry bag: Annecy thrift shop.

Hubby had to snap a pic of me wearing my thrifted velvet and floral jacket by Kenzo on a zebra crossing. He thought it was very Beatles/Sgt. Pepper. Couldn't simulate the cover of that album so Abbey Road will have to do.

Joking aside, I've been looking for a red velvet floral Kenzo jacket ever since my twin sis dug one up at a thrift shop years ago in Toronto. This one is perfect: fitted, double-breasted and bright. A French label, like Cacharel, Kenzo did velvet floral jackets in the 1980s and 90s, methinks. The Kenzo look is different today but I really love its vintage pieces. True, this baby was 30 E, but I couldn't leave it there.


Vintage Irish cashmere cape: Canadian thrift shop
Levis: retail.

I bought these items before Christmas so still have to spend my voucher, yay!


No snow in Annecy - it's been 8-10 degrees C for ages - but we went to the mountains to see friends on Boxing Day, and there's heaps of the white stuff there.


It was very beautiful and nice to get away from the city.

Linking up to all the lovelies at Patti's Visible Monday. Happy New Year! xo

Monday, December 23, 2013

Fa-la-la-la-la ...


Wishing everyone out there a very happy holiday season. Hope it's full of laughs with family and loved ones, lotsa vino, vintage goodies and whatever else your heart desires.

We've scaled back massively this year, and it's taken a load off. Most of Adam's gifts were found at the thrift shop - we live in baby central so the pickings are good - and hubs and I set a 20 Euros limit for each other. It feels good not to stress about buying (the thrift shop will be there in January, ha!). My big present would have been to go home to Canada. We're not doing that, but that's ok; we will have a lovely wee Christmas with the gift we are truly thankful for: Adam.


In honour of Christmases past at my family home in Ottawa, I'm showing you a somewhat fuzzy snap, taken my last Christmas home two years ago, of the Christmas tree topper my parents have had since the dawn of time. It's got a real 1960s groove to it, doesn't it? I've always loved it.


They still have the original box.


Bought for .77 cents at K-Mart. Retro!!


Meanwhile, the little one does in fact have two front teeth, just in time for Christmas.


Here's a peep at our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. I don't know if it's like this on the UK and other parts of Europe, but the small tree reigns here. In North America, there's just more space, and the attitude is, Bigger is Better. It's refreshing to go small.


There have been major ice storms in Canada where my family is. Thousands of people are without power and lots of trees have been destroyed. I shiver to think of how animals have been impacted. Just got an email from my sis, and her power is back on. Here's hoping the storm abates and that peoples' power is restored in time for Christmas.

I leave you with the latest original Adam creation, courtesy of the Paint Sparkle app. It even looks like an ice storm.

All the best to you and yours! xoxo

Monday, December 16, 2013

New do & granny skirt

Michael Kors lace-up boots: half-off retail years ago in Toronto
Cashmere double-breased coat: Annecy thrift shop
Wool turtleneck: Toronto thrift shop
Tom Ford shades; Bally bag: Annecy consignment shop
Skirt (see below): Annecy thrift shop.

In honour of Visible Monday, I'm showing you a rare semi-dressy version of moi, wearing an outfit I may have worn to work in my former life, two-plus years ago in downtown Toronto working as a magazine editor (albeit a slightly less funkified version of that downtown gal). It's the first time I've hauled out my high-heeled, knee-high lace-up Michael Kors boots - which, in true Carrie Bradshaw fashion, I bought on sale in T.O. years ago using half my rent money :) - since moving to France. We had a rendez-vous in Geneva and I felt like looking semi-swish.


After months of growing my hair, I'm also featuring a new do, inspired by the short shag of actress Lisa Rinna, whose hairstyle I've always admired.


The outfit would be pretty blah without this padded wool skirt I thrifted recently, with a Monte Carlo tag, ooh la la. Not sure I'll keep it, though, as it adds padding I don't really need.

After making the agonizing decision of staying in France for the holidays, for various reasons, we've only just today put up a tree - a charming, 15-Euros Charlie Brown-inspired one that we've trussed up with red tear drops, the ornaments given to me by my Mom over the years (one every year since I was 19, a really nice tradition that will continue with Adam), and some beautiful clear Swarovski balls hubs bought me last Christmas.

It may be sunny and warm, in Annecy - not like the wind-chilled semi-blizzard conditions that my homeland is experiencing - but finally, it's starting to feel very much like Christmas. xoxo

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Around the house, mostly thrifted

New tablecloth, made in Jodhpur.

Yesterday was the annual street market in Annecy, which was full of over-priced tat: I can't tell you how many 5-Euros-scarf booths I saw. Though I snapped up two scarves at last year's market, this year, especially considering the 10-Euros-cashmere-sweaters I've found at similar such markets throughout the year that have since turned to rags, the thrill over such dubious bargains has turned rather stale.

There's nothing exciting about cheaply-made goods. All the French markets I've experienced (except brocantes) are like this, and they puzzle me as they completely contradict what I know about France's love for high quality, locally-produced goods. Perhaps these markets are the French's version of Big Box shopping, their form of retail junk???

Lamp: Annecy vide grenier
Bowl and candelabra: Annecy thrift shop.

The long and short of it: the exception to the dirth of uninspiring scarves, sweaters, slippers and kitchen knives, was this amazing hand-printed tablecloth bought at a stall by a man selling textiles from India. Ethnic anything is not so easy to find in this part of France (and the gal next door who sells gorg Moroccan pieces is closing up shop in the New Year and moving to Marrakesh!), so when I discovered this gent, who wholesales across France and has two retail shops in a nearby town, I was thrilled beyond belief.


Hubs and I were talking about the beauty and wisdom (and the sad slaughter of African variety) of these wonderful creatures only the night before, so it was fortuitous that we found a tablecloth with elephants on it. There are peacocks in the middle too.


Though they're different styles entirely, I think the cloth goes really well with this bowl I thrifted at my local shop. Forget the tourist shops if you want to find nice French pottery and such in Annecy. The thrift store is piled high with bowls, plates, dishes, cups - you name it - and all from a few centimes to a few Euros each.

A tale of two candelabras, both second-hand ....

Like everything in my old Canadian pad, many of our decorative accessories are second-hand. I've been on a candelabra bender of late. I've always wanted one but have never found one to suit my budget or style - and the really ornate, Gothic-type styles leave me cold. Then all of a sudden, I find two simple styles back-to-back! The elegant silver-tone beauty was 30 Euros at my local consignment shop (I had money on my account so I count this as a "trade" item).

Then the next day, I was in the thrift shop and there was this heavy rustic pewter candelabra (behind) made by French company Etains du Manoir. For 5 Euros!

Second-hand textiles: Granny's old shawl...

I have a thing for vintage textiles - the more beat up, the better, in some cases. This wool shawl has stains, a few holes and is criss-crossed with hand-sewn stitches from over the years, but I love it. I found it in a junk shop in Toronto, which apparently came in a box marked "Granny's shawl". I knew the shop owner and bet he bought the box for that very reason - and of course, when he shared the story with me, I had to have the shawl.

 ... wool scarf ...

I found this wool men's scarf at a skanky French thrift shop and use it on my photo table as a runner.

... and French scarf.

Meanwhile this second-hand French scarf creates a pretty border on a table showcasing my and my hubby's wooden box collections.


Btw, hubby made me the flower out of an old foil wrapper. So talented. I love this kind of stuff: beauty from trash.


Back in Toronto, I was Queen of the Pillows. I gave away or sold most of the pack when I moved overseas (along with most of my apartment, in the biggest decluttering exercise of my life), though I couldn't let go of them all. I've had the pink and green embroidered throw (back) since I was 21, bought as a birthday gift in an ethnic-y shop in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The Kilim one in front was a recent Etsy find.


This oversize one was dug up at a Toronto consignment shop specializing in decor. Apparently it's a custom-made pillow made out of antique fabric. Green velvet anything really rocks my boat, as did this pretty pattern, so it stayed on the "keep" list.


Can't not include the little guy. I've found a few knit patchwork blankets at the thrift shop this past year, and this mini one was very boy-like and will eventually go on Adam's bed. For now, it's the 'safe zone' part of his play area, which you can see he's way out of now that he's starting to roll around!

One of the many looks I created using all garbage and
thrift shop finds in my old Toronto apartment.

I wish I had more than tableaus to show you decor wise, but, living in a semi-furnished apartment that we're planning on moving out of soon, I haven't spent a lot of time stamping my individual style on the place. Perhaps having a husband with his own individual style is another reason! I'm really looking forward to creating a home, and putting together a cute boy's room out of thrifty goodies, once we have a new, larger place. I used to feature a lot more thrifty decorating on this blog, and I miss it. Hopefully the New Year will bring us a new space I can tinker with.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Winter attire & 5-Euros-and-under finds

YET ANOTHER PAIR OF LACE-UP BOOTS?
(is she off her rocker?)
Second-hand Michael Kors suede lace-up wedge booties with rubber sole: Etsy.

I haven't quite gotten around to snapping what I wear under my winter togs - not surprisingly, most of my blog pics these days are snapped on the run (though I'm still dreaming of a lakeside photo shoot before the snow flies) - so I thought I'd just show you what I wore today on a jaunt to the thrift shop with a friend, followed by lunch and a play date (never in a million years did I ever think I'd be uttering the term, "play date," but here I am uttering it, happily so. :)

The Michael Kors booties were a stellar and not expensive Etsy find and so casz-chic - the lifestyle I'm aspiring to at the mo. Does the girl have a problem with lace-up booties? Hell yah. But when I find such great deals online, how can I help it? Plus, all the booties look the same in Annecy - slouchy and bling-encrusted - and, like every thing here, they're not inexpensive.

Hooded coat: retail, a few years ago
Vintage fur gloves: Ebay
Leather 1990s bucket bag: Annecy thrift shop
Fur hat: Annecy thrift shop
Vintage scarf: Etsy
Fur-lined skirt peeing out: Annecy consignment shop.

You'll recognize the fur hat from last year - my jaw-dropping 1 Euro thrift shop find. I occasionally wore vintage fur in Toronto, and I must admit to having mixed feelings about it. I have no desire to enter into a political discussion on the merits and downfalls of vintage fur, but I do find it interesting that, in a place where fur is everywhere (and most emphatically NOT vintage; I have seen many women in their 50s and 60s wearing full-length contemporary fur coats), it can sometimes be an easier decision to wear it - especially when it costs a Euro and it keeps my head really, really warm in the not-so-cold but damp winters here. Ditto for the vintage Dents England fur gloves I'm wearing here, found on Ebay.

Vintage hammered brass and coloured cab necklace found at my local thrift shop - for under 5 Euros!

On another front, I routinely ooh and ahh over my thrifty vintage blogging buddies' finds in the UK, Canada and Australia. Such raging deals they find: a few pence; a few bucks. I heave a huge sigh of self-pity over the fact that I rarely dig up such inexpensive items in my local thrift shop (Annecy is land of the affluent, and the higher costs even trickle down to second-hand goods), and I often find myself dreaming of the day when I can go crazy in some grimy Toronto thrift shop. (When I visit, I am SO bringing an empty suitcase!).

So I'm going to feature a few recent 5-Euros-and-under thrift shop finds, like the necklace, above (4.50). I liked its arty groove: tribal boho. Of course, about 80 percent of Adam's wardrobe, comprised of 1-3 Euro deals, could be included in this entry but I think you'll get more excited about bling and handbags.

Don't let the crappy pic fool you: this bag is humongous. Found for 5 Euros at my local thrift shop.

How about this utterly huge leather handbag with amazing buckle, 10 Euros but mysteriously marked down to 5 (is it possessed? Only time will tell)? The detail here does not do it justice; I will show it to you accessorized some day soon so you can see it in all its glory. A true French-style handbag, it doesn't really fit into my life (how does a French woman with a stroller hold the bloody thing? I must observe better), but let's just say that wild horses couldn't have stopped me from taking this baby home. Great shape (as in structural: I love the odd scuff and dent); great hardware; great price. It ticked all the boxes.

Whoohee I'm on a roll: 4 Euros!

Today's find: a luscious burgundy suede and leather handbag, with unknown logo and amazing hardware on the side (not pictured). One of the grommets on the side was missing but who cares? For 4 Euros, it's my new bag-crush.

It's so lovely to read all your comments. I do visit your blogs, believe me, but I don't often leave comments these days. Forgive me, but it's a simpler pleasure for me lately to read a handful of posts in my down time. Hope you understand. I always intend to return and comment but then time slips me by. Trust that I am with you on your style and life journeys! xoxo

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Yvoire, Evian & 70s coat

1970s coat: Etsy
Second-hand granny boots: Etsy
Vintage French Lancel handbag: Annecy thrift shop
Fuzzy wool beret: Annecy consignment shop
Vintage fur mitts: Etsy
Sweater underneath: thrifted in Canada
Levis: new.

I'm wearing my latest and greatest vintage coat endlessly these days, having christened it on last week's trip to the small medieval town of Yvoire, and the nearby spa town of Evian. It's made of super thick wool and has this darling faux fur effect and shawl collar, the latter of which I've wrapped around my neck in this pic.

Yvoire, on Lake Leman. The ferry booth was closed when we were there at 5 p.m. but it runs often and connects all of the towns, on the French and Swiss sides, on the lake.

A 14th century medieval town, Yvoire is one of the most beautiful places on the French side of Lake Leman (much prettier than its neighbouring Evian, in my opin). The old town comprises the village proper, which is surrounded entirely by the old medieval walls.


I was here in the summertime and the patios and quaint shops were packed. Last week, and for the entire off-season, the place was shut up pretty tightly, with only a few shops open and one or two deserted restos.


The stillness added to the place's charm even more. Living in Annecy, I know how tiring and oppressive the summer tourist crowds can be.

Evian looking out to Lake Leman and the Swiss side.

We also popped into Evian further along the lake, which was rather ghost-townish too. We were lucky enough to find a restaurant open near the lake for lunch, thankfully. After lunch, we strolled along the lake and soaked up the sun.


Like the few spa towns I've visited, Evian's local population seems to be made up of a lot of old people. Nothing against old people, but having a kid does make you appreicate demographics all the more. France, and much of Europe, I suspect, has a high birth rate. In places like Annecy, you can't spit without seeing a  pregnant woman or a woman with a stroller.

Mr. Happy Pants.

That's boded well for us, living where we do. I've recently joined an Annecy Moms and Tots meetup group and am wondering why I didn't do it before. The group meets often and is made up of women much like myself, whose husbands work during the day and who may be struggling to fit in with a new culture and language.


There are a few French women in the group, which is great, but there are also people from Denmark, Spain, Czechoslovakia, the UK, the US, and even my native Canada. We all speak English, which doesn't help my French skills any, but let me tell you, it's so nice to chat with other expats who share similar feelings and experiences.

Last look at Yvoire.

It also allows Adam to interact with babies his age and older, and gives us a nice little support group of ladies and their tots. It's kind of ironic how a group of foreigners can make you feel more at home than ever before, but that's what this group is doing for me.

Hope you're all well and happy. And to those of you who commented on my new blog header, yes, those pics were of my apartment in Toronto. I sold/gave away most of the decorative items when I moved, but rest assured, the old brass bed is in my parent's basement, and the antique Persian rug is with us here in France.

Lining up with Patti and her brood of stylish gals at Visible Monday.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

All the way from Texas


Sante Fe style denim and tapestry jacket, made by MoonFeather USA, Etsy.

It's finally starting to chill off in Annecy, which means I get to haul out my extensive coat collection, yay!

This Sante Fe-esque one is a recent addition, bought on mega sale on Etsy (it was actually made in Dallas, Texas, so not quite New Mexico). Not sure I would have paid "full" second-hand price for it, but again, that's the joy of finding used togs for a steal: you get to experiment with looks you may not have even considered possible for yourself.

Vintage 1980s wool-blend dress: Annecy thrift shop
Boots: Ebay
Italian suede purse: Canadian thrift shop
Scooter necklace: Annecy vide grenier.

I love the way my first outfit with the coat turned out. I found this wool-blend Italian-made 1980s sweater dress at my local thrift shop for a few Euros. It's simple enough to not compete with the coat.

Accessories? Surprise, surprise, these vintage brown leather and fabric granny booties dug up on Ebay have resurfaced yet again - they go with every thing. The brown Italian-made suede purse (with tassel, which I've hidden - I think it was too much with the tassels on the coat) was found years ago at a Toronto thrift shop.


Thanks to my friend Fayda for snapping these pics of me.

The necklace is Scooter of Paris, found at a vide grenier for 4 Euros. Scooter Paris is a contemporary costume jewellery brand. Not sure how much my necklace pendant would be worth, but I have seen used pieces by the same make for sale online for upwards of 100 Euros.


Second-hand bling found in Annecy.

Now that I've sorta figured out how to use Picasa's collage function, I'm going to start showcasing my rather extensive collection of costume jewellery, which I often wear with my outfits but don't hone in on for a better view.

You can see the Scooter necklace at the bottom left. The remaining bling, two sun pins picked up at the thrift shop this week for a few centimes each, had such a 1990s vibe to them that I'd probably have snatched them up even for a couple Euros, haha. Remember the whole sun and moon craze in jewellery in the '90s? I worked in a jewellery shop in the early part of the decade and the motif was all the rage.


On the home front, the little guy is growing in leaps and bounds, is healthy and happy. He's got his first cold, thanks to Mommie, so we're feeling pretty icky. Like most new parents, Daddie and Mommie and struggling to find quality time together, let alone a few moments to ourselves to cultivate interests. I'm sleep-deprived, bitchy and stressed. Certain things are up in the air, and there's a pervasive feeling of limbo in the house. But, life is good, and I have no cause to complain - this too shall pass. When change comes, it will be welcome, and we can move forward.

I'm always late these days - in fact this post has literally taken me all day to put up (which may explain the degenerating tone of this post)! - so I'm linking up with the lovelies at Patti's Visible Monday just under the wire.