Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ancient thermal springs and 90s velvet

Another eventful and busy week! On the pregnancy front, we went to a few appointments, sussed out different places to give birth (hospital vs. clinic), chose the place where I'll give birth, and met with a midwife or **sage-femme** to start the ball rolling on our baby education! 

Also saw the new Tarantino flic in ENGLISH in Annecy (a rare thing to find Original Version English-speaking films here), and received eight boxes of Sultana (or Raison) Bran from a Brit expat mail-order company in the post. The French don't seem to be as obsessed with fibre as are other nations, and hey, a pregnant chick needs her fibre, doncha know! Also went to a **braderie** with a gal pal on the weekend and scored some super cute stuff for a Euro each - will show you soon!

Yesterday hubby and I discovered a town near us that we've never been to, Aix les Bain, an old Roman town known for its thermal sulfur springs (**bain** = bath). In the centre of town stands an old Roman arch dedicated to some old emperor's family or something.

It's a wonderful spot that we'd consider moving to if we stay in this part of the world - smaller than Annecy, but cosier, somehow (and cheaper, by the looks of it). It's warmer as the altitude is lower, but it's still surrounded by the foothills of the Alpes. Like Annecy, it sports a lake right alongside the town.

The Romans enjoyed the thermal springs here, and in the 18th century a spa was erected over one of the main thermal springs in the form of this building, which I think is a government building now. The city became  known as a major wellness spot for the likes of Queen Victoria, Napoleon Bonaparte's Josephine, and many others in the well-heeled set. There are still water spas there today.

After meeting our pals at a Thai resto on the lake (YES! The first Thai resto we've found in this region! We are so becoming regulars as it was amazing!), we took a walk along the lake. It was 10 degrees and lovely.

I'm wearing another 1990s velvet grunge frock purchased from Etsy for a song. It has a high waist and lots of room and is rather tent-like (will be good for later), so I've accessorized it with a blingy velvet vintage belt to accentuate what remains of my waist. The cashmere cardi was a gift; comfy crochet tights and boots were bought new (tip: the crochet or fishnet tights never run, I swear - they truly can last years as this pair has!).

Here's a close-up of the pretty pattern. Jeez, I had my hair cut a few weeks ago and already it looks like a mop. They say your hair grows more quickly when pregnant, mmm.

Bump view. We will def be going back to this town soon, so I hope to take more and better pics of what's on offering there. It's a really pretty place.

Off to buy a French verb book. Have made it to only one class this week, but I did speak French mostly with the sage-femme. I have loads of maternity gifties sent my way from fellow thrifty style blogger pals that I will be showing you very soon! Hope every one has been having a great week - I see a lot of posts I want to catch up with!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wrap me in knit dresses, new and old

Taken about a month ago:
1980s knit dress, Etsy; thrifted leather booties from store in France; vintage Sarah Coventry pendant.

It's been a busy few weeks; hubby's had close to a month off, with the exception of a few days, so we've been doing a lot of running around, not to mention plenty of nesting. Yesterday after lunch with fellow expat pals at a local Chinese buffet (it reminded us of home - we're all getting a little sick of the melted cheese and potatoes that comprise the local resto fare), we bought an all-terrain stroller (necessary in Annecy's old town and for jaunts around the lake) and saved 500 Euros, good thrifty shoppers that we are!

At 23 weeks, I'm entering my six month of pregnancy - wow, so hard to fathom, even now. I am living in large tights and knit dresses as I'm finding them the most comfortable for my slowly-expanding girth. My strategy is to find frocks I can wear during and post-pregnancy. I found the funky (acrylic) knit dress above on Etsy, and I love the colours. It's a bit large, so I figure I can wear it for a quite a while.

Yesterday: new fitted knit dress, very apres-ski methinks!

This fitted knit frock, on the other hand, was purchased new for 50% off last week. Sales in France happen only twice a year, in mid-January and June, and when they start, there's heaps of stock and everything sells out quickly. I sure wouldn't have paid 59 Euros for an acrylic dress (mind, it feels like wool), but for 29 and change, I snapped up this baby, the last one on the rack.

I've been living in it all week as it feels great on, but also to get a bang out of my buck before I outgrow it. It's a size small and I have a feeling that the high waistband may be too much before long (though it's proving to be quite flattering at the mo).

I'm wearing it with a fur collar from the local thrift shop; gloves, boots and toque purchased new; and a sterling puffy heart pendant I've had since the 1990s.

Here's the bump view. The little guy is doing a lot of moving these days, which is such a lovely feeling. Forgot to snap a back view, which is too bad as there's a different and equally funky pattern on the upper part of the dress.

Next up: this 1970s cowl-neck dress I recently bought on Etsy. Like the others, it's acrylic, but it feels like the softest of jerseys. And can you see what comprises the pattern? Iguanas! Love!

I'm wearing the fabulous belt that came with it higher than my actual waist level, for comfort's sake. The sparkly cross earrings are also carryovers from the early 1990s, when I worked in a jewellery shop.

Sans belt, I look like I have no waist, which is pretty much true these days. No matter. I won't be able to comfortably wear the belt for long, so I may as well accept it. If the iguanas don't mind, I don't either.

I went to my third French class today and struggled - really struggled - through the grammar parts. They put me in level three, which I think may be too advanced for me so I may try the level down tomorrow. I'm all for being challenged - indeed, that's preferable - but I was at sea today. Everyone knew their verb tenses but 'lil (or not so little) 'ole me! So I'm off to hit the books. Too bad all the verbs I was made to memorize in high school (which I now see wasn't the worst strategy - how else can you learn them?) have slipped away ....

Friday, January 18, 2013

Show and Tell: odds n ends you haven't seen

Aside from showing you what I look like with a goofy grin and a tree spouting out of my head, I've dedicated this post to all the thrifty stuff I haven't shown you - and that I had better feature before the pics get really out-of-date or before I can't wear certain pieces anymore. Like this long black wool-cashmere French-made double-breasted coat I thrifted at the one thrift shop in Annecy - I can hardly do up the buttons now so I will soon be moving onto my vintage swing coats, yay!

The lush teal and sparkly handmade mohair sweater I have underneath is one of the few pieces I've owned since my teens - my Mom bought it for me in the tiny and lovely town of Perth, Ontario, Canada, and I haul it out every year for Christmas. Bag, boots, and maternity skirt: all thrifted, while new hat and gloves were purchased for less than $5 at dollar store or end-of-the-line places.

In fact, the thrift shop in Annecy where those boots, French designer handbag and coat were bought is becoming my own personal haven for leather accessories. Check out these hardly-worn patent leather lace-ups by Benetton, snatched up for 8 Euros!

Or this super cute 1970s brownish-rust leather clutch with long chain handle, 3 Euros.

It went perfectly with this 1970s rust knit dress, thrifted in Toronto before I moved away and snapped on me over a month ago, when my bump was only just emerging. Worn with my thrifted Kenneth Cole Reaction booties, a cheapie cashmere-blend cardi from the local market and a cheapie boho scarf from the "Fete" day in Annecy in December. I feel semi-guilty about these new, cheapie purchases as the sweater will fall apart in no time, but I loved the scarf so much I bought the same one in a different colour - the excess!

I know: this bag thing is getting out of control. But could you resist this classic style brown leather purse, only slightly beat up, by Swiss maker Bally, 8 Euros?

This pretty 1990s velvet and silk scarf priced at 3 Euros was actually given to me by the ladies at the shop. While shopping there one rainy day in the fall, a customer stole my brand new and very large umbrella I had left by the door in the umbrella pot (they're in every shop in France). I told the lady at the cash and she gave me an old umbrella dug out of the back room so I could get home. When I returned the umbrella with thanks, I bought croissants and other goodies from the boulangerie near us. So they gave me this scarf, which I was going to buy anyway. Swell, huh?

This tapestry change purse, bought earlier in the fall, has a slight granny-feel to it, but its inner bohemian-ness shone out too much for me to resist, especially for a couple Euros.

At the monthly antique market in Annecy a few months ago, I found this gorg brass ring with humungous pink glass centre (which, come to think of it, is similar in colour to the Edwardian-style piece I showed you in my last post). I thought it was pretty unique, semi-rustic yet sculptural, and I'm drawn to contradictions like that.

I think that's it for my bibs and bobs! Jeepers it's too late for this preggo - I started a French class today and I am super pumped, so maybe being a student again has kept me going today! Nightie night!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Steampunk, Annie Hall,1990s Grunge, Anne of Green Gables look

Hubby swears he'll never go out with me if I wear this emerald green chenille hat I thrifted for 3 Euros at the dingiest and most depressing of thrift shops in Annecy, a first-time (and last-time) visit on my part (and definitely on his). But I loved the hat; the chenille, and the way I turned it up, reminds me so much of the 1990s and how we used to dress 'way back' then.

Anyone having a (bad?) flashback? I can also wear the bring down for a floppy 1970s crossed with a Great Gatsby look.

I'm channeling my inner Holly Hobby/Pippi Longstocking/Anne of Green Gables/Annie Hall look with today's outfit, but the look is comprised of mostly all 1990s pieces, like the thrifted lace-up boots that have made an appearance many times before on this blog. The dress, a recent Etsy acquisition, is the exact label (All That Jazz) and style I used to wear in the early-to-mid 1990s - in fact I had two dresses in this style, with short sleeves, that I loved and wore the hell out of (why, why did I get rid of them?). You can't see the wooly brown and black mottled stripe-like tights I'm wearing, but they're Pippi to a tee.

It's the perfect preggo dress, what with its tent-like shape and clippy-thing at the back (remember those? Love!), which will also transition seamlessly into a post-pregnancy and eventually an 'I have my body back' frock. I loved this simple style then, and I love it now. The vibrant colours are right up my alley too (whereas the ones I had in the past would be a little too water-coloury for my current taste).

I can even steampunk it out a bit with a cashmere cardi and a vintage carpet and embroidery purse. Thanks to my darling and oh-so-patient hubby for taking these pics.

I accessorized with a fave thrift find, a gold-filled Edwardian-style chain pendant with a pretty piece of fuchsia cut glass. I found it at good 'ole Value Village in Toronto at a 50 percent off sale, for under $10 CAD. I think it kinda adds to the Steampunk look.

Speaking of bling, I actually managed to drag hubbie into several thrift shops this week (and he actually bought a few things!! But that's another post), and in one, I found these brownish-maroon beads for a few Euros. I'm not normally a bead type person - I think they look rather old-fashioned around the neck; either that or just plain cheap, if the beads are cheap, that is - but I loved the colour and the (what appears to be brass) details, and also the way the light hits and reflects off the beads. I can't tell if they're wooden or plastic, or another substance like bakelite, but they struck me as unusual.

I also dug up this this Modernist-Space Age steel pendant with amazing orange centre for 2.50 Euros at the same shop, an even more incredible find considering the costume bling at French thrift shops is generally crap. It doesn't have a stamp but I know a lot of these pieces come from Sheffield in the UK, a steel town.

I became obsessed with pieces such as this after finding this baby in a UK charity shop for a pound. They're all over Etsy and aren't horribly priced at all, but nothing beats a thrift shop find!

Linking to all the stylish chicas at Patti's Visible Monday.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Magenta Monday

Happy New Year to you, and a most heartfelt thanks for all your kind wishes, comments and emails about our happy news. Today I thought I'd show you yet another purple coat I thrifted in Toronto (scroll a few posts down if you missed my purple chenille vintage coat), and decided to hang onto when I moved overseas. The label says ZIM and I don't know the fibre content for sure as it's in Chinese, methinks, but the coat is definitely a wool-cashmere blend, very soft and plushy and showing no signs of wear. It has a belt but I prefer to keep it open - the weather's warm enough in Annecy to stroll around like this!

Aside from the sassy crochet tights, which are uber comfy on the leg but which my expanding waist won't be able to handle much longer, this outfit is entirely thrifted. The Teenflo skirt is a pre-preggo skirt I don't think I'll be able to squish into anymore. It was loose when I bought it and I used to wear it low-slung on my hips. Now it's around my waist to accommodate my belly.

Outfit deets:
Magenta ZIM wool-cashmere coat, thrifted in Toronto for under $20
Teenflo brown velvet skirt with tie-dye pattern, thrifted as part of a suit in Toronto
Wool turtleneck, made in Paris, thrifted for about $4 CAD at Stretch Thrift, Toronto
FAVE (now beat up) wedgie leather Kenneth Cole Reaction boots, $49.99 at Value Village in Canada (worth the splurge)
Distressed leather bag, handmade by SAS in the United States, Etsy, $40 US
Vintage 1970s "Rafael" brass/glass pendant chain, FREE (worth maybe $200 CAD?), from a friend - designed and made by Canadian Modernist jewellery designer (and engineer) Rafael Alfandary
Brown leather gloves, thrifted somewhere for next-to-nothing.

You may remember the maching blazer to the skirt, which I showed you in the fall. I never wear the two together as I think it's too much, but on their own they make fab separates to mix and match according to my whim. They can keep each other company for the next 8-12 months as they slumber away in my closet, unworn, in the hopes of being reborn when I get my figure back.

I'll leave you with a view of the mountains shot overlooking the canal that leads to Lac Annecy, taken at dusk the other night. Thoughts and prayers are going out to Sarah today in Australia, hoping for the best with the wildfires that are raging there.

Linking up to Patti's Visible Monday.