What a pane

Well, wish me luck! I am taking one big step toward removing a window, one giant leap toward a total kitchen renovation.

You know what they say, short term pane for long term counter space.

We’re getting a new kitchen window; same width, less height. My plan is to run a counter under this newer, shorter window. Obviously we need the storage space for the china and the dishes, but I have a bigger vision.

my crocusesNext winter I shall pot all sorts of herbs and flowers, and grow them under this new window. This time next year I hope crocuses will be sitting in my sunny window next to the espresso machine. Imagine how much better life will be with year round access to fresh basil. I don’t know how I’ve managed to cook during the winter without access to fresh herbs. I have been making due with a sub-par cook area and sub par ingredients. I will be relieved when my kitchen helps rather than hinders my culinary experiments.

IMG_20160301_084619This is how the window looked this morning.

Note the dismal view of the neighbour’s house.

A properly placed rosemary bonsai will go a long way toward making my window gazing less dreary.

This is how the work progressed. Thank goodness the window guys didn’t block my access to my espresso machine or it could have been a much rougher morning.

IMG_20160301_091617  IMG_20160301_095516 (1)  IMG_20160301_095724  IMG_20160301_110213

It may be unattractive right now, but you know what they say – no pane, no new kitchen.

It’s done. Now there is no going back. No cancelling the cheque. This is my odyssey, my journey to a proper home and this was only my first trial. My next act will be to hold a long dinner party to celebrate and finally say good-bye to my forsaken kitchen.

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Ongoing beginnings

When my darling husband and I first started our journey together I shared some of the ups, downs and pitfalls of house hunting. Our quest for the perfect nest was somewhat less than smooth. In the end, though we chose the path of least resistance, it was not a choice entirely without drawbacks. Specifically, there were some immediate decorating challenges.

So we unpacked, and immediately began correcting the decorative deficiencies.

We build our library in the weird little empty room off the patio, so that this:

original library

Ended up transforming over a few weeks into a home for my books:2012-12-29 12.32.32  Place to be library

And made me so happy.

We then painted and decorated both the library and the cold white living room so the main floor was fit for entertaining.

original living xmas party time

We eventually painted and decorated the master bedroom and master bath (yes, it was not only poorly laid out but poorly decorated as well).

We then equipped my art room/office for my needs.

original artroom croppedhome officeIt had natural light but needed some upgrades to be able house my clutter.  Now it definitely holds my clutter

My beloved designed and laid out my garden retreat.

2013-05-18 13.52.14 -> 2014-04-28 20.17.03 -> 2014-05-11 21.01.55 -> 2014-05-16 20.59.02

We have come so far, but the war is not yet over. There has been a lull in activity for the past ten months, but we have been mustering our strength for the next battle.

We are renovating our kitchen. Because really, who could be expected to live with this?

kitchen reno window pic

I am going to need all my strength to pull this one off … and really patient contractors.

A shibboleth in red

redhead what have i doneLord help me, I am accidentally a redhead. It must be punishment from god for my vanity.

I was doing OK, letting my natural colour see daylight for the first time in two and a half decades. But then I spotted a grey hair and my world came crashing down around me. My stylist, my fabulous stylist…I though she could rescue me. But she has only been my stylist for 10 years. I learned 20 years ago that my hair is greedy for red. She did not know my hair 20 years ago. How could she know? Why did I not remember?

redhead youthI used to go red in my youth. It looked good then, I had the flawless ivory skin and the blue-green eyes that actually look good with red hair.

But now I’m 47 and I have rosacea, my skin is less ivory and more white, I have some fine lines, and my jaw line is starting to sag a bit. I look like a trope. You know that trope… the middle aged woman who goes flaming red in an attempt to convince the world and herself that she is still vibrantly alive.

old vivienne fashionistaTo pull off red hair after 45 you either have to actually be a redhead or be Vivienne Westwood – cos Vivienne don’t give a rats ass about aging. Vivienne Westwood is a redhead with chutzpah and redheadedness is her badge of non-conformity.

I, on the other hand, am the shibboleth of the aging western woman, pursuing youth at all costs, oblivious to her privileged place in the world. Ugh. I am not Vivienne Westwood. In fact, in a particularly ironic blow to my sense of self, my favourite Vivienne Westwood dress is pink, and one simply cannot wear pink as a redhead.

My darling, devoted husband is standing by me through this. He really is a gem. Our love can overcome this set back. Specifically, our love must overcome this set back before Feb 25th, which is when I fly to meet him at a convention in Las Vegas. Let’s be honest, going to Vegas in itself is a sad enough trope, and the cliche would only be compounded by showing up there looking like a redheaded cougar wannabe. I might as well just throw up my hands in resignation, buy some dresses with sequins, and play the slots until all the doctors come fetch their wives from the casino for dinner.

redhead pretenderSure, I could bravely take the opportunity of the Las Vegas age-postponing catch-phrase to pretend that I am still young, but it would most certainly come back to haunt me later.

redhead 20 yrs laterNo, I have to make this right. It has been two days and I have washed my hair seven times. If I can fade this colour to auburn then I can be a (possibly the only) dignified trophy wife in Las Vegas. I’m going to put on my favourite beret and head out to buy more shampoo now. Wish me luck. Otherwise I will be forced to spend the whole trip to Vegas in my hotel room. There’s no way my husband would enjoy that.

 

What do I do with a woolen blazer

woolen blazer

Winter is for wool. I love wool. Wool keeps me warm and looks great. I have wool scarves, wool socks, wool pants, wool hats and wool jackets. Why would I not love wool? Wool is both fashionable and practical at the same wonderful time. I can’t say a bad word about wool, really…

I don’t know if I’m trying to convince you or myself…

WHEN  WILL WINTER END? *sob*

I don’t know what to do anymore. Every January/February it’s the same desperate headlong collision between my fashionable better instincts and our inhospitable climate.

You won’t believe what I’m wearing right now (No, no that is not a multiple choice question):

Some tights, leggings, yoga pants, and track pants.  A camisole, t-shirt, hoodie, and a cardigan.  Some trouser socks, sweat socks, wool socks, and slippers.

cable-knit-leggings-2  flex-leggings-cyan-thumbnail   yoga pants track pants cami tshirt  hoodie  cardi trouser sock sweat sock wool sock slippers

I wish that this was a list of items in my online shopping cart. Sadly, the truth is I am wearing four layers in a  desperate bid to keep warm. I have a full dozen reasons to avoid being seen in public. It’s not funny and it’s not pretty.

I console myself by not leaving the house, but Monday morning I have a meeting. Outside the house. With other human beings. And I find myself staring at my closet trying to reconcile my desire to avoid frostbite with the desire to avoid a fashion faux pas. I need to look professional, but the extended weeks of dressing to cope have dulled my dressing for success instinct. I need to fall somewhere on the spectrum between ‘casual winter chic’ and ‘spring is never coming’.

So tell me, does this work?

whatcani dowithawoolenblazer

Because if it doesn’t work I only have three other blazers, six other skirts, five other pairs of tights in winter weight, and two other pairs of boots that I can mix and match with. The permutations of warmth are both daunting and depressing, and I don’t know when the thaw will finally come to save me.

Mid life crisis resolution

fashion hat pic

Happy first, first world problem post of 2016. I have high hopes for this new year, and an equally high credit card limit. I have resolved to begin the new year on a high note and in high fashion.

Which got me thinking, fashion is like any other of the journeys we take through life. It changes with us, and we can either choose the road less taken or be boring.

I look terrible in boring.

Nope. This is the time for the road less traveled. I am on the verge of beginning the dawn of a brand new day. I just have to embrace it and let go of my youth.

old fashionAge can be a blessing. When I was young I didn’t have the money or the confidence necessary to properly express myself through fashion. I blended. I played it safe. But I am older now. I have both money and confidence, in surplus.

VIvienne-Westwood-old fashionistaLet my husband buy the mid-life crisis sports car, I am going shoe shopping.

I am tearing a page out of the Vivienne Westwood book of fashion. I am going full throttle into dressing for success, no stopping, no slowing down, no fitting in with the background.

I started last month. I snagged these babies before they sold out:

wedge doc

This purchase is half reliving my youth, half living my future and a 100% heads up to my kids.

This may be my first of my mid life crisis fashion purchases, but it won’t be my last.

You’ve been warned.

old is the new black

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bug’s end

I’m a gardener. It’s so zen. Just watching the grounds keeping crew mow and weed and water melts away my stress. I particularly like to experience my gardening from my deck under the delicate shade of the leaves of my large potted citrus and fig trees, with an americano in one hand and a charcuterie plate next to me.

I am fortunate to maintain some of that zen feeling into winter by moving those wonderful potted plants indoors to my art room/office. The zen though, it doesn’t extend to every part of the indoor gardening experience.

fixed garden spiderLike the other day I reached over to my mouse pad and touched a spider. He scuttled across the table to safety. Which I suppose is better than me getting spider squish on my palms. It was traumatising.

I joked it off though… posted some very witty comments about whether the arachnid invader now knows all my passwords.

It’s what I do. I try to turn lemons into lemonade, to turn tragedy into life experience.

One time tragedy averted is comedy gold. Two times it is harder to spin it as my life’s comedic relief.

Just now a crane fly darted across my screen, briefly alighting on it then flitting away. Have you ever seen a  crane fly? They are freaking terrifying.

I know this happens because I bring in my outdoor potted trees to overwinter in my art room. These creatures stow away. garden office

I bring nature indoors because it enhances my quality of life. A bug here and there is part of the outdoor-in trade off.

For instance; that ladybug hanging out on the lemon tree? She can stay on that lemon tree.ladybug

The little white garden spider that came in on the fuschia? He can continue to hang out on the fuschia. He does not, however, get open run of the house, and my mouse pad is definitely off limits.

CraneFlySidingonNaturalCrooksDotComI draw the line at the crane fly. The crane fly just needs to die. Sorry, I know that seems harsh. But insects that fly around like out of control drunk weird alien life forms bouncing off my computer screen then grazing my hair are my limit.

 

 

Life’s little ups and downs

scarlett corset picAs I near the half century mark, I find that I have to work harder and call upon a formerly untapped reserve of discipline in order to weather life’s little ups and downs.

Before you say anything, I know it happens to us all. In fact, I am contently resigned to being a middle aged, happily married size 4.
After a certain age, we are all one blueberry scone
away from a new dress size.

blueberry sconeMy determination to flatten out the weight fluxuations is not a result of my body image. It’s more pragmatic than that.

I have a small (size 2-4) fortune invested in my clothes. My personal wardrobe; clothing, shoes and accessories; constitutes a significant investment. It also represents years of my life invested in honing my personal style.

IMG_20151101_015715  4 blog  3 blog  2 blog1 blog  IMG_20151103_174233  IMG_20151104_125042 IMG_20151031_202602 crop aaIMG_20151103_141929 IMG_20151102_235324 aaIMG_20151103_140844 IMG_20151101_010544 done5

Just 10 pounds could negate all that hard work and reduce the value of that investment to next to nothing. Ten pounds is dress size. If I gained weight I would have to replace all those clothes. Watching my weight is really the same as being frugal and responsible with my money.

I have a vision. A vision of myself in the fashion future. It requires discipline. So, while I make the lifestyle choice to skip that second cookie, I do so only to enable me to have the choice future lifestyle I deserve.

I know it’s harsh, but not everything worthwhile is easy.

fitted-dress-cookies

I don’t even know what is in or out of my closet anymore

Ugh. Being fashionable is so hard.

Just when I hit my groove and feel free and comfortable in my summer clothes suddenly the days grow dark and the air gets cold. In the blink of an eye the leaves fall and I have to venture back into my closet to reassess who I am.

trees no leavesI can feel like, with the death of the leaves, all colour drains and purpose from my life. But the truth is, it is just a trading of colours. Some changes are really only trade-offs.

For instance, I know that the only pretty pinks and pastels I will see for a while will be in the early sunset. Autumn brings the warmth of the earth tones, punctuated with a bright red, orange or dark green or blue. Autumn requires wool and corduroy, knits and layers. I like these colours. I have those clothes. They scream me, just me without catching a chill.

This would be all well and good if our autumns were more decisive and less prone to contradiction. The problem is that a crisp fall morning may call for boots, tights, corduroy skirts and an irish sweater, but then that same afternoon is better suited to bare legs, sandals and a breezy silk sheath dress.

Half the time I don’t know what in and what’s out of the closet, and where I stand as far as fashion goes. It makes it difficult to hold on to fashion inspiration.

I ransacked the closet and tried to pull together a few outfits, and began to get horribly depressed at how drab they were. Warm, fashionable of course, but lacking that Je ne sais pas.

outfit 2  outfit 5  outfit 6  outfit 7

I needed to insert a little flair, a little more warmth with my extra warm clothes.

outfit 1  outfit 4  outfit 3

I still didn’t feel that I was making a statement appropriate to me. I felt that the tans, greens, rusts and hints of blue were still too understated. I have never been accused of being understated. Then I remembered…!

blog giff

Thank goodness for red is all I can say. I can come back out of the closet again.

 

All arts and no plan make me a dull girl

It’s a mixed blessing to live in an urban environment with a strong arts and cultural scene.

I have my laptop in front of me and my calendar open in one tab, with 27 another tabs open to potential arts experiences.

Even worse, I know as the arts season progresses I will be adding movies (I am especially fond of art house and classic films) and seasonal special events.

In a 29th tab, I have the Avenue Magazine list of Edmonton’s best restaurants open.

Now the real work begins. I have to match events with restaurants.

I have to consider locations – can we get from restaurant to event in a reasonable amount of time? I don’t want to rush a good meal.

I have to consider complimentariness – some concerts beg for beer, symphonies require champagne. Some theatre is enhanced by a good scotch, other events are strictly a soda play.

This is not easy.

It must be so much easier to be a flannel wearing, bud loving, fire pit sitting, TV watching regular person. But simple tastes are not my fate, I have to accept my sophistication as my cross to bear.

Tchaikovsky and Bistro Praha

 

What would you say is a good wine pairing with a musical about the British expulsion of the Acadians? Pinot Noir?