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?

 

First world suitcase blues

I should be excited but I am an anxiety ridden mess.

We are about to embark on a two week long family vacation that will take us first to Iceland, then to London, England.

And I don’t know how I am supposed to pack for that.

On the first of the leg of the journey I have one extreme. Reykjavik tops out at about 15 degrees Celsius, and is not particularly urban. I will need to keep warm and be prepared for hiking. I can do that fairly fashionably with some leggings under a tunic, some luxurious sweaters, a beret,  lovely scarves and a pair of good ankle boots. Done and done.

On the second leg, I have super urbanity to deal with. London in August is ten or more degrees warmer than Reykjavík, and the heat will be on to get my look just right. Urban chic is my forte – this is not my fashion challenge.

I need to pack to accommodate both hiking along a desolate coast line and fitting in on the fashionable London streets. And knit caps don’t double as derby hats, you know?

Somehow I have to do it all without packing two separate suitcases. I have been very strictly informed that I actually do have a one bag limit. No negotiating for more space, no sneaking items into the boys’ bags. Ugh.

I’ll let you all know how it goes.

I’ll also report back on how strict the one suitcase policy is on the return, because I’m going to Harrods. After all, everyone knows that a princess is as a princess does and Harrods is the place for a princess.

Harrods, Knightsbridge

 

 

 

My woMAN Cave

At this very moment I am sitting in purgatory while my husband strings cable up through a vent in an attempt to save me.

Purgatory is the boys gaming/movie/computer room. To my left are 4 empty coke cans and the remains of a bag of doritos. To my right is a mouse pad with an anime girl’s face and boobs as the wrist rest.

boobpad

This is my life. I live with four men ranging in age from 16 to 54. At any given point during the day I will look up and see a man walking around in naught but underwear, hear farting and/or belching, find abandoned socks or cutlery in between the sofa cushions, or discover (the hard way) that the bathroom is temporarily uninhabitable.

I am the lone female in a house of maleness. I need a fortress of heavenly solitude to which I can escape after enduring the daily grind at work and the gauntlet of duties being a wife and mother thrust upon me.

So, at this very moment my husband is stringing cable up through a vent because the spotty and unreliable wireless in my refuge is not conducive to my redemption. I can’t be sure if he is doing this because he has grown weary of my complaints about the inferior quality of the wireless in the south addition, or if the boys are tired of my presence in their refuge, or he is just really that gallant.

Which ever is the true motive, I’m getting a reliable internet connection so I can retreat back into my artroom/woman cave.

 woMAN cave

Election Budget Blues (and fashion budget orange)

The writ has been dropped, Canada. Which is great, I am a huge fan of democracy, but the timing is so inconvenient. This is going to be the longest election campaign in Canadian history. Seventy-seven full days of electioneering, baby kissing, hair and beard dissing, and definition of risk duelling.

When I saw the flurry of political tweets come in this morning I gasped. How am I going to deal with this many of days of politics? Do I have what I need to get me through to the bitter end or will I need to stretch my resources and deal with the constant fear that my closet will be empty before the race is over? I would hate the success or failure of my election fashion to be determined by budget constraints. After All, here in Alberta orange is trending. I feel it is my patriotic responsibility to see that trend expand across the country.

So, as the journalists and pundits struggled to foretell Canada’s future in 140 characters, I leapt out of bed and threw open my (new) armoire.

Never fear! I am fully fashion covered for entire the election cycle.

21 15 6 beckham 32 1822

I have several weeks worth of dresses from which to choose,

134 135 136 150 163 165 166

and will easily maintain my office fashion leadership.

47 56 58 66 69 75 76

I can switch it up and keep my image fresh as the situation evolves.

p1 p2 p3 sw1 sw2 sw3b11

I can mix and match and play up or down my strengths and weaknesses to make just the right impression.

t3  t8 t9 t10 t14 t15 t16

I am even all set for heading out into the cool fall weather, with outerwear:

a5 a11 a13 a16 a17 a18 a19

and cool weather accessories:

h1 h10 b11 b12 b13 b15 b16

I can even properly accessorize depending on what crowd I find myself in.

b2 b3 b4 b6 b8 b9 sun

And I will stand tall; footwear…check.

sh2 sh3 sh4 sh6 sh7 sh8 sh10

I am so relieved.

Crisis averted, I will not suffer the election BLUES.

 

 

 

 

The cost of contentment

I recently had to go shopping for a dress for my middle son’s high school graduation. Usually shopping is easy for me. I am a pro after all.

So, I cheerfully headed to the mall. I said a chipper hello to the shopgirls in my favourite store. (Naively as it turns out) I picked out a few frocks and skipped back to the fitting room.

Burberry, as the conservative choice.

burberry

Nanette Lepore as the traditionally feminine possibility.

lepore

 Vivienne Westwood because… well, because Vivienne Westwood.

v westwood

Victoria Beckham for a more modern option.

beckham

And Marni because I think I should wear Marni.

marni

Imagine my shock when I got into the fitting room with my size 40 dress and discovered I couldn’t do the zipper up. My sales girl cheerfully brought me a size 42 but didn’t seem to fully grasp why I was not thrilled at the stroke of luck that they indeed had a larger size in the back room, and were able to accommodate my bulk.

OMG

Size 42?

How has this happened?

I bought the dress. Porky or not, I still needed a dress. Next I had to make a pit stop at the lingerie shop for some spanx. SPANX. I bought spanx. Needless to say, I was a touch forlorn when I arrived home to my doting husband.

To make it even worse, he got his hopes up when he saw the lingerie bag.

When, later that same evening, I was able to speak about the ordeal – standing next to our bed wrapped in my robe attempting to discreetly slip my Rubenesque figure under the covers without showing any bloated fleshy bits – my husband just laughed it off. He pulled me close and wrapped his arms around my rolly polly waist and declared he knew this would happen. “A happy woman always gains a few pounds,” he said, “I take your dress size as a compliment.” He called it the happiness premium.

rubens body type

What is that? What happiness? What, the joy at now being the proud owner of shapewear? Shamewear. I used to have my own shape, now I have to squeeze myself into a shape shifting device, put on a brave face and pretend my figure is my own.

I feel betrayed by my contentment.

 

 

I am a woman with two problems …

Darcysfirstworldproblems

This spring has been a busy time for crafting first impressions and I have had to overcome a significant hurdle to my ability to do so with elegance, expediency and efficiency.

First, I was transferred to a new office at the beginning of May. In my last office I set a high bar. As testament to my success one particularly astute colleague took to referring to me as an elegant bag lady. Amazing how some people just get me right away.

Being keenly aware of how important is to maintain my fashionista momentum, I spent the long weekend before my first day going through the closet and pulling together outfits.

  • Skirt-top-cardi-mules-necklace
  • Dress-cardi-kitten heels-earrings
  • Slacks-blouse-cardi-pumps-earrings…

Skirt-top-cardi-mules-necklace Dress-cardi-kitten heels-earrings Slacks-blouse-cardi-pumps-earrings

It was a fabulous way to spend a spring afternoon. I got 8 unique and fashionable outfits put together – then I had to stop.

Second, Alberta called an election. To show solidarity with my political party of choice I laboured to put together a string of stunning orange outfits. I had a lot to work with because, well, because I just have a lot of clothes to work with:

  • 6 orange dresses
  • 5 five orange tops and summer sweaters
  • 4 orange cardigans
  • 3 pairs of orange shoes
  • 2 orange skirts
  • and 1 orange scarf

orange wave

I started putting them together with accessories in affiliated colours. I didn’t even get past the dresses before I had to halt political panolpoly progress.

Why stop you ask? I was enjoying myself. I was getting organized. I was expressing my feelings and using my creative skills. Why stop? Because I had no place to hang my outfits. I literally RAN OUT OF ROOM to pull myself together. It was terribly sad.

This is a recurring theme in my life. Just when I hit my stride and feel able to express myself as a creative human being, the limits and parameters imposed on me by chance and circumstance appear. My closet was clearly designed by a person who envisioned nothing more than hanging 6 of the same white permanent press shirts and 6 pairs of pants in shades of charcoal.

Currently my clothes are packed together in a closets with no air, no freedom to move on the rod and no where to meet their true match. Every morning I face the daunting task of pulling together an outfit in a rush and sans caffeine.

But SOON this will be no more! Last night I went online and ordered a beautiful armoire for my bedroom.

armoire

I hope when it arrives all my fashionable problems with be over.

 

Fifty shades of beige

Just over a week ago it was 15 degrees above zero, sunny, and I could see my crocuses growing up through the soil. I was so happy. I wore a skirt with bare legs and some pretty MaryJanes. I put on a light jacket with my gauzy butterfly scarf and took a comfortable lunch time stroll through the downtown streets.

Then it snowed again.

springtime in alaska

Just a few days ago it was 18 degrees above zero, sunny, and I could see my tulips poking noses through the soil. I was so happy.  I wore a skirt with bare legs and some pretty mules. I put on a light sweater with a fuchsia scarf and took a comfortable lunch time stroll through the downtown streets.

Then it snowed again.

This is killing me.

I am so done with winter clothes. I have no idea what to wear anymore. Every morning I stand frozen in apathetic inertia staring into my closet.

I am starting to actually habour awful, hateful thoughts about trousers that only a few brief months ago I was enamoured of. Just the suggestion that I re-open the drawer with my woolen tights sends me into a raging fit.

It has to stop. I have to feel pretty again. I need to feel pretty again.

The key to pretty is my legs.

I need light tights.

Between you and me, I am getting older. … No, really. … I am not a girl anymore. I need to dress with elegance and not with the quirkiness of youth.

In my desperation to emulate the bare leg look I crave – that spring-has-sprung natural calf that my husband anticipates with such glee each year – I went shopping for a pair of nude tights. Not panty hose, they don’t offer quite enough warmth. Tights.

Do you think I can find a pair of tights that match my skin tone? I have wandered through every store I could find and have identified 50 shades of beige.

50 more shades of beige

Should I be bound by a predilection for unnatural hues and youthful patterns that the fashion industry sells? What about what I want? I am the demographic with disposable income. What if I just want to buy simple, uncoloured slightly insulating legwear? Is that old fashioned? To want my leg to just look like a leg?

kitty tights

I don’t want to be squeezed or reshaped.

spanx

I don’t want to shimmer. I don’t want straps or fishnets. I don’t want plaid, or poetry. I don’t need my legs to make a profound statement on the state of the economy or to act as a signal of my voting intention.

I want durable weight, ivory/peach tinted body hugging but not body altering tights that demurely whisper “Look at my face”.

I am on the verge of despair. I may have to call in sick until the weather improves.

Never again, a gain

My darling gave up cigarettes and took on pringles last year.

To begin with you should know that he is not the average man. Firstly, he is a darling. That much is indisputable. He is intelligent. Stoic. Handy. Loyal. Affectionate. Reliable. Even tempered. Handsome. Tall. Broad shouldered. Considerably above average.

And now, thanks to cheetos and winter inactivity, he is also has an above average waist measurement.

I mean this with all respect. From inactivity alone I too put on 3 or 4 pounds and am finding my dresses slightly more form fitting than I like. But because I am a woman I have been conditioned all my life to avoid snacking in order to preserve my figure. My husband was not indoctrinated with any such waist preservation strategy.

So I, his loyal wife and ally, voluntarily opted to spent a Sunday afternoon shopping with him for new pants.

haberdashery

I don’t even know how many pairs of jeans we looked at. It blurred. In a desperate bid to locate the correct waist size I sorted through more piles of clothes than I did during my entire last shopping trip to New York.

mens-pants-51

I was never quite sure what to say when he grew more despondent and my flattery became more transparent.

I was tired, he was grumpy.

The whole experience involved the level of frustration and despair usually reserved for bathing suit shopping forays, with the same root issue. There isn’t enough fabric where the damned fabric is really needed.

bathing suit shame

We finally found a pair and immediately fled the mall. As earnest in our need to escape as if we had just robbed the bank, we squealed out of the parking lot and hit the freeway home.

Sigh.

I am not suited to companion shopping. I am a solitary hunter. I want to be supportive, I do. But when I shop for myself it is incidental to my life. Or, more accurately, a constant component of my life. I have never HAD to shop because I always AM shopping. In fact it has been suggested that I could stop – silly really, why stop when I am so good at it? I now realize it was the freedom that made it fun.

My enthusiasm is limited to personal shopping.

 

I fear that if I am called upon again to join a shopping expedition that my favourite pastime – the casual potential shopping foray – could lose all its joy. Nothing kills pleasure so much as when the freedom to discover becomes a mandated need to locate.

And so, it becomes the age old dilemma of womankind; to support her family or to seek her own fulfillment.

I cannot risk of losing sight of my true passion in life.

 

Impromptu blog – The Dress

Ok internets. I am a busy girl and don’t like to fixate too long on any one thing. But this dress thing, it is so fascinating. I have this kind of problem all the time.

Take this Cynthia Rowley Dress, straight from the 2015 spring runway.

cynthia rowley 1 cynthia rowley 2

What colour – white and black, or pink and brown? I just don’t know which I should commit to. I can’t decide. And if I decide, will it be the catalyst for some internet fueled debate? I can’t risk that.

Obviously I just have to buy one in each colour.

Thank-you internet.

 

 

 

Previously palatable

What to eat, not what not to eat. That was my quest.

Last Thursday the love of my life and I found ourselves childless due to a confluence of fortuitous circumstances.

My usual week night routine involves feats of dexterity rarely seen outside the circus ring. I juggle to accommodate and cajole to tame a motley crew of spurious and furious likes, dislikes, aversions and nutritional requirements for 5 people.

I take it with practiced grace now. When we first merged our households I was less adept and dinners were occasionally traumatic and sporadically dangerous.

During one ride home five weeks after I started cooking for everyone I was asked what I was planning for supper. I sobbed the rest of the way home.

There was, in the first six months, one tragic day when we all stood hungrily in front of the pantry considering our options. I offered to quickly prepare a tasty spaghetti arrabiatta, which was rebuffed with a slam of the pantry door and the gruff assertion that no meal was possible without meat. I assume they all had cold sliced meat sandwiches for dinner that night because I didn’t cook.

julia_child_at_kuht

Last fall I found a recipe and attempted moose stew. I do learn the hard way sometimes. First of all, the raw meat was frightfully bleedy. Secondly cooking wild meat smells like grocery store meat times 100. The fumes alone caused a dysphoric agitation that took me three days to shake.

burned dinner

Oh, and there was the potato pie incident. Four large potatoes, a container of cottage cheese, fried onion, garlic and peppers, another cup of grated cheese with two eggs to bind it. The middle boy shoved it away and refused to even taste it, hastily declaring it frittata-non-grata. That incident sent me up to my bedroom for the night.

youll eat it and like it

Anyway, back to my story. All the boys were out and I decided that was the perfect opportunity for a date night dining adventure. So we made our freedom count. We went out for dinner. Randomly, without a reservation or ANYTHING.

We wandered downtown and passed several cafes. Then I spotted a restaurant I had eaten in few months prior when a friend and I were famished from a long day shopping. There I had savoured my food. It was so tasty. It filled me up and set me right for the rest of the day. Just recalling the meal made me salivate.

I suggested this restaurant to my love.

It was a complete let-down. I mean, the food was good enough. It was freshly prepared. The presentation was certainly spot on. The service was excellent.

But it wasn’t as thrilling as I had remembered…suddenly I knew why. Hunger is the best seasoning. This time I wasn’t famished, I was just bored.

Opportunity wasted.

It really sucks that food tastes better when you are hungry, but when you are well fed eating is only a mediocre experience.