Friday, November 30, 2007

Update on Bathroom

We are now looking for a new toilet--for the downstairs bath, alas, not the upstairs (which needs both a new floor and a new toilet). The husband is in charge of this project. Installing toilets is dead simple even when you have to replace the flange. We can't even tell what kind of condition it's in. We can tell it's brass. I have a horrible feeling I will take on the nasty job of cleaning it so we can see how bad it is.

I did mention how it was "too bad" that we were replacing the toilet that "wasn't the worst"--and after the husband pointed out that the bowl of the one downstairs is cracked and so is the lid of the tank, I said, "Yes, but someone tried to paint the upstairs toilet (yes, they did) and it's a flaky mess (it is), the paint is peeling off the aluminum tank top, and the inside of the bowl is gross and the thing oozes green slime (it does).

Later, much later, he says, "well, after we've replaced this toilet, maybe it won't be so hard to replace the one upstairs."

Puh-leeze. Make it so.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sartorical Sabbatical: By Request

I asked my daughter where her dress-up games are. She showed me. There are five pages of them here. I'm sure one will have a tiara. (Apparently Lizzie McGuire and Barbie also have dress-up).

In other news: It looks like we're putting down a new bathroom floor today. Nothing exciting, just white vinyl tile.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sartorical Sabbatical Part Two: Playing Dress Up.

Remember I said I wanted to play Fashionista Barbie?
I harbour a secret, more intense, love for paper dolls.

I nearly fell over when I saw my daughter playing with them on-line, but this one, I believe is one for the grown-up girls. (No tiaras). Please, meet Charlotte

You assignment (should you choose to accept it): Create your own favourite version of Charlotte and post it!

Sartorical Sabbatical: A Quiz

Which are you more likely to serve for Sunday supper?
A. Roast Chicken with home grown vegetables and fresh parsley
B. Take-out.
C. Capons with home-made chutney.
D. Cooked chicken from the supermarket and pre-bagged salad.

On Mondays you--
A. Do the laundry, of course.
B. Dahling, have you never heard of a laundry service?
C. Read. At last, the kids are back in school.
D. Shop.

When you wash the floors you
A. Use a mop
B. Sweep up for the cleaning lady.
C. Hand and knees. It's the only way to get them really shiny.
D. Are they dirty?

Your most favourite gift in the world would be
A. Tickets to the Folk Festival.
B. A hefty gift certificate to a fabulous restaurant.
C. A hefty gift certificate to your favourite second hand book shop
D. Tickets to a play.

Your favourite vacation spot is
A. In the mountains with your family.
B. Paris. or India.
C. London
D. The shopping Mall of America

A treasured evening would be:
A. Teaching my daughter to knit.
B. A jazz concert
C. Oh, anywhere is fine. As long as we get out of the house.
D. Upstairs.

At a party, you tend to talk to people who are
A. organizing the next drive for the local food bank
B. witty
C. we get to talk to other people?
D. wearing great shoes

In your living room you have
A. Great Grandmother's antiques.
B. The Petrie sofa.
C. A Danish teak sideboard.
D. A bar, of course.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Tale of the Mall and Other Monsters

I've been thinking for most of the week about my "status symbol" --or the thing we want people to know about us, instantly, by our clothes, when they see us.

For me, truly and honestly, it would have to be "strength." Even though it's rather unbiblical of me (remember, it's the meek who inherit...), I have always coveted the image of being capable, independent, and strong. If you go back and read my post here, you see that what I exulted in was my body's strength and power. Then, I just made the physical reality reflect the newly discovered truth and new found attitude.

But it kills me to admit this, to you, to myself, to anyone; but, I am not strong. My feet and back problems have made me into such a mess that my daughter exclaims with surprise when I run and jump over a puddle, or hustle in out of the rain. "Mommy, you're running!" she shouts at the top of her lungs. "I've never seen you run before." And although uttered with all the hyperbolic certainty of a seven year old, still, it is true.

And that truth hurts more than I can say.

I need people too. I haven't had any close friends in years--only in the last three or four has it begun to bother me. The thing is, at this time of life, it's kind of difficult to find them.

I went shopping, today. Alone. I went to Sears to track down those winter coats. I didn't find them. The coat section was absolutely crammed and I needed help. I had to find a salesperson. She helped me as minimally as possible. I guess I had been rather abrupt with her, 'cause when she found me the size I'd been searching for, she said to me, "Are you happy now?" All the while nattering on about how I'd missed the sale this morning when every coat was 50% off until 2pm. (And of course, I was there at 4:30.)

I settled on a coat (a different one), and wandered into another section looking for a turtleneck. Tried one on. Marched into the Land's End section practically hobbling. Not a salesperson in sight. I settled on a few things to try on and tried to ignore the prices. In the end, I just couldn't. I left two sweaters and a button down blouse on another rack and hobbled out. (Usually I return items back where I take them from, but I could barely walk at this point. And I was still carrying the new coat).

So, I bought the coat (probably the only coat in the whole store NOT on sale), came home, modeled it for my husband and he says, "It's not as elegant as the ones you looked at on-line."

So, I got it wrong. It'll go back tomorrow. But that's not the point of this story. (sorry). The point of the story was that the coat (with tax) cost $180.17.

It was too much. Not that anyone but myself says so, you understand. But I was and am absolutely riddled with guilt and remorse that I spent so much money on myself. I told my husband there was no way I could spend that much...really, it was OK, my coat with the burned hole is OK. It fits, it keeps me warm...I don't need a new coat. He scoffed. Told me it was hideous. Really, I suppose the trip back to the store tomorrow is to have my husband bolster my self-esteem and self-image. Maybe we'll find something "more elegant," maybe we won't. But his approval of the coat will mean he approves of the way I look.

So, in light of all that, Wende brought me to tears with this:

part of owning our own style is surely being thankful for our bodies in their incredibly varied sizes, shapes, and proportions. The important thing is not to meet someone else's criteria for beauty or style -- the important thing is to be good at being ourselves.
I can't do it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Frumpy Footware

See these amazing Oscar de la Renta boots?
My footwear isn't like that.

Of all the folks doing wardrobe therapy, of all the folks who will ever do WT, I think it's safe to say I have the most boring collection of shoes and boots in the universe.

1. Pile

Stalwart Staples: (3/3)
-- 1 pair of runners (cross trainers).
-- 1 pair of low-heeled black winter boots.
-- 1 pair of sandals. (I wear these as my "slippers" in winter because they are super heavy duty sandals. I bought them in the "sports" section of Canadian Tire. They're essentially Velcro straps integrated with a rubber tire. They're meant for people when they go canoeing and camping and such, not for ladies who lunch.)

Velveteen Rabbits (5/3)
There were a few surprises here. I'd forgotten I still had these shoes.

--1 pair of moccasins with a solid sole (necessary for my foot problems). The lining is coming out.

--1 pair of backless red suede clogs.(The original crocs). Very comfortable (when my feet feel OK) but the suede is badly damaged. I'm going to see if I can restore them.

--2 pairs of runners (cross trainers). I examined the wear on the treads very closely before I tossed them and indeed you can see the progression of first the right foot and then the left slowly falling down at the heel and to the inside of my foot.

----A pair of burgundy(!) trouser shoes in a style I can't even describe. They also have a bit of a heel (but it is solid to the shoe) and they are quite comfortable. But they are badly scuffed at the toe.

Same Time Next Year (1/0?)
--1 pair of yellow-beige heels (well, not to Wende as they are less than 2 inches) that I have always hated but always wear when I need a heel. They have a squared off pointy toe and a square opening to the foot.

Sentimental Favourites (1/0?)
The patent leather heels I bought 25 years ago. If they fit, I'd wear them. I got "classic" absolutely right when I spent a month's worth of groceries on them way back then.

And that's it.

--a decent, comfortable basic shoe to wear with pants and dresses when I can wear something other than my runners. I may go windows(tm) shopping for these.

--a pair of dressy shoes.

--a sandal for summer that doesn't look like I'm going to launch a boat in them.

The basic shoe to be worn with pants or dresses. We are actually going out to a "Christmas play" this coming Friday and I'd like a new pair of shoes to wear with my dress. It's kind of silly, as most of us usually keep our winter boots on, but I hate doing that, as my feet get really hot after an hour or so. So, I'll look and see if I can find anything that will 1) take an insole for proper support and 2) satisfy my craving for a "nice" pair of shoes that will make me feel like a lady. I want them to be both "dressy" and suitable for pants.

These would obviously be dressy and make me feel like a lady:

Yes! Betsey Johnson saddle shoes. I know just the kind of dress I'd put with them too. But, I'd never wear it! And I have the strongest urge to go play with my daughter's Barbies, now!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Jackets and Hats and Gloves, oh my...

image courtesy of the city of New Haven.

Well, it's here. And it isn't going anywhere until March.

I need a new coat. Actually, I needed it last year when the year before that I burnt a small hole right at the left breast when I foolishly propped up a hot stick against it while unwrapping bannock from another hot stick, just roasted over an open fire.

You understand we're are not talking about a cute little pea coat, or even an adorable wool wrap coat, or even the lovely car coat CWAM found at leRedoute. Nu uh. We're talking wrap me up tight, don't let a breath of air bite, shroud me from head to bottom, cause brrr winter is rotten. (And now you know why I don't write poetry for a living.)

Of course, I do live in a modern city where I get around in my car: so the coat can't be too long. Just to the tops of my thighs is the best compromise between standing and freezing my tush or sitting on the blasted coat, unable to move. (The car I currently drive is even properly ventilated and heated. In my old Toyota I would have welcomed a coat down to my toes. I used to wrap a shawl around my legs to keep the draft from the door from freezing my legs. But that was before the heater broke. Then, I used a blanket. Aaaah, for the days when I was young and single and couldn't afford either car maintenance nor winter coats but could take off with no notice to anyone to Chicago or Toronto or...but I digress.)

So, to the coats then. These will be the most boring coats you will have ever seen. Scb will understand. While we analyse how close the hood stays to the top of the head and scrutinize whether there is room for a toque; while we peer at the front closure and imagine ourselves as blasts of icy air trying to find a way in; as we scrutinize the pockets--are they big enough to hold the toque and the gloves when you take them off in the store? the rest of you, well, it might be something like looking at paint chips. Gee, do I like blue, black or taupe rectangles?

All of these are from Sears.
My boots are black.
My current scarf is fuschia.

Contender #1

This is black with interesting swirls (honest). I love the micro fleece inner collar. Mmmm warm. But my scarf may not fit underneath. Not good. The zipper--whether metal or plastic gets cold and I don't want that sensation anywhere near my neck. The hood may have real fur or faux fur, I don't care. I've lived Up North, as they call it, where the fur trade is actually still a vital part of the economy. (But I'm not going there. This is not a political blog.) Fur around the face keeps the frost off my wire glasses and my nose. Seriously. It would also keep it off my beard, if I had one. Fur is a plus. I'm not sure those pockets are big enough though.

This is gorgeous. No fussy detailing. There's a zipper under those buttons. It has a hood, alas without fur. However, that makes it easier to slip my purse over my head. My scarf will fit nicely inside, wrapped tightly around my neck. The blue next to my face will be flattering to my rosy red cheeks. And I won't feel claustrophobic all bundled up in it. But is it long enough to protect my tush? And just how deep are those pockets anyway?


The big plus here, of course, is the big pockets. There are also two smaller ones in the chest region: perfect for carrying granola bars on our winter hikes. I can't tell, though, what's going on at the neck. Is that the inner lining, the coat, or is the model wearing a turtleneck? It also has a drawstring at the waist which helps keep that nasty wind from going up into and under your jacket. But, alas and alack, no hood.

Any of the coats above would go well with this toque from Roots:

Isn't that cute? A semi-stylish knitted toque. It wouldn't keep me as warm as this doozie though:

Isn't that just fabulous? A white fur trapper's hat--with ear flaps. I love it. Not sure it's actually wearable, though, except on those hikes. Taking it off when entering someplace warm might cause instant electrification and generate a dandelion halo effect to my hair.

But, this scarf sure is pretty:
Add this and a pair of black leather gloves to any of the jackets above and I may even, could even, dare I say, look good?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fashion and Looking Good. (Or The Post In Which I Do A Quick 180.)

Jessica Simpson--Looking good or being a fashionista? Image from Instyle.

My last few posts have raised some interesting issues between "fashion" and "dressing well." Are they synonymous? Can we break them apart and still feel like we're in the game? Or, must we drop out and resign ourselves to "doing the best we can" and never being "one of those." OK, sorry, there's enough vagueness there to remind Wende of the fog in her beloved San Fransisco.

Wende wrote:

Once you've been told that you "need" a handbag that costs more than your mortgage payment... do you get excited and go shopping? Or do you sigh, figure "fashion" is out of reach in your life, and go back to schlepping the same old bag? (Or do you figure the whole fashion game is silly and continue to buy basic black on sale?)

First, I think the author is writing to folks who really, really care about being "fashionable." That is, I think the author assumes you want people to look at your handbag and make a favourable judgment about your fashion know-how, your appreciation for quality, your "hipness." You want folks to look at you and say: "She knows what she's about." And, most of her audience probably wouldn't be caught dead outside the gym in a jogging suit, no matter where it was from.

Her book (and web site) seem to be a great resource for doing so without breaking the bank. So, in her defense, I'll say that she tries to send the message that "fashion" is not out of our reach.

That being said, however, I have had both reactions after writing the previous post. (1) Fashion is most certainly out of reach--and (2) It's very silly of me to even want to "aspire" to look as put together as Ms. Simpson. It's utterly hopeless.

Instead of Ms. Simpson (whoever she is, I see a woman in scuffed, dusty black boots, down at the heel. Her coat is big and sits on her hips making her look like a michelin man, even though it isn't puffy. There's a hole right by the left breast with burned edges. The lining of her pocket trails after her dirty knit gloves when she takes them out to put them on. The fingertips are beginning to fray and wear away. And at the end of them dangles that beautiful black Hermes bag. What do you think? Would the bag distract you from this deplorable shabbiness? Probably not. Not even the bright pink scarf up near the face is going to save it. (This is the 180.)

Once again, Wende, I think you are right.

Most women's money would be better spent replacing the jogging suit with casual pants and a casual top in a Joyous Color. If people are focused on your face and thinking that you're looking healthy and happy, they're NOT pricing your handbag.

Or--shall we say, rather, a decent coat in good repair, boots cleaned and polished and a pair of gloves that actually warm the hands. --And what about the bag?

As I was posting the totes below, the husband nearly choked when he saw the prices. I defended them, saying, "Well, that one is a Hermes. If my grandmother had bought one, I'd still be able to carry it today. The leather would not fray. The stitching would never come out. The buckles and straps would stay on forever. And it would still look good."

When I went and told him about the great patterns Zooza found for me for making my own bag, he asked me, "Will your granddaughter be able to use it? Will the stitching never come out? Will the straps stay on forever?"

Given that I'd be sewing it, the answer to all of the above would be, um, no. It's different thing altogether--something I can change on a whim. Given I like variety and have a low tolerence for boredom, this could be a good thing. (Given that I'm inherently lazy and don't like sewing much it may not be a good thing.)

The point is--be a fashionista if that rocks your boat. Look for bargains, do it well. I have no problem with that at all. Me--I want to look good. And Wende's right. I don't need to believe that becoming a fashionista is the only way to accomplish that goal.

But I do need to polish my boots.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More Palatable Arm Candy

The Budget Fashionista (see post below) recommends that you "outline with expensive and colour in with cheap." She makes an interesting point:

For example, if you're carrying a $1,000 Christian Dior bag, it doesn't matter if you're wearing a jogging suit from K-Mart--people will assume you're wealthy because of the bag.

Maybe I'll just think she spent waaaay too much money on a bag--or I'd assume it's fake.

In the spirit of "outlining" with expensive, I offer you these tote bags (remember I said I wanted one?) as my own personal selections from bluefly. (I looked at 784 tote bags. These I liked. Can you guess which one is my favourite? The prices quoted are from their site. By the by, these are sale prices. )

As I perused, I was bemused: when did handbags become luggage?

Update: I finally went through and checked out some of the comments. Yay! Practical suggestions--and I finally went and looked at those links from Zooza. You know what? I would actually rather try and make my own tote bag. I don't want to broadcast "expensive and classy," I'd much rather broadcast "crafty and classy." Thanks for the bump back to reality!

Trouser Terror

This is why I have been afraid to talk about my pants:

But too many American older women wear high waisted jeans in an UN-fashionable manner, and they’re always those ugly light colored acid wash style, with big sweatshirts and such, which is ridiculous. Quoted from this site

Sadly, that's me. Or it was. I no longer have sweatshirts, but I did. And, even more disturbing, I liked the look. (When I was skinny. Not so much now that I'm not).

But still.

As with anything in life, you know you know something. But, you know you could learn more about it. So, you start learning--and you realise how much there is to know and how much about which you have no clue, no clue at all, that you want to stay under the bedcovers all day and never arise.

Certainly you don't want to look at the sorry state of your trousers with a discerning eye--and then tell everyone what you found.

But, at heart, I'm a masochist. (Why else did I stay in academe for 9 years? Well, nobody cared about ripped jeans (which I patched from the inside with vintage pink cabbage rose curtain fabric). Maybe that's why.) (the numbers: what I piled/what stays).

1. Pile. (10/4)

Torture Devices: (2/0)
--A sort of black velvet trouser, with a real waistband. I don't think I've ever worn them. They need to be hemmed, for one thing. But when I tried them on again today, they sort of puckered a bit at the cr*tch. They're "Penman's" and their pants just don't fit me in that area. (I had to purchase some in an emergency once because we went camping and when I went to change out of my shorts into pants, realised I'd forgotten to pack any (along with all my underwear.) So, I had to buy what I could find for less than $20). I was going to "consider" them until I noticed that they attracted 1/2 of the room's dust--just getting them on and off. So, no.

--Navy blue poly blend passing nicely for wool crepe. Lined. They would be wonderful "dressy" trousers if it weren't for the ruddy stove pipe leg. Honest-to-goodness, I've never seen my thighs so wide.

Velveteen Rabbits: (4/0)
--Stirrup pants. I loved these. I probably "grew" out of them about three years ago. They are leaving.
(For the rest see Stalwart Staples)

Stalwart Staples: (5/3)
--Black elastic waist knit. I wore these trousers non-stop last year. I only realised today that they have wide (or straight) legs and make me look dumpy and short. They are extremely comfy, though, sort of warm, and the waistband was a teeny bit loose which made me feel not-quite-so-fat. Condition: Velveteen rabbit (losing their stretch) with a small white paint spot.

--Navy "jogging" pants--2 pairs. Elastic waist with drawstrings. Cotton knit with 5% spandex. Slimming vertical stripes in pale yellow and white on outside seams. 2 drawbacks to these: 1) No pockets and 2) the drawstrings. Condition: Beginning to fade.

--Navy knit. Elastic waist. Slightly tapered leg which is essential to reduce bulk in a knit. FAVOURITE PANTS EVER. Also wore them to death about two years ago. Condition: Extreme VR: seat shiny and hole in derriere seam.

--Jeans. Light blue denim. Natural waist. 5% spandex. Says made in "Maroc." Brand: Brax. Slightly tapered to straight leg. This year's pants I am wearing everyday. Condition: Great.

Superstars: None. Doing outfits at this juncture would be too overwhelming to me.

Same Time, Next Year: (3/1)
Shorts and summer tops are packed away, but I do have a few summer weight trousers in the closet. (I like to hang my pants up. Better use of my drawers this way).
--Light purple draw string cotton almost "pyjama" style pant. Hideous colour. Hate the drawstring. Leaving.
--Mediterranean blue drawstring straight leg cotton trousers. They don't fit properly anymore. :( The leg doesn't bother me for some reason. I think because they are a lighter weight cotton than the purple ones, so they fall better. I don't know. I put them back in the closet to reevaluate next Spring.
--Beige "cargo" type pant but with front pockets. (see post below). Straight leg--essential in a stiffer cottony type fabric. A tapered leg just makes the thighs look larger than tolerable. Condition: VR: piling on seat.

Sentimental Favourites: (1/0)
--The stirrup pants.

Mysteries of the Lost Shopping Trip. (2/0)
--all the torture devices.

2. Analysis
Waist: All trousers must be at my natural waist. This could explain why I haven't gone shopping for pants in years. I prefer elastic waists, but not drawstrings.

Pockets: I have no idea how to even talk about these, I just know that if they aren't cut properly, they look terrible with anything in them. Nonetheless, they are essential to me in summer when I need a place to stash my keys quickly and in winter for tissues and lip balm.

Leg Cut: Straight for all fabrics without drape. For those with any sort of drape or softness, I need a slight taper.

Length: This has been an amazing education: apparently there's all kinds available. I've never had a capri or a pedal pusher--and given that stove pipe taper isn't a good look, I doubt these would be. I like my pants to rest a little on my shoe in front. That's all I know. Perhaps if I wore something other than my super supportive runners (cross trainers to the rest of the world) I'd be a bit more experimental in this department. But, then again, probably not.

3. Gaps.

I am now left with precisely 4 pairs of pants, two of which are the identical drawstring "jogging" pants, the beige elastic waisted pants (which I won't wear in winter) and the jeans. I feel like I need:

1) Good grief, something to wear to Church (again).
2) Another pair of jeans--cut exactly like the ones I'm wearing now.
3) Another pair (or two) of casual pants.
4) I would dearly love to buy another pair of the knit navy pants I have. They are so warm and have the exact mix of casual/dressy that I want. When I bought them, the husband told me to buy two pairs. I should have listened.
5) I'll need some well-fitting summer weight trousers come May or so.

4. Priorities.
My "budget" won't, can't, go this far. Neither can I take this much shopping. So, perhaps I can narrow it down to: a) a warm pair of knit trousers and a dressier pair for Church. Maybe. Until I can get out of these runners, the dressier pair is a lower priority.
So then, one warm pair of casual/dressy pants to replace my beloved navy knit. That, perhaps, I can cope with.

Perplexed by Pants

I'm reading a great little book right now called How To Be A Budget Fashionista by Kathryn Finney and in the "basic wardrobe staples" list she mentions (as well as other things) that you should have a pair of khaki or a pair of chino pants. I've been looking around--and I can't figure out the difference. Heck, I'm not even sure what these are!

Doing a bit of research, I came across this from Wise Geek.

Chinos as military uniform were simple slacks with straight waists, no pleats, and a tapered leg. The fabric was durable, yet light, and suitable for wear in warm conditions, while providing adequate coverage. The khaki color became popular in the UK in the mid 19th century, particularly for blending into the landscape of India during the British occupation. In the late 19th century, American soldiers started wearing khakis as part of standard military wear.

The term khakis came first, and is a Hindu name for the word dust. Chinos came later after the Spanish American War, where US occupation of the Philippines resulted in a high number of Spanish terms entering the English language, since so many residents of the Philippines spoke Spanish. Again, the American style of military chino was much like the British, a very simple pant with no pleats, a zip and button front, and straight legs.

So, according to Wise Geek, the essential difference is the chinos have tapered legs and the khakis a straight leg.

Here's a couple of images from Ralph Lauren that exemplify the above points:

So, as far as I understand it, this pair of pants from LL Bean could either be called Chinos or Khakis--are the legs straight or tapered? I don't know. If I had to guess, I'd say straight:

So, the Budget Fashionista is essentially advising us to have another pair of classic casual pants in our closets (in addition to jeans).

But I don't get it.
If you can
--change the height of the waistband, from "low low rise" to "high rise"
--change front detail from no pleats to plenty.
--put in pockets or omit them as you please
--change the fabric from cotton to whatever
--change the colour
--and change the leg cut from tapered, to straight, to wide, to flared (but perhaps you can't? Maybe that's the definitive detail? Straight or tapered legs only?)

what does it mean to call them "chinos" or "khakis" or anything at all?

A Bad Hair Day

Today, and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow....

I had my friend cut it yesterday.
I think I miscommunicated. I'm about a year's worth of growth too short. It's sitting at the top of my shoulders (bottom of my neck) when I wanted it at the bottom of my shoulders (i.e, shoulder cap). It's unfortunately at that length where it bugs me most and all I can get is a stubby ponytail to get it off my neck. No more Katherine Hepburn up-do, which I now realise I liked.

Either a) I'm in shock or 2)I really do have the silhouette of a pin head on the Pillsbury dough boy.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Treat

There are a few glitches, but I've decided I have to live with them.

I have managed to embed it into the post, but the beginning is a bt rough. If you like you can follow the link, Apartment Therapy Fall 2007 Movie

or watch it here:

And that's it. I was going to say "So long and thanks for all the fish" as my exit line, but I am sticking around for Wardrobe therapy, so instead, I say, "Le cure c'est fini."

Day 10.6: A Tour of the Dining Room. (For my Blog Friends).

Ok. I've recounted the changes by each individual wall in separate posts. But, here it is, wall by wall, all in one place.

This is the short version:

And now:
And that concludes the short version. If you want to get a cuppa sumpin' and read the longer version below, you're more than welcome to!

The room is 10 feet wide by 11 feet deep with two doorways. Like this:

The dining room is on the left. Top is north. The kitchen is to the south, behind the dining room.
We'll start with the south-east corner, where you can see the two doors: the pine "french door" to the hallway and the doorway to the kitchen.


Then, to the right: the desk and der wall. The desk is as big as my couch.
I'm so proud of this I could burst.
Before and After:
Continuing to the West wall:
You remember the infrastructure?

You know, my mom actually said she liked it. I guess to her, it looked like a good use of ratty old Ikea. When I set those pine units up in the kitchen temporarily, she liked them there too.
But I think there's no doubt, the grid rules!

My husband just commented that "this" meaning the Expedit, "doesn't stick out as far." Well, I told him, actually, physically, it sticks out farther. "It's the grid." I told him. "Your eye perceives the order and has a place to rest instead of trying to make sense of all that jumble."

And that is why I wanted it. That is why you can pack such a thing as this full--and it doesn't overwhelm. The unit has structure and it imposes order. Voila, rest and peace. (Do I hear a choir of angels singing?)

Moving on....

Then, in the north-east corner we have the china cabinet. It is dark. It's not my favourite piece of furniture, but it was a gift. I was worried when I decided to paint the room a lighter colour that it would stick out too much. It looks so right and so cosy right here.

But then, I reasoned, it just sits on that itty bit of wall. I was willing to live with it Standing Out for a brighter room.

But it's not too bad, is it? Note the table change. I'll get to that in a minute.

I actually took a few pains with the China Cabinet when I unpacked the boxes of stuff that goes into it. Remember those?

I took out some of my scrap paper to line the shelves--and settled on this blue and green just because I had enough sheets in these colours to do the job.
I was absurdly pleased. I'd weeded out a few things when I packed it up, and then I weeded out a few more when I unpacked. Yes, this is edited!

The biggest change to the room, though, took the least effort, and it it isn't something you can really see in the photos. It's the table. I forgot to adjust for the light coming through the window, so my photo of it nestled up to the window didn't turn out.

As I mentioned, once upon a time, we moved the kitchen table to the basement, and the old Ikea pine table, formerly of the dining room, took up residence in the kitchen. To stay. I had planned on painting it white and moving it back in but though it's a tight squeeze, I love having the room to spread out in the kitchen.

But that left us with a problem: no dining table for the dining room. I want to purchase a round table with leaves for this room but I don't want to rush into it. So, for the interim, (which you realise could be ten years!) I brought down another old Ikea table from my daughter's room. As you can see from the photos, it's white. And it has drop down leaves. It has been with me about as long as the desk units! And in about as many apartments. It's what we would call a "stalwart staple" piece of furniture. I only wish it was in better shape. (Note to young people out there: you really can't spend too much money on a versatile piece like this. Truly.)

The day of the photo shoot I sat down in the chair next to the China Cabinet. Just to see what it felt like.

My daughter quickly fashioned a "tea" of coffee, iced tea, chocolate cookies, m&m's and popcorn. I taught her to play Crazy Eights.

That evening, as I wrote up der wall post, my son and husband sat at the table behind me, ate their before bed snacks and read. Last night they played Quatro. This room has now already seen more use by other family members in the last two days than it had seen in ten years. It's amazing what a lot of light and a little space can do!

And so, to finish out tour. The newly re-painted book case between the two doors (also edited and outboxed):
So, in actual fact, this room has a couple of faux pas. (1) All the furniture is pushed against the walls and (2) there's a big empty space in the middle of the room.

We love it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Arm Candy?

(I went looking on the web for nice purses and couldn't find any. To me, these are ugly. There's too much detail, too much contrast, too much hardware. I like my purses quiet and well-behaved. That doesn't seem to be the trend in purses at the moment. Images from

I'm not even going to get them out.

I have three.

Stalwart Staple: (1)

One over the shoulder bag in black. Could be leather, but I doubt it. I got it after Christmas, (sssh, at a department store), on sale. I like shoulder bags as I must have my hands free--if not for a child, then for my ever present coffee mug. It's OK. It "goes" with my running shoes. When I wear it, I wear it--it is most unfashionably across my chest. Those sloping shoulders are a nuisance.

Same Time, Next Year: (2)

One brightly coloured, probably plastic beach bag bought in a flash of anticipation of packing it to go to the park (beaches being few and far between in these parts). We did that for a while. Actually though, I prefer a backpack for this--and loading up the kids with stuff in their own backpacks. "I am not your valet" is an oft heard expression around here.

One small shiny patent black leather shoulder bag bought back when I purchased my black leather patent shoes (which do not and shall not ever fit me again). I don't think I have ever used it. The only occasions I seemed to have for it were all in summer when carrying a black bag, no matter how shiny, just seemed wrong. I've had it (and the shoes) for probably 20+ years. They were my first "grown-up" wardrobe investment pieces.

Not a purse, so much as a good sturdy bag to schlep books back and forth to the library. I use really strong plastic bags--but they do wear out and I'm not that fond of the "bag lady" look. As Mella so diplomatically said,

"nothing wrong with anyone who is, but I'm not one, and I don't want my accessories to be dishonest."
The library actually sells a fabric bag, but I've resisted purchasing it as it would be nice to also have a bag for purchases at Home despot and other places that use plastic bags. And I don't like being branded--not even by the library.

I don't suppose you've come across a pattern for such a thing, Zooza? I'd have to have super industrial strength handles on the thing.

And that, as they say, is that.

Now what?

The Computer gods Hath Smiled.....

I don't know why, I don't know how, but the scanner is working properly again.

I just about to call it a night when I thought I'd just give the scanner a try one more time. And so, now all 15 "after" pics are scanned. (No, I can't believe I have that many.)

Thanks for the good vibes scb. Must have worked!



It seems the scanner lightbulb is on the fritz!
I just tried to scan some pictures in for the slideshow and all I got were streaked red images.....

Can one even replace a scanner lightbulb?
It's an Epson Perfection 1250.
I love it!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Day 10.5 Der Wall

Someone mentioned in the comments section of an AT Fall Colour contest post that it is useful to "hear about the decision-making process" when decorating. And cqindc asked so nicely. So, I offer you this lengthy post. Please grab a cuppa and a cookie (or three)before you begin.

It started with the desk.

The computer desk to be precise.

It was red orange oak--and a fairly new acquisition. When it came into our lives it replaced this get-up:
(Judging from my daughter's size, I'm guessing this is probably 2003/4)

You can see why it might have taken me a while to realise it needed attention.

And so, deciding that sanding and re-staining was too much work, I simply re-stained it darker. To blend with the china cabinet, of course. This was in August, when I was thinking of purchasing the dark Expedit, as well.

But that was about as far as my thinking had got when the cure started.

I knew I wanted to lighten up this room. From May onwards I had considered probably every colour family under the sun. Finally, I appealed to the wisdom at AT in an open thread about painting the walls in a neutral.

And that's when Wende in phoenix changed my life.

"Dark furniture will stand out against light walls. Light furniture will stand out against dark walls," she said. I knew that. No, the life changing moment came when she said: "And we don't want furniture to stand out. We want it to play quietly."

We do?

Of course we do.

So back went the dark Expedit. I told you all about that. But I began to regret having stained this piece dark.

What would I do?

The Cure demands a style tray. As I love looking at pictures of interiors...this is not a problem for me. I had collected pictures of offices for months, chiefly for my mother so she could create a vision for hers, but I had saved a few in a file for me. I put those pictures together in a blog post.

Again, Wende. She said, "looks like you want white shelving" or words to that effect. Oooh yes. I'd already exchanged the dark Expedit for the white: that would definitely work.

Also, looking at the pictures, I really liked one plane of colour for the desk top, all 6'6" of it. So, I sanded the white paint off drawer support tops and stained them with a custom made mixture of "chocolate" and "brandy" until they were as close as plywood and oak will ever be.

(left is one sanded top, right is a stained one.)

But what to do with the drawer supports? You know, those things I made back in University as a temporary desk?

Constructed of "good one side" 3/4" plywood and dressed up with cardboard boxes for drawers, it had just lasted and lasted. I was sick of it. I appealed for help. Most of you said "wait and see" though a few pointed out that staining to match the desk would "contrast" with the walls nicely. Remember, I was having an epiphany about making furniture play nicely, so I still wasn't sure if that's what I wanted.

I sanded them anyway. Days and days of sanding. And in the end, that's what decided me. The "good one side" sanded fine. The other? Not so well. It would take a lot of sand paper to get all that paint off. When the frugal husband made a joke about how much money I was spending on sand paper, I knew I had to stop.
(Here are all the horizontal bits that make up the desk drawers, all ready to be re-painted.)
I am glad I did sand them though. They had suffered two bad paint jobs--and you know, I don't think they had ever been sanded. They were as close to new as they would ever be, and while I wasn't thrilled with them, I could tolerate them in my life again. (And they are just so d*mn useful!)

But that's not all.

Oh no. The story of this wall also includes the wall above the desk on which I planned to put back the same shelves, only a little differently.

After the walls were painted, I procrastinated putting up the shelves. The room was so open and fresh, if a little useless without the computer and the desk. But, I was enjoying this:

I had never seen that before! The shadow of the shaggy tree outside danced on the wall for a few days, but then it was time. Out came the drill, the ruler, and up went the shelf brackets and supports. When I was done, I put the pine shelves up and pushed what I had of the computer desk up against the wall...just to see.

And I liked it. The pine looked just fine against the wall, but I could see it wasn't going to play nicely with the computer desk at all. So, down they came and I marked them for cutting. The handy husband did that for me and then more days of painting followed. Between the trim in this room, the new! shiny! white! dresser, the drawer support units and these shelves, I went through a gallon plus one and a half quarts of Benjamin Moore's Cloud White Semi-gloss.

Finally when they were all done and back on the wall, I got serious about purchasing the final fourth shelf for my plan. I couldn't find one as wide as the others. (Nominal 8" is only 7 1/4" as it turns out) but, in the spirit of flexibility I decided it wouldn't matter. And so, I bought an 8 foot board, had it cut to 6'6", primed and painted and put it up.

As you all know, unpacking those final boxes to put on the shelves was a bit of an underwhelm. Where had everything gone? But I decided to leave them uncluttered and "bare." Yes, this is "bare" to me.

(ps. I just discovered you can click on this picture (and a few others) and see it larger.)

And so there it is. (You can see the curve of a "new" chair ever so faintly in front of the desk. It's dark. I like it.)

From the left to the right in more days than I even want to count.

I think everyone is getting along just fine.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Day 10.4 Graduation

(Tableware Trophy designed by emiko oki from cups, saucers, etc. Image from design track.)

I am done.

I put the last coat of paint on a piece of furniture today (a homemade plum on the base for the little round table. Thanks Zooza!) and, so, ta da, I declare my home cured.

I have been living in this t-shirt for the last ten weeks. It is, in Wardrobe Therapy speak, what we would call a Really Real T-shirt.

I'll be glad to retire this t-shirt, but I am sad the Cure is over.

Can I thank you all now, in this brief valedictorian speech? I read over most of the blog today, and I think it reflects the ups and downs of the process pretty well...and the wonderful, awesome support I got from every one of you who commented. When I needed encouragement, I got it. When I needed help and advice, you were there. I couldn't have done all this without you and I am deeply grateful. All of you made up my "curing community" and I wish I could invite you all for a party.

I have a bit of tidying and things left to do like scraping a few globs of paint up off the floor, and wax off of candlesticks and furniture, but I do plan on taking "after pictures" and putting together a slideshow at flickr. I may even have a few more Cure blog entries once I have the pictures done (but not many more).

So congrats to all. Whether we accomplished a lot or a little doesn't matter, what matters is that we all engaged in a process that makes us mindful of the place we call home.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Day 10.2 The Dresser

(I have to confess some impatience with this post, aren't we supposed to be done all this already? This is so yesterday. But I did just get a batch of photos developed and the story has not yet been told....)

A long, long time ago, back around the time of the Big Bang (if the Big Bang even happened), this dresser was primed. Primed and ready, it sat and waited. A child was born. It waited. Clothes entered and exited, and it waited. It waited a long time.

You see, it was a motley dresser. Part of its mahogany veneer had fallen off. The primer had been applied without respect for it's unique hybrid condition. After a few years, the primer started to chip off of the remaining veneered parts. And still it waited.

Finally, something was done.
But it was a disaster.
The problem was the veneer. Once genteel and handsome, (if a bit shabby) great chunks of it had detached itself during the prep from merely primed to fully painted. But other bits seemed to be glued like hydrogen is to two oxygens. Now noticeably disfigured, it needed to be disguised and camouflaged. And indeed it was. But "gray barnboard" wouldn't do.
Vinegar was added to hot, hot water, and lo, more veneer came off--as well as half the horrid paint job. And once sanded, almost no veneer remained.
Once primed, twice painted and subjected to two coats of semi-gloss varnish, beauty was restored.

Shiny and happy, now it stands ready to receive both those clothes which pass the brutal Wardrobe Therapy tests and those perfect ones yet to be found.
It is waiting, again.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Week 10.1 Last Week: Electrical, This Week: Plumbing.

Handy husband went to snake out the drain in the bathroom sink this evening. It always gives us trouble. In trying to get off a plastic nut which bridged the pipe coming out of the wall (of one old fashioned never-to-be-found-again size) with another bit of pipe (of the ubiquitous black plastic in the "modern" size) which together make up the piece called the "drain extension" (see the above illustration), he snapped it.

It was on very tightly. The plumber who installed it told us to "call him" if we ever wanted to take it off because "it was so d*mn tight." As he'd brought his girlfriend as his plumbing assistant and had had to run to Home Despot because he "had the wrong size" of whatever--while he was installing the taps, I promptly lost his card (if he even had one.)

I want chrome underneath that sink. I want all those bits named in the above diagram, in pretty, shiny, period appropriate chrome. The husband says no. Categorically, foot stance and mouth set in the fighting position: No. He says he'll need "special wrenches" and "they'll get all dinged up" and then...and then (in the manner of that infernal segue married couples make when they're fighting)...the taps I picked out are leaking. Where's the documentation? Who did we buy them from? How do we fix these washerless taps I picked out?

I don't know.
When did plumbing become personal?

By the by, we're talking about this bathroom.

Update #1: I did some on-line research and of the four kinds of faucets (or taps) available, we most likely have the kind called "cartridge" which can leak either because a) the "o" ring needs replacing or b) the whole cartridge needs replacing. If it's (b) and we cannot find the exact same cartridge, we may have to get new taps for the bathroom. (sigh)). They are 12" on centre. Not your standard size.
As far as the drain pipes go, in order to avoid the problems of attaching old sizes to new (see first paragraph above), handy husband and I are discussing replacing the old pipes with new fittings. The basement is totally accessible and he's done the bath tub drain, so we can tackle this. We suspect there's an elbow pipe in the wall though, so we're just trying to figure out how to get the old pipe out with as little damage to the wall as possible. (Still, no chrome.)

Update #2: (12:50am) re: dripping faucet. As I was surfing the web looking for a replacement, I found very similar ones to ours on-line. For some reason, I went and actually looked at the taps...and there on the little plate between the tap and the sink was engraved "Danze LM80906" So, I've e-mailed Danze and asked for their help to identify it.
But, oh my, did I see some drop dead beautiful faucet sets at Restoration Hardware. Maybe I'll post the pics tomorrow. Can an 8" "widespread" faucet set be adapted to 12"? I can't see why not.....Zooza--do you know?
(And do you think I can talk him into a $499.00 faucet set and chrome drains? Of course, it's $499 US....)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Day 2.7 Pamper Me Pretty, Please.

I may have gone a bit overboard in the pampering department this evening. My day was extremely frustrating. A late night trip to Safeway to buy something I'd promised to get my daughter, netted, get this, a jar of Oil of Olay "day and night" moisturizer.

I have been sucked in!

After all those years of resisting all those "you can't be pretty without a product" messages, I succumbed. That photo I posted yesterday was from a few years ago--and you know what? Those lines on my forehead haven't gone anywhere. (So, I have to guess I really didn't have my face screwed up funny when it was taken.) And I was thinking about my comment that I have dry skin and don't wash my face. So, tonight I washed my face and put on the new lotion. You know what?

It felt wonderful.

But that's not all. Oh no.

Across the street from the Safeway is an all night drugstore. My daughter needed nail polish remover (favourite past-time of girls at seven: applying nail polish to the ends of their fingers, in a sort of Indian dance henna style). What do I do? Buy nail polish. I actually stood there and debated the merits of a pale brown "neutral" polish and a pinkier whitish "neutral" polish. I bought the pink. By the way, applying nail polish is NOT like learning to ride a bike. You do forget how to get it right.

But wait.
There's more.

I got into the bath with the nail basket, intending to do my nails in the tub--and what do I espy? The tweezers. I had a hand mirror. As I am so short sighted the mirror must be no more than 2 inches away in order for me to see, I'm never plucking in the bath-tub again....but what did I do? I plucked eyebrow hairs never before plucked. Yes, I thinned them out. Heck, even Brooke Shields plucked hers out years ago. There is now no eyebrow hair peaking out from under my glasses.

I can see my face--and my eyes--so much better I scurried upstairs to wash my face, put on the miracle cream and wait for the puffy bits to recede. They have somewhat. (I find myself wishing I'd bought the night time eyecream too). But there's so much skin between my brow and my eye that I'm thinking--oh, so that's why they put shadow up there. Everything looks so, well, so n*ked. You do understand that I am describing my emotional reaction more than the reality. They are not too thin....but hey, the husband did notice with only a little prompting.

So, I
--put on nail polish with colour
--plucked away the gorrilla brows
--washed and moisturized my face (and neck) with a product that cost more than I was willing to spend on a t-shirt.

all in one day.

OK, ladies, what are you going to have me doing next?

Day 9.7 Just a few bits left....

With all this focus on Wardrobe Therapy, I've sort of lagged behind on my Apartment Therapy tasks. There's just a little bit left to do and this post is to remind me in the morning to get up off the computer and just do them! I don't have the car today, so any errands that need to be run have to wait until tomorrow. Updates on Sunday in purple. Monday
1. Cut curtain pole with hacksaw.
Wow. That worked. And it didn't cry or anything! Looks like it'll be a tight fit, but that's OK.2. Mount bracket hardware for curtain rod.
Ran into a problem with this. The screw in the bracket which holds in the rod is stuck into it and I can't get it out. May have to run to Ikea for another bracket. That'll have to be tomorrow. I called, fortunately they will be open. (Sunday is Remembrance Day here). Husband came home and fixed it. Done.3. Hang curtains. Done. Of course, I'm not finished with them. Looking at them closely I noticed they have a french seam up the very middle. Looking closer, I noticed I can take out that seam very easily and create two panels. I just need to find my seam ripper, put a table in here and do a side seam. And iron them.
1. Prime board, both sides.
1st side done, 10:30 am, 2nd side done, 1:15 pm.2. Paint board, 2 coats each side.
1st side, 1st coat: 2:15pm. (made a mess of my manicure). 2nd coat: 10:30pm
2nd side: 1st coat: 10:30am. 2nd side: LAST COAT!!!! 10:00 pm .
1. Put books on shelves in dining room.
This is interesting. Well, to me, at any rate. The books are hardly taking up any space at all. In fact, there's so much "open" space on these shelves I'm not sure what to do. Leave it open? Fill it up with bric-brac and totchkes? I love having this problem. I may just leave it open for now.2. Style shelves while paint dries.
see above.
1. Cover desk drawers with "almond" contact paper.
Changed my mind. White will look better. Fortunately, I have some! But I didn't have enough. I got 5 of the 7 drawers done. Done. 7/7. Done, done, done. (because, of course, I did a quick weed through of the contents of each and culled as I went.)
1. Move the white table from daughter's room into dining room. Done.
1. Take pic of the desk and "wall of shelves."
2. Take pic of kitchen shelf.
3. Create flickr slideshow.

There's a few more things on my list in the side-bar, but as soon as the above is completed, I will have done as much (and more) as I wanted to get done this cure!

The end is near. I wish it were here.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Feeling Fine.

Smallcitybeth says she wants to establish some "I feel pretty" routines. I could do a bit of that. I tend to look at the Big Picture, first, and sometimes, it's overwhelming. I don't want to be overwhelmed by this, so I'm not entirely sure how to proceed.

I once made my whole body change from dumpy and blah to fit and fabulous in nine months with a self-directed weight watchers plan (someone photocopied all the materials for me and gave them to me) and lots of low-impact aerobics. I even (gasp) became a fitness instructor! So, I'm familiar with Big Change and I like to feel like I'm actually doing something and not just poking about. But, life has changed. I'm not sure I can handle "everything-all-at-once" anymore.

And we're focusing on being pretty--not a major lifestyle change, at least not at this moment.


1) Take a shower or bath at least every other day. I'm not sure how often I should wash my hair. Isn't that awful? It's so long --it comes down to about the bottom of the wide band on the bra at the back. (Pssst Beth--that's where the support ought to come from). It is impractical to wash it every day. I've never had hair this long before (and I'm not sure how long it will last--I really don't like it much). Question: Can a greying 40ish something with a high forehead, thick (but shaped) eyebrows and glasses wear bangs (tyhat would be a "fringe" to you, Zooza)? A forehead like this? (Might hide the wrinkles starting--or it may look foolish or too top-heavy.)

(yep, that's me, or rather, my forehead.)

2) Wear lipstick instead of chapstick. I have become bad at this since the the company I bought it from discontinued my perfect--where--have--you--been--all--my--life shade. As good lipstick is pricey (and it's false economy to buy this cheaply) I haven't taken the time to find another "perfect" shade.

3) Spritz on my body splash when I get dressed--every morning. Maybe some day I can move up to toilet water (perfumes are too heavy for me). For now, my "Cassis Rose" body mist from the Body Shop will do just fine!

What will you do to feel pretty?
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