Sunday, November 29, 2020

First Sunday of Advent

O quickened little wick so tightly curled,

Be folded with us into time and place,

Unfold for us the mystery of grace
And make a womb of all this wounded world.

~~ Malcolm Guite, from "O Emmanuel"

Wear a Vera (especially if it's thrifted)

 The funniest thrifting thing happened last week.

We dropped in to the Salvation Army thrift store, which isn't one of our regular stops but we were in the neighbourhood. I found this teal Miik Vera dress, which is still sold on their website (it's on sale right now too).

If you're not from Canada, don't follow sustainable brands, or otherwise don't recognize Miik, just say that I was impressed, surprised, and pleased, although puzzled as to why anyone would donate it. Maybe they didn't like the colour, maybe it didn't fit.

The funny part is that my other Miik dress (a purple Aileen style) came from that same Salvation Army store, two years ago.
The Vera dress is bamboo rayon (a standard fabric for Miik), but in a lighter weight than the Aileen dress. That could be both good and bad:  the heavier fabric drapes better, and you'd think it would last a bit better too. But the Vera is still well made: you can tell  by the details like the extra layer of fabric inside the bodice. It's meant to be a V-neck, with a front pleat; but it's not hard to wear it turned around for a higher neckline. It's long enough for a dress, but  it also works over leggings; and (if you look in the photographs) you can wear it as a top if you belt it up or tuck it into a skirt.

So: ways I'm thinking about wearing my second second-hand Miik dress:

Dressed down with black jeans and a denim jacket
With leggings
Dressed up with a long cardigan (this would work with leggings)
Under a pullover (ditto)
With my "festive cardigan"
With a pleated skirt
With a zippered jacket
With the jacket and the skirt

If you were in an absolute emergency (like you lost your suitcase), you could even wear the dress as a nightshirt, because it's very comfortable.

But I'm not planning on that just yet. I can think of enough other ways to wear a Vera.

Disclosure and transparency: This is an unsolicited review, and I'm not being compensated by Miik for posting about their product.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Quote for the day: The Hand and the Ear

"Those who are members of one another become as diverse as the hand and the ear. That is why the worldlings are so monotonously alike compared with the almost fantastic variety of the saints." (C.S. Lewis, "Membership")

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Be an Elf (A clothes story)

December's coming. She doesn't have any exciting Christmas plans this year. Actually she's not expecting to go anywhere at all, or even to have company over. But she does own this red leather vest.
Red isn't one of her usual wardrobe colours, and in fact it clashes rather badly with some of the pinks and purples she usually wears. And, of course, a red vest is apt to get her asked, "Are you a Christmas elf?" Enough with the short jokes already.

But in December, she doesn't care. She rounds up ten other items of clothing:

Black jeans
Blue jeans
Leggings in a sort of brown-grey
Off-white cotton turtleneck
Grey short-sleeved t-shirt
Longer-style plum shirt
Jean-style Tencel shirt
Striped cardigan
Dark grey Revolve dress/tunic/top from Encircled
Teal green convertible shawl/poncho

(All items were thrifted except for the dress and the turtleneck.)

She also pulls out three scarves, a purse, and a brooch on a chain. (And some tights and shoes.)

Her only real rule is that she doesn't want to wear red with green, if at all possible. (Except for the scarves that combine both.) How many outfits can she make?

Shirt, vest, jeans
Dress, vest
T-shirt, jeans, poncho styled as wrap
Dress worn as top, jeans, vest
Shirt, turtleneck, vest, jeans
Turtleneck, vest, jeans
Plus a scarf
Dress, cardigan
Jean shirt, cardigan, jeans
Turtleneck, cardigan, jeans
Plus the jean shirt
Plum shirt, cardigan, jeans
Or with leggings
Dress as top, jeans, scarf
Shirt, jeans, scarf
Shirt over dress, scarf
Shirt over shirt, leggings
Shirt, scarf (pants or dress-as-skirt not shown)
Turtleneck, jeans, scarf as shawl
Dress, floral scarf
Turtleneck, jeans, poncho tied in front

Score so far: eleven pieces, twenty-one outfits (and you could probably make more).

What would stretch it out to fill ten more days of December?

She looks at her list and realizes that she doesn't have a long-sleeved t-shirt or top there, except for the dress which can be tucked up to be a top. She finds a green one with long sleeves. It can be worn with the pants, or under the jean shirt, although not so much with the poncho (it's more green than teal). So that would be good for another, say, three outfits.
(The green isn't quite as dull as it appears; it's one of those colours that this camera dislikes.)

She decides she wants another warm sweater, and she just happens to have a blue-and-grey cowl neck pullover that came her way recently at the thrift store. The sweater doesn't layer well (and the colour would look funny under the teal poncho), but she does have a lightweight grey poncho that could go over top if she wants to dress it up; plus the poncho itself works with other tops and the dress. So, at least five more outfits.
And after noticing that all the pants are jeans and leggings, she decides to throw in a pair of grey cords. It's not exactly dressy, but it's better than denim. That comes to 15 pieces of clothing, plus the scarves, shoes, etc.

Hmmm...two more days of December?

Oh, rules schmoolz. Red and green rock at Christmas time. 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

A walk through Advent with Charlotte Mason


Just published at Amazon: An Advent-themed 24-day tour through Charlotte Mason’s book Ourselves Book II. There are also readings for the twelve days of Christmas, drawing on her essay “The Eternal Child” which ends the book Parents and Children.

The title Honest, Simple Souls is taken from the chapter “Praise,” near the end of Ourselves.

So, too, do honest, simple souls who bear affliction willingly, or who live their appointed lives with the sense that they are appointed. All of these ways of giving praise we recognise and bow before; but the duty would seem to pass us by as incompetent persons. We are not angels, we carry no harps. But the duty of praise is not for occasional or rare seasons; it waits at our doors every day. (pp. 194-195)

Let’s open the door to praise, both in this rare season and beyond.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Frugal Finds and Fixes: Lights... Action

Since we moved in here about a year and a half ago, a couple of the light fixtures have been on the want-to-change-that list. One is the hanging fixture over the dining table: it's a bit too low and has hard edges, so, bad combination if you're taller than I am (which includes almost everyone). The other problem light is the chandelier-thing that  hangs down from the ceiling in the loft area and lights the front hall. Mr. Fixit's opinion is that it was the original dining room fixture, repurposed for whatever reason. One problem with it is that the lights shine up instead of down (see the photo), so it isn't very effective, and the front hall is dark even with the light on. Also, it hasn't been working quite right; the bulbs burn out too fast.

 When we turned our clocks back on the first of the month, things got even darker (of course).

So we bought a new fixture (with lights hanging down), put the ladder up along the upstairs railing, and changed it. Mr. Fixit said that it was a good thing we did, because the old fixture definitely had some internal medical issues.

Much better.

Over the fall, Mr. Fixit and I have done quite a lot of thrifting. I've decided to step back from my own volunteering, but we have been checking out some of the other local thrift shops and antique markets pretty much every week. Mr. Fixit's finds are generally radios or pieces of audio equipment to restore, or things like power bars (he found a good set of T.V. rabbit ears this week). We've bought some pictures...

some table linens, a few baking dishes and other odds and ends...
An odd-shaped white dish that seems like it would be good for party food, but it can do candles too
The three teapots on the lower shelf were all found this year. Mr. Fixit gave me the first one for my birthday (from a thrift store), and the other two (which are pot-plus-cup combos) were also thrifted.

a DVD of Charlie Brown's Christmas, and three Christmas CDs. 
And a toy Rudolph (that's Mr. Fixit's).
Also some books.
(The Castle of Llyr was off wandering somewhere when I took this. The set is lacking The Book of Three, but I'm sure I'll find one sometime.
(I had a Kindle copy of Essentialism, but I picked up a print edition.)
Some of the things I've bought for myself have already been worked into clothes posts or shared on Instagram, so this is just a roundup.

I have had the best luck lately with sweaters, and sweater dresses.
(My dollar-corner cardigan find)
(Also a dollar)
Talbots striped cardigan. My daughter thinks it's from the early 2000's, and with that cranberry and purple combination I'm inclined to agree.  The funny thing was, I went thrifting with the idea of a multicoloured sweater in my head, and that's probably because I had been looking a few days earlier at a suede-and-handwoven sweater jacket in the vintage-clothes booth of at an antiques market, and wondering if I would actually wear it or if I should just pay my respects to it and walk away. Much like this one:
It was nice, but the thrifted version came close enough, and it goes with a lot of things already in my closet.
Another Talbots sweater, and this one's only a couple of years old. Bought "by the pound," which meant it came to less than a dollar. Yassss (as they say).
Not technically a sweater, but wants to be one. Fleece zippered poncho/cape, with snaps here and there so you can make sleeves, or crisscross the sides.
I've also done well this fall with scarves and earrings.
(That last one is for outdoors. It's getting cold.)

And in general, how are we doing at saving money?

Well, like the rest of the world, there are a lot of things we're not doing, i.e. spending money on. So that helps, I guess.

We are noticing that a lot of things are more expensive than they used to be, and they're not all optional: you have to eat, right? So that makes us doubly grateful for unexpected sales, needed things popping up at the dollar store, and thrifted finds. Things like table runners and candles don't just get stashed: we use them regularly to brighten up the dinner table.

Tonight's menu? Baked potato soup, with bacon on the side.

And that's it for this installment.