Sunday, June 21, 2015


“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
― Umberto Eco

Some of us are missing our dads today, either because they are no longer with us or they are far away.

Others of us are fortunate to be able to spend this day with our fathers and celebrate them for all they have done for us: hugs given, endless drives her and there, pearls of wisdom, kindness, humour, the wallet that never seemed to dry up. 

There is the young dad, the middle aged dad, the old dad.  All are needed if we are to become fully ourselves.

My father was a shy man. He never danced with me at my wedding because he would have been terrified to get up and dance in front of people. That was okay. He got me down the aisle, and before and after then, he got me through life.

In the end, I married someone a lot like my dad - kind, sentimental, handy, but I may have upgraded slightly to a dancer. 

Either way, I am grateful for the dad I have and the dad my children have.

I hope you have a lovely Father's Day!

xoxo wendy

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Uncanny in our Lives

One of the finest things about listening to public radio - the CBC or NPR or BBC - are the great interviews that you "stumble upon".

I am a regular listener of the CBC show Tapestry, and caught a really interesting interview with journalist Patricia Pearson about her new book Opening Heaven's Door: What The Dying May Be Trying To Tell Us About Where They're Going.

Pearson became interested in the topic of Near Death Experiences and the uncanny after her father's death, when it seemed he had "visited" her very ill sister before she discovered he had passed away.

You can listen to the whole interview here and it is certainly thought-provoking.

What Pearson argues, and has convinced me of, is that our secular, scientific world has left very little room for unexplainable incidents. The book cites numerous academic studies aimed at isolating and then proving (or disproving) the individual's contention that they have been part of something that simply cannot be explained using traditional and conventional approaches. An interesting aspect is how almost all individuals who have one of these experiences - knowing that someone has died in advance of being told, seeing their lived one's soul exit the body, having their own near death experience - are almost universally afraid of sharing their story for fear of ridicule.

They are right to feel this way it would seem. One of the most interesting parts of the book for me was the fact that many doctors have experienced the uncanny when their patient dies, but felt they would be drummed out of the career if they shared the information.

Our lives are orderly and neat compared to the lives of our ancestors, but in many ways, we have completely isolated ourselves from the experience of death and dying. Pearson unpacks the issue well in her book.  This is no James van Praaghe or Long Island Medium kind of book (and that is not said with any disrespect), but a more academic approach to the issue, although one that is grounded with a lovely touch of believer by the end.

We all know people - our friends and family - who have experienced these kinds of things, and yet, they are often not spoken of save during late night conversations after a glass or two of wine. I know at least three family members who had unexplainable experiences, and always wondered if there was anything to it. Now, having read Pearson's thought-provoking book, I am more likely to believe than disbelieve.  It is truly a fascinating subject and Pearson handles it well.

How about you? Have you had any uncanny or unexplainable experiences related to those who are dead and dying?

Have a lovely Sunday!
xoxo wendy

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Everlane Loafers Review - Patent Maple

As promised, a little more information on the Everlane Loafers.  I bought these a couple of months ago.  I had a nice credit from Everlane due to a SNAFU on their part regarding an order I made over a year ago, and these loafers have sat in my shopping bag for months.  Literally.

I loved them, but I was terrified to buy them.

What tipped the scales for me in the end was that Everlane allows Canadians to return items with only a $5 surcharge.  I have paid way more over the years to return things to J Crew, and I have to say, I was impressed that they charge so little. 

I also had a long email exchange with one of Everlane's lovely staff people, trying to determine what the correct size would be as patent loafers are considerably stiffer than plain leather.

I had contemplated going up a 1/2 size, from the 6H to 7.  In the end, the staff person convinced me to go with my usual size and they were right.

My point of comparison is an old pair of black patent Cole Haan loafers that I have practically worn to death.

As you can see above, the Cole Haans are wider, but that is probably because they are now 5 years old!  They have a square toe box, which I think makes them a wee more comfy than the Everlane loafers, but honestly only a wee bit. 
The fact is, my toes stop at about the same place on both shoes.  my left foot, which is about 6 3/4 (ack!) is definitely more pinched than the right shoe, which feels as comfortable as my right shoe on the cole haans. 
My sense is that order up a half size might make them too loose at the heel, which is a regular problem for me - I tend to "walk out of" shoes.  I have worn these about 5 times, and I feel they are loosening up slightly, so I suspect by fall, when I am wearing them with light socks, they will be as comfy as the cole haans.
What they have in spades is looks.  They are so pretty!

I plan to buy a navy pair sometime in the next year, having expended all of my summer wardrobe $ on my recent gold skirt purchase, but I really recommend these loafers!  As the images on their website and other blogs show, they can be styled multiple ways:
Hope this helps some of you who have been wondering whether or not these were worth getting!
xoxo Wendy

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Journey to a true Personal Fashion Style

For 25 years, I worked in the corporate world.

My uniform was simple - suits, pumps, subtle jewelry. I had almost no casual clothing; I couldn't afford it AND the higher end suits and shoes I was buying, so something had to give. I think I had one pair of jeans, an old jacket and some boots.  And I was too busy to be inspired or inspiring. (I exaggerate here, but only just).

Don't get me wrong - I wasn't a complete disaster or anything, but I was too busy to think much about fashion beyond throwing myself at my favourite local sales clerk, money in hand, telling her to "pick a bunch of stuff that looked classy and business-like."  She dressed me well in Theory, Elie Tahari and Michael Kors.

And then the world changed.  I left my job and in a 180 degree turn, found myself neither needing nor wanting the old corporate clothes, but having no idea how to dress for a casual/sometimes dressy life. And I had a whole lot less money to spend on clothes.

And thus began my style odyssey.  I hadn't even heard of fashion blogs until three or four years ago, and tripped over a bunch when I followed Michelle Obama to J Crew in 2007.

And while those blogs have been wonderful, they have fed my fashion confusion, as I tried various incarnations to determine what my style would be.

beautiful blouse - not me....
Boho Wendy - not me....

Nope - not me....
Me - simple, with a wee bit of pearl and sparkle....

Sometime around February, I was sick of it. I had bought lovely clothing - expensive and less expensive - and too much of it remained unworn, despite my attraction to it when I had bought it.  I had less money for clothing and yet I found I was wasting more of it, so uncertain was I of where my sartorial home really was.  And I felt an obsession about clothing I had never had before, and I didn't care for it.

Now and then I would discover a "hit", but never know quite why it was a hit.  I was frustrated and bored and to be honest, I no longer trusted style opinions, most of all my own. 

Enter Jennifer from A Well Styled Life, who took pity on me and shared her considerable experience and expertise as an image and style consultant.

How Beautiful is Jennifer?

I'm not going to lie; I had my doubts.  But then Jennifer sent me a bunch of questions to consider before we talked.  And they were hard questions actually, because they were things I had never thought about before as it related to my wardrobe. 

And during our nearly three hour consultation, in which she lovingly advised, tweaked, held herself back from mocking, and helped me understand why I was making the same fashion mistakes over and over again, it was as if a light came on.

Not only did I understand which kind of cuts would be most flattering, from a body perspective and in keeping with my style preferences, she explained why in great detail.  She told me what to look for when shopping and what to avoid.

And it has changed my life. 

First of all, it gave me permission to let go of things, since I understood that nothing she or I did was ever going to make that thing "right" for me.

Now when I do shop I happily smile at the clothes that mesmerized me in the past, and which still mesmerize me today, but which always end up either consigning or giving away in the future.  Instead, I focus on the 5% that will actually suit ME.  By separating the sartorial wheat from the chaff, she has saved me money and heartache. 

In the last month, I have bought little, but when I did, they adhered to my new "rules" for me:

The Patent Loafer - Maple - Everlane $175 size 8
Everlane Loafers

J Crew Sparkle Sweater Skirt in gold
(which is really more of a gold-cognac IRL)
This was a purchase for Paris - the colour seems more September
to me than June and July

Joe Fresh Silk Tank
$39 - YES

One piece of advice in particular has stuck with me since our session. "You will think in the beginning you are dressing boring," she said. "but you will look and feel like YOU."

And she was right!

Each morning now I "shop" in my smaller wardrobe, a wardrobe almost devoid of pattern (save the scarves and jewelry). I feel lovely all the time. And while I adore pattern and certain prints and certain cuts, I know they are not for me, and pass them by.

Not everyone needs image or style services.  But I did. And Jennifer was able to do what countless books and blogs and articles could not provide - she honed in on me! Too often we admire someone's style and seek to emulate it, not sure what it is about it that is so appealing. Now I understand the appeal and can easily determine what must only be admired from afar.

So if you are thinking you need a little shake-up, or feel you are consigning/giving away too much too often, I highly recommend contacting her and engaging her services!

One of the simple exercises she had me do after our time together was to make a private Pinterest board, where I could collect and collate images that supported my newfound style type.  I have found this unusually helpful, especially since it was just for me.

In the future (and most days now), these are the kind of things you will find me in:

Amber Heard

fashion me now

 @kattanita in the Rain or Shine Draped Jacket #trench #olivegreen || Get the coat:

9to5chic navy jcrew dress 2

Jil Sander, Look #31

 Brunette beauty: Olivia Palermo oozed sophistocation as she attended a Carolina Herrera fashion show and gala in Mexico City, Mexico on Friday
Kultstatus | D I L E T T A N T E | | Miroslava Duma :: London

Weekend Chic.

I appreciate those of you who have taken this style journey with me.  I am sure at times it was as frustrating for you as it was for me!  I am no fashionista - I have neither the time, the money, nor the inclination to be one. But now, I can be me, truly me, and that is a wonderful thing to be.

And to Jennifer - thank you! thank you! thank you!

xoxo wendy


Friday, May 29, 2015

Miller Time Friday: At Last....

Come slowly—Eden
Lips unused to Thee—
Bashful—sip thy Jessamines
As the fainting Bee—

Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums—
Counts his nectars—
Enters—and is lost in Balms

-- Emily Dickinson

In honour of the change in things around here, I feel a cocktail is in order!  This is from the wonderful blog A Beautiful Mess!

The Apple Flower Cocktail,

Serves One

Fresh juice (I used 3 small green apples and two limes)
Rose Water
Bénédictine Liqueur

In a medium sized glass, combine 2 ounces of Bénédictine Liqueur and one drop of rose water. Be very careful when adding the rose water because adding too much will make your drink taste like a bottle of perfume. The easiest way to get just one (teeny tiny) drop is to just dip an unused straw into the rose water and then use that straw in your drink, stirring it a little. Add ice and top the glass off with fresh green apple and lime juice. Garnish with a lime or an edible flower.

Happy weekend friends!  I will be gardening, Barry is hiking 56 km with friends, and champagne and house cleaning are in order here (along with book revisions!)

xoxo wendy

Saturday, May 23, 2015

On Boston, Mr. M, Mr. A, New Friends, and SNOW!

Yes, you heard that last part right - woke up this a.m. to snow. Seriously, there is no water in California and we have snow on May 23rd. Have decided to dedicate the rest of my life to fighting global warming.

However, in the meantime, I'll tell you about my trip.

Boston, was, as always, perfection.  I love Boston so much and I am reminded of that every time I return.  Many of my ancestors were American (have lots of distant cousins to prove it!) and my great-grandfather lived there all of his life and we used to go visit him regularly and then my great aunt Gladys after he passed. The city has changed a lot since the 1960s in many ways, but the people have not; they are as friendly as can be.

So we could walk easily to our reading by David McCullough, we stayed at the Harvard Square Hotel, a teeny little boutique hotel in the heart of Harvard.

The rooms were small, but well appointed and conveniently located across from the subway.  There is no restaurant in the hotel, but there are lots of little cafes nearby, as well as the Charles Hotel, which is the larger and nicer hotel, but with a larger and nicer rate to prove it! 

It was a bit of a flying trip.  We didn't arrive until Sunday afternoon.  The weather was glorious, so we changed quickly and had a great walk around Beacon Hill and the Boston Esplanade.

Our restaurant that evening was in the heart of Beacon Hill, 75 Chestnut, and I highly recommend it - it was charming and the food was delightful.

The next morning, these Canucks were first in line for the tour of the three John Adams' houses located in Quincy/Braintree, a quick 30 minute subway ride away.  We were the only ones for the 9:15 tour, which meant we basically had the whole tour to ourselves, and well, you can imagine what THAT was like for me....  I believe I may have been described as the most interested tourist they'd had in weeks.  Yes - I was that much of a geek!

The trolley you road from the birthplace houses out to Peacefield House was quite lovely:

I love a good trolley... Makes you feel all Judy Garland-ish...
For some reason, I was too excited to take any pictures of the birthplace houses, which, while wonderful, were disconcerting as they are in the middle of a city neighbourhood!  They take the pictures so they look as if they are isolated:

But the reality is that there is a bank across the street and the plot of land the two birthplaces sit on are half the size of my own acreage.

But Peacefield....  That was wonderful!  The last house where Adams lived (and where he and Abigail died) was a beauty:

Peacefield was home to four generations of Adam, including the two presidents, and was given to the Federal Government in the late 1920s.

The antiques and memorabilia were astounding and inspiring.

Below is the stone library built by John Quincy's son, housing over 10,000 books!  It was exquisite, though sadly, you can't take pictures in any of the buildings...

This is well worth the visit, considering that the two hours of the tour cost each of us five bucks!

Then we partook of lunch and some shopping and got ready for The Great Man.

Barry and his McCullough background....
He meant it as a joke for me and then fell quite in love himself...

We were early in line and sat 3 rows back, almost across from his wife and children. Mr. McCullough did not disappoint.  He spoke about the Wright Brothers for 30 minutes, took questions for 30 minutes (I asked none since all I could think to ask was "how can one man be so brilliant and charming?) and then signed books.  We waited in line for 30 minutes and it was worth it! The only issue was that Barry gave my camera to one of the staff and the pictures were all fuzzy.  Some were downright impossible to make out!

Sorry for the blur - cellphone pics don't enlarge well!

He was charming and friendly.  When we told him we had driven 7 hours to see him he was tickled pink and said he was very fond of Canadians. Since I am so fond of him, it was a happy meeting!

The next morning we headed home, stopping for a visit with our Lane en route. We had a great time with her and Mr. Lane, whom we both thought was extraordinarily smart and witty and felt like we were old friends meeting again, rather than new friends meeting for the first time.  I took no pictures out of respect for their privacy, but suffice to say, when I get to heaven, I kind of expect it to look like that...We were kindred spirits on all things and isn't that a wonderful thing?

I found a couple of goodies on the way during my travels, but mostly this was about seeing The Great Man (or perhaps I should say men, considering the Presidents Adams) and friends.

We are fortunate in life if we meet our heroes and they meet our expectation. In fact, David McCullough exceeded mine!

Come to think of it, so did Lane!  So, to quote the poet laureate Charlie Sheen: "winning!"

More stories this week, but now I must get out into the garden.  The sun has actually re-emerged and while it is still freezing, I have a garden to weed!

xoxo wendy


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Packing for variable weather and my hero!

Well, I am all packed.  Tickets for Monday's event are printed out.  I am ready to go!

I went very simple with this 4 day trip:

The weather promises to be warm, cool and then warm again.  We plan to do some walking, some sightseeing, some visiting and having one meal at a nice restaurant.

Blues and white, with stripes and florals are the order of the day!

My chambray Theory dress, the Stuart Weitzman slingos and my old Lacoste scarf are for the dinner out and perhaps for Mr. McCullough if the weather cooperates.

I'm bringing 4 t-shirts: one long-sleeved striped, two whites (crew and V-neck) and one navy crew.  I always bring two whites.  I am the queen of spilling...

A pair of dark wash jeans and navy skinny pants

My beloved navy featherweight cashmere cardigan from J Crew, entering its third spring/summer, and a new white Clare Cardigan from J Crew factory, as my old white cardi had seen better days!  They are lying on top of a Joe Fresh navy striped midi skirt.  You never know if the weather folks have aimed low and you find yourself sweltering in the city!

Dark wash jean jacket and floral scarf.  I don't need a fancy coat for this trip.

My el cheapo clutch and the Rebecca Minkoff purse in white:

My new "wash and wear" bag that I came across at Gap Factory yesterday and is perfect for this kind of trip:

Just love the two zippers and that this is washable!

Finally, some jewelry options in the same colour story (I am blatantly stealing from you here Dani), loose and then all wrapped up in my little chocolate velvet jewelry pouch!

My shoes are basic - white vans sneakers, old Cole Haan loafers, old Michael Kors sandals and the blue shoes above.  Travel is NOT the time to break in new shoes!

I may Instagram along the way, so check in now and then and you can bet there will be a big story next Thursday about all my shenanigans!!!

Have a wonderful weekend!

xoxox wendy