zaterdag 21 januari 2017

Jump(er) for joy

Now here's a sight you will not often see: me wearing a jumper!

Through most of winter, I can get away with wearing long-sleeved dresses by adding layers underneath and on top. However, with temperatures plummeting to below freezing point and hardly reaching positives even during the day, if I was to survive my frost-bitten commutes this week, I needed to wear something slightly warmer.

There was a time, not all that long ago, when I wore nothing but jumpers all through the winter months, but a combination of changing tastes and the "change-of-life" has put a stop to this nonsense. Nowadays, even the mention of the word "jumper" makes me break out in a sweat. Oh, the joys of being menopausal! The upside is that I don't need that many jumpers, and can be really choosy as to which ones make it into my wardrobe.

Take this bottle green jumper, for instance. It's lightweight and warm, and its front panel, with a stripy pattern in off-white, sage green and burnt orange, almost exactly matches the colours in my tweed skirt. More greens were supplied by moss green opaques, olive green beads and a cheeky Bambi brooch.

Did you notice my new boots?

I picked them up for € 4 at Think Twice last week.

Lined with a generous layer of sheepskin, they are perfect to wear in the coldest of weather.

Next up is a slightly thicker purple jumper with a diamond lace stitch at the yoke and sleeves. An embroidered leaf or flower sits in each of the diamonds. I'm wearing it with a vintage Dralon box-pleated skirt, with an op-art pattern in brown and beige.  Purple tights complete my outfit (although you'd have to be eagle-eyed to spot them), and I'm wearing my burgundy boots.

Can you believe we did these outfit photos on a weekday? On Wednesday I took the afternoon off to go to the hairdresser's and when I got home, there was still enough daylight left for a photo session. I was wearing the green jumper outfit that day, then changed into the purple one, which I was going to wear on Thursday.

Although it was crispy cold, the days were mostly bright and sunny, tempting me to go out for a walk during my lunch breaks.

Wrapped up in my fake fur coat, warm woollen scarf and hat and a padded pair of gloves, obviously!

I made a beeline for Think Twice to have a look at what was left of their sales, which was nothing much. But never mind: I already had my fill last week.

Apart from the boots, I found a couple of dresses   ....

...  one of which even menopausal me won't be wearing any time soon!

Oh, and in spite of a self-imposed handbag ban, I couldn't resist buying three for € 5 each. The fourth one (top left) was a flea market find from two weeks ago.

But I swear: one of these days (or weeks, or months), I'm going to have a good clear out!

I've added some close-ups of the bags. If my eyes don't deceive me, the top right one is an unusual greyish green colour, almost exactly matching the first dress I bought.

I'm particularly pleased with the two tapestry covered bags. It's nothing short of a miracle that they made it to the € 5 sales, and weren't picked up long ago. The bottom right one even has Lucite handles!

As freezing temperatures have been predicted for next week as well, I'm sure you'll get to see more of my vintage jumpers.

I have them all at the ready now.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

woensdag 18 januari 2017

January days and their scarecrow trees

"Pale January lay
In its cradle day by day
Dead or living, hard to say."
-  Alfred Austin, Primroses

For most of us living in the Northern hemisphere, January isn't exactly a favourite month. After the - if often forced - excitement of Christmas, January seems drab in comparison.

If the days are lengthening, it is hardly noticeable in the first few weeks after the winter equinox.

Only on the occasional sunny day does the light seem to linger just that little bit longer.

But sunny days are few and far between in this first month of the year. It is, after all, only the very beginning of winter and spring still a long way off.

In spite of all this, I wouldn't have it any other way, as I quite like the change each season brings.

I'm actually glad to be living in a part of the world with proper seasons!

(Photos dating from January 2014 and 2015)

The trick is not to give in to the downward spiral January often brings, and to add some much needed colour to every godforsaken winter's day.

This vintage St. Michael dress, with a pattern of yellow and brown flowers on a cream background, was just the thing, especially as it is made of a heavy polyester fabric to keep me warm.

It came with a slim brown belt but I like it much better with a slightly wider yellow one, bringing out the yellow in the dress. The round white metal buckle, in its turn, echoes the circle shapes in the dress's pattern.

By far my favourite feature of the dress is its unusual brown plastic buttons.

I chose yellow for my cardigan and tights too, adding yet more, if illusionary, sunshine.

Due to the freezing temperatures, we were obliged to do a photo session inside the house. And look who's come to steal some of my limelight! Oh well, then she'll have to earn her keep and be a model. Not being a cuddly cat, she couldn't wait to get away, though.

Friday's weather, in spite of severe storm warnings, wasn't too bad, with periods of sunshine in between flurries of sleety snow, but by evening more and more clouds gathered and we were treated to all kinds of semi-frozen wetness.

In spite of a murky start, the sun soon made an appearance on Saturday morning. Of course, once we decided to leave the house, she decided to call it a day and to make way for leaden skies and more snow.

My charity shopped fake fur coat was put to good use against the biting cold. Once again, I chose my woolly turban. I also grabbed my warmest gloves, a colourful knitted pair found at our village's weekly market.

Silly poses? Oh yes!

The weather conditions didn't keep us from visiting our favourite charity shop, where it was unusually quiet for a Saturday, allowing us to browse at ease.

There were many new additions in the book department, and after some deliberation, these came home with me.

We don't really need more books, as we're still only half way through sorting out my dad's, but I'm sure we'll find space for them. We also regularly (re)donate books to charity, so that some kind of balance is being kept.

Even the clothing floor (this shop actually has three floors!) didn't disappoint, as I found an abstractly patterned green polyester vintage dress (in my size, for once) and a green skirt. I'd been looking for a plain green winter skirt since last year, but couldn't find one that ticked all my boxes. The shape, colour and size of this one were just right, and it is lined too! Here, Angelica is wearing it with a flowery blouse from Think Twice.

My last find of the day was this red felt hat, which came with a bonus brooch!

Since last weekend temperatures have dropped considerably, so I guess it's time to dig out the jumpers ...

zaterdag 14 januari 2017

Walk out to winter

Last Saturday we had this winter's first batch of snow. It wasn't much exactly, but frost had turned the thin layer of snow into ice, as Mr. S. found out when he made an attempt at shovelling the stuff from our pavement.

By morning, snow had been replaced by drizzle which instantly froze, making the roads even more slippery than they already were.

Even Phoebe, who used to love playing in the snow when she was younger, wasn't particularly keen and watched the strange white substance from a safe distance.

I only ventured outside to take a couple of photographs, and then busied myself with some long overdue sewing projects and a bit of ironing. Yes, even a Polyester Princess has to iron from time to time, though preferably not too often.

I was wearing a 1940s style polyester/wool blend dress, bought at a shop called Vintage Styling, which sadly stopped trading last year, and added a fake fur capelet for additional warmth.

I also wore a pair of fur-trimmed "granny" slippers to keep my feet warm and cosy!

After this uneventful Saturday, we were raring to go out on Sunday. Thaw had set in overnight, and most of the snow on the streets had gone, leaving clumps of black-smudged ice in its wake.

It wasn't nearly as cold as the day before, so I wore a psychedelic print shift dress in brown, orange and green, with a green charity shopped cardi on top. I know it looks bluish in the photos, but it's definitely green. Or is it?

As we were flea market bound, I opted for a comfortable pair of flat heeled brown boots.

So soon after the holidays, we didn't expect much of this flea market and indeed, there were many empty gaps where stalls should have been. Even the otherwise faithful "brooch lady" seemed to have given it a miss.

Nevertheless, I did find a couple of brooches on other stalls.

This art deco-style insulated coffee pot came home with us as well. It is made in Holland and marked "Benraad". The coffee pot itself has some crazing but is in otherwise perfect condition and it fits inside a chrome, felt-lined outer shell.

It was only early afternoon by then, and we were our way back home, driving along a road between two parks, when we suddenly had a "Stop the Car" moment.

A low mist had settled over the landscape, and was hovering between the trees.

We got out of the car and, despite the fact that we were not wearing the most suitable of shoes, decided to go for a walk.

This park is called "Den Brandt", and its romantic castle, originally built in 1790, was renovated in the 1870s in late classical style.

The statue in the castle's French garden is by German sculptor Walter Schott. It is called the "Three Graces", or - a name I much prefer - the "Dancing Nymphs".

They have been dancing their rapturous dance since 1910 and on this dreamlike Sunday, they seemed to be floating in strands of mist, with crystal droplets of ice growing from their fingers and chins.

In the grounds beyond, the carpet of snow combined with the unsettling mist provided an eerie backdrop to our winter walk.

We kept to the grass as it was a hazard walking on the cobbled pathways, where treacherous patches of ice were lying in wait to trip us up.

In spite of the slippery circumstances, I tried out some silly poses in the firm believe that practice will eventually make perfect.

If we'd had our walking boots on, we could have wandered for hours, as there were photo opportunities with every step we took.

Finally we shuffled back to our car and drove home, leaving behind the ghostly monochrome winter world.

woensdag 11 januari 2017

White chalk written on red brick

One fine morning during our Christmas break, we were all set to do some charity shopping.

I couldn't wait to wear the vintage velvet skirt I'd bought at a local charity shop the day before.

It was when we were on our way to the till that Jos suddenly noticed the skirt had a Think Twice label still attached, showing its original price of € 12.

If you are wondering why someone buys a vintage skirt, and then gives it to charity with the label still attached, as a regular Think Twice shopper I think I know the answer.
My guess is that it was bought at the tail end of one of their sales, when everything goes for € 1 or € 2. Whoever bought it probably took a chance and bought it without trying it on as there would have been the usual long queue at the changing rooms.

Anyway, it fits me like a glove and I only paid € 4. So thank you, whoever you are!

I combined the skirt with a blouse from ... yes, you guessed right ... featuring ginger tabby cats, a charity shopped belt and ditto beads and a brooch found at a flea market in November.

Both the jacket and the boots have already featured on this blog a couple of times before, as they are firm favourites.

As for our charity shopping trip: it wasn't much of a success.

Apart from the St. Rita plaster bust I showed you in my previous post, I only found a fake fur jacket for € 8 and a scarf for € 1.

We were going to stop in at another shop on our way back but changed our minds as the weather was far too gorgeous to be spent inside.

So, in remembrance of my dad, we stopped by at the place where we said goodbye to him, one of the playing grounds of his childhood.

Between 1859 and 1864, a chain of eight fortresses was constructed around the city of Antwerp, seven of which are still in existence today.

One of them, sadly, had to make way for a busy road and a shopping centre ...

The majority of the remaining fortresses were sold to the local communities in the 1970s and have been converted to semi nature reserves and landscape parks, while some of the buildings house museums or are being used by local clubs and societies.

As you can see, I already donned my new coat and scarf for the occasion, although it wasn't nearly cold enough to be wearing a fake fur coat.

My dad's fortress, as I will call it, has - among other things - a tram museum, a nature class and a co-working space. Wouldn't mind working there, actually. There's also a well-established bat sanctuary which is normally out of bounds and can only be visited once a year with a guide.

You can walk all around the fortress's moat, which is teeming with wildlife. Apart from the ubiquitous ducks, geese and moorhens, several fish-diving cormorants can be spotted.

In the late December sun, the red brick walls of the buildings, with their many decorative details, were positively glowing.

The peeling and cracked paintwork, pockmarked sandstone details, and rampant ivy, moss and lichen only add to the buildings' evocative charm.

Part of the path which follows the moat in my dad's fortress passes through some of the derelict buildings.

Any glass has long ago disappeared from this room's windows, and its exposure to the elements has allowed the woodwork to rot and a carpet of leaves to settle on the cobbled floor.

Eventually, we returned to the water's edge for the final stretch of our walk before heading back to our car.

A last photo opportunity before calling it a day: these ducks were particularly obliging, posing on a waterlogged branch, accompanied by their topsy-turvy reflections in the moat's gently rippling water.