Thursday, 14 February 2019

Make me smile

As I'm working full time, my blog posts tend to concentrate on my weekend escapades and outfits.

This is especially true this time of year, when the lack of daylight prevents me from blogging about my day-to-day life or showing you any weekday outfits.

I'm also eternally strapped for time, so that more often than not I am blogging about things that happened one or even two weeks ago.

Take this outfit, for instance. I wore it on Saturday before last and, already having written about what we did on Sunday, I just had to backtrack and share these outfit photos, even if it messes with my timeline.

For fear of sounding like a broken record, it was another grey and rainy day. As it was quite chilly to boot, my purple fake fur (a.k.a. the Muppet coat) came out to play again.

I might have gone a bit wild with patterns and colours that day, but I desperately needed something to cheer me up and put a smile on my face, and this outfit just happened to fit the bill.

Here's to hoping it will put a smile on your face too!

This was my first wear of the psychedelic print skirt I picked up at Think Twice last month. Its polyester/wool blend is super soft to the touch and ensures that it is a joy to wear.

The mad, silver print on sea green tights were from a local shop. You can catch a glimpse of the purple socks I was wearing to keep my feet warm and toasty.

But I'll stop beating about the bush, as I'm sure you will have noticed by snakeskin print booties by now!

I bought them, together with another pair in pink suede, from New Look during one of my lunch breaks that week. All six of their Belgian shops have gone into liquidation and they were having a closing down sale, with their new collection going at half price.

They were definitely worth braving the huge queue at the till for.

The weather that week was the usual up-and-down affair, with a brief appearance of the sun one morning, bathing Antwerp's cathedral in a golden glow, and a dense fog obscuring most of its tower from view the next. 

The view of the cathedral from my office window is another thing that never fails to put a smile on my face, whatever the weather.

But I'm digressing, so let's get back to Saturday. 

Before I go ahead and show you what I was hiding beneath the Muppet coat, here's a look at the rest of my outerwear: a charity shopped Burberry beret in a rusty brown, my ancient green scarf and a pair of dark green leather gloves, which were a sales bargain.

I picked up the turquoise in the skirt (it might be green or even blue to you, but I'm slightly colour blind in that range, so I'm taking the safe option) by wearing a vintage blouse in the same colour.

It came from Blender Vintage Shop, which sadly is no longer trading. Don't you love its scalloped, flower petal collar? It's made of some sort of stretch crepe fabric, and it has tiny white dots, pearly buttons and a ribbon tie at the collar, which I accented with a brooch with a purple stone, again picking up one of the colours of the skirt.

A second brooch was pinned to the blouse's collar, this one featuring a portrait of a lady. Having a simple C clasp and a long pin, I'm guessing this is quite old.

More purple was added in the form of a charity shopped cardigan to which I pinned a third brooch, a gold tone bow with a mottled red and white stone.

Here are the other things that made me smile that week.

One morning, while I was on my way to the bus stop, I was captivated by the view of our local town hall. It has recently been re-opened after extensive building work. An extra floor, looking like a square box with windows all around, was put on top of the existing building. Needless to say, we are calling this contraption "the fish tank". That morning, it was all lit up, and it was looking quite spectacular, especially with the huge lit up figure which seems to be holding up the box.

The figure is the six metre high village giant called Contios, who was introduced in 2013. He's got movable limbs which enables him to be walked through the village streets at special events, and here he was part of the town hall's re-opening celebrations which took place last week.

I dare anyone not to smile at the sight of this brave little daffodil which unexpectedly reared its head in the flower box at our back window. 

Or at the sight of my flying duck skirt! I happened upon it in a charity shop last weekend. On closer inspection it turned out to be vintage Scapa of Scotland. And it has pockets as well!

Here I am wearing it with an old rust coloured jumper to which I couldn't resist pinning my wooden flying duck brooch. 

I shopped my wardrobe for the belt, and the brown owl ring used to belong to my friend's daughter Cynthia. She donated a bag full of jewellery for my flea market stall, but I rescued the things I liked for myself!

The ridiculously comfortable boots were charity shopped that same day. The leather is slightly worn, making them perfect for bad weather days. And the best thing is that they were only € 2.

Leaving the best news for last!

We have finally, finally put my parents' house up for sale last week and last Sunday we have accepted an offer, which means that it is as good as sold. Not bad at all after only a couple of day, and surely something else to smile about. 

Nevertheless, as this is the house I grew up in, it will be kind of bittersweet saying goodbye after all these years ...

But that will be for another post.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

A brief glimpse of Spring

Upon waking up last Sunday morning we were met by two strange phenomena. The first, being of the visual variety, was the most obvious, as it was immediately apparent upon drawing our curtains. The grey clouds had taken a day off, leaving us with a brilliant blue sky and a sunny disposition.

The second was a lightness of feeling which initially wasn't easy to put one's finger on. Then it dawned on us. For the first time in two months it was a Sunday without any obligations, free to spend whichever way we fancied.

Putting the two together, we felt truly blessed that the sun had chosen this very day to grace us with her presence.

According to the weather forecast, this cloudless, sunny day would be a one-off. In fact, the weathermen said it would only last until mid-afternoon. So, we wasted no time in filling a thermos with strong hot coffee, packing a picnic and heading off for a bracing walk and some much needed fresh air.

I wore my beloved princess coat, accessorized with a green beret and scarf. My hands were kept warm by my fake astrakhan muff which cleverly doubles as a handbag!

Our favourite nature reserve, Het Broek, where you have followed in my footsteps many times before, was our destination of choice.

The sun was surprisingly strong and it was good to walk and bask in its relative warmth.

The lakes and ponds were glazed with a fine layer of ice, too thin even to hold the weight of the  resident waterfowl, who could be heard screeching and bickering across the main lake as usual.

Soon we came to the bird hide, a ramshackle wooden hut looking out over the lake.

It was looking deceptively calm, as most of the birds seemed to be hiding among the reeds bordering the small islands in the far distance.

Only a young swan, still partly clad in its downy plumage, was venturing out on its own.

The warmth of the sun after the heavy rains of the last couple of days gave rise to a thin white mist emanating from the sodden earth, creating an ethereal, de-focused world.

The tangled bushes, which simultaneously carried last season's growth and Spring's new beginning, and the majesty of the high, windswept trees, made my daily worries recede, so that I was only living in the moment and savouring every breath.

I was looking forward to a visit to my favourite part of the reserve, a paradisaical corner the sight of which always fills me with tranquility and a unfathomable feeling of déjà vu

But the path leading to this slice of heaven was closed off and the bridge crossing the brook had been removed.

A notice on the gate said the path was permanently closed to protect the family of beavers who had taken up residence here. It is true that we did notice some beaver activity the last time we were here. Obviously, this sounds like a solid enough reason, but I was still feeling quite bereft at the thought of never seeing my favourite place again. Silly me, I'm getting all teary-eyed while typing this.

Taking another path instead wasn't nearly as satisfying, but there were still enough sights, sounds and scents to enchant us and even trick us into thinking it was an early Spring day.

On a path sheltered by a bank of reeds, I tilted my face towards the sun, which was colouring its paleness with a blush on my cheeks while warming up my winter-heavy limbs.

It was warm enough to show you what I was wearing underneath my coat: a black frock patterned with a firework display of flowers in white, orange and green. I wore an ochre belt at my waist and a green cardigan on top, echoing the green of my opaques.

My boots are the ancient pair I'm always wearing for walks of this ilk, and which were still carrying traces of the muddy clay we trampled in on Christmas day.

Onward we walked, through a landscape which had time to heal its peat-digging past and become a haven of fauna and flora. 

If it weren't for the occasional encounter with fellow walkers, the quiet would have been quite deafening in comparison with our daily life's hustle and bustle.

For this particular girl, however, the quietness was like medicine after the frenetic rush of the last couple of weeks.

After eating our picnic sitting gingerly on a damp bench, it was time to return to our car.

It was getting busier now that it was past lunch time, and we no longer had the place mostly to ourselves.

And, true to the weathermen's word, the sun started playing hide and seek with the clouds, until the blue sky we'd waken up to was blanketed once more.

Linking to Patti's Visible Monday and Mica's Weekday Wear Linkup!

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Say cheese!

As January seamlessly segues into February, this wishy-washy Winter continues.

It hasn't yet been really cold here in Belgium, the temperature only dipping one or two degrees below zero at the very most, nor have we had any significant amount of snow.

Instead, there's been an endless string of dull grey days, more often than not accompanied by relentless, non-stop rain.

The lack of sunshine has seriously depleted my Vitamin D levels, leaving me worn out, with my energy levels at an all time low.

If you hadn't noticed yet, January and February aren't exactly my favourite months!

But once again, I am finding solace in the rainbow of colours offered by my wardrobe.

Why not wear a bit of raspberry red for a change? It was love at first sight for this gem of a dress, bought at Antwerp's Episode shop, which is part of a chain of vintage clothing shops of Dutch origin.

In spite of it being only a short walk from my office, I only frequent the shop once in a blue moon, as its prices are a bit higher than what I'm used to pay at Think Twice.  I have to admit they've got some really nice stuff, though, and the shop is spaciously laid out ever since they moved to their current premises.

I gladly made an exception for this delightful fit-and-flare frock, its print a confetti of white and yellow dots and dashes.

The tiny bits of yellow in the dress's print prompted the wearing of more yellow, starting with a belt with a round metal buckle.

My yellow cardigan made another appearance, yet again providing instant sunshine, while the brooch I pinned to it, a rather heavy metal orchid, ties in with the red tones of the dress. It was charity shopped in Shropshire last Summer, but I can't remember where exactly.

The multi-coloured, wooden beaded necklace, was a recent charity shop find.

Yellow would have been the obvious choice, but I'm wearing red opaques here, and I opted for my  burgundy boots, which are both comfortable and pleasing to the eye.

When it's raining, which it has done rather a lot lately, and I have to commute, my default go-to boots are either my slightly worn slouchy boots or a pair of flat-heeled tall ones, both in a rather uninspiring shade of taupe. 
I have a fear or ruining my "good" boots and shoes, so maybe I should take a leaf out of Sheila's book and carry them to work in a shoe bag.

I almost forgot to mention the transparent yellow plastic ring I was wearing! And aren't those buttons the sweetest? They do look a bit like raspberries, don't you think?

Apart from my yellow beret, my outerwear consisted of a vintage coat I found at Oxfam about 3 years ago. It's got nice deep pockets I can shove my hands in, but the lining of both is torn beyond repair. 

The embroidered crushed velvet scarf in a lush shade of purple was a € 0,50 flea market find.

So, this is what I wore on Saturday before last.
Now, if the weather had been dry, we would have put on our walking boots to brave the muddy paths of the nearby park. However, as it continued to rain, we had to make do with a trip to the charity shops.

The first shop we went to was the one with the scary owl, and I have to admit that I was a tiny bit disappointed that he was no longer there. I can only hope he's gone to a good home!

This Guernsey Pottery cheese board, complete with ceramic mouse, came home with us instead. 

A vintage pussy bow dress with squiggly stripes in cream and brown, with a sprinkling of red, was my next buy. I already wore it work this week, but for now you'll have to make do with Angelica modelling it. 

The wide burgundy patent belt, which came from the same shop, was a perfect match.

And so are these two cardigans! I was quite spoiled for choice that day.

I'm always on the lookout for cardigans to add to my collection, as I do wear them on a daily basis, except during a heatwave. 

These chunky knit ones are great for this time of year: a flower patterned H&M cardie and a textured pink one, which I'm guessing was someone's handiwork. 

I seem to be accumulating a lot of skirts and this time I was drawn to this fabulous navy, red and white bouclé pencil skirt. Here's Angelica modelling it with a red and white pussy bow blouse which I shopped from my closet. 

This finely knit fitted cardigan with its ajour hearts is from King Louie. I've lost track of the number of garments from this brand that I've come across in charity shops and over the years I've bought dresses, tops, cardigans and a jacket, all in perfect condition, at the fraction of the retail price. 

Not that I'm complaining, but I do wonder why so much of their stuff is donated to charity. It's quite good quality and most of it seems to be hardly worn at all. And it doesn't come cheap either.

My last find of the day was this fabulous red felt hat, for which I paid a silly € 1,50, its style harking back to the 1920s. Although I think Twiggy looks quite fetching in it, I'm promising to style it for you soon.

In other news, we have finished work at my parents' house, so that we finally have our weekends back. Yay!

And last weekend, the weather cleared up long enough to go for a walk, which I will tell you all about in my next post.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Jumping hurdles

Can you believe we're already more than one month into the new year?

Admittedly, January has been a bit of a blur for me, what with work issues and our ongoing work at my parents' house.

For the better part of two months, we have been spending a huge chuck of our Sundays at the parental home, where we have been sorting, clearing and finally cleaning, in order to get the house ready to be put on the market.

As on these days we only had a couple of hours to ourselves, I didn't bother getting dressed. At least not properly, that is. Floral drawstring trousers and a jumper may not sound too shabby, but it isn't the kind of outfit you'd usually find me wearing, and certainly not one I'll be sharing on the blog anytime soon.

Two Sundays ago however, before changing into my work wear (jeans and an old polo neck, if you're interested), I made the effort of putting on the dress I'd found at Think Twice during the week.

It's a vintage shift dress with a high, stand-up collar, one part of which I've only just noticed wasn't standing up that day. But do you think my photographer told me?

I was drawn by its gorgeous teal colour and the lurex shimmering through the fabric. The contents label, although quite faded, proclaims that it's 95% Crimplene and 5% Lurex!

Apparently, it was designed by Annette Carol of Leicester, England. Obviously, I tried googling the brand name, but no luck.

I wore it with my new Tiger's Eye pendant, a charity shopped wide tan belt, and a pair of tan boots.

Speaking of which, aren't they fabulous? They are by Miz Mooz, a sales bargain from many years ago. Unfortunately, I can't wear them for any length of time as they are rather bad for my back. Hence, they're still in perfect condition after all these years. 

When we were clearing the house's attic, we came across a small cabinet we quite liked the look of. After taking its measurements to make sure it would fit, we brought it home and, following a good clean and polish, it is now taking pride of place in our hallway.

I'd never seen the cabinet before, and neither had my siblings, but chances are that it used to belong to either pair of grandparents.

It deceptively looks as if it has four drawers, but the ones on the right are actually a pull down door.

Inside, there's plenty of space for handbags, scarves and berets and there's space underneath for a few pairs of boots so that they no longer clutter up the hallway.

On top, there's a classic Bakelite telephone, which we've had for many years. It seems to look quite at home here!

The round object in the middle is a revolving barometer, thermometer and a hygrometer, which Jos picked up at a charity shop event in October 2017 (see here for a close-up), while the large black tin with the Nasturtiums, a charity shop find from last Summer, currently holds my collection of gloves.

Here's a look at our hallway taken from the front door. You can just make out the edge of our IKEA shoe cabinet on the left, with our vintage coats rack with its jumble of coats, hats and caps beyond.

On the right, above the cabinet, is a small, charity shopped, hanging cupboard, which holds shoe cleaning paraphernalia, amongst other things.

Beyond the cabinet is an IKEA display unit showcasing our collection of vintage cameras.

The floor tiles are original and as you can see they continue into the room beyond, which is our dining room.

I took the afternoon off on Monday, as I needed to mentally prepare myself for some upheaval at work in the following days.

It was a cold but bright day and we took advantage of the available daylight to show you what I was wearing that day.

Brown and beige might not be colours you associate with me, but the dress's eye-catching print more than makes up for this. And for once, I am wearing the dress's original belt, as I love its round buckle.

This is another Crimplene dress, although in this case the polyester is joined by 20% wool, which makes it ideal for colder days.

On top, I wore a bottle green charity shopped cardigan, to which I pinned a vintage Bambi brooch, its circular shape echoing my belt buckle.

I continued the plaid theme of the dress by wearing warm woollen tights in green, with a plaid pattern in red and yellow.

It was back to work on Tuesday, and oh my goodness, what a stressful week it turned out to be.

I am office manager at a small trading company, with a head office in Miami, and we had a visit from the boss, who told us he would be retiring by the end of February. To cut a long story short, as from the 1st of March, I will have two new bosses, instead of just the one.

They joined us on Wednesday and I'm sure you can imagine my relief when they turned out to be the nicest guys ever.

On Thursday, we had lunch together and returning to the office, I simply had to show them this gem of a church, which is located in what looks like a tranquil Italianate piazza. 

This is the Sint-Carolus Borromeus church, which was commissioned and built by the Jesuit order between 1614 and 1621, and which counts as an archetype of Baroque architecture.

It is the Baroque church of the Low Countries and the church of Rubens, even though in 1718 a fire destroyed the 39 ceiling paintings by his hand.

As luck would have it, the church's doors stood invitingly open, allowing us to admire its stunning interior.

Our visit was enhanced by the mighty organ being played, which made the experience even more awe inspiring. 

I'm sure I wasn't the only one to get shivers down my spine ...

Now I'm joining Beate, Natalia and Tina at this month's Modish Matrons, and I will be linking to Patti's Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style once the link is up.

And finally, I am linking up to Mica's Weekday Wear Linkup!