Lately, these damp and dismal January days have been leeching what's left of my energy levels. I feel like I'm just going through the motions and, left to my own devices, my non-working days would be spent reading and what my lovely blogging friend Lynn delightfully calls fiffing and faffing. Nothing wrong with that, I can almost hear you think, but I absolutely hate not being my usual energetic self.
I often wonder how I managed to blog two times a week while working full-time, but perhaps having oodles of time is just counterproductive! Now don't get me wrong: I love blogging as much as I ever did and my blog has been more than a lifeline during the past 10 months. It's just a matter of serious amounts of procrastination!
OK, that's quite enough of the latter. If I don't get my skates on, I'll still be blogging about these January days in Spring!
My journal has now reached the end of January's first full week and that Friday was just another one of those grey and rainy days. With the temperatures hovering between 5°C and freezing point, the day's precipitation briefly turned into melting snow.
The perfect weather for one of my wool blend skirts which, however, wasn't my first choice that day.
I was determined to wear the Nordic style H&M cardigan I'd scored at the charity shop earlier that week, which I'd hung up ready for wear after its gentle cycle in the washing machine.
I'd already picked out the brown blouse as well, as it was long overdue an outing. With the majority its biscuit and off-white print - which always puts me in mind of bullrushes - near the hemline, it was obviously meant to be worn on top rather than tucked in. However, it looked just awful worn with the skirt I'd originally earmarked, which was quite a bit wider than I'd remembered and made the proportions all wrong.
After a bit of trial and error, this rust brown skirt with its subtle burnt orange checks turned out to be perfect for the job. I paid homage to the checks by wearing a shiny burnt orange belt at my waist and did some secret matching with my opaques as well, offering you a sneaky peek of them in the first collage.
Here's a closer look at some of my stuff. Both the enamelled butterfly brooch and the tiger eye pendant were picked up at the sorely missed monthly indoor flea market. It saddens me to realize that its last edition was in the weekend of 7 and 8 March 2020. Will we ever be able to go back, I wonder.
Flea markets might be off-limits for now - and quite unimaginable too - but we are counting ourselves lucky that we can still go for a rummage in the charity shops, offering some well-needed diversion and change of scenery when the weather isn't on its best behaviour.
That day, we decided to widen our horizons and go to our favourite shop, the one in Duffel near the park, for the first time since February. We'd been avoiding it as it tends to be quite busy and as it is laid out on three floors, requires the use of narrow staircases or a rather cramped and excruciatingly slow lift.
Before we go in, here's a look at my outerwear. You've seen my green fur-collared wool jacket, multi-coloured knit scarf and purple mohair beret before, so that they need no further introduction.
The shop turned out to be reasonably quiet, the first indication of which was that we easily found space in their parking lot rather than having to use the car park at the edge of the park.
I found a pair of pristine brown boots, which I'm already wearing in the outfit photos we made after we got home. They are replacing the pair which have been downgraded to walking boots.
My other finds were a vintage pussy bow blouse (left) and another King Louie frock (right). You'll get to see me wearing both very soon, so that I'm limiting myself to the patterns here. Oh, and there's grumpy old Phoebe too, as I needed another photo to fill up the collage :-)
Saturday morning came with a surprise! I actually gasped when we raised the kitchen shutters and looked out on a garden which looked as if a pastry chef had come along and sprinkled it with icing sugar.
It was a gorgeously sunny day so, after our fruit and yoghurt breakfast, I hurriedly got dressed, put on my new-to-me boots, grabbed my camera and dashed outside.
Even with the temperature flirting around freezing point, there was no time to lose, as the relative warmth of the sun would soon do away with the frosty jewels adorning our garden.
My newly acquired King Louie dress got its first outing. It's a bit shorter than I usually wear, reaching to just above the knee, but I'm alright with that if I can wear it with opaques!
When I tried it on in the charity shop, I marvelled at how fabulous it looked with the burnt orange opaques I was wearing, so they were the obvious choice. Then I layered it with a tangerine t-shirt, while a chunky long-line orange cardigan went on top.
Finding the dress too plain without accenting my waist, I wore a fabric covered sky-blue belt, which tied in with the blue beads joining the off-white, brown, yellow and orange ones in my favourite necklace.
The shiny coral paste brooch is one of the oldest in my collection in terms of ownership. People are usually incredulous when I tell them it's H&M, and I've actually seen it being sold as vintage at the flea market!
Meanwhile, I kept snapping away in the garden as I couldn't get enough of its iced beauty.
How enchanting are the frosted remains of the honesty pennies! And I thought that the woolly lamb's ear (Stachys byzantina) leaves on the top right looked uncannily like winged angels.
Look at that poor ivy leaf trapped in the solidly frozen water in our bird bath. Not that I've ever seen a bird bathing in it, its main function being Phoebe's outside drinking bowl!
By noon, most of the hoarfrost had gone, only leaving tiny patches in the shadiest spots, but for a brief couple of hours we enjoyed the winter wonderland which had descended on our garden.
Sunday was another gorgeously sunny but chilly day with highs of up to 3°C.
The perfect day for our socially distanced walk and meet-up with Inneke and Maurice. We'd agreed to meet at the so-called Artist's Entrance of the sculpture park and although I'd brought my camera, not many photographs were taken as we were far too busy chatting. After all, we hadn't seen each other since ... July! Oh Corona, so much to answer for ...
We tried to stay off the well-beaten paths as it started getting more crowded as the morning proceeded towards noon. At one point, while we were already making our way back to our cars, a police car appeared on the main path as if out of nowhere. We presumed they were checking if it wasn't too busy and whether people were keeping to the rules.
Who could ever have imagined such strange happenings this time last year?
We drove back home after saying goodbye to our friends, vowing to make this a regular thing. Now, all we need is a date and some decent weather!
As most of my outfit was covered by my bottle green, fur-collared Winter coat - only just visible in the collage - here is what I was wearing underneath.
I was wearing double wool to combat the chill, starting with a thick knit black vintage jumper embroidered with flowers along its square neckline.
The grey, white and black plaid skirt is vintage too. It is 100% wool and lined and weighs a ton. Some more secret matching went on underneath, as I was wearing 120 denier red opaques.
Again, I felt the jumper and skirt were too plain on their own, so I added a red elasticated belt with a plastic flower buckle, which came with a dress I no longer have. I donated the dress but naughtily kept the belt! A string of swirly turquoise beads completed my outfit.
Again, I wore a beret to hide my hair which looks a mess if I haven't washed it for two days. I'm not holding out much hope that our hairdressers will be allowed to re-open soon, but surely one is allowed to dream!
Meanwhile, haircut or not, I keep doing my best to stay safe, sane and fabulous, and I hope that you are all doing the same!