Monday, 27 December 2021

The ghosts of Christmas past

I might have left you with a bit of a cliffhanger after ending my previous post with a picture of this year's Christmas tree.  As many of you have guessed, the furry creature who became part of our lives back in March has not been able to resist the tree full of potential cat toys which had suddenly appeared in our sitting room.

She had been fast asleep in her Snooze Bay while we were setting it up and decorating it, and it was only after we were sitting down and admiring our handiwork that she finally walked in. She briefly stopped in her tracks in the doorway, then cautiously advanced upon the strange contraption full of tiny lights and dangling objects.



She'd dislodged the first of the latter - a felt icicle - within minutes, soon followed by one of the rag angels, a raffia teapot and a resin gingerbread man. I must have redecorated the bottom half of that tree dozens of times in the past two weeks! Apart from when she starts chewing the branches or the fairy lights, we just let her be and have her fun.




Christmas has come and gone by now but although my blog's ramblings haven't actually reached the festive season yet, I don't think it would do to post about Christmas in January. So, let's get that done and dusted, shall we. Not that we did much on the day. We never do. Although we no longer stay in our pyjamas all day like we did years ago, as the weather was a wet affair we didn't go for a walk like we did the last couple of years either.

Instead, we lounged around, reading and listening to our three Christmas albums, which got their yearly outing, as did my parents's best dinner service, which they got as a wedding present in 1957.



You're getting a sneak preview of my outfit too, which was built around this sage green crochet skirt which I'd found in a charity shop the previous day. More details, as well as a closer look at the rest of my outfit, will follow in a later post! 

With that out of the way - phew! - I'm taking you back in the bloggy time machine to the week before last. In spite of the reasonably balmy temperature, which would remain between 10 and 12°C from Monday to Thursday, clouds kept getting the better of the sun for most of the time.



On top of that, as usual in the the run up to Christmas it was getting busier in Antwerp by the day, although it wasn't yet on a par with the mad crowds I would have to negotiate a week later.

For now, all was right as long as I avoided Antwerp's main shopping thoroughfares in favour of the city's quieter spots during my lunch breaks. One day, as I was on my way back to the office, I passed "den Cleynen en den Grooten Biecorff” (transl. the small and the large beehive), a restored historical complex built around a central courtyard, now housing a selection of luxury boutiques and other exclusive businesses. 

According to their website, the Biecorff complex is a beautiful fusion of the remnants of old architecture and contemporary design. In other words, the partly plastered walls are a design element and not a sign of neglect. In spite of its obvious pretensions, I couldn't help but be charmed.



From here, it's only a stone's throw to my office building in the middle of the concrete jungle. The arrow helpfully points to the 5th floor windows behind which I'm spending my office days. Antwerp's main shopping street stretches out just around the corner.

On Thursday - we were the 16th of December by now - I decided to throw caution to the wind and walk to Think Twice for a long-overdue browse. Imagine my delight when I found not one but two vintage dresses in such a pristine condition that I doubt they have ever been worn.




My Friday off started grey and mizzly, a persistent fog accompanying us through most of the day. With the temperature having dropped several degrees as well, our plans for the day didn't exactly involve a walk in the park. Nevertheless, that's what we ended up doing after that morning's charity shopping trip.



In fact I think the impromptu walk and the outfit I was wearing deserve a post all of their own, so again I am just treating you to a sneak preview, which actually captures the walk's mood perfectly.



But I did mention charity shopping, so how about I'll show you my finds instead? 

The above all came from the charity shop near the park. Both the coloured wooded beads and the teal plastic ones were deadstock, the latter still retaining its tag from haberdashery and accessories shop Veritas. The black and white patterned item of clothing is a pair of slouchy trousers which didn't photograph well on a hanger. Nor could they be modelled by "legless" Angelica, obviously! They are by Essentiel Antwerp and I'm wearing them as I'm typing this. Much better than pyjama bottoms or - god forbid! - athleisure wear!


Lots of little treasures found their way into our basket in the first shop. 

Sometimes, it is obvious that people's painstakingly accumulated collections have been donated by relatives who just want to be rid of them. This time, there were several of these instant collections, one of them being a motley collection of owls. They were priced between € 0,30 for the malachite one on the bottom right, and € 0,60 for each of the Italian made alabaster ones on the top left.

On the top right, another addition to our collection of souvenirs plaques, this one from Belgian seaside resort Blankenberge. Finally, on the bottom left, a brass replica of the basilica of Scherpenheuvel, a famous Belgium place of pilgrimage. 




Oh, and this vintage wool and polyester blend dress came home with me as well. What's more, after trying it on when I got home, I couldn't wait to wear it the very next day.

I fell for its mix of leopard and zebra print in shades of charcoal and white. Can you believe that, apart from a handful of accessories, I haven't had any animal print in my wardrobe since my punk days?



I used berry shades for my cardigan, belt, opaques and orchid brooch, added a magenta beaded necklace and pinned a grey felted flower corsage to my cardigan.

It was yet again a matter of being all dressed up with nowhere to go, as the weather gods continued being badly behaved, treating us to dark and dismal weather for the rest of the weekend. In fact, we only made it to our garage based photo studio on Saturday as we had an errand to run.





The only sunshine on Sunday came courtesy of our daylight therapy lamp, which we basked in during our breakfast of omelettes with ham and mushrooms.




It was another day of pottering around the house, doing this and that and nothing very much at all.

I did curate my collection of necklaces, though, as my display rack was buckling under their weight and it was becoming quite problematic finding what I was looking for.




It still boggles my mind that it was almost twice as full before the cull! The rack, by the way, used to be a shop display rack for zips in its previous life, and was found in a vintage shop in December 2017.

The orange Better-Maid party dish is home to my rings, 



Pottering activities done and dusted, I finished the book I was reading. This was another non-taxing read which seems to be all my brain can cope with lately.  The novel explores the ties of loyalty and friendship that unite the women in a quilting circle in Depression-era Kansas, 

Oh, and I almost forgot to show you what I was wearing.




My black midi dress with its pattern of flower baskets is another vintage find from Think Twice and another wool and polyester blend. 

The snuggly faux sheep vest came from a high street shop, as did my white plastic ring. Together with my opaques, these are the only retail items in my outfit.




The green wooden necklace was charity shopped last year, while both of my brooches came from the "Brooch Lady", and eighty-something lady who used to sell her collection of 2000+ brooches on some of the flea markets we frequented.  What with the pandemic, I often wonder what has become of her ...

If all goes well, I will be back with one final post this year. Until then, please do stay safe!



40 comments:

  1. You have been finding treasure in the charity shops! I loved your charcoal and white dress on you; the berry accessories were a great choice. I need to cull my necklaces and beads; they have taken over my bedroom.

    Happy New Year!
    xxx

    And kisses to Bess, of course...

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    1. Thank you Vronni! I am so glad to have culled my necklaces, as I've found forgotten treasures in the process! xxx

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  2. How lovely to read about your first Christmas with Bess. It's wonderful you're so patient with her and don't mind her playing with ornaments- after all, she's still a kitten and even grown cats can't resist them. It's good you stored the vintage ornaments away and the other ones can always be replaced. Bess looks very happy next to your lovely Christmas tree.
    I love that sage green chrochet skirt. The black dress with floral pattern is so gorgeous. The leopard and zebra print dress is amazing too. You look fantastic!

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    1. Thank you Ivana! In fact, Bess should have grown out of her kittenhood by now, as she's two and a half. However, I think she missed out on her kittenhood, and had to do it all as a young adult! xxx

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  3. Your leopard meet zebra print dress is really something special. So chic and eye-catching!

    Thank you for detailing some of what's been unfolding on your end as this unforgettable year finally begins to draw to a close.

    It's awesome that you were able to find a few more vintage treasures before we close the last page of 2021's calendar.

    So true about the times when you just know you've hit upon someone's (once, presumably, treasured) collection of similar items. That is something I've encountered numerous times over the years as well. It's wonderful that you were able to give those darling owls a loving new home.

    Many hugs & wishes for a low-stress, enjoyable tail end of the year.

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

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    1. Thank you Autumn! I try not to think about what will happen to our collections, but I know Jos's children, and in particular his youngest daughter, appreciate their worth! xxx

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  4. haha - cutie bess does a good job in "re-decorating" the x-mas-tree ;-DDDD
    i´m not very into brooches - but the one you pinned to the furry vest looks quite interesting and special to me...... i like the animal print dress in cool tones - trĂ©s chic!
    an wondering who will have deal with the collections in dove cottage one day ;-D
    stay warm! xxxxx

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    1. Thank you Beate! I have been wondering too ... best not to dwell on it and enjoy our collections while we can. xxx

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  5. Hi Ann, Some very lovely outfits this week. Black and white really suits you! I love the little Italian owls and Bess's eyes could not be any wider - I'm hoping your tree is still standing! We have had similarly soggy weather over here and also had to abandon our usual Christmas walk. On the plus side, wet weather makes for some great reflections and your photo of the trees reflected in that topped up pond is stunning! xxx

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    1. Thank you Claire! I can never resist photographing tree reflections, and I think I must have photographed this particular one in all seasons! We had to dismantle the Christmas tree early, by the way ... xxx

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  6. Loving the whole idea about winters and Christmas. These outfits looks so good on you.

    Love: Mariann Yip
    https://www.mariannyc.com/farewell-2021/

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  7. Jon was in stitches when he saw naughty Bess and the tree on Facebook! Little minx that she is!
    Some fab outfits this week, loving the animal print dress, that groovy printed midi with the fuzzy gilet and the Xmas Day glitzy skirt. Fabulous.
    That photo of the park with the wonderful reflection in the water is stunning, I'm looking forward to reading more of your adventure. The weather's been absymal here as well if that's any consolation.
    The owls are very cute, what lovely finds. I'm eyeing up the plates Jos has served your omelettes on, they're beauties! xxx

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    1. She's a little minx indeed, and the funny thing is she only ever does these things while we are around, as if to taunt us ... but ah, that sweet little face! xxx

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  8. Wow. You look totally brilliant in your vintage outfits. Although I have to say I have never come across a gal who loves Polyester. Such a bright and joyful blog with a large dose of thriftiness. perfect.

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    1. Thank you Jean! There's less polyester in my wardrobe as there was before, but the name stuck :-) xxx

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  9. Oh Bess is so cute as she sits under the tree. Little rascal. :)
    I had to laugh so much, I can't imagine you in sportswear.
    The animal print dress is great! You used to have punk days? really? I'm trying to imagine that right now. Pink hair? ☺
    Stay healthy Ann.. with a very huge hug Tina

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    1. I know, it is quite unimaginable, isn't it ;-)) xxx

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  10. Oh, Bess, you little scamp, pulling all the ornaments off the tree! I had to spray the bottoms of my Xmas trees with perfume this year, as Vizzini likes to chew on the branches to get our attention at dinner time. It worked really well - he hasn't gone near the trees at all.

    Love your new leopard/zebra dress! What kind of punk doesn't own any animal print?? Hee hee!

    I love seeing that restored area with the exposed brickwork contrasting with the brutalist architecture. I work in a brutalist building (very much like yours!) right on the main downtown street, so I completely get the avoidance of the shoppers!

    Here's to the rest of your 2021, my dear friend. Thank you for every comment and for all of your lovely posts. *hug*

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    1. Thank you Sheila! I'll be sure to try your perfume trick next year! Yes, animal print, and leopard in particular, was very popular in those days :-) xxx

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  11. The animal print dress looks beautiful on you. Wishing you and your family a Happy new Year!
    xoxo
    Lovely
    www.mynameislovely.com

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  12. Haha, Bess must have thought the tree was one huge play area for her of course! We had done presents under the tree and also one for Castor and Teun, they smelled it through the wrapping paper and couldn't resist it. I love the sphere that your interior, the accessories, radiate. So cozy. Love that animal print dress and the white vest and ring! I can't resist rings like that! So simple, so beautiful. We have said to each other that no matter what happens next year, we are going to the UK! Ha ha, two years has been long enough. We need some British air in our system. I wish you and Jos a cozy New Year's Eve!

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    1. Thank you Nancy! I can't resist those rings either, and have quite a collection of them. I don't wear them that much anymore outside the blog, due to the eternal hand washing and hand sanitizer thing ... xxx

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  13. My sister has had similar fun with get cats. The entire tree came down at one point so is now tied to the piano!
    You did well in the charity shops! I am surprised I have a few animal pieces in my wardrobe thanks to TARDIS Tuesday!
    I do think it's sad when relatives gave to get rid of collections.
    I gathered all my Father in Law's desk stationery up when we cleared his house and I put it all in a big bag in the wardrobe in my husband's mum's house. I went through it yesterday to gather some stationery to share with kids at school who don't have much but found it really sad doing that. The owls are so cute. My godmother has an owl collection!

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    1. Oh your sister's experience is even worse! At least, our tree didn't come down, although I suspect it would have happened at some point if we hadn't dismantled it early! xxx

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  14. Wonderful outfits, as always.

    I dread to think what would happen if we had a Christmas tree indoors with my two cats! :D We've got a Christmas tree outside which currently has Christmas lights wrapped around it.

    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. All the best for 2022!

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    1. Thank you Nikki! An outdoor Christmas tree sounds very sensible indeed! xxx

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  15. I'm glad you had a nice Christmas even if it was a quiet one! And I love that you got so many nice finds at the opshop! :) I did a little opshopping before Christmas and came home with some treasures but haven't had time to wear them yet! I did pick up a few winter pieces that doesn't help!

    Hope you have a happy new year!

    Away From The Blue

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    1. Thank you Mica! I often thrift things out of season too. Something to stash away until the appropriate season comes along :-) xxx

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  16. The animal print dress is amazing. I'm still looking for animal print leggins in thrift stores, but haven't been lucky so far. I bet the owls are glad to have got a new home.

    All the best for the last two days of 2021.

    Regula

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    1. Thank you Regula! I don't like all animal print, but this one was too good to leave behind! xxx

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  17. A very quiet Christmas for me Ann. Recovering from Covid. I just wanted to wish you happy new year xx

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    1. Thank you Laurie! I hope you've completely recovered in the meantime! xxx

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  18. Glad Bess enjoyed Christmas so much ;) The Biecorff beehive building looks interesting. What a lovely charity shop owl collection find. You look absolutely fab Ann in both your leopard / zebra dress and flower basket dress xXx

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    1. Thank you Lulu! Bess was very pleased with her amazing new cat toy :-) xxx

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  19. I'm glad to hear you had such a lovely Christmas and as ever some wonderful finds on your charity shop visits. Those two Think Twice dresses had your name all over them.

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  20. Lovely to see that Bess has enjoyed the tree properly ;D.
    And also lovely to see those fab dresses you have purchased, great finds!.
    Love your winter dresses, love your brilliant accessorizing and totally admire your necklaces and rings collection!. Woww!
    besos

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    1. Thank you Monica! The necklaces were getting a bit out of hand, though :-) xxx

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