Curated Dressing: The First Eight Weeks

First up, I'm in search of a 30" gas range/hob/stove/player-to-be-named-later. If you are in love with your cooker, I've love to hear about it in the comments or directly.

As you might know, I've been doing this whole French-inspired, reduced wardrobe thing over the past couple of months. I thought I'd commit to an eight-week cycle of my edited deep winter wardrobe before allowing myself to pull in new pieces. While I have not been diligent in recording how often I wear pieces - and I have tried to wear most of them - it's become clear that I have a few favourites.

First: the rules of the game. I only allowed myself to dress from the pieces on my rolling rack. While a 10 item wardrobe (the original goal) sounded delightfully simple, I allowed myself more than 10 pieces because it became clear early on that I'm not a minimalist. My object was not to get rid of everything, but rather to wear everything I had and try to slay the want monster that emerges when it feels like I have nothing to wear. I wanted to determine what pieces I loved so I could reduce the size of my closet (I have two closets in my room, but I want to do a small reno at some point and give half that space to my daughter who is closet-deficient.) Quite a few winter things made their way to the giveaway pile as a result of this exercise.

I kept a mix of high and low-priced items: Ralph Lauren, Escada, Brooks Brothers, J Crew, Eric Bompard, Brora, Ferragamo, Citizens of Humanity, Hermes, CHRiST, H&M, Banana Republic, and Lord & Taylor.

Here is what I wore:

Navy boucle jacket, silk ruffled tank, jeans

Grey cashmere sweater, grey cashmere skirt

Grey cashmere jacket,  black cashmere short-sleeve turtleneck

Camel cashmere sweater, camel skirt

Leopard cashmere sweater, leather croc embossed skirt (I wore this the least as I literally feel like a cougar in it!)

Black velvet jacket, silk top

Black cashmere Sabrina neck sweater, B&W mohair skirt

Navy and black tweed jacket

I also added basics that will stay with me year-round: a light grey merino wool v-neck sweater, a blush cashmere sweater, a classic white button-down shirt, a white tee, dark slim jeans, black pleather skinnies, and Modern Knit Slim Pants in black and charcoal. I also played with accessories.

The pieces I wore the most (at least once a week) were two black knit dresses. This surprised me as it's a new look for me. Also, I thought black knit might not be the wisest choice as I own a small, tan, shedding dog; at least the bulldog hair is french, I suppose…

Zut alors! I resent that.

I wore this washable wool Eileen Fisher dress a lot:

And this cashmere one from Banana Republic:

They are very comfy and I've been wearing them with a myriad of scarves and shawls.

I'm not totally bored with my wardrobe for once and, given that it's still deep winter here, I will have this same collection on the go for at least another month.

I had to break character slightly for the Jamaican dinner. I wore a silk tank with a light grey sweater and my grey cashmere Escada skirt. I was the least festively-dressed person at the party, but I take a Method approach to my art...

I also jumped the season a bit by sporting Fall 2014's pale blue when I had a routine medical test.

Shameless, I know...

One of the keys, I found, to this whole look was to learn to wash cashmere well, as the dry cleaners and the delicate cycle are notoriously hard on it. I set up with a little cashmere washing station in my laundry area. The key is to have stacking drying racks, a cashmere brush and a gentle detergent.

I must say that this is a fun experiment. A couple of my friends are following suit. If all of the fast fashion retailers of Oakville go out of business, I humbly apologize!

How are you managing with your winter (or summer for those in the southern hemisphere) wardrobes? Did the fashion groundhog see his shadow for 6 more weeks of winter dressing or is it spring in your closet now?

Cozy weekend

This weekend was a cozy one. While the rest of the world far and wee is mud-lucious, we are still up to our chins in ice and snow.

No wonder we won golds in hockey.

My furnace decided to misbehave, but thankfully I have one of these insurance policies where everything is covered so they installed some new gimcrackery and all was right again. I saved over $600 because of the insurance.

Ideas, ideas...

Since I was chilly for a good deal of Friday before the furnace got sorted, it was a good weekend for soup and The English Home.

The BF threw a Jamaican-themed dinner party. Did I mention that in addition to cooking a mean jerk chicken, he shows up with flowers to cheer me?

Back off, ladies. He's not available.

I decluttered my house some more. Now that my closets have been tackled, I wanted to turn my attention to my kitchen and china cabinet. There is nothing more satisfying than filling a bag for the charity shop.

I did not have too much clutter. I've moved 5 times in the past 7 years so I've weeded out a lot of things but it's still amazing how much one accumulates. I decided that I no longer want seasonal items like Christmas china or Easter serving plates. I find that the best way to battle the dreaded wants is to only allow very specific items into my home now (there has been a lot of smart discussion of this topic in the wantosphere blogosphere lately.)

Now, I'm down to my blue and white everyday china.

Now that you've discovered my dark chocolate stash, I'm afraid I can't let you leave...

and my Minton set for fancy pants occasions.

Yes, I'm aware stacking cups like that puts pressure on the handles but it's just so pretty.

Unless you are blue and white ware or Minton, you cannot come home with me, no matter how much you cajole. I'm a woman of standards. (Nicholas Kirkwood, I'm still open to discussing shoes however…)

I organized my kitchen so that everything has a place. Now that I've been in my house for just over a year, I have a much better sense of flow, so I shuffled things around to work better for me. I love to be able to reach for a spatula and have it where it's supposed to be. So calming.

I've started to write business pieces again for my own business (I sometime ghost blog for others.) At dinner on Saturday, I spent a lot of time talking about business ideas, which means that I'm getting back into the groove. It's been a long time coming.

I hope you all had happy and relaxing weekends.

Dog Days of Winter

Everyone I know is so done with February (by far the cruellest month -- sorry T.S. Eliot…) Serena has been downright melancholy.

I cannot believe that a wire fox terrier won Westminster...

All she wants to do is nap:

I have been keeping myself busy by tidying and reorganizing. My kids wanted their rooms reconfigured (they both wanted reading nooks added and, if you are a writer, you don't say no to a request like that.) I ended up with an extra piece of furniture in the process -- a 1920s vanity -- that I managed to stuff into my already full-of-furniture bedroom.

The good news is, I now have space for all my scarves:

I have no excuse not to accessorize.

While I was organizing, Serena tried to charm me out of some of my Hermès gavroches…

But I held firm so she is sulking.

I find that at this time of year, I'm starved for pretty colours. I'm drawn to little splashes of pink. 

My roses are holding up well after disciplined culling and trimming…

Isn't that a gorgeous putti plate? I sourced it from the lovely Lidy Baars of French Garden House

I met Lidy online when I worked on my first lifestyle blog, Bliss Notes. (Was that only six years ago? Feels like forever…) Lidy is a lovely person and if you are in the market for french antiques, she is your gal… I'm crazy for angel images of all types, but for the putto in particular (though putti started out as secular imagery, they became associated with angel iconography during the baroque period.) 

How much do I love these 18th century cherubs

If only my needs/wants were less well defined…

Even my ten year old is getting in on the pretty, asking for some colourful roses for her room:

I have no idea how they make roses look like that. 

Today, I had a break in routine when I attended the ladies' lunch at the Club. The speaker was Patricia Sands who talked about her new book, The Promise of Provence, and how to arrange for a house swap in France. I totally want to do that one summer when the children are grown.

The menu was inspired by the south of France and featured Bouillabaisse, Tuna Niçoise, and Caramelized Fig Tarte. I love how the club is embracing my french lifestyle! 

Most importantly, the sun was out today and it was above zero. Could spring be far behind?

Unfamily day

Valentine's Day was a toasty, warm occasion. I woke up to roses on my doorstep.

They were pink, which are my very favourite as the red ones strike me as violent somehow. Clearly the bf listens to my constant ramblings about all and sundry. In the morning, I went shopping with ma mere and found a gorgeous Oscar de la Renta mikado skirt on clearance. It is that birdcage silhouette that is still showing for spring and a gorgeous pink and dark navy colour.

It looks sort of corporate on the runway but it soft and pretty and springy in the natural...

At Sephora, in my never-ending search for a good under eye concealer and waterline eyeliner, I picked up this cute giveaway from Balenciaga: a sample of their Rosabotanica fragrance and a silk scarf. It was free with my loyalty points.

Serena argued that it was not in keeping with my french capsule wardrobe idea that I had both this scarf and the new Ferragamo one I received for my birthday…

I cannot say no to her on Valentine's Day.

That evening, the bf took me out for a sushi dinner...

He took note that I was running low on the Marriage Freres tea I'd stockpiled after a trip to Paris. My favourite blend, Wedding Imperiale, is not available in Canada so he arranged to source some from Dean and Deluca and ship it north. This tea is a gorgeous chocolate caramel concoction. Yummy!

He also got me some chocolates from Chocolate Alphabet, a french chocolatier who makes handmade dark chocolates gilded in 24K gold letters of the alphabet… Think flavours like lavender, sea salt/caramel, cognac…

My children, who were thrilled with their sock monkeys from the grandparents, made artist palette cupcakes.

It was a lovely start to the long weekend in Ontario. While I enjoy an extra day off, I think that Family Day is an insensitive name for a holiday, particularly one that tends to fall on the Monday after Valentine's Day. (The man who did this is our former Ontario premier, a man "who is married with four adult children and has nine brothers and sisters" and has the sensitivity of an anvil…) My marriage ended a week before this holiday five years ago and, at the time, it was salt in the wounds. Ditto for last year when it was "Thank God I Swerved That Family" Day. I have a number of not-partnered friends and friends without children who flee to spas far away simply to avoid this awful time of year. I'm the opposite of politically correct but empathy to the situations of others can be useful and. given how fraught with peril modern family life seems to be, naming the day after Lord Whatsit like we usually do would have been a safer bet...

The kids and I skied for the day on Saturday. It was sunny and gorgeously not too cold. Rarely do I ski the most difficult black diamond runs as the prospect of trying to drive home with a broken leg keeps me sensible, but the snow was so gorgeous that I skied every open run.

Yesterday, my dad took my kids to the Auto Show while my mother and I did a little bit of shopping and had lunch at the Royal York Hotel. The ice dancing was on in the restaurant and while I'm not a big fan of the Olympics (I was scarred by a terrible trip to the London Olympics), I do like Tessa and Scott and was happy to watch them skate.

My kids and I then decluttered their rooms (they have been inspired by my purging and wanted to follow suit) and dove into Harry Potter book 2. Today we are planning to see the Lego movie at the theatre and watch the first Harry Potter movie on dvd. Even though I object to the smuggery of Family Day, I do seem to be living it.

I hope you all had wonderful weekends.

Christmas Traditions: The Nutcracker Ballet

Every year, I take my daughter to see the Nutcracker. (I took my youngest son once, but he loudly complained that there was too much dancing...