Social Saturday | January 15

gallery wall with a bunch of artwork hanging on it

Hello and happy Saturday, dear Reader. How was your week? Mine has felt a bit hectic, with a big project at work that I’m trying to finish up today. (Plus all the other things of daily life mixed in!) Earlier this week I took some new pieces to my display at the gallery and I remembered to snap a picture of what it looks like right now.

Some of the new illustrations are these three vintage dresses.

framed dress illustrations

I have also added this trio of dresses to my Society6 shop. They are available with or without words as greeting cards and I have prints too. I hope to do more of them, because vintage dress styles are just so fun to draw and paint!

Well, that’s all for this post and I hope you have a wonderful weekend however you spend it.

vintage style dress illustration

In the Dark Mid Winter, From my Fashion Scrapbook

Lady wearing a beautiful boucle wool coat standing in front of a stone bridge

I know that many people don’t like the cold and dark of winter, but I can’t bring myself to hate the season. As much as I sometimes find the cold and snow to be too much, I also can’t imagine living without four distinct seasons. Though perhaps I could do with a bit more daylight…

Each season has it’s own unique fashion needs, and winter is the one where all of the lovely outerwear can shine! Here’s a peak at some of favourite magazine tear sheets that I have saved in my fashion scrapbook, all featuring some gorgeous winter appropriate pieces!

lady wearing an embellished coat and a giant feathered hat

Both of these images above are from a Vogue magazine- I think they are both from the same 90’s one. I love the detail of the garments and the elegance of the photography.

ladies wearing dyed furs

There’s no better time to wear fur than in the winter! ladies wearing embellished and dyed fur coats

This is one of my favourite fashion ads, found in another Vogue magazine, for all the elegant yet still fun fur coats! I’m not sure I would call new furs a “responsible choice” as the ad claims, unless I knew for sure where they were coming from, but I definitely love the wearing of vintage furs. The leopard printed one below is gorgeous. I would love to find a good 1960’s leopard print fur coat someday….

ladies wearing fur coats in a field

Wool is another fibre perfect for cold weather and these pieces below are so interesting. That dress with an integrated cape is gorgeous!

ladies wearing wool capes and outerwear

lady wearing a camel wool jacket and matching skirt

Finally, some dramatic silhouettes for the winter months! I do love the look of black opaque tights paired with a simple skirt and blouse.

two ladies with dramatic silhouettes for winter wear

Well, that’s all for today. Which is your favourite? Do you like to collect magazine tearsheets?

A New Year & New Closet Organization

closet organization for the new year

While I’ve actually been living in my new bedroom for a couple of months now, I figured that the New Year was a good time to share how I have finally settled my new closet organization. I love to organize, but I also like to make my closets and storage areas “aesthetically pleasing”, so here is how I have done that in my new room, in case you are also thinking of conducting a closet refresh for the new year!

rows of wooden hangers with shirts hanging on them

The closet in my old room (here) was designed with shelves across most of the area, in order to hold sewing fabric and supplies, with a small rod on the side to hold the UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) and Projects-In-Progress. So, when I moved into the room, as a bedroom, I had to change the way I sorted things, because of the small rod area. Now I have moved into a new bedroom which has a standard closet with a full rod, though there are small shelves on the left side of the closet, so I again have had to change the way I organize my clothes.

stacks of cream coloured hatboxes

Starting with the top shelf, all of my out-of-season hats are stored in hatboxes. While I do love to display my hats, they can get dusty, so I have opted to only leave out a few hats for the season. These cream hatboxes are ones I recovered with a map printed wallpaper and I’ve got labels taped on, so I know which hats are inside without having to pull everything down.

large blue storage box, a white fabric bag and a metal cake carrier

I also have hats stored in this large blue box. The cloth bag holds my petticoat, which I don’t wear all that often, and it takes up less space in a bag than hanging.

rose metal cake carrier

And no, I don’t have cake stored in my closet (I wish!)- guess what’s under that cake carrier?

hat inside a cake carrier

Yep, another hat! It was my mom’s idea to keep a hat in there, since I didn’t have anywhere to store the carrier- and then that way I can enjoy looking at the cool vintage cake carrier!

stack of shoeboxes

On the far right of the top shelf, I have a tall stack of shoeboxes. I keep all of my neutral coloured shoeboxes (not the neon orange Miz Mooz ones!) to store my shoes in when they are out of season. Since I don’t need to access them regularly, the stack is all the way to ceiling! Closets with headers are annoying, so I always like to keep infrequently used items up there. I also have these boxes labeled with what is inside.

In front, I have a spray bottle of vodka. Despite the fact that my closet is starting to resemble a pantry, it’s not actually for sneaking a drink; it’s for spraying clothes in between washes. Spraying clothes with alcohol is an old theatre trick to keep costumes free of odours in between shows. I use it for delicate and dry clean items or for things that aren’t dirty, but for which I want to extend the time between washes.

wool and fur coats

Now moving down to the rod, on the right I have all of my fancy evening dresses under garment bags in the very back of the closet. Then in front of them I keep my dressy winter coats. I keep these coats in this closet because I like to select them alongside my outfits, whereas I keep my everyday winter coat in the front closet.

hanging scarves and belts

Next I have my scarves, organized in the iconic IKEA Komplement organizer. I didn’t have enough scarves to fill it, so I folded it in half. I don’t love having the scarves in my closet like this, since it makes browsing a bit more difficult, but I don’t have a better place to hang them, so it works for now. In front of the scarf organizer I have a hoop shaped hanger to hold my belts. Again, not the best spot, but it’s what I have for now.

hanging bottoms and tops

After the belts comes bottoms on wooden hangers with clips. I have organized my items by type and each type of garment has a different kind of hanger.

For my tops, I have these vintage wooden hangers I got off of Poshmark. They were originally from a fur storage vault in Toronto. Since I’ve kind of got a capsule wardrobe right now (from getting rid of so many clothes in 2020-2021) I’ve switched from using slim velvet hangers to using these. They definitely take up a lot more horizontal space, and I might not use them forever if I add to my wardrobe in the future, but right now I am quite enjoying seeing these lovely vintage hangers in the morning when I get dressed!

hanging knitwear

After the tops, come the knits. I KNOW you’re not supposed to hang sweaters and knitwear, but I really can’t be bothered to iron or steam creases out every time before wearing them… and so I keep my most commonly worn knits hung up. I use vintage satin padded hangers, which, again, do use a lot of horizontal space, but they are so pretty that it’s worth it! Knits that I don’t wear as often are stored on a shelf, but for these, I’d rather hang them up than be wrinkly.

extra hangers

And at the end of the clothing rod, I keep my extra few hangers from items that are in the laundry.

organized and pretty storage shelves in the closet

Now moving on to the shelves along the left, which hold a lot of my accessories and knitwear. I use the top shelf as a bit of display area; here’s where the aesthetics perhaps take precedence over the economical use of the space.

top display shelf in the closet

I don’t like having all of my jewelry on my dresser, so I store my special occasion pieces here in the closet, and everyday pieces on the dresser. I also like to keep a few hats out on display, so I’ve got one sitting here and one on my dresser. I also put this little miniature tea set here just for fun.

I have a couple purses leaning in the back, but I might replace them in the future with a picture. I have a small print of this piece by Marc Johns, and I’d like to put it in here once it’s framed, even if it’s something that only I will see, because it will bring a smile every time I look at it!

knits and berets on a shelf

The next shelf down also holds knits- the ones I don’t wear as often. I put in this wooden half shelf (which fits perfectly!) so I could double the amount of space and put my berets here too.

row of purses on a shelf

The next two shelves hold my purses and bags. My small vintage clutches and travel shoe bags etc. are stored inside the cream overnight bag and the large wicker bag.

row of purses and luggage on a shelf

And finally, on the floor at the bottom is a basket I use to hold my work clothes… the old ones I wear to refinish furniture or other messy tasks like that, but don’t need access to all the time.

vintage metal laundry hamper

To the right, under the shorter hanging garments, sits my vintage laundry hamper. I will always be indebted to my brother for this hamper, because I found it at the thrift store for $2….and their debit machine wasn’t working. I didn’t have any cash, so he lent me the money (forfeiting whatever he had found) so I could buy it! Since then I have seen people selling these for MUCH more- sometimes for up to $50, so I am so happy that I got it when I did. Oh, and yes, I always carry cash now, just in case!

jewelry oval frame organizer

Now moving out of the closet and to the left, on the wall beside my dresser I have my jewelry frame. I made this probably 14 years ago, and it has proven to be one of my most useful projects. I did a terrible job attaching the fabric with hot glue, but even so, after 14 years it’s still holding up! And it works so well to organize long necklaces, brooches and dangly earrings. I am a person that needs to see what I have or I will forget to wear it, so this works perfectly for me.

drawer full of fur collars

In my dresser I store my “unmentionables”, socks and tights in the top two drawers. And then in the bottom drawer…fur collars! A bit unconventional, but I decided to put them here to keep the dust off them… it works.

rows of shoes on a bookshelf

Lastly, to the right of the closet sits my bookshelf. I use the bottom two shelves to store shoes and boots; I keep my everyday winter boots in the front closet, but all the other shoes stay here. I keep them here so I can match them to my outfits easily, but also to keep them from getting battered in the communal closet! In the basket, are all of my shoe and clothing care items.

So that’s pretty much how I organize my closet! It always varies a bit from season to season, but I think this will be how it stays for a while. This is only my in-season clothing too, by the way. The rest of my summer clothes are stored in two plastic bins under the bed. I don’t like keeping everything in my closet year round because it overwhelms and clutters the space, and I think it is good to give my pieces a rest from hanging if they aren’t being regularly worn.

(Oh and, not pictured, I keep my fabric tote bag and everyday purse hanging on the back of my door, along with my bathrobe and shawl, for easy access.)

How do you set up your closet? Do you like to do a closet organization refresh in the New Year? Do you prefer to put an emphasis on the practicality or the aesthetics when you are organizing?

hat and jewelry box on display

Social Saturday | It’s 2022!

candle on a windowsill

“Happy New Year” Dear Readers! Does it feel like it should already be 2022 to you?

I’ve had an enjoyable and productive last few weeks of 2021, how about you? Above, I received this lovely pottery dimensional candle holder for Christmas, and it’s so nice to have it sitting on my windowsill reflecting the light in the evenings. 

star new year wreath

I like to change out my wreath depending on the season, so I put gold stars on it for New Years, just for fun!

beautifl sunrise

I don’t often get up before dawn, but the last time I did I was met with this beautiful sight. I haven’t gotten up that early since, though, I guess it wasn’t enough of an enticement to leave my cosy warm bed. 

mystery orange plant bloom

One of my mom’s succulents is blooming. I have no idea what this plant is- it didn’t have a tag. Do you know what it is? We call it the “alien plant” since it has long stems with round leaves and spines that look like antennae. 

zippered pouch with a house embroidered on the front

As for projects lately, I’ve been enjoying some more embroidery. This time a little pouch for my sister. I’m really enjoying making these, and I’ve been contemplating adding some to my Poshmark Shop.

two little baby sundresses and bonnets

I’ve really been wanting to make things with my hands lately- embroidery, sewing etc. However, I haven’t felt like sewing anything for myself because fitting patterns is the worst part of sewing, so instead I’ve started making other things- like baby clothes. Not because I’m having a baby anytime soon, but because kid’s clothes are so fun to make! I plan on creating a bit of a stockpile of them to gift to families in my church who have little ones on the way, as well as bringing some pieces to the pregnancy care centre. 

baby felt boots and hairbows

These little felted boots are so adorable, aren’t they? And little hair bows are a quick and easy (and cute!) project to whip up in an afternoon. I’m having so much fun making these, that I may have been dedicating just a bit too much time to them lately…. well, it’s the New Year now so time for a fresh start! 

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I make a list of 3-4 goals for the year, whether personal, creative etc. Last year I planned to finish organizing my hard drive and compiling a photo album of all of my Instagram photos…but I didn’t get to it…so, it’s back on the list for this year. Other than that, I haven’t thought of any other goals, but I’m sure I’ll come up with some in the next few days.

I hope your 2022 is off to a great start! Happy New Year!

A Year of Reading | My Favourite Books of 2021

a plate of tarts and a teacup in front of an open book

Here we are at the end of 2021… already? It seemed like a busy year for me with so many projects going on, but I still managed to get in a fair amount of reading too. How about you? Since I started this blog series, last year, I thought I would carry it on by sharing my favourite books I read this year. In no particular order, here they are!

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

This was maybe my favourite book of this year, recommended to me by my friend Meghan, who also has a YouTube “booktube” channel, in case you are interested. (I get so many great book recommendations from her!)

This is the biography of Louis Zamperini, which follows his life from his beginnings as an Olympic runner in the 1936 Berlin games, then to his time during WWII as a fighter pilot and after that as a POW in a Japanese camp. I wouldn’t recommend this one if you don’t like reading about war, especially the Pacific theatre, as it is quite brutal at times. He went through, and suffered, a lot during the war, but thankfully the book doesn’t end there. It chronicles his path afterwards, finally ending in a very powerful and beautiful redemption.

Miss Fortune by Sara Mills

This is a fun spy/espionage novel set in the 1940’s just after WWII. It is written in the style of film noir, about New York’s only female private eye, the “P.I. Princess” Allie Fortune. Unfortunately the author intended to write three books, but was only able to finish two of them. This is the first one, which does set up the beginnings of a secondary storyline which isn’t completed, but the main storyline is good and is resolved by the end. (I wouldn’t recommend the second book in the series, though, because she never wrote the third one, and there was too much of a cliffhanger at the end.)

Target Africa by Obianuju Ekeocha

Africa has a long history of colonial influence from the West. In this book, Obianuju Ekeocha, who is a biomedical scientist and founder of Culture of Life Africa, talks about how the West is still trying to influence African countries with what she calls “Ideological Neocolonialism”. She talks about how much of the “foreign aid” from wealthy donor nations comes with strings attached; including the population control abortion agenda, sexualization of children and radical feminism, which many African nations, including her own country of Nigeria, are not interested in. It was an eye opening look into how much of the foreign aid money sent from Western nations, including my own country of Canada, is being used ineffectually and is siphoned off into corrupt organizations, instead of being used to help poor third world nations with their immediate needs, and to actually help them flourish.

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce

This is another quick and enjoyable novel, this time set during WWII about a young woman who moves to London in hopes of becoming a war correspondent. Instead, she accidentally ends up getting hired as an assistant to a women’s magazine advice columnist! I read this one in a couple of days, and thoroughly enjoyed it. There are a couple of more intense scenes, because it is set during the London Blitz, but it’s overall an entertaining, heartwarming and funny story.

the covers of the three Madame Chic books

Lessons from Madame Chic, At Home with Madame Chic and Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott

This is a three-for-one, because this is actually a series of books that I read this summer. Jennifer is the blogger and YouTuber of “The Daily Connoisseur”, and in these books, like her blog, she speaks about how to add elegance and “chic” to your everyday life. When she moved to Paris as an exchange student, she was so inspired by how the French live, that she adopted many of their habits. She shares these stories and lessons that she learned from her host family about how to add elegance and poise to your own everyday.

My favourite one was definitely the first in the series, Lessons from Madame Chic, since I found there was a bit too much overlap with the other two books. It felt a bit like I was re-reading the same advice for several chapters- perhaps if I had read them farther apart I wouldn’t have noticed it so much.

The Shallows by Nicolas Carr

This is the other book that ties for #1 with Unbroken in my list. (Though they are totally different subjects, so maybe they can both place #1 in their respective categories!)

The most striking thing about this book is that it was written in 2010- more than ten years ago now- and it so accurately predicted the trajectory of internet; our usage and habits, and how it has continued to affect us as a society. He talks about how the internet is quite literally changing our brains, which is in turn making us more distracted and less capable of critical thinking. Interestingly, social media was in it’s infancy in 2010, (Instagram wasn’t even around at the time of writing) but already he saw the negative impact it was having on people. Reading this book and then taking a look around at the culture in which we are living in now was more than a little eery. Of course, here I am writing about the evils of the internet…on the internet! He doesn’t condemn it entirely, but instead demonstrates how we should be aware that the internet is making us “shallow”, and how we should take the time to put limits on it; relegating it once again to just a tool.

My favourite quote which I didn’t copy down, but recall from memory, goes something like “the internet is so helpful and good a servant, that it would be a little churlish to note that it also seems to be our master.” I definitely recommend checking this book out, if you’ve ever thought about your internet habits and wondered whether they are entirely all that healthy.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

This is one of my favourite books of all time and I like to re-read it every few years when I need some encouragement.

The Ten Boom family was a Dutch Christian family who hid Jews in a secret room in their house in defiance to the Nazi’s during WWII. The story follows the family pre-war, how they got involved in the Dutch Resistance and then how Corrie and her sister were eventually sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. The book doesn’t end with the war; she focuses the final section, most importantly, on forgiveness, her faith in God and how there is “no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still”.

Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto

In a similar vein, here is another book about WWII (I sure read a lot from that era this year) and this time from a Canadian perspective. The author shares about his grandparents’ experiences during WWII, and how their stories weave into each others lives and into his life. His maternal grandfather fought for the Canadian army in the Pacific theatre against the Japanese army, and his paternal grandparents were Japanese immigrants to Canada who lost everything they owned in BC and were sent to forced labour in Alberta.

He writes poignantly about his own struggles towards key figures and events in his life and how he was able to learn forgiveness from his grandparents and how they were able to forgive the “other side” and build a new life together after the war- one that wouldn’t even have been possible without that forgiveness.

If Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley

Lucy Worsley is a British historian and curator at Historic Royal Palaces, so she is definitely qualified to write a book about the history of the home. However, maybe even more importantly, she is also a great presenter who is quite funny, in a cheeky way, and so her books (and TV programs) are engaging as well as informative.

I had already watched the BBC program that this book is based on, but I still enjoyed reading about the evolution of the way we live in our homes. She talks about the practical and social reasons changes occurred, from the medieval times of the Great Hall, to the more intimate and private Victorian Parlour, all the way to the current Living Room (which is remarkably similar to that medieval model). If you don’t feel like reading it, I would recommend watching the four part BBC program!

Unplanned by Abby Johnson

I had listened to Abby Johnson’s testimony before, but I still wanted to read her book: and then I received it for Christmas and was able to read it just in time to add to this list! In this book, Abby shares her story of how she started volunteering at Planned Parenthood in her college days, which eventually led to her working full time as a clinic director. She wanted to be able to help and counsel women in crisis, but God used a series of events to lead her to leave the clinic and, to her surprise, join the pro-life movement instead.

Educated by Tara Westover

The last book in my list is another excellent one. I had heard about this memoir last year and then when one of my favourite bloggers listed it among their favourite books, I knew that I had to pick it up the next time I was at the library.

The author chronicles her life growing up in a dysfunctional family in a rural area. Although it wasn’t that remote of an area, they didn’t mix with other people, and she only attended school sporadically. The story is quite intense and frightening at times as it follows the author’s life as she grows up and decides to eventually leave her family’s home and go to university. This book is a rare glimpse into what life in an isolating and abusive environment can be like, and how it can affect even the strongest person.

Tara Westover truly has a gift for words and engaging storytelling; I was hooked from the moment I read the introduction.

Well, that’s my list of favourite books from this year. I read 50 books in total this year, so these are just the highlights. I’ve already got a stack on my nightstand…so here’s to reading more good books in 2022!

What was your favourite book you read this year? Do you have any recommendations?