Packing fail?

LogoWe’re home from Vancouver and I just unpacked a dress, two pairs of capris, a pair of cropped pants, and four tops that never came out of the suitcase during the sixteen days that we were away from home! Considering how much time we spend living out of a suitcase, that definitely felt like a packing failure, but was it?

Why did it happen? Spring and fall are easily the most difficult times of year to pack efficiently for in this part of the world. Weather can vary widely and one needs to be prepared for almost any eventuality. It was 30ºC (86ºF) when I was packing. but I knew it wouldn’t be that hot in Vancouver. I packed for a variety of weather conditions, but I definitely wasn’t prepared for the month that Vancouverites are referring to as Junuary! I expected cool days, but also some warmer ones, but day after day it was cool and damp with temperatures in the mid teens. I only wore my sandals and the third pair of capris in the suitcase once. Thankfully, the day that we played tourist was the nicest one of our stay.

Two of the tops were definitely a packing fail. I actually considered wearing them, but in spite of careful folding, they came out of the suitcase looking creased and crumpled. When I shop for clothing, packability is one of the factors that I consider, but these two were hand-me-downs from my sister-in-law. I hadn’t traveled with them before and I learned that I’ll be able take them with me in the trailer where I can hang them up, but not when I’m traveling with a suitcase.

So how did I manage when my choices of what to wear were severely limited? Three factors saved the day:

  1. The morning we left home was a cool one prompting me to add one more pair of jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt to the suitcase at the last moment. I was very thankful for those two extra pieces!
  2. The majority of what I packed was neutral in colour allowing me to mix and match, creating a variety of different looks with a limited number of pieces.
  3. I packed plenty of layering pieces including two camis for added warmth under lightweight tops, a jean jacket, a lightweight cardigan, and my cabi waterfront shirt from several seasons ago.

Regardless of season or destination, the latter two are always keys to successful packing. So, while this wasn’t the best packing job I’ve ever done, it wasn’t a total fail!

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Celebrating 95!

Our main reason for choosing this particular time to come to Vancouver was the fact that my father was turning 95. Rather than all three of we Alberta siblings visiting at once to help Dad celebrate this momentous occasion, we determined some time ago that it works better if we space our visits out giving him company more often. Thus it fell upon me to make this birthday a special one, but I certainly didn’t do it on my own.

On Dad’s actual birthday last Tuesday we took him to his favourite restaurant for dinner. There were four generations at the table that evening. We told Dad that our son, Matt, would pick him up after work and bring him to the restaurant where we would meet them along with Matt’s wife, Robin, and their two boys. What we didn’t tell him was that Matt would be driving the Beatrice, the 1983 Volkswagen Westfalia van that my parents picked up at the factory in Germany, lived in in Europe for over a year, and that Dad drove until just a few years ago when his sight began to fail! It’s now one of Matt’s most prized possessions and the grin on Dad’s face as they pulled up to the restaurant was heartwarming.

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Dinner out, as nice as it was, wasn’t enough to mark reaching such an amazing milestone, however, so we hosted a birthday party at Matt and Robin’s home yesterday afternoon, managing to pull together a group of sixteen relatives, again representing four generations of Dad’s family. There were cousins and second cousins and cousins once removed, though I’ve never really figured out for sure what those terms mean! I just call them all cousins. There were relatives who hardly knew one another and spouses that some had never met. It was truly an enjoyable occasion and though I’m sure he was quite exhausted by the time the festivities were over, Dad was delighted to see everyone.

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Introducing Knix… realism in advertising

LogoWhen my children were small, I told them that Mommy didn’t have a belly button! I was that self conscious about my stomach which was marred by stretch marks and a surgical scar. Now older, and I hope somewhat wiser, I realize that these aren’t ugly. They’re simply emblems of life and survival.

I was beyond impressed when I saw this ad on Facebook recently.

Knixwear ad

I was intrigued by a company that would choose to use real women with “imperfect” bodies as models and wanted to know more. After checking out the Knixwear website and discovering Canadian designed products at affordable prices, I reached out to Knixwear and learned more about the company.

Following a successful crowd-funding campaign, CEO and founder Joanna Griffiths launched her brand in 2013 to fill a very specific void in the intimate apparel industry. After learning that one in three women experience Light Bladder Leakage (LBL) and that there were no leakproof underwear options available to them, she decided to fill that gap and introduced the first Knixwear product, high-performance underwear with an ultra-thin panty liner that absorbs up to 2 tampons (3tsp) of liquid. Featuring a moisture-wicking, anti-odor, and antimicrobial cotton top layer that keep the wearer feeling fresh, dry, and confident, Knix Leakproof are suitable for both light period days and minor bladder leakage.

The company quickly expanded into workout underwear. The first Knixwear bra was introduced in 2015 and today a variety of underwear, bras, tanks, t-shirts, sleepwear, and workout accessories are available. The new kid on the Knix block is Knixteen, products designed specifically for teenage girls.

I haven’t worn Knix yet, so I can’t personally vouch for the products, but the reviews are fantastic. Andrea, writer of Mommy Gearest and an avid wearer of Knix, wrote an in-depth review here.

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As a woman of considerable age, I appreciate the trend toward using older models in advertising and now I applaud Knix for using “real” women; women with stretch marks and cellulite. Women like me who have long had difficulty accepting or embracing our physical flaws because the world of advertising told us that we ought to look like airbrushed models. Women like Bree who is wearing the V-Neck Evolution Bra and the Athletic Bikini in the first of these photos and the Athletic Thong in the second one.

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In addition to honesty in advertising, Knixwear is committed to ethical sourcing. All products are designed in Canada and manufactured in socially and environmentally responsible factories in China and South Korea that comply with the standards set out by WRAP, SA8000, and Okeo-tex.

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Disclaimer:  This is not a paid endorsement. Information and images were provided by Knix, but the words are my own.

Taking time to play tourist

In recent years, whenever we’ve come to Vancouver, it’s been a balancing act trying to spend time with my aging father, my mentally handicapped brother, and our quickly growing grandsons (as well as their parents, of course!) We’ve spent very little time enjoying this beautiful city that was my home many decades ago during my teen years. This time I decided to carve out a little bit of time to play tourist.

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Deep Cove

Deep Cove, the easternmost part of the District of North Vancouver, is one of the most scenic spots on the lower mainland. Once a sleepy little village at the end of the road, it has become a major tourist destination. While there are many things to do and see in Deep Cove, the hike to Quarry Rock, which we did with our daughter-in-law and grandsons a little over a year ago, attracts so many people that the District has recently had to introduce more stringent parking regulations and put a cap on the number of hikers allowed on the trail at any one time. Not knowing this, we headed out to Deep Cove late yesterday morning and were lucky to find what might have been the only available parking space in the area! We wandered the two block stretch of Gallant Avenue that forms the community’s commercial core checking out some of the galleries and boutiques before stopping at a tiny bistro for a fish and chips lunch.

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This morning, we crossed the Lions Gate Bridge and drove through Stanley Park on our way to English Bay Beach, Vancouver’s most densely populated beach area.

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Not far from the hustle and bustle of downtown Vancouver, we walked the long stretch of sandy beach and I breathed deeply of the salty sea air. Continuing on under the Burrard Street Bridge to the foot of Hornby Street, we caught the colourful Aquabus and crossed the narrow inlet to Granville Island.

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While a person could easily spend all day on Granville Island, one of Vancouver’s most popular tourist attractions, we only had time for a quick wander through the Public Market and a few of the shops and galleries. After enjoying an outdoor lunch overlooking the water, it was time to cross the inlet again and retrace our steps so that we could spend the afternoon visiting with Dad and get back to North Vancouver in time to watch the boys’ Little League baseball game.

Just before we got back to the car, I had to stop and take several pictures of this Pacific Great Blue Heron near the water’s edge.

Building confidence from the outside in

LogoWhile it’s true that what we wear only enhances the beauty that comes from within, for most of us there is a direct correlation between how we look and how we feel about ourselves.

In a recent post, Sue Burpee who writes High Heels in the Wilderness, said that fashion blogging has given her greater self-confidence. Once very self-conscious about having her picture taken because she considered herself unphotogenic, blogging has given Sue a reason to accumulate and curate a collection of photos of herself that she’s very pleased with. Like anyone else, she can still have a confidence shattering moment when she walks by a mirror-like panel of tinted windows and catches her own reflection, but she has learned that it’s possible to build confidence from the outside in.

I have found the same thing. Sometimes posting multiple photos of myself and writing about what I wear can seem a bit narcissistic, but taking a greater interest in fashion and in my own appearance has definitely been a confidence booster.

Understanding how wearing the right clothing and accessories can contribute to our confidence, raise our self-esteem, and help us find greater success in the workplace has become big business. Image consultants and personal stylists assist everyone from celebrities to ordinary mortals rethink their wardrobes and make choices that enhance their appearance and boost their confidence.

Dressing for confidence doesn’t require wearing the latest fashion trends or spending a fortune on your wardrobe. Far from it. It’s simply a matter of knowing what looks best on you and what makes you feel good about yourself. Here are several things to keep in mind.

Learn to dress your body. What looks good on your friend may not suit you and vice versa. Though there are many different ways to describe body type, you can find a simple calculator here to help you determine which one of these 4 basic types best describes you. A quick search of “how to dress ____ body type” will lead you to many helpful tips and suggestions.

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I’m a banana! What are you?

Know which colours flatter you. Colours that suit your skin tone have the power to take your look from blah to radiant.

Consider the occasion. Whether you’re going to a business meeting, lunch with a friend, shopping, church or a gala event, what you wear should be tailored to the occasion. Your goal shouldn’t necessarily be to blend in, but you will feel much more confident if your outfit suits the occasion.

Consider your comfort zone. While I urge women to step outside their fashion comfort zone and try new looks, change can be intimidating. A complete makeover might be a confidence booster for some, but others of us need to take baby steps. Small changes can make a big difference.

Embrace your favourite features and downplay the ones you don’t want people to notice. You can find some good tips on how to flaunt your favourite features here.

Finally, think about a time when you felt great in what you wore. Think about the times when people complimented you on what you were wearing or how you looked. Chances are those occasions built your confidence from the outside in. What was it about those outfits that drew positive attention from others or made you feel so good? Was it a flattering neckline, the length of your skirt, the fabric, the colour, or maybe the shoes you wore? Perhaps you can implement something of those looks into what you wear for other occasions.

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Good news and then…

I’ve held off on writing this post for a little while because of the “and then” in the title, but here’s the latest update on my health. I had my tenth Lutetium treatment on Wednesday afternoon, spent the night in seclusion at the Cross Cancer Institute, and underwent follow-up scans early yesterday morning. After lying perfectly still under a warmed blanket (I love those warmed blankets!) while machines whirred around me taking detailed pictures of my insides, I sat down with Dr. Kounma to review the images.

These moments always stir up a bit of scanxiety. Rather than diminishing over time, I think that this has actually increased a bit in recent months. Shortly after I was diagnosed, we read that the average life expectancy for a NET cancer patient was five years following diagnosis. Better than a lot of cancers, I know, but I’m just a few months short of that now. Thankfully, the numbers have changed since that time. Last fall, Dr. MacEwan, head of my treatment team, presented at a NET cancer conference in Europe. By then, the time from diagnosis to disease progression (in other words, the cancer begins to grow and spread again) for patients who are part of the same clinical trial as I am, was 55 months. I passed that milestone a month ago.  This, too, is an ever changing number as more and more of us are meeting with success on this treatment plan.

Once again, the news was good! The post treatment images are not detailed enough to give exact measurements, but it was clear even to me that my cancer is not growing or spreading. In fact, if there has been any change at all in my tumours over the past few months, it appears to be for the better. We left the clinic rejoicing and praising the Lord!

AND THEN…

We were back home and it was four o’clock in the afternoon when the phone rang. It was Dr. Kounma. Apparently, when the radiologist reviewed the morning’s images, he saw something that appeared to be a partial obstruction of my small bowel. This was new since the CT scan that I had in February. Though I have exhibited absolutely no symptoms, Dr. Kounma’s instructions to me were “Go to ER for further evaluation today!”

YIkes!

That must have been one of the quickest ER visits in history! I left immediately for our small rural hospital, about ten minutes away and was back home again in little more than an hour. When I explained the situation to the intake nurse, she immediately picked up the phone and called my family doctor. He came over from his office, which happens to be housed in the same complex, and immediately reviewed the radiologist’s report online. His first comment to me when he saw me was, “Well you certainly look healthy for someone with a bowel obstruction!” He quickly determined that we were likely dealing with a red herring; that this was probably simply a false alarm. He was also quick to assure me that if there really was a blockage, it had absolutely nothing to do with my cancer. That was very reassuring. In fact, I wish that Dr. Kounma had thought to mention that.

Dr. Hanton decided that rather than jumping the gun and sending me back to the city for a CT scan, we would be best to take a wait and see approach. He told me the symptoms to watch for: vomiting, belching, abdominal pain, abdominal distention, lack of appetite, lack of bowel action, inability to pass gas. All of these would be pretty hard to miss if they began to happen. If need be, come back anytime, night or day, he told me and he even gave me his personal cell phone number in case I needed to get in touch with him!

18 hours have passed since the scans were completed and I’m still pooping and passing gas. (I bet you really wanted to know that, didn’t you?) It’s possible that there might be a partial blockage, but both doctors also assured me that these things sometimes resolve themselves. In the meantime, I’m thankful that my cancer is still stable and that, other than the usual post treatment tiredness, I’m feeling fine. Praise the Lord!

Royal wedding favourites

LogoUnlike some of my friends, I did not stay up until the wee hours last Saturday morning or get up before the sun to watch the royal wedding. It just wasn’t that important to me. I was saddened, however, in the days that followed to see women making unkind comments online about what some of the invited guests chose to wear. Why is it that women feel the need to criticize and put one another down? Does it make them feel better about themselves? Is it the voice of jealousy speaking? How very sad!

We all have different taste in clothing; different personal styles. In fact, it would be a very boring world if we all dressed the same. After reading some of the catty comments, I decided to take a look at the photos and find out for myself what they were referring to. I saw some outfits that I liked better than others, of course, but mostly what I saw we’re happy looking people celebrating a joyous occasion. I loved the vast array of colours and styles. There was clearly no one trend or colour that dominated.

After careful consideration, I’ve chosen a few of my favourite looks to feature here.

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Always classy, Kate Middleton wore a figure-flattering silk coat dress by Alexander McQueen. The nasties complained that she wore white, considered a major wedding faux pas. Although it does appear almost white in the sunshine on the church steps following the ceremony, it was in fact cream and apparently looked much yellower in the dimmer lighting inside the church. What I love most about it, though, is the fact that this is a dress that Kate has worn several times before. We first saw it at her daughter’s christening in 2015. It’s obviously a favourite of hers and unlike a lot of women, she doesn’t feel the need to wear something brand new to every occasion.

Another favourite of mine is Jessica Mulroney’s royal blue tea-length dress with cap sleeves by Montreal based designer Di Carlo Couture.

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Lady Kitty Spencer, 27-year-old daughter of Princess Diana’s brother, the Earl of Spencer, looked elegant in a green floral Dolce & Gabbana dress. Internet chatter focused not on what she wore, but instead on her uncanny resemblance to her famous aunt.

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There’s something about American actress Troian Bellisario’s cream coloured gown by Temperley London that caught my fancy. I particularly like the embellishment at the shoulders of its long sleeves.

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And then there were the hats and the fascinators! Oh how I’d love to attend an event where the women wore such gorgeous headpieces! Yes, there were some that I wouldn’t have chosen, but again, why knock another woman’s choice? Here are a few of my favourites.

 

The sleeves on American actress Sarah Rafferty’s frock took a current trend to its outer limit, but her hat was just darling! Former Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham’s was similar.
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The groom’s aunt, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, looked so very chic!

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Looking at these three, one might get the impression that I favour small navy blue headpieces with veils. While I do adore them, I was just as impressed by Amal Clooney’s (British-Lebanese barrister and wife of actor, George Clooney) broad brimmed bright yellow hat.

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Regardless of which outfits I like best and whether or not you agree with my choices, the point here is that we have nothing to gain from putting other women down for what they choose to wear. Let’s be kind to one another!