What is a shacket?

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I’m a self-professed word nerd. I love words and I’m always delighted when I learn a new one. My latest new word is shacket

Shirt + Jacket = Shacket

Maybe I’m the last one to the party because now that I’m looking, I’m seeing the word all over the place in advertising. In simple terms, a shacket is a cross between a shirt and a jacket. Usually slightly oversized, it’s heavier than a regular shirt, but lighter than a winter coat. Some retailers refer to them as shirt-jackets or overshirts. Whatever we choose to call it, a shacket is a perfect layering piece for fall, winter, spring or even a cool summer evening. It can also be worn under an overcoat in winter. 

While the word is new enough that it doesn’t appear in most dictionaries, the garment is not. In fact, the one I’m wearing here is more than 40 years old!

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Shackets are worn by both men and women and this one originally belonged to my Grandpa who passed away early in 1980. It was handed down to my older brother and ended up hanging in the cabin that my parents built overlooking a little lake northeast of Yellowknife. My brother may have worn it some, but whenever I visited the cabin it was I who wore it. When my parents left the north, my mother, knowing how much I loved wearing Grandpa’s old shirt-jacket, brought it to me and it’s been my campfire jacket ever since. It usually stays in the trailer year round. With a hole in one elbow and a slightly tattered cuff, it’s a little worse for wear, but I still love it. 

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In keeping with our pandemic desire for casual comfortable clothing, shackets have been very popular this fall and winter and they’re a trend that isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon. Though my shacket is 100% wool, most of the ones sold today are made of a cozy wool blend. Since I only wear Grandpa’s for camping, I may just have to add another one to my wardrobe! I especially like the colour and length of this BB Dakota Eldridge version. It also has side pockets.

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A quick online search will result in many others like these two. 

 

Pjs and pockets

LogoThough I didn’t buy a lot of clothes in 2020, I did purchase a couple of pairs of pyjamas at Walmart to replace ones that were totally worn out. Due to Covid-19, the fitting rooms were closed so I couldn’t try them on. I loved the feel of the soft fabric though and I was pretty sure that medium would fit, so I took a chance. What I didn’t realize until I put them on at home was that both pairs of pyjama pants had pockets. Pockets in pjs! That was something I’d never seen before.

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I’ve written about pockets in women’s clothing before and I’m definitely very much in favour of them, but in pyjamas? Why would we need pockets in pyjamas, I wondered. After all, anything more than a tissue in the pocket while in bed would be rather uncomfortable, don’t you think? Besides, bedside tables, not pockets, are for the things you might want to have within reach while you’re in bed. 

After much consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that pockets in pyjamas must be a Covid-19 accommodation. As we shelter in place, work from home, and conduct business online, we no longer need to dress as we might have in pre-pandemic days. Comfort is definitely the name of the game these days and for some, that might mean wearing pyjamas, or at least pyjama bottoms, all day. In that case, pockets to hold cell phones and other paraphernalia make perfect sense. 

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Pyjamas as daywear isn’t a brand new idea. When we lived in China, it wasn’t uncommon to see adults in the street wearing flannel pyjamas and house slippers. I wrote about that here. We even saw a woman wearing lovely pink pjs in the Louvre when we visited Paris in 2019 and Australian novelist, Justine Larbalestier, claims that all her books were written while she was wearing pyjamas. 

While I confess that it’s getting harder as this pandemic drags on, I still do my best to maintain some sense of normalcy by getting dressed every morning. I wear earrings every day and most days I still put on mascara and a bit of blush. Pockets or no pockets, I won’t be wearing my pyjamas all day! 

 

2020 fashion shopping review

LogoOnce again, I kept a list of all the clothing purchases that I made over the past year so that I could analyze my shopping habits and establish goals for the following year. I do this in part because I want to be a more ethical shopper, but also because I want to be intentional about wardrobe development. Little did I know when the year began, however, what was lurking just around the corner! If there’s one good thing that the Covid-19 pandemic has done for me, it’s been the fact that it sent me deep into my closets and storage spaces for things to wear instead of to the mall. As I look at my list of purchases, it’s much shorter than previous years and it tells me once again what a strange year 2020 was!

Before we look at what I did buy, let’s take a look at my goals for 2020 and see how I did. 

  • I will continue tracking my purchases for at least one more year so that I can review and evaluate my shopping habits again a year from now.  Done!
  • I will continue to buy things that I need and items I love that work well with what I already have.  Done!
  • I will strive to buy less and experiment with new ways to wear what I already have.  Thanks to Covid-19 and the fact that I seldom purchase clothing online, this was a major success! 
  • I will continue to buy quality pieces and not waste money on fast fashion.  Done!
  • When considering a purchase that was made in China, I will attempt to find a suitable alternative made elsewhere.  Quite successful. I only bought a couple of new items that were made in China. More about that later in the post. 
  • When adding to my closet, I will consider five adjectives that begin with C… classy, confident, comfortable, casual, and creative.  Done!  
  • I will continue to write a Fashion Friday post each week.  Done!

It’s estimated that in a normal non-pandemic year most women purchase an average of approximately 70 items of clothing spending somewhere between $150 and $400 a month or approximately $1800 to $4800 annually. As a frugal fashionista, I never come close to that. For example, in 2019 I bought 43 items and spent $1071.74 CAD or approximately $89 a month. In 2020, however, I spent only $402.33 or approximately $33.50 a month! With that, I bought 24 items including clothing, accessories, and footwear. Exactly half of them were new and the other half were thrifted. I paid full price for only 8 items. 

While the thrift store purchases were largely impulse buys, most of them were items that I loved and that fit into my existing wardrobe well. More than ever in past years, the new items that I bought were intentional, planned purchases that filled identified gaps in my wardrobe. Those included underwear and pyjamas to replace ones that were worn out, the running shoes that I bought to use on the treadmill, and two pairs of chinos purchased at the beginning of summer to fill a need for pants that would be warmer than my shorts and capris, but cooler than jeans.

One of the ways that I attempt to be an ethical shopper is to avoid purchasing new items that were made in China. I did buy several garments that were made in third world countries such as Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Unfortunately, I have no way of knowing if they were manufactured in factories that are socially and environmentally responsible or sweatshops where workers are exploited and forced to work in unsafe conditions. Having lived in China, however, I do know that the conditions for many factory workers there are abhorrent and that human rights in that country are being increasingly eroded. In addition, China continues to hold two Canadians in prison in what is widely seen as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech executive Meng Wanzhou and I believe that China is a threat to Canada in other ways. These are all good reasons to avoid purchasing items made in that country. I did slip up a couple of times this year. I failed to find out where the sneakers that wanted to be mine were made before I ordered them and while I made most of our face masks, I did buy one package that were made in China. 

Since this was such an unusual year and I did so little clothes shopping, rather than coming up with a whole new list of fashion shopping goals for 2021, I’m going to keep the same ones for another year and hope that I actually get to do some real shopping. With that in mind, however, I will make one change. The third goal will change from “I will strive to buy less and experiment with new ways to wear what I already have.” to “I will continue to experiment with new ways to wear what I already have.” I can’t imagine buying less than I did this year! I yearn for the day when I can browse the stores, feel the fabric, try things on, and even take a few of them home with me!   

In the meantime, here’s a sample of my favourite purchases of 2020. You’ve seen many of them on the blog before. 

Three tops, all thrifted. The Goddess Blouse from cabi’s Fall 2018 Collection, shown on the left, is one of the only two cabi pieces that I bought in 2020. The other was also second-hand. As I look at the photo on the right, I’m reminded of an unwritten fashion goal that I’ve had for the past couple of years; to gradually transition from black, especially close to my face, to navy and other neutrals that are more flattering to my complexion. I would not have bought this top if the background had been black.  

These are the only shoes I bought in 2020. On the left, the Asics GT2000 6 running shoes that were purchased specifically for walking on the treadmill. I’ve put plenty of miles on them since buying them last January. On sale at 40% off their regular price, they continue to be comfortable and supportive and were definitely a very good buy. On the right, the sneakers from Mark’s that I bought simply because I love them! They were also on sale. 

And finally, a pair of thrifted capris and one of my most recent purchases, a navy sweater dress from Reitmans.

One Word for 2021

For the past few years I’ve chosen one word to inspire or guide me in the coming year as well as a scripture verse to go along with it. There’s actually a whole #OneWord365 movement on the internet urging members to choose a word to focus on every day, all year long; a word that sums up who they want to be or how they want to live.

My one word for 2020 was Bold. I wanted the boldness of the early disciples who shared their faith in spite of great opposition. I wanted the courage to confront injustice and stand up for the downtrodden. I wanted to boldly speak up for what I believed in or knew to be true. That led me to my one word for 2021.

Truth

The dictionary defines truth as that which is in accordance with fact or reality.

There seems to be very little of that going around these days! In fact, fake news, propaganda, and false information seem to spread faster than Covid-19! I have an insatiable desire to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding; to know the truth about anything that affects my life. Perhaps it’s simply a reaction to having been the victim of lies and deception in the past, but I abhor falsehood of any kind.   

When I see something online that I’m unsure about or that doesn’t sound right to me, I check the facts and, in accordance with my desire to speak the truth with boldness, I often post my findings in the form of a comment or a link. This hasn’t always been popular. In fact, one acquaintance called me the “resident fact checker” in an online discussion. She clearly didn’t mean it as a compliment, but I fail to see how seeking and speaking the truth could be anything but good! Thankfully, others have expressed appreciation either online or in person and I’ve even been approached a couple of times by people looking for help in checking the validity of something they’ve read or been told. 

We live in a day of relativism; the idea that you can have your truth and I can have mine. That isn’t actually truth at all; that’s belief or opinion. Unfortunately, belief doesn’t create fact. Truth is independent of belief. Being able to discern between fact and opinion, between news and editorial, between truth and belief, is a very important skill.  American politician, sociologist, and diplomat, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was quoted as saying, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” 

Accepting that absolute truth exists is an essential foundation of Christianity. God was very clear in the Bible that what He revealed was truth. In John 14:6, Jesus declared, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That’s either true or it isn’t. It can’t be true for some and not for others. 

There are many other Bible verses about truth, so choosing one to accompany my one word for 2021 was challenging. I finally settled on 2 Timothy 2:15, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

That’s what I want to focus on in 2021, correctly handling the truth. Not just Biblical truth, but all truth. 

Have you ever chosen a word to inspire or guide you in a new year? What would your word for 2021 be?

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The Four

Occasionally a piece of art speaks to my heart. That was certainly true of The Four by American artist, Tricia Robinson, when I saw it for the first time yesterday. 

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No, I wasn’t in an art gallery! Covid restrictions continue to keep me locked up at home. I actually saw the painting on Facebook! It was the vibrant colours and the simplicity of the figures that first caught my attention, but the artist’s description gave it much deeper meaning.

These four women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba have something in common. They are grandmothers in Jesus’ family tree! Grandmothers! Some had affairs, were prostitutes, lied and were truly not the starry eyed perfect princesses.

But God chose them, used them…. These four broken women. 

And that’s why I gave them crowns. A symbol of grace and love from our Creator and Redeemer.

Christian author, Ann Voskamp, wrote this on her blog

Four broken ­women—​­
women who felt like outsiders,
like ­has-​­beens,
like ­never-​­beens.

Women who were weary
of being taken advantage of, 

of being unnoticed
and uncherished
and unappreciated;

women who didn’t fit in, 
who didn’t know how to keep going, 
what to believe, 
where to ­go—​­
women who had thought about giving up.

And Jesus claims exactly these who are
wandering
and wondering
and wounded
and worn out as
His.

These four women can be found in the pages of the Old Testament and all are part of the genealogy of Jesus found in the first chapter of the book of Matthew. Widowed at a young age and rejected by her second husband who also suffered an early death, Tamar, was left husbandless and without children. In her culture that made her worthless. Taking matters into her own hands, through an act of deception, she bore twin sons by her father-in-law who later admitted that “she is more righteous than I.” After Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, spies were sent into the land of Canaan and found lodging with a prostitute named Rahab. After risking her life to hide them, Rahab asked that her life and the lives of her family be spared when the Israelites invaded. In the painting, she can be seen holding the scarlet cord that she was told to tie in the window of her home to mark it. Everyone inside the house would be spared. Another young widow, Ruth, left her homeland and her pagan gods to follow her aging mother-in-law back to her homeland where she would be a foreigner and an object of curiosity. She worked tirelessly gleaning in the fields at harvest time to provide for them until she was noticed by the landowner and became his wife. She eventually became the great grandmother of King David. Bathsheba suffered untold grief when the king, in an attempt to cover up an act of lust that resulted in an unplanned pregnancy, arranged to have her first husband murdered and then took her as his own wife. I can only imagine how much worse her grief became when the child of that union died. Her second son became the great King Solomon.

Yes, these were imperfect, broken women; women who’s lives didn’t go the way of little girls’ dreams, but they are also women who were cherished by God. I can identify. When I saw the painting and understood it’s meaning, I wanted to order a print to hang in my den, my room of prayer. Unfortunately, the artist doesn’t ship to Canada, so I will have to be satisfied with having it on my computer desktop where I can look at it often and be reminded that though, I too, am somewhat flawed and have been damaged by the trials of life, I am a beloved daughter of the one true God!

Graduation Day!

Yesterday was a very exciting day for us, but the story began many years ago when we decided to sponsor a child through New Missions. For over 30 years, New Missions has been establishing churches, medical clinics, and Christian schools in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In addition, a Bible school and a professional trade school prepare graduates of New Missions schools to support their families and become leaders in their communities.

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Marie Khetsia was a 10-year-old child in 3rd grade when we began sponsoring her. She had already lost her mother and a few years later her father also died. Khetsia and her brothers were taken in by her aunt, a woman I have come to admire greatly. Every day her aunt goes to the local market to sell her wares and provide for the needs of a household of eleven people!

Over the years, we wrote letters to Khetsia and sent her gifts at Christmas time. It was always a delight when we received a letter in return. She often coloured pictures for us as well. About four years ago, our relationship took on a whole new dimension when I received a Facebook friend request from her! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect that to happen! At first, communicating was a challenge. Our letters had always been translated for us, but now we were on our own! Her English, learned at school, was weak and my Haitian Creole non-existent. We chatted frequently though and I’m amazed at how much her English has improved. She calls us Mom and Dad and her messages almost always begin with a question about how our family is doing.

We were so proud of Khetsia when she graduated from high school, but we knew that she didn’t want her education to end there. When we approached New Missions and learned that we would be able to provide a scholarship for her to continue her education, she entered a three year laboratory technician program.

Yesterday was graduation day! This is a monumental accomplishment in a country where the adult literacy rate is only about 61%. As Facebook messages flew back and forth between us, I could sense Khetsia’s excitement all the way from Haiti! I hope she knew how excited we were too.

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Prior to graduating, Khetsia completed a practicum at a hospital that was close enough to her village to allow her to commute each day, but at the beginning of February she begins an internship much further from home. Leaving home will be a new challenge, but one we believe she’s ready for.

Four years ago, we decided that it was time to begin sponsoring another child. Rodolson, who lives with his family in a different Haitian village, is now 11 years old and in 5th grade. We look forward to receiving his letters just as we did Khetsia’s. If you are not already sponsoring a child or children, I urge you to consider New Missions. For just $33 a month, child sponsorship through New Missions provides a child in Haiti or the Dominican Republic with quality education, a daily hot lunch which for some is their primary meal of the day, and medical care. New Missions also provides a number of community development initiatives including clean water, vocational training and local employment, all vital in this poorest part of the western hemisphere.

Nature’s lace

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I’m not a big fan of winter, but without it we’d never see one of nature’s most amazing phenomenons. This post is especially for those of you who live where hoarfrost never forms.

Unlike regular frost which is essentially frozen dew coating surfaces like rooftops and grass with a thin layer of white, hoarfrost looks like feathers growing on a variety of surfaces. Conditions have to be just right for it to form. One or more days in a row of fog with air temperatures below the freezing point is a perfect scenario. We had such a day yesterday and woke up to a beautiful display of nature’s lace this morning. A quick walk around the yard before the sun rose over the rooftops yielded some very interesting photos.

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Hoarfrost forms when water vapour in the air comes in contact with solid surfaces that are below the freezing point and instantly crystallizes. The more moisture in the air, the more ice crystals form. Interlocking crystal patterns become more and more intricate as they build upon one another forming amazing feathery patterns on tree branches, leaves, and other surfaces. When sunlight hits them, the sight is spectacular!

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After my second walk around the yard taking pictures this morning, hubby suggested that we go for a drive. I’m glad he did! Hoarfrost doesn’t usually last very long. The slightest breeze will send the crystals cascading to the ground and once the sun has been on them for very long they also begin to fall.

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Mundane things like fences and power lines are transformed and look at the backstop on the school ground, a solid curtain of white!

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It’s beautiful mornings like this one that add joy even to winter and we’ve been fortunate to have two of them this month! 

Boxing Day

Our very quiet Christmas is over. Thanks to modern technology, we were able to see and chat with all our kids and grandkids, so it wasn’t as lonely as it might otherwise have been. It was also a good day to reflect on our many blessings and on the reason for the season… the babe in the manger who became the man on the cross; the One who died that we might have everlasting life.

Today is a totally secular add-on holiday celebrated in the UK, Canada, and other Commonwealth countries. Boxing Day originated as a day to give gifts to the poor. The reason for the name seems to have been lost in the mists of time. Some say that wealthy employees would give boxes containing small gifts, money, and Christmas leftovers to their servants who were allowed time off on December 26 to visit their families. Others theorize that churches put out boxes to gather money for the poor and the proceeds were distributed the day after Christmas. In any case, the original meaning has long been lost and Boxing Day has become primarily a day for shopping after Christmas sales, much like Black Friday in the US.

In past years, Boxing Day has been a good day to pick up electronics, toys, fitness equipment, seasonal clothing, gift sets, and all things Christmas at seriously reduced prices. It’s also been a day for pushing, shoving, and standing in long line ups in overcrowded stores. For many shoppers, Boxing Day and Boxing Week sales this year will look a little different. With Covid shutdowns or restrictions in place, much of the shopping will be done online.

Either way, I’m with Santa… I think Boxing Day is a good day to relax after the busyness of Christmas Day! It’s also a good day for eating leftovers of which there are many in our house. In spite of the fact that there were only the two of us, I cooked our traditional Christmas dinner including a turkey! After dinner tonight I’ll be packing up meal size portions and putting them in the freezer to be enjoyed some other time.

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Casual elegance for Christmas 2020

LogoAs a detail oriented person and one who makes lists for almost everything,  a couple of years ago I started making a list of all the Christmas events that we expected to attend and planning in advance exactly what I was going to wear to each one. It made getting ready so easy and took a wee bit of stress out of a very busy time of year.

Then came 2020, an oddly quiet Christmas season! The page is blank. There are no Christmas parties, concerts, or programs to attend. Nothing! On December 8, the Alberta government declared a State of Public Health Emergency. All indoor and outdoor social gatherings, public and private, are prohibited until at least January 12.

In spite of the fact that hubby and I will be home alone for Christmas, I decided to pull out a few dressy pieces and add a bit of sparkle to the season. It’s time for a bit of casual elegance even if it’s only the two of us at the kitchen table or dancing alone in the living room!

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I’ve worn this sweater several times lately. It was purchased on a Christmas shopping trip three years ago. The shimmering gold sections add a festive touch of elegance. For a casual at-home look, I’m wearing it with my comfy old tan cords. It also looks good with my grey skinny jeans.

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This lightweight blazer with a silvery pinstripe has been in my closet for too many years to count and has been part of many different Christmas outfits over the years, but for a 2020 look I’ve paired it with jeans and a plain white t-shirt from Uniqlo. Perhaps I’ll switch the t-shirt for my green sequinned top for Christmas Eve.

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With Christmas and New Years Day both falling on Fridays this season, Fashion Friday will be taking a two week break. This feature will be back on January 8th with my annual fashion shopping review. In the meantime, I do plan on writing some other non-fashion posts, so please stay tuned!

An “aha” moment

LogoThis week I had an epiphany, a true “aha” moment.

Every time I’ve looked at my face in the mirror lately, especially without makeup, I’ve been unhappy with what I saw. My skin looks like parchment, the colour is uneven, and then there are those wrinkles, especially around my mouth! Thankfully, my glasses make the worry lines at the inner ends of my eyebrows less noticeable!

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I’ve never been one to worry about trying to look younger than I am and I’m not about to go the way of Dolly Parton who’s had so much plastic surgery that even she admits to looking artificial, but I really didn’t like what I was seeing.

Then I read Alyson Walsh’s blog post about 1980s model, Jeny Howorth, modelling again at age 56, and I looked at these photos of her.

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Photo: Liberty

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Photo: Sunday Times Style magazine

I looked more closely at her face and that’s when I had my “aha” moment!

There were the same wrinkles that I see on my own face, but when I looked at her I saw beauty and character!

Why are we women so hard on ourselves? Why do we dislike in ourselves what we barely notice in other women? Why do we fail to see in ourselves things that we appreciate in others?

I do take care of my skin. I use a cleanser at bedtime every evening and I moisturize both morning and night. I’m 68 years old and I’ve earned every scar and every wrinkle! From now on, when I look in the mirror I’m going to stop looking at flaws and remind myself that mine is simply a face with life written on it. I also need to remember that a smile goes a long way toward lighting up a face and minimizing lines around the mouth!

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