I resolve…

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. Resolving to make dramatic changes with a flip of the calendar usually does nothing more than set people up for frustration and failure. It’s often said that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, but that’s simply a common myth. According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology it actually takes an average of 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic. In other words, if you keep your New Year’s resolution until at least March 7, it has a good chance of sticking, but how many diets and exercise programs are abandoned long before that?

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In spite of knowing this, I’ve decided to make one resolution this year. I’m not happy with the amount of time that I spend on the internet and I plan to do something about it. I often wonder what my retirement would have looked like if it had happened before the advent of the internet. Quite different, I’m sure. It’s not that the hours I spend online are all a waste of time. I use the internet for a wide variety of purposes including reading the news, communicating with friends and family around the world, editing, mentoring, and of course, writing my blog, but how many times a day do I really need to check emails, Facebook and my blog stats and what could I be doing instead?

I could simply resolve to spend less time on the net, but that’s a vague and unmeasurable goal. I don’t even know how much time I spend online now, so how would I know if I was being successful? And what do I want to do instead? Back in my teaching days, I learned all about SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based or Trackable. With that in mind, in 2017,     I resolve to read at least two books every month. 

I love reading. I always have, but that’s one thing that’s suffered as I’ve gradually started spending more and more time online. I’m sure that I could quite easily read more than two books a month, but I don’t want to set myself up for failure nor do I want this to be a gruelling exercise. I simply want to make better, more enjoyable use of some of my time. I’ve already picked out the first three books that I plan to read, two novels and one non-fiction. I also have a list of several other books to begin ordering in through our provincial interlibrary loan system.

Now, what about you? Do you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, why not share one or more of yours in the comments section.

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Day or night? Home or away?

logoLots of cute pyjamas were worn around our house over the past few days when all of our kids and grandkids were home for Christmas. Other than the children in one family who like to wear them for the long car rides to Gram and Grandpa’s house and back, none of us wore them out in public though.

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When we lived in China, it wasn’t unusual to see grown men and women on the street in flannel pyjamas. What we didn’t know until later when one of my Chinese students came to stay with us for a few weeks was that it’s commonplace for the Chinese to wear pyjamas whenever they’re at home, getting dressed only to go out or when they’re expecting company. If they’re just stepping out to pick something up at the street market or a nearby shop, it’s not unusual for them to wear their pjs rather than bothering to get dressed.

In Europe and North America, the fashion industry seems to want us to follow suit.  While they’re not suggesting that we should go to work or stroll the mall in our fleece onesies or our flannel pjs, designers are definitely urging us to turn fancy pajamas into glamorous streetwear.

While I could entertain the possibility of wearing a satiny pyjama shirt with jeans for a very casual look, this is not a trend I’m about to adopt. What about you? Would you go out dressed like any of these gals?

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photo credit

Leggings are not pants!

logoAt a recent gathering of women, I was delighted to hear a stylish young lady proclaim that “Leggings are not pants!” I couldn’t agree more. Leggings are one of the most comfortable things you can wear, but there are ways to wear this go-to wardrobe staple well and ways that they ought not to be worn.

In most cases, I’m not a proponent of fashion rules of any kind, but I do believe in dressing modestly and when it comes to leggings it shouldn’t even have to be said, but please cover your butt and cover your crotch! Even if they are completely opaque, unless you’re wearing them strictly as exercise wear, don’t wear leggings with a short top. Longer tops, tunics and oversized cardigans are the perfect choice. Secondly, for a more flattering look, choose a loose fitting top to offset the narrowness of the legs. A clingy, tight all over look really isn’t becoming.

Personally, I’m not particularly fond of brightly patterned leggings, but if you do like wearing snowflakes, reindeer or other colourful prints on your legs, just go for something simple up top. Here, I’ve paired my only patterned leggings, Safari from cabi, with a top that I bought in Japan several years ago to create a comfy, evening at home look.

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The skirt over pants trend is big this season. Growing up in the “olden days” when girls had to wear skirts to school, I remember wearing pants under my dresses on cold winter mornings and taking them off when I got to school. Perhaps that’s why I’ve had trouble adopting this look, but I do like the less bulky alternative of skirt over leggings.

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Here, in a photo clearly taken before winter arrived in Alberta, I’ve paired a lightweight pair of leggings with a simple pencil skirt that I’ve had for years and the thrifted black lace top that I first mentioned here.

Wondering what kind of footwear to wear with your leggings? There are plenty of options. For a casual, sporty look try wearing them with a cute pair of sneakers. For a dressier look pair good quality black leggings with something more formal, such as a blazer, and wear them with a dressy pair of sandals, flats or pumps. Leggings worn with an oversized cardigan and knee-high boots is a classic look for fall and winter. A pair of knitted or crocheted boot cuffs, all the rage at the moment, add a bit of polish to the look.

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The cardigan I’m wearing here was another thrift store purchase. The t-shirt, from Reitmans, was a gift from a friend, the leggings are from Jockey, and the slouchy black Brash boots are from Payless. I’ve had all these items for at least two or three years, but worn together they create a look that’s right on trend.

It’s a good idea to consider the length of your legs when deciding whether to wear heels or flats with your leggings. If you are short your legs will appear longer if you wear wedges, stilettos or high-heeled boots, but if you’re tall, like I am, flats will also look fine.

Just remember, though, whatever you wear them with, leggings are not pants!

A very different look

logoMeghan Markle, star of the hit television show Suits, perhaps better known these days for her romance with British Prince Harry, recommends sticking to simple, classic looks rather than over-the-top ensembles featuring glitter and glitz for holiday parties.

“You don’t want to be the girl in a head-to-toe sequin look, where you look like you should be an ornament on the tree,” says Markle. “Be the girl who looks chic and classy and plays it really simple.”

Last Friday, I showed you a classic Christmas outfit that I put together by searching my closet and combining pieces that I’ve had for several years. Today I’m featuring an entirely different look that I wore to two events last weekend. Since the events were held in two different locations, some 350 km apart, and didn’t involve any of the same people, wearing the same outfit for both wasn’t a problem. The first, last Friday, was a Christmas banquet followed by an entertaining evening with popular speaker, author, and radio host, Phil Callaway. The second, on Sunday afternoon, was a ladies Christmas luncheon at my daughter’s church and this time I was the speaker! I was asked to talk about my cancer journey and how God has been present in it. That’s a pretty heavy topic for a Christmas event, but I didn’t want my look to be sombre. I wanted it to say that I might have cancer, but I’m still enjoying life. Here’s what I wore:

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With the exception of the poinsettia corsage, this is an outfit that I could wear anytime, not only at Christmas. The top is my brand new Monaco Cami, one of my favourite pieces from cabi‘s fall collection.  Although it looks like a lace overlay, it’s actually a print. It’s so realistic looking that when I first saw it, I actually had to touch the fabric to convince myself that it wasn’t lace!

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I’m wearing it with my skinny black pants from Dynamite and the charcoal jacket from Bianca Nygard that I bought at our local thrift store last spring. The silver threads running through it and its big sparkly buttons give it a dressy look.

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And then there are the shoes! Those definitely attest to my frugal fashionista tendencies. I’ve probably had them for close to 20 years! The comfortable Dr. Scholl’s were actually only kept all this time because they worked well with various period costumes that I and others have worn in local community theatre productions, but  now they fit right into this year’s boy meets girl fashion trend! I brought them out of storage, gave them a good polish and they look almost brand new.

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So which look do you prefer?

This week’s or last?

Christmas shopping dilemma solved!

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet or are you still trying to figure out what to get for that impossible to buy for person on your list? You know the one; the person who seems to have everything already and who, when they actually want or need something, goes out and buys it for themselves. Gift cards have helped alleviate some of that last minute Christmas shopping angst, but perhaps that solution seems a bit impersonal to you. Are shopping days rapidly disappearing while you fret over what to do?

Perhaps I have the perfect solution!

Why not give them a Kiva Card? With a Kiva Card, your loved one can help a third world artisan buy supplies, a farmer purchase equipment, a student continue their education… the possibilities are endless!

I’ve written about Kiva before, but this is a great time to plug one of my favourite charities again, especially since it might help someone with the last minute Christmas shopping blues. Kiva is a non-profit organization that allows a person to lend as little as $25 to a specific low-income entrepreneur in one of more than 80 countries around the world. Each time the borrower makes a payment on the loan, a portion of that payment is deposited back in the lender’s Kiva account and they receive an email notifying them of their updated balance. That money can be withdrawn at any time but instead, as soon as most lenders have recovered their $25, they search the Kiva database and choose another borrower to lend it to. That way the initial investment truly becomes the gift that keeps on giving!

I originally invested $100 in Kiva in early 2010 and added another $25 in 2012. By lending and relending, I’ve now helped fund 38 loans to entrepreneurs in 19 different countries. I’ve invested in livestock, solar panels, a flour mill, several sewing machines, a food cart, stoves,  refrigerators, a freezer, restaurant furniture, and the list goes on.

Purchasing a Kiva Card is easy. Simply click here. You can choose to print the card yourself or have it emailed or sent to your loved one via snail mail (although it may be too late to have it delivered in time for Christmas that way). You can add a personal message and when the recipient receives your gift, they can choose who to support. When their loans are repaid, they can use those funds again and again to continue making a greater impact long after Christmas has passed.

If you’re interested in becoming a Kiva lender yourself, visit kiva.org or click on the banner in the sidebar.

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Shopping my closet for festive attire

logoAs usual, we have a number of festive occasions to attend this Christmas season; some dressy and others more casual. I had considered buying a new dress to wear to a couple of these events, but I wear dresses so seldom that it would spend most of its life languishing in my closet. I also discovered that the dresses I liked best in the stores were very similar to one I already own that I wrote about here. The stores seem to be full of lovely lace overlay dresses, but I definitely didn’t need a second one. Instead, I decided to shop my own closet this season and see what I could come up with.

I wore the lace overlay to the first event, a dine and dance that was also a charity fundraiser. Since the dress is sleeveless and the event was held in our local community hall, an old building that can be quite chilly, I took a lovely scarf along to cover my shoulders.

The second event, last Saturday evening, was also a dance. I knew that the crowd would be largely made up of seniors and that dress would, for the most part, be conservative. I wanted to go for a classic look. After trying on a variety of items in different combinations, here’s what I came up with.

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I started with a black lace panelled skirt that I bought when we lived in Japan and added a red/black sparkly top that was purchased several Christmases ago. The skirt, though fully lined, is lightweight and drapes nicely; excellent for dancing the old time polkas, waltzes and fox trots that we so enjoy. I very seldom tuck anything in at the waist, but the top is fairly short and rather than risk a midriff baring wardrobe malfunction on the dance floor, I chose to tuck.

Again, sleeveless isn’t the best idea in wintery Alberta, so this time I added a lightweight loose-fitting jacket with a sparkly pinstripe that was also purchased for a Christmas season some years back. It did come off for a little while when the venue got warm, but I wore it most of the evening.

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With sparkle in both the top and the jacket, I chose to go with simple accessories and since black isn’t my best colour, a bright lipstick finished off the look.

To see what another Canadian blogger found on a similar foray into her closet, why not visit Sue at High Heels in the Wilderness?

And to see what I’m wearing to a couple of other Christmas events, please come back next Friday!

 

Cabi, clothing company with a heart

logoCabi, one of the largest direct sale women’s apparel businesses in the US, is probably already familiar to many of you, but it’s relatively new to Canada having entered the market here just last year.

I was introduced to the cabi Fashion Experience in September when I attended a party hosted by two of my friends. I immediately fell in love with some of the items in this fall’s collection, but frugal fashionista that I am, I found the prices higher than I would normally be willing to spend. When I learned that by hosting a party I might be able to get one or more items at half price, I quickly agreed and I was able to add several favourite pieces to my wardrobe!

I love the comfy, casual Ernest Tee. The mix of horizontal and vertical stripes and the cross body seam line are eye catching and the unusual hemline adds additional interest. Its rayon spandex fabric is lightweight and oh so soft.

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In a colour that cabi calls Dove, the cotton and acrylic Shirttail Cardigan didn’t stand out on the hanger, but when I tried it on, I knew I had to have it! I’m sure it will quickly become a wardrobe staple.

These are just two of my new cabi garments, but watch for others in upcoming posts or view the entire collection here.

In addition to the good quality, comfortable, unique garments, another factor that led me to add cabi to my wardrobe was The Heart of cabi Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to encourage and empower women in need around the world. This is accomplished in several ways. For each new stylist, cabi funds a small business loan in her name for a woman entrepreneur in a developing country. Every woman who places a cabi order is given the option of rounding her order total up to the nearest dollar. It may only be a few cents, but together these cents become dollars that fund small business loans that empower women entrepreneurs working to create better futures for their families and communities. Also, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of one item in each collection helps fund The Heart of cabi Foundation’s efforts around the world. In this season’s collection that item is the Heartbreaker Top. Unfortunately it didn’t look good on me or I definitely would have purchased it. I’m always happy to support a company with a heart!

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