Snowshoe adventures

Until this week, the one and only time that I was ever on snowshoes was 43 years ago. While back home in Yellowknife, NWT for my Christmas vacation from university I joined a group of friends for an outing on Pontoon Lake, 34 km from town. The traditional wood-framed snowshoes that we wore that day were much more cumbersome than the sleeker, lightweight versions that are popular today.

wooden snowshoes

The outing was fun and I was glad I went, but it didn’t convince me that snowshoes were something I wanted to invest in and it wasn’t something I ever pursued doing again.

Then came this Christmas and a very special gift from our son, daughter-in-law, and two young grandsons here in Vancouver, an after dark Boxing Day chocolate fondue snowshoe tour on Mount Seymour! With 8 other people and our guide, we set off down moonlit trails through the quiet forest. The night was still, without the slightest breath of wind.  After awhile, we came to an enchanting hand-carved snow lounge in a clearing. Strings of lights twinkled in the trees above as we seated ourselves on the circular snow bench around the round snow table. Our guide provided “butt pads” to keep our rear ends from freezing as we indulged in delicious chocolate fondue featuring a variety of fresh-cut fruit. It was truly a magical experience!

This time, it didn’t take long for me to realize that snowshoeing was definitely something I’d want to do again, so yesterday Matt borrowed a couple of pairs of snowshoes for Richard and I to use and the six of us headed back up Mount Seymour where we snowshoed the First Lake Trail, an easy 2 hour loop. What a delight it was to be sharing a winter trail adventure with the same grandsons that we hiked with in Jasper in July. After a couple of days of heavy rain in the city below, the sun shining through the snow laden trees was absolutely gorgeous!

Snowshoes have now been added to our shopping list!



Extrovert, introvert or ambivert?

LogoI recently did one of those goofy quizzes that show up on Facebook with annoying regularity. Although most of them seem completely ridiculous, this one actually intrigued me. Pick some outfits and we’ll guess if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, it promised. After choosing the items that I would most likely wear from a series of photos, the results showed that I’m neither one. Apparently, I’m an ambivert!

As a self proclaimed word nerd, or lover of words, I was amazed that I was being assigned a label that I’d never heard of before! Doing an immediate search to find out if it was actually a real word, I discovered that an ambivert is “a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features.”


The Facebook quiz went on to tell me “You need to have a regular hangout with friends as much as you need time to yourself. You don’t overdo it on both ends and strike the perfect balance.” It described me to a tee! I believe that I’m a natural born introvert, but that over time and with a significant amount of effort, I’ve moved toward the centre of the spectrum.

Can we really tell whether a person is an introvert or an extrovert by looking at how they dress? Should we jump to conclusions about someone’s personality based on what they’re wearing?

In my case, I think there’s truth to the idea. When I was younger, I tended to dress very conservatively. I distinctly remember that when I was in high school in the late 1960s, the “in” girls were wearing faux leather skirts and vests. I decided to spend a significant portion of my clothing allowance on an outfit like theirs, but instead of feeling great when I wore it, I felt extremely self-conscious. Anything that made me stand out, even in a good way, scared me. In my late teens and very early twenties, I went through a rebellious stage. In those days, I tended toward more extreme fashions, but even then I knew that my “who cares what anyone thinks?” attitude and clothing weren’t the real me. By the time I began my teaching career, I was back in my fashion comfort zone dressing much more conservatively. Only in recent years, as I’ve become more of an ambivert, have I also become more adventurous in what I wear, but I’ll never be someone whose clothing screams “Look at me!”

What about you? Are you an extrovert, an introvert or an ambivert? Do your fashion choices match your personality style?

Magnificent mountain

There’s something about Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, that speaks to my soul. It’s a wondrous creation that speaks of beauty, power, and majesty.

Standing alone like a protective sentinel overlooking the Yellowhead Highway just west of the BC/Alberta border, Robson isn’t a distant and inaccessible peak like so many others are. It’s right there, in your face. You can’t miss it, unless it’s shrouded in cloud as it so very often is.

We make the trip to Vancouver at least a couple of times every year and we always hope to see the mountain. We’ve had some excellent views of it in recent years, but yesterday’s topped them all.

Mount Robson in early morning light

We left Jasper early in the morning as the sky was growing light. The highway was covered with packed snow and ice, but the sky was crystal clear. The snow covered trees and the morning light on the mountains were gorgeous.


The closer we got to Mount Robson, the more hopeful we became that we would get a clear view of it. We’ve been disappointed before, finding it hidden in morning mist, but not this time!

Mount Robson, highest peak in the Canadian Rockies

It was absolutely breathtaking!

A pop of colour

LogoMy wardrobe is quite monochromatic… a lot of black, white, and grey; much like our Alberta winters. One of my goals this year has been to add some colour, so when I saw these bright red jeans at our local thrift store, I had to try them on. After all, red is one of this season’s hottest trends. They fit perfectly and are oh so comfortable!


These are Aiko Skinnies from the Silver Jean Co. They don’t appear to be available in red any longer, but they can be purchased in the more traditional medium and dark washes and there are also similar styles available in black, white, or grey.

Though not brand new, they show no sign of fading and the only bit of wear was a tiny section of one of the inseams that needed to be restitched. It only took a few minutes to mend and is completely unnoticeable.

These jeans definitely add a pop of colour to a drab winter day!


What do you think? Would you wear bright red jeans?

How to mix patterns like a pro



When I used this photo in a previous post, one of my friends commented on the nice mix of patterns, so today, let’s take a look at why it worked. I most often wear a pattern with a solid colour, but in this case I employed a few methods that enabled me to mix patterns and yet maintain a cohesive look.

First, the three patterns that I’m wearing here are all made up of the same colours… black, white, and grey. Keeping the fabrics within one colour family is a simple way to keep from looking like you got dressed in the dark!

I’ve also varied the size of the prints, choosing the large plaid of my sweater to dominate and two smaller patterns to compliment it.

Some patterns mix much more easily than others. In the world of mixing and matching, stripes and leopard prints are considered neutrals because they will go with almost anything. Black and white stripes are especially easy to work with. Grid patterns and polka dots also mix well with almost any other pattern.


I don’t ever remember wearing polka dots before, but I picked up this eternity scarf at our local thrift store recently (where I also bought the sweater shown above) and I love it! Here I’m wearing it with the same black and white striped t-shirt that I wore in the first photo.

Some fashionistas like to mix bolder and more colourful patterns, but I prefer a more classic look, so this might be about as far as I’ll ever go when it comes to mixing patterns. What about you? Do you like to mix patterns? What tricks do you use when putting them together?

And a special note to Jan… thanks for inspiring this post! I always love to hear from my readers.


Celebrating in style

LogoThe Christmas season is upon us and with it comes a calendar full of festive events. I wanted something new to wear to some of them; something a little bit dressy, but not too formal. I found what I was looking for in this sweater from Cleo, one of my favourite Canadian fashion retailers.


I like the fact that the trendy shark bite hem and the flattering pattern give the illusion of a more girlish figure than I’m actually blessed with. The shimmering metallic gold sections are subtle enough that I don’t look like a Christmas tree ornament and the sweater isn’t limited to the holiday season.

For the first of our Christmas events, a performance by our local theatre group (I was in the audience this time instead of on stage), I styled the sweater with skinny black pants and a favourite pair of booties.  It would also work well over leggings.



Ten years of blogging!

Ten years ago today I published my very first blog post! It was also the shortest post I’ve ever written and the message was very simple:

Richard and I have just accepted positions teaching conversational English in Japan. This is a one year commitment and we’ll be leaving in mid March. The main purpose of this blog is to share our adventure with friends, family and anyone else who’s interested.

Little did I expect to still be blogging ten years later! I anticipated that Following Augustine would only exist for the year that we would be in Asia. In fact, that’s why I chose the title. Augustine BeArce, a Romany Gypsy, was the first of my ancestors to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Europe and make his home in North America. 370 years later when I crossed the Pacific Ocean and settled for a time on the far side of the sea, it only seemed right to give credit to Augustine and the Gypsy blood that I inherited from him!

I’ve always been passionate about writing though and by the time our year in Japan came to an end, I knew that blogging was something I would continue to do indefinitely. What I didn’t know was what it would look like once I was no longer living in a foreign land. For lack of a better definition, I now refer to Following Augustine as a lifestyle, travel, and fashion blog, but one of my readers once called it a great advertisement for retirement!

Over the past decade, life has taken many unusual turns, some delightful and others deeply distressing. Following Augustine has been there through all the ups and downs.

We love to travel and the blog has recorded trips across Canada, into the United States, and to numerous other countries. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to live in the People’s Republic of China though, but our five months there gave me plenty to write about. China’s internet censorship made it a bit more challenging to post from there, but thankfully, with the help of WordPress, I discovered a way to successfully break through or over the “Great Firewall” and continue blogging.

Cancer was never part of my plan either, but when it struck, the blog became a good way to process what was happening and to share it with friends and family. I’ve also used it as a way to raise awareness of NETS (neuroendocrine tumours), the little-known and often misdiagnosed cancer that I continue to deal with. My life is not all about my health, however, so neither is the blog. It’s about living life to the fullest in spite of all its challenges.

A couple of years ago, I became interested in fashion blogging and so the weekly Fashion Friday feature was born, not as a “look what I’m wearing today” narcissistic sort of thing, but as a way to connect with other women and to explore how the ways in which we present ourselves affect our lives. It has had the added benefit of ensuring that I write something at least once a week.

I am a Christ follower and I have fairly strong and not always popular or politically correct opinions on certain issues. I haven’t shied away from sharing those on the blog, but I’m committed to doing so with as much wisdom as God allows me, with integrity and with respect for those whose opinions differ from mine.

When I published that first post ten years ago, our daughter was expecting our first grandchild, so over the years five little people have appeared on the blog from time to time. I’m off to visit three of them this weekend and the other two for Christmas, so it’s possible that they might show up again soon!

What does the future hold for Following Augustine? I have no idea, but I’ve now written 882 posts and I don’t see them coming to an end anytime soon!