Making trends work for you


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Photo – Getty Images

Chances are, you aren’t going anywhere dressed like this this fall. Neither am I, but this intriguing outfit incorporates, to some extent, at least nine of this season’s biggest fashion trends! Let’s take a look at what they are:

  1. Red
  2. Plaid
  3. Oversized tote bag
  4. Oversized blanket coat
  5. Large, colourful floral print
  6. Flowing maxi dress
  7. Animal print
  8. Extreme layering
  9. Slouchy boots

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 7.51.11 PMPlaid is really a returning trend from last fall and winter, but this year’s reinvention includes plaids in wild colours, head to toe plaid, and mixing plaids. Similarly, while animal prints are an enduring trend and are usually considered a neutral, this season you can also expect to see neon zebra and garishly coloured leopard prints. If you want either a plaid or an animal print to have enduring value though, opt for a more traditional look that you’ll be able to wear for years.

For those of us who live a cold climate, layering is a no-brainer during fall and winter, but this year’s trend takes it to the extreme with multiple layers often topped with a bulky oversized coat. One of the great things about this trend is that it allows you to continue wearing some of your spring and summer pieces right into fall and winter. For example, think about layering a sleeveless summer dress over a long sleeved shirt or tee and leggings, then don’t be afraid to pile on a few more layers!

Have fun with the trends, but don’t become a slave to them!  As always, the key to incorporating the latest fashion trends into your wardrobe is to consider how you might put your own interpretation on them while staying true to your own style. Begin by shopping your closet to see how you can make the trends work with what’s already there. For example, I’ll definitely be wearing the black and white plaid shirt that I bought second hand in the spring of 2017 as well as the Check Shirt from Cabi’s Fall 2017 collection again this year. I also have a couple of leopard print items in traditional neutral colours that will be in circulation again this season. I’ve been doing a major closet cull lately and I almost let go of an older leopard print shirt that I haven’t worn for a long time, but I changed my mind and snatched it back out of the bag that’s destined for the thrift store! I’ll show it to you next week.


Having an Elijah moment

I don’t ever want to be one of those little old ladies in the nursing home who goes on and on endlessly complaining about her aches, pains, and infirmities to anyone who might be listening. On the other hand, while I’m determined to maintain a positive attitude, I’m not actually Wonder Woman and I do have my “Elijah moments”.

If you’re at all familiar with the Old Testament, you may remember the story of the prophet Elijah, who immediately after experiencing an amazing victory on Mount Carmel and defeating 450 prophets of the false god, Baal, flees into the desert when his life is threatened by the wicked queen, Jezebel. Exhausted and depressed, he sits down under a broom tree and prays to die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life.” (1 Kings 19:4) Later, he goes on to say, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings 19:10)

Poor Elijah! An emotional high followed by a crash. That’s what I call an “Elijah moment” and I can definitely identify!

As I shared in Wednesday’s post, I was elated to learn that afternoon that my cancer had not spread or grown. The very next day, however, I learned that my thyroid is no longer functioning as it should. I knew that this could happen as a result of my treatments, but it still seemed like one more in a long list of health related discouragements. In the past 5 years, since my first cancer diagnosis, there has been a second cancer, high blood pressure, prediabetes, osteopenia, and now hypothyroidism! Like Elijah, I felt like saying, “I have had enough, Lord!”

After all, I could argue that I have been very zealous about living a healthy lifestyle. I exercise regularly, I eat healthy, I don’t smoke, I drink in extreme moderation, I’ve never used illegal drugs. Heck, I don’t even drink coffee! Why me? Why another diagnosis? I was definitely having an “Elijah moment”!

But God didn’t leave Elijah under the broom tree wallowing in despondency. He sent an angel to give him food and water, then He let him rest. Later, He spoke to him in a gentle whisper, gave him someone to walk beside him and share in his work, and sent him out to continue. God wasn’t finished with Elijah yet and apparently He isn’t finished with me either! Within a few hours of learning about my failing thyroid, an email from a ministry that I’m involved with made that very clear. And so, like Elijah, I’ll keep on keeping on. I’m determined not to become that crabby little old lady who has nothing better to do than complain!


Statue of Elijah on Mount Carmel – Israel trip 2016

Your Perfect 10

LogoThis weekend I’ll be packing for another trip to Vancouver. You may remember that we were there in June to celebrate my father’s 95th birthday. On that trip, a lot of things never came out of my suitcase because the weather was unseasonably cool and damp. Spring and fall are easily the most difficult times of year to pack efficiently for in this part of the world because weather can vary widely and one needs to be prepared for almost any eventuality. I’m hoping to do a better job this time though!

So how am I going to do that? I’ll definitely be packing layering pieces for warmth and versatility. I’m also going to adopt some ideas from “Your Perfect 10 – Building a Core Wardrobe for Maximum Versatility” which my friend Deborah, an independent stylist for cabi, recently shared with me. The Perfect 10 is a variation of the popular capsule wardrobe idea and allows you to mix and match creating many outfits with a minimal number of pieces.

In a nutshell, here’s how it works:

Choose 3 colours that work well together. A dark, a light and an accent colour. Choose a jacket, top and bottom in each of the colours and then choose one extra bottom in your darkest colour = Total of 10 Garments. Those 10 garments, when designed around colours that work well together will give you 25 to 30 different outfit options, a must have for any traveler!

I’ll be tweaking this list to suit my own style and I’m sure that I’ll end up with more than the 10 basic items in my suitcase, but it’s a great starting point for planning. If this was a business trip, jackets would be appropriate and at least one of the bottoms would probably be a skirt, but I’m retired. I don’t go on business trips! Our main reason for going to Vancouver this time is to be with Dad when he has a minor surgical procedure. Of course, we’ll also be spending time with our son and his family. Rather than jackets, I’ll be packing cardigans and my bottoms will be pants, mostly jeans. I simply can’t imagine only taking 3 tops though! If I was going to restrict myself to 10 items, I would definitely make a trade and pack 4 tops and only 3 bottoms. At least one of the tops would be a print that included 2 or 3 of the colours I was building my perfect 10 around.

Do you have any packing tips that have worked well for you?


Still stable!

Stable has become one of my favourite words! Not the kind you keep your horses in, but the word that my doctors use to tell me that my cancer has not grown or spread!

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I heard that word again today when I sat down with the doctor to discuss the results of the CT scans that I had back on August 21st. Waiting almost a month was difficult and I admit to having some episodes of scanxiety during that time. It was heaviest as I sat in the waiting room early this afternoon not knowing if the news would be bad or good. I had no reason to suspect that it would be bad; no symptoms to suggest that the tumours might be active or growing again, but the knowledge is always there that that day could come at any time.

When the doctor told us that everything continues to be stable, the load was lifted in an instant and I felt lighter than air! All the way home (a two hour drive) I felt as though, had my seatbelt not been fastened, I might have lifted right off my seat!

zebra with balloons

And so I keep on hanging on, living life to the fullest, and praising the Lord!


We need some politically incorrect weather!

I hate to be one to whine about the weather, but when you live in farming country and a prolonged wet spell like we’ve been experiencing lately occurs in the middle of harvest, it adversely affects the mood of the entire community. Early snow blanketed much of the province last week bringing harvest to a halt. Extended exposure to heavy, wet snow or rain will adversely affect the quality of the grain. We desperately need warm, windy weather to dry the crops and the muddy ground so that the heavy harvest equipment can get back into the fields. Livelihoods depend on it. We need what has long been known in this part of the world as Indian summer!

The question I’ve heard asked several times lately is “Can we even use that term anymore?” Is it politically correct to use the title Indian summer? After all, it’s no longer acceptable to refer to the aboriginal people of North America as Indians. In the US, they are Native Americans and in Canada, First Nations.

Clearly, there are terms, such as Indian giver for a person who gives something away and then takes it back, or Indian time which implies that aboriginal people are always late, that are culturally offensive, but what about Indian summer? Is it derogatory to call that beautiful period of warm, dry weather that often occurs in late autumn Indian summer? And if not Indian summer, what should we call it?

The origin of the term is somewhat hazy. Its first recorded use appears to have been in Letters From an American Farmer, a 1778 work by French-American soldier turned farmer, J.H. St. John de Crèvecoeur. There are many references to the term in American literature in the following hundred years or so. There have been many guesses made as to why the phenomenon was referred to as Indian summer, but no one knows for sure. There is, however, no evidence to show that it was ever intended or used in a negative or insulting manner. There are those who claim that because the term refers to a short period of summer-like weather that comes after that season appears to have ended, it like Indian time, implies that native people are always late. I would argue that that appears to be a recent interpretation, probably dreamt up by those who want to prove that the phrase is politically incorrect.

I recognize that many injustices have been committed against our indigenous people. I am as horrified as anyone else by the unspeakable horrors that today’s elders endured growing up during the residential school era. I am not, however, a slave to political correctness. Changing words doesn’t right old wrongs or heal old wounds. Yes, we need to be sensitive and aware of those occasions when what we say is truly hurtful. There are words and phrases that we should no longer use, but Indian summer? Personally, I think that anyone who claims to find that one offensive is simply looking for something to be contentious about.

So, politically correct or not, I’m going to say it. We need Indian summer!


Fashion and social justice



Famous jeans maker, Levi Strauss, made news last week by jumping into the gun control fray calling for stricter gun laws in the US and pledging $1 million in grants to be distributed over the next four years to non-profit and activist groups fighting to stop gun violence. The company “simply cannot stand by silently when it comes to issues that threaten the very fabric of the communities where we live and work,” wrote the firm’s president and chief executive, Chip Bergh, in a piece for Fortune magazine.

nike LOGO 2

Levi’s action followed hard on the heels of Nike who, on September 3rd, unveiled a giant billboard featuring former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, over San Francisco’s Union Square. Similar billboards followed in other cities. Kaepernick has been a controversial figure since he took a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, a gesture that spread to players on other NFL teams and sparked a nation-wide debate. Nike followed up by releasing an ad featuring Kaepernick which aired during the NFL season opener on September 6th. In spite of the fact that many customers blasted the company on social media and some filmed themselves destroying Nike products and claiming that they will boycott the company, Nike reported a 31% increase in sales over the Labour Day holiday this year compared with the same time period last year.

Levi Strauss and Nike are far from the first members of the fashion industry to involve themselves in social issues. Women’s apparel brand, Eileen Fisher, proudly supports a long list of environmental and human rights groups.  Through its Heart of Cabi Foundation, Cabi, one of the largest direct sale women’s apparel businesses in the US, supports several initiatives to encourage and empower women in need around the world. Even fast fashion giant, H&M, has collection boxes in their stores worldwide aimed at recycling clothing items (any brand) and reducing the tonnes of textiles that end up in landfills. These are just a few examples.

Should companies like Levi and Nike stick to producing products and making money and leave issues like gun control and racial inequality to politicians and lobby groups or should they put consumers in the position of deciding whether or not to support these issues with our clothing dollars? When you shop for clothes do you want to have to think about whether or not you agree with the manufacturer’s ethics? After all, when you give money to a company, you implicitly support the values that that company stands for.

I’d love to hear your opinion!


Back to school week

I loved seeing all the back to school photos on Facebook earlier this week. Here are three of our littles.

photos: Melaina Graham

The campground attendant at Camp Lake Park near Kinsella, Alberta was happy to take our “what retired teachers do on the first day of school” photo shortly after we arrived there on Tuesday morning!

1st day of school

We had the campground almost entirely to ourselves and we thoroughly enjoyed the solitude. We spent Tuesday to Friday relaxing, reading, going for walks, and exploring the lake by kayak.

Although the colours of fall aren’t as spectacular here as they are in eastern Canada, I still find them beautiful, especially when they’re reflected on the water.




While we were out on one of our walks, we came across this critter sunning itself on the grass.


It barely flinched even when I got up close and personal with my macro lens.


Thankfully, it was a harmless garter snake, the only kind common to this area!

This little chipmunk was curious enough to stick around while I snapped a quick picture too.


We saw plenty of wildlife while we were out on the water. The ducks ignored us unless we got too close, but the Canada Geese set up quite a squawk if they spotted our UFO (unidentified floating object) anywhere in their vicinity! The lake was calm on Tuesday and Wednesday, but there was a strong breeze blowing on Thursday so we stayed close to the sheltered edge of the lake and that’s when we saw the most wildlife. The muskrats and beavers didn’t stay still long enough for me to get any pictures, but these three white-tailed deer watched us approach and only started moving toward the bushes when we got quite close.


Now we’re home and unpacking the trailer as this was the last time we’ll have it out this year. On Monday it goes to Camrose for repairs as a result of the golf ball sized hail that hit while we were camping at Bottrel on August 1st. The insurance adjuster found a bit more damage than we had noticed initially, but thankfully it wasn’t enough to keep us from being able to use it for the rest of the season!