Hoodoos and buffalo beans

The last time we hiked the Meeting Creek Coulee near the village of Donalda was late in the fall. The trees were bare and the landscape was shades of gold and brown. Today’s hike through the same area was entirely different! 

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Everything was so green and there were wildflowers everywhere, especially the bright yellow buffalo beans that bloom across the southern half of Alberta and Saskatchewan at this time of year. 

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I’ve always wondered why they were called buffalo beans, so when we got home today I consulted Google and learned that the flowers appear around the same time as the Indigenous people of the prairie used to conduct their spring buffalo hunt. Apparently the plant produces bean-like seed pods later in the season, but they shouldn’t be eaten as the entire plant contains poisonous alkaloids.

We started today’s hike on the woodland trail that follows the rim of the massive coulee, the northernmost part of the Canadian Badlands, but we soon dropped down into the valley. As we wandered up, down, and around the bluffs that form its walls I spotted an impressive looking hoodoo emerging from the bushes on the hillside above us. Of course, we had to climb up and take a closer look.

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 We decided to sit and eat our lunch on the hillside where Richard is standing in this photo.

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As I looked at our backpack perched on the hoodoo’s capstone, I thought of all the places it’s been with us over the years. It’s even been to the top of Mt Fuji, the highest and most famous mountain in Japan! 

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The view from our lunch spot included a perfect mound protruding from the flat valley floor. I decided that when we finished eating, we should hike down and walk around it which we did. We considered climbing it, but it would have been a challenge and since we still had to climb back up out of the valley, we quickly rejected that idea. 

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Eventually, after wandering for awhile longer, we made our way back up the hillside and rejoined the woodland trail that took us back to our vehicle. After a long cold winter, it’s so good to be able to get out on the trails again! I wonder where else our feet will take us this summer. 

Capri pants… flattering or frumpy?

Logo by SamOne of the bloggers that I follow recently wrote a post listing several items that she thinks women over 50 should eliminate from their wardrobes. She used words like frumpy, dowdy, and matronly to describe how she thinks these items make us look. First on her list was capri pants! Several readers agreed with her, but I most definitely do not! Capris are easily my favourite summer pants.

To be fair, I should mention that the blogger in question did specify that “capri pants that end at the widest part of your calf, are unflattering and can look dowdy.” Capris come in a variety of lengths and widths and a few inches can make a big difference to how flattering they look. A tapered pair that ends either just above or just below the widest part of your calf will look much more flattering than a wider, baggy pair or one that ends at the widest point.

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Capris are still very much in style for 2022 and those of us who wear them find them to be very versatile. They can be worn with heels or flats and dressed up or down depending on what you wear them with. The downside to capri pants is that they can make your legs appear shorter which is particularly challenging for women whose legs are already proportionately short. One easy way to overcome this is to tuck your top into your pants. Personally though, since I’ve been blessed with long legs, I prefer to wear a longer top that skims over and hides my muffin top!

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Everything that I’m wearing in both these photos is old and has appeared on the blog before. The nice thing about living where we have distinct seasonal changes is that we have something “new” to wear twice a year! I always look forward to bringing my capris out of storage in the spring.

Do you wear capri pants? Do you consider them flattering or a fashion faux pas?

The Great Sand Hills

Today’s photos might lead one to believe that we traveled to Morocco or Mongolia, but we were actually exploring a very unique bit of Canada, the Great Sand Hills of southwestern Saskatchewan! 

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The Great Sand Hills is approximately 1,900 square kilometres (730 square miles) of desert-like sand dunes, native grasses, and small trees and shrubs. Sediment deposited by glacial meltwater during the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet approximately 13,000 years ago, then shaped and reshaped by strong winds, created this unique landscape. The first of the giant sand hills is just a short walk from the parking lot. Climbing up the dune, you truly feel like you’ve entered a different world, a world of sand and sky!

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We soon spotted a series of faint trails leading off toward more dunes in the distance, so of course we had to investigate. 

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Climbing up the steep side of the dune, we were greeted by another vast expanse of soft, powdery sand. After walking around a bit, I had to take my shoes off and feel its warmth between my toes! 

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Can you spot Richard on the horizon below? 

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Canada has it all… mountains, prairies, forests, rugged coastlines, rivers, lakes, and even a wee bit of desert! 

First hike of the year

Here in Canada, tomorrow is a federal holiday known as Victoria Day. Initially, the holiday always fell on Queen Victoria’s birthday (May 24), but since 1952 it’s been celebrated on the Monday preceding May 25. The connection to royalty has been gradually lost over the years and now most people simply refer to it as the May long weekend. It’s the unofficial start of the summer season and the first weekend of the camping season for many. Rather than camping, since the nights are still very cold, we’re visiting my younger brother and his wife in the small village of Irvine in the southeast corner of Alberta. This afternoon, while our sister-in-law was working, the other three of us set out for our first hike of the season.

The 464-acre Chinook conservation site, a native grassland area, lies just 8 kilometres south of Irvine. Very different from the hiking that we do closer to home, there are no trails, just wide open expanses begging to be explored.

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Leaving the vehicle, we set off across the grassy plain toward the hills some distance away.  Of course, once we reached the top of the first bluff, we had to carry on up the next one, and then the third.

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Here’s the view from the top of the third hill with the second one in the foreground and the first, much lower one below it. Can you spot our vehicle in the distance? How about the little bit of cactus at the bottom of the photo?

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Here’s a closer look at some of the ground cover. This is snake country, but fortunately, we didn’t see any of those!

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After returning to the vehicle, we crossed the road and made our way across more rough grassland and through the bush to Ross Creek where we saw lots of evidence of beaver activity.

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In the final photo, you can see one of the peaks that we climbed way in the background.

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Along the way, we also saw clear signs of the deer and pronghorn antelope that inhabit the area and were reminded of the old western song, Home on the Range. “Oh, give me a home, where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play!”

If the weather cooperates, tomorrow will be another adventure.

Going green

Logo by SamNo, this isn’t a post about being environmentally friendly, though that’s a very important topic. Far more important than fashion actually!

The colour green is one of the biggest fashion trends this year. Universally associated with nature, green represents growth and renewal making it a perfect colour for springtime. It’s said to evoke feelings of peace, calm, refreshment, and optimism.

As I perused my spring/summer wardrobe I realized that, with the exception of dark olive which is actually a neutral, there was no green. None whatsoever! Digging into storage, however, I pulled out this topper from several years ago and wore it to church on Sunday.

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It’s one of those pieces that I couldn’t bear to part with when I quit wearing it. I don’t remember when I purchased it, but it’s from Jockey Person to Person which hasn’t been sold in Canada since March 2015! I thought that perhaps waterfall cardigans had had their day, but while perhaps not as trendy as they were a few years ago, they are showing up in lots of stores again this season. Maybe this is the year to get a little more wear out of this one before I decide whether or not to keep it any longer.

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I wore the cardigan over the same chinos that appeared in last week’s post and a new Supima® cotton t-shirt from Uniqlo. Supima® cotton is a high quality cotton that has a much softer texture and feel than regular cotton. I have both Supima® and regular cotton t-shirts from Uniqlo and there’s no comparison. This particular one comes in 8 different colours and I bought two of them.

I accessorized the look with a thrifted necklace and a pair of simple silver earrings, both items that I’ve worn over and over again. I didn’t wear the hat to church, but since it generated several positive comments on Facebook when I wore it for last week’s post and several of you also checked out the link, I decided to put it on again for these photos. It’s also available in several other colours.

I must admit that I was also inspired to wear my green topper again by this post that appeared on Pamela Lutrell’s blog, Over 50 Feeling 40, awhile back. Thanks, Pam!

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Are you wearing green this spring?

Disclaimer:  This isn’t a sponsored post and I won’t be compensated in any way if you order the items that are linked here, but if you do, I hope you enjoy them!

What is “coastal grandmother” style?

LogoImagine yourself enjoying a leisurely stroll on a long sandy beach, sipping wine on your patio while reading a summertime novel, snipping herbs or flowers from your garden, or heading to the local bakery or farmers market for something fresh. That’s the “coastal grandmother” vibe.

So what is coastal grandmother, you ask? The term, coined by 26-year-old Californian TikTok user, Lex Nicoleta, in a video that went viral in March, has taken the TikTok and Instagram world by storm and become the hottest fashion trend of the season. In a nutshell, the coastal grandmother look draws inspiration from the aesthetic seen in Nancy Meyers’ movies, specifically Diane Keaton in the 2003 romcom Something’s Gotta Give.

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The coastal grandmother look is all about casual, breezy, seaside-inspired elegance. Think loose silhouettes and linen blends, lightweight cable-knit sweaters, striped boatneck tops, straw hats and rattan bags. Billowy dresses or button-down shirts with the cuffs rolled up. Whites and beiges. Sandals, sneakers, and sunglasses. Gold jewelry and pearls.

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The best thing about the coastal grandmother trend is that you don’t have to be a grandmother or live near the ocean to pull off this look, though the ocean part would be really nice! I must say, however, that I absolutely love the fact that “grandmother” is being associated with “stylish” and “trendy” for a change! We don’t all become fashion frumps as we age.

As soon as I started reading about this trend, I knew that I could easily pull several coastal grandmother outfits from my closet.

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Here, I’m wearing a denim shirt, purchased last spring at Uniqlo, over cabi’s Classic Blouse from several seasons ago. The pants are chinos from Mark’s, bought two years ago. The white leather sneakers are also from Mark’s. Most of these pieces have appeared on the blog before.

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In the second photo, my white jeans and striped top are both thrifted pieces. I bought the crushable hat, still available here, at Golf Town three summers ago. It’s very coastal grandmother, don’t you think? The sweater is my trusty Shirttail Cardigan, one of my very first purchases from cabi back in 2016 and still a favourite.

Don’t be surprised if you see a few more coastal grandmother outfits on the blog this summer. I’ve always been a coastal girl at heart and I absolutely love this classic, yet casual aesthetic. Now if only I had a beach to walk on!

Another diagnosis, another pill

No, it’s not another cancer this time!

Seven years ago, I was diagnosed as pre diabetic. I managed to control it with diet alone until recently when I gradually slipped into the diabetic range. Though I’d originally hoped that this would never happen, it comes as no real surprise. In some ways, I’m not a usual candidate for diabetes. I’ve never been overweight, I’m not a smoker, and I ate a healthy diet and exercised regularly long before the pre diabetes diagnosis. In addition to a family history of diabetes, however, the injection of Sandostatin that I receive every 28 days for my neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) can suppress the release of insulin and cause elevated blood glucose levels. With those two strikes against me, I’ve now reached the stage where I need medication and my doctor has prescribed Metformin, the most common treatment for type 2 diabetes. I’m also going to be meeting with a dietician to find out if there are ways that I can further tweak my diet.

If there’s one good thing about having NETS, it’s the fact that the regular surveillance that it requires brings other health issues to light before they become as serious as they might otherwise. Typical symptoms of type 2 diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger, unintended weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, slow-healing sores, and frequent infections. I have experienced none of these. If it wasn’t for the regular blood tests that I undergo because of my cancer, I likely wouldn’t have known that I was pre diabetic seven years ago and without the dietary changes that I made back then, I probably would have reached the diabetes threshold much sooner. Looking for silver linings helps me maintain a positive attitude!

I don’t share these health updates to garner sympathy. In spite of cancer, diabetes, and several other health concerns, I continue to enjoy excellent quality of life. Hopefully, with the help of medication, excellent health care practitioners, and healthy lifestyle choices, that will continue for a long time yet!

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Mending and alterations… making old new again

Logo by SamLong before I took the required Home Economics class in grade 8, my mother had already taught me the basics of sewing. Before I made the requisite Home Ec apron, I’d already sewn a skirt with a fitted waistband and a zipper. I’ve had my own sewing machine since I was 18 and there was a time when I made many of my own clothes. I even sewed my own wedding dress! It’s been years since I did that much sewing, but the skills that my mother taught me still come in handy from time to time.

Spring or fall, when I do my seasonal closet switch, is the perfect time to do any small repairs that have been overlooked or neglected during the previous season. Mending clothing is an ancient practice that needs to be revived if we want to work toward more sustainable wardrobes and lessen our impact on the environment. In a culture of disposability upheld by the fast fashion industry, mending is a slow fashion practice that focuses on care and re-wear. It rejects the idea that new is always better. While some mending jobs are quite simple, others are more complicated. Replacing a zipper, for example, might be something that you can do yourself, but if not, a tailor can do it for you and add life to a garment that you already own.

Alterations, whether you’re able to do them yourself or pay someone to do them for you, can often make an ill-fitting garment look like it was made for you. Tailoring is excellent for those times when you find great clothes on sale that just need a little tweaking. It can also help you build a sustainable wardrobe by purchasing quality second-hand items and having them altered to fit. It’s often hard to find the perfect size in a thrift store, but tailoring opens up many possibilities. A good rule of thumb when choosing a size is to go with what fits the widest part of your body. From there, a tailor can make all the necessary adjustments to make the piece look perfect on you. Just make sure that you take the price of tailoring into account whenever you purchase something that will need to be altered.

Alterations can be as simple as taking up a hem or adding a hidden snap to the front of a blouse that gapes or they can be as complicated as taking in a waistband or adding vents to a jacket. This week, I did a simple alteration that gave new life to an older top that I haven’t worn for quite awhile. Four years ago when I bought it, I knew that bell sleeves were a trend that wouldn’t last, but it was on sale for less than $20 and I thought even then that someday I’d probably alter the sleeves.

Before…

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After…

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A simple change from bell to three-quarter sleeves gave the top a much more current look and now I’ll start wearing it again!