Packing time again!

LogoIt’s packing time again! I seem to spend a lot of my life packing and unpacking, but I’m definitely not complaining. The gypsy in me can hardly wait to be on the road again!

This time I’m preparing for six weeks in our 24 foot trailer. Much of our time will be spent exploring remote and wilderness areas, but we also have a wedding to attend. We’ll be travelling in Alberta, BC and the Yukon, so weather will likely be quite variable. Closet space is limited and opportunities to do laundry may be few and far between. So, what do I pack? 

First of all, I need to think about what we’re going to be doing. In addition to the wedding, there will probably be a couple of social evenings out when we’re in urban areas. For those, I’ll need outfits that are dressy casual. Much of our time will be spent hiking, kayaking, and sitting around campfires though. Those are times when comfort is of utmost importance and I’m less concerned about what I look like. We might not have many opportunities to use them, but our golf clubs are going with us, so I also need to pack appropriate golfing attire. Our final week will be spent at our church’s district wide family camp, a time of fun and fellowship where I’ll be doing lots of socializing, attending worship services and listening to speakers. The camp is located in a rustic, forested setting on the banks of Alberta’s Little Red Deer River. I don’t want to be overdressed, but I do want to look well put together.

Fellow fashion blogger, Jennifer Connolly, of A Well Styled Life is also spending an extended period of time in her RV right now and she recently wrote this post which contains some great tips. As she points out, layering is always an important key to coping with varying temperatures. I’ll definitely want to be able to add or subtract layers as the days warm up or cool off. I’ll also be following Jennifer’s advice and packing a variety of accessories. They take up very little space and easily add polish to an outfit when that’s what’s needed.

A change of shoes can also give an outfit a lift. That’s one area where I can indulge myself on a trip like this one. When we fly, the number of pairs of shoes I can take is limited by suitcase space, but when we travel with our SUV and trailer, I can fit in many more! I’ll need dressy shoes for the wedding, of course. I was thinking of wearing heels, but after looking at the venue online, I’m guessing that the ceremony will be held on the lawn. If that’s the case, I’ll want to wear flats. There’s nothing worse than sinking in and feeling like you’re aerating the grass with every step! In either case, I’ll be taking a pair of dressy flats as well as a couple of casual pairs. I’ll also pack my rubber boots, my hiking shoes, my golf shoes, one or two pairs of sandals, and some flip flops.

Hats are another important item. I even bought a couple of new ones for this trip, but perhaps I’ll tell you about those in another post.

For much of the time that we’re away, we’ll be without internet access. In the past, I’ve discovered that even when a campground or RV park advertises that it has wifi, service can be extremely unpredictable. As a result, I don’t expect to be able to post very regularly and Fashion Friday may not appear every week. I’ll do my best to share some travel posts, however, and hopefully I can also do as Jennifer did and share a little of what I wear along the way.

Shopping Sue’s closet

logoMy sister-in-law, Sue, loves to shop and has a larger clothing budget than I do. She has excellent taste and knows what looks good on her. Many of the sales clerks in her favourite mall know her by name and are familiar with her personal style. I am often the lucky beneficiary!

As a child I didn’t wear hand-me-downs, not because we were well off or because I didn’t want to, but because I was the oldest daughter in the family and had only one female cousin who is ten years older than me. There wasn’t anyone to hand clothing down to me. As an adult, however, and a frugal fashionista, I am more than happy to wear pre-owned clothing, especially Sue’s! Though I’m taller, we are very similar in size and can usually wear one another’s clothes without alteration. Though Sue tends to wear dramatic colours (she says I need more colour in my wardrobe!) and I favour neutrals, we have similar taste in clothing and we love to shop together.

Last month, we got together for our annual girls day out… lunch and shopping. Though I bought a couple of items, most of what I came home with came from Sue’s closets! Before I arrived for the weekend, she had done a major closet purge and I was met with several large bags of clothing to sort through and try on. What fun! I came away with one dress, one skirt, four sweaters, three golf shirts (like me, Sue is an avid golfer), three dressier tops, a warm fleece pullover and two handbags. That was just a tiny fraction of what was in the bags which then went to my daughter and, after she chose the items she wanted, to a thrift store.

Here’s my favourite item from Sue’s most recent castoffs. I love its loose fitting blouson style. With elastic at the hem, it’s great at camouflaging a midsection bulge and the colours coordinate with so much that is already in my wardrobe. I know I’ll wear this one a lot especially when the weather gets warmer.

This is far from the first time that I’ve benefitted from Sue’s extensive wardrobe and her generosity. In the past, she has also acquired a few items from me, but I’m a minimalist in comparison, so her gain has not been as great as mine. Shopping Sue’s closet started me thinking about clothing swaps in general. I’ve never taken part in a clothing swap party, but I’ve been reading up on the idea and I’ll share what I’ve learned next week on Fashion Friday. See you then!

Don’t get your knickers in a knot!

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If you’ve known me or followed this blog for very long, you know that I’m a self professed word nerd. It may be quirky, but I love words. Who else do you know who would watch a lecture series entitled The Secret Life of Words: English Words and Their Origins while walking on a treadmill?

So, it only makes sense (to me, at least) that a word nerd with an interest in fashion would be fascinated by some of the words used in the fashion business. Today I’m focusing on fashion words that are used differently in different countries. For me, they add to the fun of reading fashion blogs from around the world.

When I was a child, I often wore a jumper to school, but did I wear this

jumper-3

or this?

sweater

Here in Canada, as well as in the US, the first picture is a jumper, but in the UK and Australia, a jumper is what we in North America would call a sweater! The jumpers that I wore are known as a pinafores in the UK.

While we in North America understand the meaning of trousers, that’s not a word we’d likely use. Instead, we’d talk about our pants. That could be confusing if we were in the UK, however, where people would be embarrassed if anyone saw their pants. There the term is slang for underpants!

Depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re on, you might not want to get your knickers in a knot or your panties in a twist! Knickers is the British word for a lady’s underpants while here in North America, we usually call them panties.

Of course, men have different underwear words too. Some British men wear y-fronts, those old fashioned underpants with an inverted y shape in front. North American men usually refer to their underwear as briefs, shorts or boxers depending on the style they prefer.

Even babies get in on the underwear confusion. British and Australian babies wear nappies, but in North America, they wear diapers.

What do you call these?

coveralls

Here in North America, we call them coveralls, but in the UK they’re overalls. Here, overalls are bibbed pants/trousers held up by over-the-shoulder straps. In Britain, however, those are dungarees.

Are you confused yet? Can you think of any other examples?

Cultural surprises

Sheila has been with us for over two weeks already but she continues to be amazed by something new almost every day. In her eyes, my kitchen is a magical place. Most of the small appliances and gadgets that we take for granted are brand new to her. Like most Chinese kitchens, the one in her parents’ home doesn’t have an oven let alone a toaster, a bread maker or a food processor. Her eyes nearly popped out of her head the first time she saw me using my electric knife!

It’s not only the appliances that surprise her, however. Most of our food is also new to her. Though she’s familiar with a lot of the ingredients, we cook them entirely differently and even I’ve been surprised at how many convenience foods I use. We tend to eat a healthy diet avoiding a lot of processed foods but I do depend on things like pancake mix that are completely foreign to her. Breakfast cereal is also something she’s never eaten before. So far, Harvest Crunch, a sweetened granola with coconut and almonds, is her favourite. She’s accustomed to a spicier diet than ours and the ketchup bottle has become her best friend. In fact, she’s dubbed herself a “ketchupholic”!

The rest of the house contained many surprises for her too. Not unexpectedly, even though I’d explained the bathroom to her the evening she arrived, it took a flooded floor to remind her that the shower curtain must be inside the tub when you take a shower! That’s a common blunder for Asians when they first arrive on our shores as an Asian bathroom is basically an oversized shower stall and bathtubs are not common in China.

Laundry brought more surprises. Though we had a fitted sheet on our bed in China, Sheila had never seen one until we stripped the beds to wash the sheets! She thought I must have sewn the elastic corners myself. (In case you were wondering, fitted sheets were actually invented by an African American lady named Bertha Berman in the 1950s.) The clothes dryer also fascinates her as clothing is hung to dry in China.

That brings me to a topic that has been a big surprise to Richard and I. When we lived in China, we were amazed to see people in the street wearing their pyjamas. What we didn’t realize until Sheila came to stay is that Chinese people wear their pyjamas whenever they’re at home! Sheila only dresses to go out and immediately changes back into pyjamas when she gets home. Of course, if you’re just stepping out to run a quick errand, why bother changing at all? Sheila has been out with me more than once now in her pjs and I finally understand why we saw people walking down Little Street dressed that way!

While we continue to learn much about Chinese life from Sheila, it’s definitely been fun looking at our own lives through the eyes of someone for whom almost everything is brand new!

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