One woman’s cast-off is another woman’s treasure

LogoIf you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you’re already fully aware of the fact that I love thrift store shopping. Although I often come up empty-handed, every visit to one of our local second-hand stores is like a treasure hunt. 

After doing the seasonal wardrobe switch that I wrote about last week, there were things to drop off and as always, I also had to look around. I figure that as long as I come home with less than I take, I’m doing well! Sure enough, I found two items that I’m in love with!


The tunic/dress is soft and cozy with just the right amount of stretch. It’s perfect for relaxing at home on a cool autumn day, but dressy enough to go out for lunch, pick up groceries, or stop by the library. I love the pockets and the 3/4 length sleeves and it was even made in Canada!

Then there are the booties! Here’s a closer look. 


Aren’t they cute? They’re not something I’d walk a long way in, but they sure dress up an outfit. They were made in France and look almost new. The bare ankle with bootie look won’t work for very long in our climate. In mid winter it would mean almost instant frostbite, but it’s a fun look for fall. 


While we were busy taking photos, our beautiful next door kitty came over to see what we were doing and had to get in on the action! Sophie considers us some of her people and is always curious about what we’re up to. The photo gives you another close-up of the booties as well as a look at the colourful beaded bracelet that I wore with the outfit. 

We live in a small rural community and often when I wear something from one of our local thrift stores, I wonder if the original owner will notice and what they’ll think of how I style their cast-off. Interestingly though, in spite of the number of things that I’ve donated over the years, I’ve never seen anyone wearing one of them. I hope whoever wears my cast-offs next are as happy with them as I am with my new treasures. 


Transitioning to fall

LogoHow do you dress for this golden shoulder season known as autumn? I saw a headline this week that read, “It’s wear a sweater in the morning and regret it in the afternoon weather!” That pretty much sums up fall in my part of the world. When we get up in the morning, the temperature is generally hovering just above 0°C (32°F) and there might be frost on the ground, but by afternoon it has warmed up to anywhere between 18° and 25°C (64° and 77°F).

While running errands early one afternoon this week, I decided to take note of what other people were wearing. A man, sitting in front of the post office reading his mail, was wearing shorts, sandals, and a heavy fleece vest over his t-shirt! That kind of incongruous outfit isn’t as unusual as you might think. I also saw one woman wearing a quilted coat and a toque while another was working in her yard in shorts and a t-shirt!

In spite of this confusion, I decided that it was time to begin my seasonal wardrobe switch this week. Since I found myself reaching for the warmer items in my closet every morning and the true hot weather pieces were no longer seeing the light of day, I knew it was time to put most of those away and bring out my fall/winter pieces.

If you live where the weather is more uniform year round, you probably don’t have to go through this twice a year ritual, and I guess if I had a bigger closet I might not have to either. As it is, however, it’s much easier to have only one season’s clothes to choose from every morning and these seasonal switchovers are an excellent time to evaluate and decide what to keep and what to get rid of.

So, how do I go about doing that? Unlike some who advise getting rid of anything that hasn’t been worn during the current season or in the past year, I sometimes hang onto items that are excellent quality or that I love even if I haven’t worn them for quite awhile. Over the years, I’ve occasionally enjoyed resurrecting some of those items and have even shared a few of them here on the blog. This time, however, I knew that there were things in my summer closet that simply had to go. This required discipline because some were pieces that I really liked, but they were too worn out to keep or to pass on to anyone else. Others that don’t fit well or that I no longer enjoy wearing are destined for the second-hand store.

As I put the new season’s clothes into the closet, I turn all the hangers around. Then, when I wear an item, I turn it’s hanger back the right way. At the end of the season, if an item is still hanging backwards, it’s a clear signal that I need to consider whether or not to keep it.

There are, of course, some items that stay in my closet year round including sleeveless tops that can be worn alone in summer or under sweaters and jackets when the weather is cooler. This time, I also left a couple of pairs of favourite capri pants for those 25° afternoons. They won’t stay there all winter, but for now, we’re still transitioning!

Utility jacket for fall

LogoWhen I saw this post from Tania Stephens on her blog, 50 is not Old, several weeks ago, I thought how easy it would be for me to replicate her look with the Cabela’s utility jacket that I picked up at a garage sale last spring! As always though, the idea is to take inspiration from how another woman dresses, not to copy her exactly.

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Tania Stephens

Now let’s take a look at my take on Tania’s outfit.


Both our outfits involve three simple items; a black t-shirt, an olive utility jacket, and a pair of blue jeans. Shopping Tania’s look in my closet, however, I started by choosing a darker wash jean than she did. I like her V-neck t-shirt, but since the only black t-shirt in my closet happens to be a crew neck, that’s what I’m wearing. Our jackets, though similar, are also quite different.

So, before we go any further, what exactly is a utility jacket? In a nutshell, it’s a practical piece that is commonly made from denim or cotton twill. They’re usually fairly boxy, with a collar and a button down front. Mine also has a zipper. Four pockets are most common, but as you can see, Tania’s has only two which gives it a slightly dressier look. Though originally a workwear item worn mostly by factory workers and farmhands, the utility jacket has been adopted as an enduring fashion trend and can be found in a wide range of colours and styles.

The main reason that I only own one black t-shirt is that black tends to wash me out, especially when I wear it close to my face. I can get away with it when I wear it under something like the olive jacket, but after creating my version of Tania’s look, I changed the t-shirt out for a cream coloured blouse with an abstract pattern of warm fall colours.


Personally, I think that this is a better look on me.

I usually wear a medium, but my jacket is a large. After all, you don’t get a choice of sizes when you shop at a garage sale! It fits a bit loosely, but that’s actually one of the things that I liked about it. Layering is essential in our Canadian autumn. In fact, here I am wearing it over a lightweight hoodie and my ultra light down vest from Uniqlo on a chilly morning walk on our latest camping trip.


300+ km!

Yesterday morning, on a quiet walk beside Grebe Pond in Miquelon Lake Provincial Park, I crossed an invisible finish line! If you’ve been reading my blog over the summer months, you know that on the second of May I challenged myself to walk and/or hike 300 km by our 45th wedding anniversary on October 2. With just 10 days to go, I accomplished that goal!

On Monday morning, we headed off on one last camping trip before cleaning out the trailer and preparing it for winter. We knew that the nights would be cold (in fact, it was 4°C or 39°F when we got up this morning) but with an extra quilt and a furnace, we were toasty warm. The days were crisp, but great for hiking and over the three days that we were there, we hiked over 19 km (almost 12 miles). 

In addition to Miquelon Lake itself, the park is dotted with small bodies of water, home to many kinds of waterfowl. The “knob and kettle” terrain consists of hummocky mounds (the knobs) and water-filled depressions (the kettles). Hiking trails wind up and down, around and between the ponds and at this time of year, colourful foliage adds to park’s natural beauty. 

So, let me share a bit of that beauty with you…



Tuesday’s hike was the longest; 9.2 km on the park’s backcountry trails. We packed a lunch and set off about 10:30 in the morning when the air had had a chance to warm up a bit. This was the view from our lunch spot… 



Just me enjoying another view…


The next photo was taken close to my self-imposed 300 km finish line. I’ve always loved reflections on water. 


And finally, a couple of shots from the end of Moose Trail, our last hike…



It’s pumpkin spice time!



I’m always sad to see summer come to an end and this year is no exception. With our long, cold winter just around the corner, fall is bittersweet. Thankfully, it’s also pumpkin spice time! There’s something about a pumpkin spice latte that warms the tummy and the heart. I’ve always said it tastes like hot pumpkin pie in a cup!

pumpkin spice latte

Sadly. when I learned that I was prediabetic and had to start seriously limiting my sugar intake, I had to stop indulging in these fabulous autumn treats. “Don’t drink your sugar,” is the advice given to those of us on the diabetes spectrum. 

There are sugar-free pumpkin spice recipes online that use artificial sweeteners, but I haven’t tried one of those yet. What I have been experimenting with and perfecting lately is a simple pumpkin spice smoothie recipe that I’ll share with you today. It’s not sugar-free, but it’s low-sugar, healthy, and delicious.  

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie (for one)

  • 1/2 cup cold canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tbsp artificially sweetened maple syrup substitute
  • 2 tbsp unflavoured protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Put all seven ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Enjoy!

If sugar and/or fat content are not a concern, you can use whole milk, regular yogurt, and/or maple syrup instead of the low-sugar, low-fat substitutes that I use. 


I’m still using hubby’s laptop to blog while the WordPress Happiness Engineers do their best to figure out a way to help me. My fingers are gradually getting more accustomed to his keyboard and I’ve figured out a way to transfer photos from my computer to his, but the whole blogging process is slower and less satisfying than usual. I’m not giving up, however. I will persevere until the problem is resolved or I have to buy a new laptop! 


Hiking in November!

We usually have snow to stay by the end of October, but as we all know by now, 2020 is a rule breaker! Though we had some unusually cold weather and a few flurries in the latter half of October, when we turned the calendar page to November, the weather took an amazing turn. The average daytime temperature at this time of year is barely above 0ºC (32ºF), so when the forecast said that today’s high would be 18ºC (64ºF), we decided to go hiking! Hiking in central Alberta in November? Unheard of!

This morning, we headed for the village of Donalda, about an hour from home. The last time we hiked in that area was over five years ago. It was already 18ºC when we arrived and we hadn’t been hiking long when we started peeling off layers!


We started off following the woodland trail that leaves from one corner of the village. With all the leaves on the ground and the trees bare, there was a peaceful beauty about the place. Before long, we passed through a gate that took us onto 129 acres of private land that’s used for grazing cattle. Signs tell hikers that they’re welcome to explore anywhere within the area. We had the option of staying on the trail along the rim of the massive coulee, the northernmost part of the Canadian Badlands, but instead we turned toward the valley and wandered wherever our feet took us. Up, down, and around the bluffs we went seeking out interesting formations and views.


Though there weren’t any cattle grazing in the area, we had to watch our step as there was plenty of evidence that they had been there! We did see some deer. 



The weather is so warm this week that the golf course, which has been closed since October 12, has reopened with golfers playing on temporary greens. Richard had Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections in both his shoulders a week ago to promote healing of some old sports injuries, so he can’t do much with his arms right now. Golfing is out, but he certainly could hike!


I have no idea how far we hiked, but we were out for about three hours. We enjoyed a picnic lunch overlooking the valley.  



Eventually, we rejoined the woodland trail at it’s far end and made our way back to our starting point. Along the way, we passed this unusual sign on a fence post. We have no idea what it was trying to tell us, but it seemed very appropriate for this most unusual November day!


My kind of birthday

If the weather permits and we’re not travelling, I usually like to play a round of golf on my birthday, but today I decided that I wanted to spend some more time hiking and kayaking instead. I just can’t get enough of the glorious fall weather that we’ve been enjoying and what could be better than spending it out in nature?

Big Knife Provincial Park on the Battle River is one of our favourite places within an hour of home, especially at this time of year. The campground closed in early September, but the park gates are still open which means that the hiking trails and boat launch are still accessible.

For today’s hike we decided to take a path less travelled. In fact, the trail that we chose doesn’t even appear on the park maps. I think it’s really just an animal trail that is occasionally used by humans. We first discovered it several years ago when we were doing some geocaching in the park, but we hadn’t hiked it again since then.


The trail begins with a fairly steep climb to the top of the bluff shown above and then follows along the ridge. 


Apparently, I took more photos looking back than ahead!




The path eventually leads to The Hoodoos, a mini badlands area, and then joins the River Flats trail system . 



If this is what 68 looks like, I’m good with it!

After hiking part of the River Flats trails and having our picnic lunch along the way, we headed for the river and launched the kayak. When you’re on a hiking trail, a river, or a lake, there’s no Covid, no politics, no racism, no hoaxes or conspiracies. There’s just you and nature; just beautiful peace and quiet!


We spent three hours paddling. Every time we’ve been on the river in the fall, we’ve seen a blue heron. I always hope that we’ll be able to get close enough to get a good photo, but they’re very elusive, taking flight as soon as we get anywhere near. Today, it was almost as if the heron was playing with us. Every time we got close, it flew a short distance upriver and then appeared to be waiting for us to catch up. We never did get close enough to get the picture I was hoping for though!

This muskrat, on the other hand, was quite unconcerned with our presence. He was sunning himself in this same spot when we passed by on our way up the river. He slipped into the water and disappeared, but when we returned, he’d obviously decided that we were no threat and continued to sunbathe while we stopped to take his picture. In fact, if you zoom in, you’ll see that his eyes are even closed! 


We got back to town in time to clean up and go out for supper. That’s definitely my kind of birthday… a day in the great outdoors and no cooking! 

Anniversary getaway

Hubby and I celebrated our 44th anniversary on Friday with an overnight getaway to Wapasu Lake, a tiny dot on the map just an hour north of home. We started our day with a hike at Wapasu Conservancy Park. While our wedding day was cool and blustery, Friday was a perfect fall day. The trail was absolutely gorgeous with the sun shining through the canopy of golden leaves. 


We started our hike with a climb to a high point that offers a view of the lake and surrounding area. 


Wapasu is a Cree word meaning white swan. When the trail took us back down to the lakeside, there was a large flock of Canada geese and one pair of swans swimming some distance from the shore. While I didn’t get a very clear photo of the swans, I did manage to capture some of the geese taking flight.


Further along, we enjoyed a peaceful picnic lunch overlooking the lake.


After about two and a half hours on the trail, we returned to our starting point and took the kayak out on the lake. There was a strong breeze blowing that whipped up some significant waves. I got pretty wet when the occasional one broke over the bow of the boat, but it was fun! The lake is small so even contending with the waves, it took less than an hour to paddle our way around it.


After changing into dry clothes, it was time for the next part of our anniversary getaway and we didn’t have far to go. Beachside Bed and Breakfast is located just outside the park boundary. Though the B&B has three guest rooms, occupancy has been reduced to one family group at a time to ensure safe distancing during the Covid pandemic, so we had the entire guest portion of the house to ourselves. After settling into our lovely room, we relaxed with a glass of wine on the deck overlooking the lake until it was time to go for dinner.


The only restaurant in the vicinity is a truck stop at the nearby village of Innisfree, but it’s located on a hilltop with a beautiful view and, as is typical of truck stops, the food was tasty and plentiful. The sun was setting over the lake as we returned to the B&B. After another glass of wine on the deck, we went for a walk along the sandy beach in the fading light. 



That brought the outdoor portion of our beautiful anniversary day to an end, but there was still a jacuzzi tub and a king size bed awaiting our return to the B&B! 


Styling an old favourite

LogoI don’t wear dresses very often, but since our church reopened its doors in early July, I think I’ve worn a dress or a skirt every Sunday morning. I sometimes dress more casually for church, even wearing jeans on occasion, but since we haven’t been going very many places in recent months, it’s been nice to have a reason to dress up once a week. 

Fall has definitely descended on us here on the Canadian prairie and it was quite chilly this past Sunday morning. When I went to my closet to choose something to wear, I realized that almost all my dresses are better suited to the warm summer months. Then I spotted something in the back of the closet that I’d totally forgotten about.

I have no idea how long I’ve had the long, faux suede, sleeveless shirt dress, but it’s probably been in my closet for 20 years or more. It’s one of those pieces that I never got rid of simply because I’ve always loved it. It actually appeared on the blog almost exactly eight years ago, three and a half years before I started my weekly fashion feature! Here’s how I styled it then. The olive colour, very much on-trend this fall, is actually truer in this photo than in the ones we took on Sunday.  


So, back to Sunday morning. I looked at this old favourite and wondered how I could style it for a chilly fall morning. Clearly, I would need to wear it over something with sleeves. I pulled out the Garden Blouse from the cabi Fall 2018 Collection which you saw earlier this year on this post and decided that it worked. Though the dress has a matching belt, I thought it looked better unbelted. 

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As I mentioned, it was a chilly morning and though you can’t tell from the photos, the wind was blowing. We snapped a few very quick pictures and headed back indoors! 

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Covid-19 continues to keep me out of the stores and shopping my own closet, but I do think I need to add some warmer dresses to my fashion wish list for the day when I’m finally able to go shopping again! In the meantime, I’m going to be looking for some more ways to style this old favourite with pieces that I already have. 

Scarves, scarves, scarves!

LogoFall is a beautiful season, but bittersweet because it means that our long, cold winter is just around the corner. At this time of year, I’m always reluctant to put my summer clothes away because I keep hoping that there will be a few more truly warm days and that I’ll still need them. Realistically, however, the days are getting shorter and cooler and I’m wearing mostly transitional pieces. While I haven’t switched my closet from spring/summer to fall/winter yet, I have started making some small moves in that direction. A few summer clothes that weren’t used at all this year have already been dropped off at the thrift store and this week, in preparation for fall, I decided to take a serious look at my scarf collection. 

IMG_1449I have a few warm, wooly scarves for outdoor wear in the depths of winter, but for this exercise, I was addressing only what I’d call my fashion scarves. I started by gathering them all together in one place. There were infinity scarves, rectangular scarves, square scarves, and even a few very tiny scarves. There were animal prints, polka dots, stripes, and a variety of other patterns. As you can see, there were lots of earth tones, some blues, greens, and greys, and a few pops of other colours. For a woman who doesn’t wear scarves very often, I seem to have a lot of them! A couple were gifts and a couple belonged to my mother-in-law before she passed away, but I picked up the vast majority of them at the local thrift stores over the past few years. Some I’ve never actually worn! It was time to decide which ones to keep and which ones to move along. A scarf doesn’t take up much space, but getting dressed is so much easier when your wardrobe is pared down to only those items that will actually be worn.  

I decided to start by separating my scarf collection into three piles… ones I’ve worn regularly in the past, ones I don’t wear and probably never will, and ones I’d like to wear but haven’t figured out how yet. This method can actually work well for everything in your closet, but for now I was focusing only on scarves. The don’t wear pile was set aside for my next trip to the thrift store. Hopefully someone else will enjoy those ones. Next, I went through the favourites pile and took a closer look at each of them. One of them was badly worn with lots of little catches in the fabric. It was time to let that one go too. The rest of that group went into my closet on handy scarf hangers purchased at the dollar store. 

Over the next while as I do the rest of my seasonal closet switch, I’ll play around with the final few; the scarves that I like but haven’t quite figured out how to wear with my existing wardrobe. Hopefully they’ll result in some new looks for fall. 


And finally, here’s my newest scarf. Infinity scarves are so easy to wear and when I saw this one in the thrift store last week, I knew immediately that it would look great with a jean jacket, in this case a basic one from Gap that’s been in my closet for several years. Perfect for an early fall day!