At Gram and Grandpa’s house

After more than a year of Covid restrictions, spending time with family was our highest priority for this summer. We’ve been blessed with seven beautiful grandchildren (and one more on the way), so it was a delight to be able to spend the past two weeks enjoying five of them. First, our daughter and her three children spent a weekend with us at Camp Harmattan and then the kids came home with us. The day after they left, we went to Edmonton for a medical appointment and stayed a couple of days with our youngest son’s family. We spent an entire day at Fort Edmonton Park with his two children, and then brought them home for a visit with us.

Our days with the grandkids were filled with afternoons at the beach, fun times on the golf course (driving the golf cart is a highlight), wiener roasts in the backyard, picking raspberries and eating them with ice cream, playing games, and reading stories. We also took both sets of grandchildren to one of our favourite hiking spots, Big Knife Provincial Park. On the way, we stopped at the Diplomat Mine Interpretive Site.

Some enjoyed checking out the enormous machinery…

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Can you find our oldest grandson in the photo?

while others had fun on the smaller equipment!

On both occasions, we enjoyed a picnic lunch before hitting the trail. While most of us hiked, this one did cartwheels!

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The best part of the hike for all five children was climbing around the hoodoo area.

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Now they’ve all gone home. The laundry is done and the beds remade. Gram and Grandpa are getting back into routine, but the house is very quiet and I’m missing the other two more than ever. We haven’t seen them since before Covid and with case numbers increasing in their province and ours, I don’t know when we’ll be able to. 😦

Family and fun in Jasper National Park

After more than 15 months of life limited by Covid-19, Alberta lifted all restrictions on July 1 and declared the province “open for summer”. With barely over 50% of the eligible population (those age 12 and over) fully vaccinated, we’re skeptical that this will last, but in the meantime we’ve made spending time with family our first priority this summer. Since the beginning of July, we’ve enjoyed visits with both our Alberta kids and their families and last week we headed off to Jasper to spend some time with the oldest member of the family. My aunt, the last remaining member of my parents’ generation, is 97 years old and is very special to me. After spending much of the last year alone in her own home, she recently moved into a seniors lodge and is absolutely loving it!

While in Jasper, we were also able to enjoy two of our favourite summertime activities, kayaking and hiking. With hundreds of wildfires burning across western Canada, smoke hung heavily in the air partially obscuring views of the mountains, but there was still much beauty to be seen. 

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A quiet paddle on Pyramid Lake


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Pyramid Island

While enjoying our peaceful morning paddle, we saw an elk grazing in bushes alongside the shore and had the opportunity to observe a pair of loons feeding their half-grown chick. Unlike the air above, the water was so clear that we were actually able to watch the birds swimming below it’s surface! I wasn’t able to get a clear photo of the youngster, but one of the adults stationed itself between us and its offspring providing me with great opportunity to photograph it at close range.

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There are many, many hiking trails in the Jasper area, but we decided to do the Valley of the Five Lakes again. We first hiked it four years ago with our oldest son and his family. While I remembered the spectacular views of the lakes, I’d forgotten that the trail is quite steep in places. With roots criss-crossing it and many rocky outcrops, good footwear is advised. 

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First Lake

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Second Lake

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Third Lake

We enjoyed the view of Third Lake, my favourite of the five, from a pair of iconic Parks Canada red chairs. Read more about these chairs, found in national parks across the country, here

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Fourth Lake

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Fifth Lake

For clearer smoke-free views of the lakes with mountains in the background, take a look at this post from our previous hike. 

There’s also plenty of beauty in Jasper National Park that can be seen from a vehicle. We spent an entire afternoon on a sightseeing drive with my aunt as our guide. She toured us around Lakes Edith and Annette close to town and then decided that we should head up the longer road toward Maligne Lake. The air was a little clearer up that way which was nice. I especially enjoyed the views of Medicine Lake. 

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Medicine Lake

At Maligne Lake, we enjoyed a coffee/tea break on a patio overlooking the lake where we could watch tour boats come and go. 

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Maligne Lake

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Auntie Norma, an avid hiker into her 80s, handled the short trail from the parking lot like a pro! I’m sure no one who saw us would have believed that she’s 97. On our way back to town, she had no sooner expressed her disappointment over not seeing any wildlife when we came upon some Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. IMG_2693

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The icing on the cake, however, was a mama black bear and her very young cub! Unlike many tourists who threw caution to the wind trying to get a perfect photo, I took mine from the window of the vehicle!

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Inspiration for a hot day

LogoI often get outfit inspiration from other fashion bloggers. Back in April, when I saw this post from Jennifer Connolly, writer of A Well Styled Life, it sparked an idea for me.

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I bought a similar poly cotton dress at one of our local thrift stores several years ago, but until now I’d only used it as a cover up at the beach. I dug it out of the beach bag, washed it, hung it in my closet, and waited for the heat of summer to arrive here in Alberta. This week’s heat wave was the perfect time to try it out.

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As you can see, there are several differences between my dress and Jennifer’s, the most obvious being that mine is sleeveless and the stripes are much narrower. On closer inspection, you’ll see that the hemlines are also different. When we’re inspired by the way another woman dresses, the idea is not to copy her, but to take elements of what she’s wearing and make the look our own. I started by pairing the navy and white dress with a pair of black sandals, but I also tried it with my white leather sneakers. 

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If I was to step out of the shade where the photos were taken, I’d also want a hat to shield my face from the sun. 

And though it was much too hot for a jacket when the photos were taken, I really like the way the dress looks with a jean jacket. 

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One thing I did learn from all of this was how comfortable a dress like this can be on a really hot day. We rarely get a week like this one with temperatures in the high 30s C (90s F) but from now on, I think I’ll make sure that there are at least one or two casual dresses in my summer wardrobe.

PS. Happy Independence Day to all my American readers! We celebrated Canada Day on the 1st. 

 

Lady in linen

LogoA couple of months ago, I wrote this post about the blue denim shirt that I had recently purchased at Uniqlo. I actually bought two blue shirts that day, but I’ve been waiting for warmer weather to start wearing the second one, Uniqlo’s Premium Linen Long Sleeve Shirt.

In the past, I avoided linen because it wrinkles so badly, but after reading so many positive reviews about this cool, comfortable, all-natural fabric, I decided to give it a try. I do admit that at first I was constantly tempted to take it off and iron it again, but I just kept reminding myself that linen is supposed to look wrinkled. It’s something you just have to embrace if you’re going to wear this light, breathable fabric, and it’s part of what gives it a casual, summery vibe. For a dressier look, I’d definitely suggest a linen blend. While not 100% wrinkle free, they do at least promise a slightly less crumpled look.

I’m wearing a size medium, my usual size in Uniqlo tops. I could probably wear a small, but I like the shirt’s comfy, casual, and slightly oversized look and feel. Here I’m wearing it over a column of navy made up of the sleeveless cabi Scallop Top from their Spring 2019 collection and a pair of capris that I picked up at our local thrift store last summer. The well-worn sandals are from SoftMoc.

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One of the things I like to ask myself when I’m considering adding something to my wardrobe is whether I can wear it at least three different ways with items that I already have in my closet. If so, it will probably be a good purchase. This won’t always work for something like a special occasion dress, but it’s a good rule of thumb for most other wardrobe purchases and it definitely works for this one.

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Here I switched the cabi top for a plain white crew neck t-shirt from Uniqlo. I don’t often tuck my tops in, but the linen is so lightweight that even though the shirt is quite voluminous, the fabric didn’t bunch up and add volume around my waist.

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The beautiful feline is our next door neighbour, Sophie. She thinks that our yard is just an extension of hers and that we are some of her people and we’re just fine with that! ❤

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Clearly we should have taken the photos of this final look before I tucked the shirt in! You can definitely see what I mean about linen wrinkling.

Do you wear linen?

Wearing shorts after 50

LogoThere seems to be an unwritten fashion rule that says that women over a certain age shouldn’t wear shorts. This week, I’m going to join several other bloggers in attempting to debunk, or at least question, that concept.

On Monday of this week, three of the bloggers that I read regularly and another that I’ve only recently discovered teamed up to discuss the topic of wearing shorts after 50 or 60. I hope they don’t mind if I share a bit of what they had to say with you and add some thoughts of my own.

Susan Blakey of une femme d’un certain âge wrote that she hasn’t worn shorts, except for working out, for a decade or more. For the blogging exercise, however, she tried several different shorts outfits including this one.

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So why do women in their 50s, 60s, or beyond hesitate to wear shorts even on hot summer days? There are many different reasons, but the most common one is probably the fact that we’re self-conscious about how our legs look. They may not look as great as they did when we were in our twenties, but as Tania Stephens of 50 IS NOT OLD says, “I probably wouldn’t even look at your legs if we met on the street. I might notice your eyes, smile, hairstyle, and even clothes, shoes, jewelry, and handbag. BUT, unless your legs were colored bright orange, I probably wouldn’t give them another thought.” She certainly looked comfortable and confident in her white jean shorts and blue and white striped sweater.

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Choosing the right length and style of shorts for your body can be challenging, but a pair of shorts can be just as fashionable as any other item of clothing and they can be dressed up or down. Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Life didn’t want to look too sporty, so she chose a looser cuffed and pleated pair that doesn’t look like they’re meant for the gym.

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It was only through these three collaborating with Deborah Boland of Fabulous After 40 that I discovered her blog. She decided to go with an upscale look that proves without a doubt that wearing shorts after 50 doesn’t have to look frumpy. In fact, it can be sophisticated!

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Deborah had the suits with shorts look that has been on trend since spring 2020 in mind when she put together this ensemble. I tried a similar look last summer.

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I liked the outfit, but my summers are usually pretty casual. When it finally warms up enough, I’m more likely to be seen wearing shorts on the golf course with a sleeveless golf shirt.

I’m not telling you that you should wear shorts if you’re over 50, or like me, over 60. I’m simply suggesting that you shouldn’t let someone else’s opinion or a so-called “fashion rule” dictate what you wear. If you’re truly uncomfortable with the idea of wearing shorts, if that’s really not your style, then by all means don’t wear them. If you’re unsure though, and want to give them a try, I’d suggest going with a longer pair that end just above the knee. They tend to look less boxy and you likely won’t feel as self-conscious as you might in a shorter pair. For more ideas and advice, click the links to the blogs I mentioned above.

Now it’s your turn. Do you wear shorts? Why or why not?

Do-it-yourself pedicure

LogoDepending on where you live, it may be that time of year when winter feet begin to emerge from socks and shoes and you want them to look good in sandals. Covid restrictions may also make it difficult or impossible to go for a professional pedicure. Never fear! It’s really not that hard to do yourself and a bit of self-pampering might be just what you need right now.

Here’s an easy step-by-step guide:

Step 1:  Prep your nails

Remove any old polish with nail polish remover. If you’re like me, you can skip this step at this time of the year. The only time I apply polish to my toenails in the winter is when we take a vacation to somewhere warm and, for obvious reasons, that didn’t happen this year. Otherwise, my feet are hidden all winter long and I don’t see any point in polish that no one is going to see.

Step 2:  Soak your feet

This is the step that I like best! If you have a foot bath, now is the time to put it to use. Otherwise, a regular basin will do or you can put enough water in the bathtub to cover your feet and ankles and sit on the edge. I usually sit on the bathroom counter and soak my feet in the sink, but you might not find that very comfortable. Regardless of what you use, add some bath salts (or epsom salts) and perhaps a few drops of a favourite essential oil and submerge your feet. Let them soak for 5 to 10 minutes or longer if you wish. 

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Step 3:  Cuticle care

Do not trim your cuticles. Both the Mayo Clinic and the American Academy of Dermatology advise against this practice. Cuticles protect both your nails and the skin surrounding them from infection. Simply use an orange stick or a cuticle pusher to gently push them back. You may want to use a cuticle oil or cream first, but the foot soak should soften them enough to make this unnecessary. 

Step 4:  Exfoliate

Use a foot file or a pumice stone to remove dry, dead skin cells. Focus on the balls of your feet and your heels as well as any other rough or calloused spots. Be firm, but be careful not to overdo it. You may be able to skip this step if you do what I do which is apply moisturizer to your feet every night before bed. It doesn’t have to be a foot cream. Any body lotion will do. Keep it on your bedside table and apply it liberally just before you slide your feet under the covers. I’ve been doing this for years and at 68 years old, my feet are soft and callous free. 

Step 5:  Trim your nails

Cut straight across to avoid painful ingrown toenails. Be careful not to cut too short as this is also a common cause of ingrown nails. Use toenail clippers, which are wider than fingernail clippers, and don’t worry about getting a perfectly straight line because next you’ll use a nail file or an emery board to even out the edges and soften any sharp corners. If, like me, you’re prone to ingrown toenails, cut a tiny V in the centre of the nail. I learned this trick from a podiatrist over 50 years ago and I’ve been doing it ever since. Apparently, it encourages the nail to grow toward the centre. I only do this with the big toes as none of the others have ever ingrown. 

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Step 6:  Moisturize and massage

Massage a dollop of moisturizer into each foot. Before moving on to the next step, use a cotton pad to remove any oily residue from your nails. 

Step 7:  Polish

You may want to go the whole nine yards and use a base coat and a top coat, but for the past several years, I’ve been using Sally Hansen Insta-Dri polish which is a 3 in 1 formula. On my toes, two coats will last for several weeks. Be careful to let the polish dry completely between each coat. An orange stick or a Q-tip is a handy thing to have on hand for a quick clean up if you accidentally paint outside the lines. 

And there you have it, a complete and easy do-it-yourself pedicure that didn’t even cost a cent! 

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I can’t remember when the tradition started, but I’ve been painting my summertime toes with gold polish for many, many years. The colour I’m wearing here is called Go For Gold. Now, with my pedicure done and my trademark gold toes ready to shine, I’m ready for summer to finally get here! 

 

HOOFED IT 100 km!

dancing-netty-zebra-net-cancer-dayThere’s no doubt that the HOOFING IT Across Canada fundraising campaign has helped give purpose to my summer; this very weird summer when a family reunion, special birthday celebration, travel, and even scattering my father’s ashes in his beloved mountains all went out the window with Covid-19.

Prior to the campaign, I set two goals for myself. Between July 1st and September 7th, I would walk or hike 100 km and raise a minimum of $1500 in donations for neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) research. I knew that I’d have no problem HOOFING IT 100 km, but I originally thought that $1000 was perhaps a more reasonable fundraising goal. My husband had other ideas. “Go big!” he urged me, so $1500 it was. This week, I accomplished both these goals! In fact, the $1500 was in the bag before I HOOFED my final kilometres today!

With a little over three weeks left in the campaign, I’m not going to quit now. Instead, I’m going to push myself to walk another 50 km and increase my fundraising goal to $2000. My total presently sits at $1570, so I’m going to need some help!

Perhaps this is a good time to explain a bit about this cancer that killed Steve Jobs, Aretha Franklin, and more recently, actor Irrfan Khan, and why research funds are so badly needed. NETS is currently being diagnosed more frequently than ever before, but no one knows why or what causes it. Despite vast improvements in diagnostic techniques, it continues to be difficult to diagnose because symptoms are often vague and are also typical of hundreds of other more common diseases. As with any cancer, early diagnosis is the first step toward successful treatment and better outcomes, but patients commonly make many visits to the doctor over several years before an actual diagnosis is made. I probably had NETS for 7 to 10 years before it was detected and, of course, by that time it had spread. This is pretty typical. Thankfully neuroendocrine tumours tend to grow slowly and a person can live a long time even with advanced disease. Time equals hope; hope that new and better treatments will be found. That requires research and research requires dollars!

That’s why the Canadian neuroendocrine cancer community has collectively walked, run, hiked, biked, kayaked, canoed, and even stand-up paddleboarded over 17,000 km this summer and raised over $45,000. That falls a long way short of our $100,000 goal though.

I greatly appreciate those who have already made donations. If you haven’t and you’re able to, please visit my fundraising page here. No amount is too small!

How to stay cool while wearing a mask

LogoWhether we think they’re necessary, absolute foolishness, or an infringement on our rights and freedoms, it appears that face masks are here to stay at least for the foreseeable future. More and more municipalities and establishments are making them mandatory. Since that’s the case, the next question to ask might be how can we wear them most comfortably, especially in the heat of summer. Here are a few tips that might help.

  1. Choose the right mask. Tightly woven, but breathable fabrics such as cotton or bamboo are the best choice for comfort in hot weather. The thin, usually blue, disposable masks that many people wear aren’t as breathable so they tend to be hotter. The downside to cotton masks is that they absorb more moisture and may become damp, so it’s a good idea to have more than one with you on a hot day. A damp mask isn’t only uncomfortable, it’s less effective at blocking the virus. If you’re going to be wearing a mask outdoors, also consider colour. A lighter colour will be cooler than a dark one.
  2. Make sure it fits properly. A mask should fit securely, but be roomy enough that it doesn’t interfere with breathing.  
  3. Avoid the hottest part of the day. When possible, run errands first thing in the morning or in the evening.
  4. Go makeup free. Dermatologists recommend wearing masks over clean, lightly moisturized skin. Sweat won’t evaporate under a mask. Mixed with makeup or oily skin care products, it collects and clogs pores leading to what has been dubbed “maskne” (mask + acne). If you’re going to be wearing a mask outdoors for an extended period of time, do use a lightweight sunscreen or a moisturizer with SPF.
  5. Stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is always important in hot weather, but even more so when wearing a mask. It’s fine to remove your mask to take a drink, but do it when you’re a safe distance from other people and only handle it by the elastic loops or ties.

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If you have a sewing machine and basic sewing skills, making your own masks is simple and a great way to use up fabric scraps. There are many excellent tutorials online. I made these two this week using this one.

 

Casual summer look

LogoLike many of you, we’ve been experiencing a heat wave lately. Summer clothes that literally never saw the light of day during last year’s non-summer have finally come out to play again! I’ve been wearing shorts and sleeveless tops almost every day.

When I culled my summer closet during my wardrobe funk back in June, I didn’t identify sleeveless tops as something I needed more of. In fact, I have quite a few of them. Some stay in my closet year round and are worn under sweaters and jackets in the cooler seasons.

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No, I didn’t really need another sleeveless top, but I spotted this one in the local thrift store earlier this week and it came home with me. I was actually there to look for books because I’ve been reading more than ever this summer and I was running out. The fitting rooms are still closed, but I was able to try the top on over the one I was wearing. I knew it fit but there was no mirror anywhere. I had no idea how it looked on me, but I decided to take a chance. At just $3.00, with all it’s original tags still on and an original price of $75.00, what did I have to lose? Besides, I wanted something new to share with you today!

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The greige (is it grey or is it beige?) colour, the soft, breathable fabric, the mother-of-pearl buttons, and the lacy inlays give the top a romantic, vintage look.

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I’ve styled it with an old pair of light cotton capris for a cool, casual look on a hot summer day. A thrifted necklace that I’ve had for several years, a pair of gold flip flops, and a hat finish off the look.

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How are you faring in the summer heat? Or is it winter where you are?

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Chinos

LogoI finally went clothes shopping this week! To be more truthful, we were in the city for an appointment and I went into one clothing store. Just one!

After weeding several things out of my closet that should never have made the cut when I did my seasonal closet switch last fall, I identified a couple of significant holes in my summer wardrobe. As I mentioned two Friday’s ago, I have lots to wear when the weather is hot, but where we live I need things that are suitable for cooler summer days like the ones we’ve been having recently. One thing that I clearly needed was a couple of pairs of pants that would be warmer than my shorts and capris, but cooler than jeans.

Though I don’t shop for clothes online, the internet is a great place to do some scouting, especially during these days of Covid-19 when I don’t want to spend a lot of time browsing. I’d much prefer to go into a store, buy what I want, and leave again without lingering. When I knew that we’d be going to the city, I checked out the Mark’s website in advance and decided that their chinos might be just what I was looking for. Chinos are a nice middle ground between dress pants and jeans for both men and women.

The first thing I did when I entered the store was check to see if the fitting rooms were open. If I couldn’t try the pants on, there’d be no point in me even looking at them. Thankfully, a limited number of them were in use and there weren’t a lot of customers in the store so I didn’t even have to wait in line.

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Finding pants that fit well is often a struggle for me, but Mark’s slim-fitting, tapered leg chinos were perfect for my boyish figure. The toughest decision was which of the several colours to choose! I settled on two pairs; one in a light tan called Stone and the other in a dark Olive. Both will be very versatile. I’m showing you the light pair today, but I’m sure that the others will show up on the blog sometime soon. The bottom hem is meant to be rolled to ankle length, but they can also be worn down.

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I didn’t realize until after we’d finished taking the pictures that I’d forgotten to put on any lipstick, so this is my au naturel, at home look! Actually, I’d just got back from having several vials of blood taken at the local hospital, so perhaps I was even a bit paler than usual!

Being a word nerd, I couldn’t help doing a bit of research to find out how chinos got their name and what it actually meant. Apparently, the word was first used to describe khaki coloured military trousers that were worn during the Spanish American war of 1898. They were made from a cotton twill fabric that was sourced from China, so the name came from the fact that Chino is the Spanish word for Chinese. Thankfully, my new pants, which are made of a stretch cotton blend, were not made in China as one of my fashion goals for this year is to avoid buying Chinese products as much as possible. Of course, I have no idea where the fabric came from. As I’ve mentioned before, being a truly ethical shopper is very difficult, but I try.