Fall is in the Air

This morning I definitely felt the air was crisper and decidedly cooler. Walking to my studio I could see that the color of the leaves on the trees has really started to change. My observations were solidified by a large noisy flock of Canadian geese flying overhead. Gone are the languid and lazy days of summer. Fall is finally here.

The official autumnal equinox took place this year at 12:55am this morning, and marked the beginning of Fall in the Northern Hemisphere (those lucky enough to be living in the Southern Hemisphere celebrate vernal equinox and are marking the beginning of Spring . . .oh, to be in New Zealand or Australia right now!)

Sadly, from now until the winter solstice on December 21, the days get will shorter. Luckily in Vancouver we still get a number of sunny clear days in September and into October. However, the temperatures will continue to get colder as we tilt further and further away from the sun.

The good news is that this will provide the best conditions for producing colorful fall foliage - clear days followed by cool nights. If there is too much rain, or early frosts and freezing temperatures, then the colors won't be as vibrant. But too little rain and the leaves fall from the trees before they've even had a chance to change color. Instead of yellows and reds, the leaves quickly turn brown and die.

When I was young(er) my brother and I used to love piling up the colored leaves in our yard and jumping into them.

Then we would have to rake them up, only to jump into them again. This continued until the time a little slug found its’ way from the underside of one of the leaves into my mouth. At six years old, this was traumatic and promptly ended my days of jumping into piles of leaves. But I still have to give a little smile each time I see a small child running through the leaves. And I will admit I still find delight when I shuffle my feet through the fallen dry leaves and listen as they crackle and swirl up underneath me.

Happy Autumnal Equinox !

These Boots Were Made For Walking . . .

The cool weather of fall has definately arrived in Vancouver and along with it the rain. That means one thing for footwear . . BOOTS !

Personally, I can't think of any redeeming features of UGG boots or the woolly mammoth things I've been seeing some people wearing. I mean, how attractive is strapping two dead beavers around your calves before heading out the door?

That being said, every wardrobe should have a good pair of stylish boots (although judging by the lovely lady to the left, that's about all she's got in her wardrobe right now).

over the knee stretch boots from Victoria Secret

I had been looking for a great pair of everyday boots for some time. Sure, I already had a half dozen or so pairs in my closet, but either one was too tall or the other I didn't really care for the zipper. Then while browsing through the stalls at the flea markets in Amsterdam . . . I found them. My perfect boots. They are black leather to-the-knee riding boots, lined inside and with a low profile heel. I put them on and they just fit so perfectly and were so instantly comfortable I wore them walking around the canals for the next 4 hours. And at €20.00, how could I not buy them? I found out later after I googled the brand name that JJ Footwear has been a making custom sized boots in Holland for over 80 years, and my flea market find was roughly a $350.00 steal of a deal.

The right (emphasis on "right") pair of boots can add class to a pair of jeans and a dress shirt worn on casual Fridays at the office or can be worn with a jersey t-shirt dress and tights for a night out. Classic boots will also last many seasons and are definitely worth the investment.

1. Black boot by Prada, $1,200,
2. Animal print boot by Manolo Blahnik, $1,495,
3. Caramel boot by Gianni Barbato, $1,535,
4. Brown crocodile boot, by Rocco P, $1,195,
5. Patent leather Dolce & Gabbana boot, $1,450,
6. Greenwich flat high boot, by Louis Vuitton, $1,490,
7. Dexter boot, $268 at Anthropologie,
8. Cherry-picked boot, $228, at Anthropologie

Look for classic styles in fun fall colors such as rust red or plum purple. Again, pair these with dark denim, a white shirt, a wide belt and some draping gold jewelry for a chic polished look, as shown by these ladies below:

Happy Shopping and Keep on Walking . . .

sweater weather

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the fresh days of spring and the lazy warm air of summer. But there is something about September and the approach of cooler weather that I enjoy.

For me there are essentially three things that sum up Autumn in Vancouver: walking through one of our city’s many parks and hearing the crunch of brightly painted leaves underneath, the harvesting and cooking of apples to make applesauce, and pulling the sweaters off the top shelf in my closet.

Oh, how comforting a favorite sweater can be. Admit it, we have all experienced the small pleasure of pulling on a cherished sweater, stretching the cuffs of the sleeves over our fingers, and raising them to the neck in a gesture of welcoming the warmth.

Putting on a sweater is also very economically-environmentally friendly. While growing up, if someone in our house complained of being cold, the rhetorical answer was always, “Then go put a sweater on!”, which was usually in my case followed by “ . . and some socks while you’re at it!”

I’m not one for knitting. Crochet I can handle; there is only one needle and it has a hook on one end. But two (or even sometimes four) needles are just too much for me to get a grasp on (yes, pun intended). So I appreciate the skill and effort it takes to make a hand knitted sweater.

Below are a few examples of some great hand knitted sweaters to give you warmth.

If you’re feeling chilly now and can’t wait for a custom ordered sweater, Victoria Secret offers (among other things) a wide selection to choose from. Shown left and right are two that I find rather, ah-hem . . . inviting.

If you’re looking for a sweater that goes for the extra wow and don’t mind dropping a couple grand on one piece of seasonal wear, then be sure to take a look at these beauties below designed by Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel featured during Paris Fashion week 2010 (I mean, really . . . who doesn’t like Chanel??), as well as a nicely detailed article by theclotheswhisperer. The iceberg set design I like, the Wookie boots I can do without.

So go ahead . . . bundle up . . .it’s getting cold out there.

I'm Fascinated by.....

A couple years back while I was travelling through Spain, I kept seeing women with these ornate and fanciful decorations in their hair. Not the traditional peinetas or flamenco hair combs worn by a senorita of high society, but something else that the Spanish women were carrying off with elegance and aplomb.

The Spanish tradition at weddings is that the groom’s family arrives and enters the church, while the bride's family waits outside for the bride and her father to arrive and then follow the bride and her papa into the Cathedral as some sort of extravagantly dressed entourage. Personally, I believe it is because the bride's side of the family is often much more ornately dressed and wish to show off their finery. As an observer, this gave me plenty of time to enjoy how beautifully the women were dressed. The dresses, the shoes, the matching handbags . . .at 10:00am! But what really caught my attention were the elaborate decorations in their hair. Feathers, sparkle, sequins, beads, rhinestones, tulle netting . . .all either clipped in or held in place by a slim head band. Back in Canada, I described these to my mom, to which she said "oh, you mean a fascinator!"

I believe Sarah Jessica Parker summed it up best as her character Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City - The Movie when she said,

“I put a Bird on my head”
“Is that what it was? I thought it was feathers.”
“No, it was a bird.”
“oh, it was beautiful.”

From that scene on, the explosion of feathered and frilly head gear has been quite remarkable. Sure, women have been adorning their heads for centuries (think Marie Antoinette and her fabulous famous sailing ship hair piece) in attempt to obscure perpetual bad hair days but in the last couple years this ritual has become trend (once again) rather than necessity.

If you’re looking for demure and romantic bridal concoctions, then look no further than myrakim and Amie Noel Designs. Both are gorgeous for afternoon weddings in the garden . . or just afternoons in the garden for that matter. No wedding required.

Golden Bouquet custom order (right)
"Luna" Ivory Chiffon Flower with Pearl Center (left)

Whatever the occasion, you are sure to receive compliments whenever you wear a fascinator in your hair. I have a couple that I wear from time to time. My favourites are actually a couple of bright red poinsettias with feathers and crystals that I wear around Christmas. I receive many compliments each time I do. they add just a little bit of whimsy and make people smile. 

California Dreamin'

Recently, I treated my mom to a girl’s weekend. I had a couple of airline credits that needed to be used and the San Francisco Opera Company was set to open their season with their annual Gala Evening . . . so what better reason to pick out a ball gown and pack a couple of bags and hop on a plane to San Francisco.

After checking into the Kensington Park Hotel overlooking Union Square (and also complimentary), we sat down for a quick lunch at Puccini & Pinetti before wandering through Chinatown. Then it was dinner at Rue Saint Jacques, which in a word was . . .meh.

Back to the hotel to quickly dress for the opera. Now we have been to the opera many, many times but we soon discovered that attire for the opera in Vancouver and attire for the opera in San Francisco are two very difference experiences. Often when attending the opera in Vancouver, we have seen other attendees dressed in jeans and T-shirts. We are not clothing snobs, but we do not approve of this practice of “wearing whatever”. The Opera is still in our minds an occasion to dress up and enjoy the atmosphere; to see and be seen. At the SFO’s opening performance of Verdi’s Aida, it was top hats and tails, ball gowns and opera gloves galore. Hair, make-up, jewelry . . . all bases were covered. In retrospect, I found the atmosphere of what people were wearing more interesting than the actual opera (which was a bit of a snooze-fest after Radames blew his opening aria).

Saturday was our free day with no real plans. Well, none that couldn’t be changed with a simple phone call. We originally had a spa day booked at Teashi on Polk Street in the Russian Hill area, but we decided we wanted to continue browsing the Open Art Market on Embarcadero Square and the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building. We had brunch at Market Bar. The crepes with caramelized apples and mascarpone were extremely delicious and would require many more hours of walking to burn off the calories. Inside the Ferry Building we found a wonderful array of specialty shops, including Boccalone Salumeria - Tasty Salted Piggy Parts (perhaps the best tag line for a store). Very popular were the Salumi Cones, which are essentially a paper cone filled with freshly shaved lonza, capocollo, piana and prosciutto salami. Alas, we were still full from brunch.

We also visited Boulette’s Larder, where I was reprimanded for taking pictures of their eggs and the beautiful display of apothecary jars. They specialize in gourmet take-away meals and, apparently . . . snarky shopkeepers.

Another shop we spent a good deal of time in was Sur la Table. Dear Sur la Table . . . please come to Canada. Specifically to Vancouver.

From the Market we walked to Ghirardelli Square, which was immensely busy with the Chocolate Festival. This entailed people lining up with stamp cards at different venues for free chocolate samples. Some lines were over 3 blocks long. For chocolate. Crazy. We did not participate, needless to say.

We then stopped for a break and a dip in the ocean before boarding a cruise to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz and Angel Island. Problem was that the fog decided to roll in just as our boat left the dock. So really it was an hour and $36.00 worth of pea soup fog. No refund. (on either the fare or the time).

Dinner at McCormick & Kuleto’s was much more successful. Crab cakes, seafood linguini, sablefish and basil gnocchi left no room for dessert. And after a full day of walking it was time to head back to the hotel.

Sunday morning meant breakfast in the Oak Room in the Westin St. Francis with fresh orange juice mimosas and blueberry Grand Marnier pancakes. Yummmmm! Then a quick walk around the shops and Union Square before heading back to the hotel to check out. The concierge then gave us the bad news. Unfortunately only the limo was available to take us to the airport and would we be comfortable traveling in the limousine? Um . . .I think we would be able to manage.

And so ended our girl’s weekend of shopping, dining, opera and champagne & limousine service. Time to start planning our next trip.