Thursday, June 29, 2017

Paddington the Resilient Bear

Today Michael Bond the brilliant author and creator of Paddington Bear passed over to the other side.  A place where I like to think that no dark thoughts reside and everyone has a special bear to comfort them when feeling lost or alone. 

In reading about Mr Bond he had revealed that he also went through a very terrible period in his life where he contemplated ending it. He said that Paddington rescued him because he did not want to let the bear down by giving up. Saved by a bear of his own creation and his own imagination. 

As a small child growing up I did not have a teddy bear.  I have a very distinct memory of visiting family friends in Toronto who had a lovely large well worn bear that sat in their living room. It belonged to one of their teenage sons who obviously no longer needed it. 

 I was about six years old and while the adults chatted outside on the patio of this suburban home I would sit in a large overstuffed chair in that living room and just stare at this bear. I desperately wanted to take him home. He looked as if he would have given me comfort through thick and thin.

Alas it was not to be. For some unknown reason I received dolls for Christmas and birthdays. Bears were not in my parent's repertoire of gifts suitable for an immigrant Finnish girl. Back in those days we really did not have that many toys but were thankful for what we did have. I do however remember asking for a bear like the one I so coveted in that living room. Perhaps this was a way to create resiliency or perhaps the idea that a doll would allow me to develop my nurturing side more than a bear would. 

I really don't know the answer to this but I do know the importance of bears and stuffed animals in a child's life. Anyone who has ever had children or is around a child knows how they can love a toy like this more than any other. Now Paddington having been a displaced bear from darkest Peru made him all that much more lovable. A bear who had been given a chance with a new family. Was it Mr Bond's intention to develop empathy and kindness when he wrote the story?  

My hat goes off to Michael Bond and the imaginary world he gave to his readers all around the world. To the miracle of Paddington and his uniqueness and how
loved he was. If only our world could transcend all the barriers we have of acceptance. Perhaps we could not only enjoy these wonderful stories but also embrace the values they imparted.  Thank you Michael Bond for your gifts.

*The Paddington in the photo belonged to our first born daughter and was a special present for her first birthday.  She sadly died before the age of 20. We no longer have her but we have the bear. One of the miracles of life....the human capability to survive and become resilient.   

Sunday, March 1, 2015

So somehow we have come to March. Where did January and February disappear to? a blink.  One minute it was Christmas then New Year's and then here comes Spring. Well at least on the beautiful West Coast. We have crocuses and daffodils pushing their way through the ground determined to transform this winter into something with colour. I know this is not the case for those of you back east and trust me I think about that.  How lucky I am to be into Spring already. Don't get me wrong. I love the seasons and all the stuff that comes with it. But I think I am definitely a West Coast girl. Always will be. There is a hopefulness that comes with Spring. We all go through stuff. And sometimes really bad stuff. But do you know what? Flowers will keep blooming. Children will keep growing. The sun will rise each day. Remember that ok?

So last time that I wrote was ridiculously long ago. I said I wasn't sure about certain beliefs. Buddhism being one. But having rethought some of it I also do recognize that the present moment can totally rock it. What I mean is that if you look back in life I am sure you can all remember some very special times that you look back on with fondness. The funny thing is that sometimes those times could have been as short as a minute or as long as a day or a week. This is where I think we are often deceived. Deceived by the notion of time. Time is really irrelevant when it comes to those essential and perfect moments. Sure it is important when we have to arrive at work or a particular place on time. But when it comes to those magical times then would you not agree that it can be an evening that perhaps felt like an eternity or a week that felt like a year. It was really all about the experience.

Life is amazing in that when you really think about it we just need to really grab hold of those moments. Don't let them get away.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Six Years is a very Long Time

It has now been six years since I lost my daughter.  That is a very painful subject to even write about.  I don't know if I should or if I shouldn't.  This is kind of supposed to be a blog about fashion, living life to the fullest, believing in the future etc. etc.  I really love that word etc.  It allows the writer to take all the unexplainable and put it into a three letter abbreviation. It's Latin. Et means ''and'' and cetera means ''the rest''.

So if I choose not to write about my daughter in my blog I feel as if I would be living a lie. Perhaps not. Is it necessary to reveal all things in a blog? Probably not and I would say most people don't. But in my case this is part of the fibre of my existence. Something that has shaped me and continues to do so. I also feel that I would be unfaithful in a way to her. Not to bring this up. Sometimes I feel that when I read other people's blogs that there is just too much hidden. It's like that old album title: "What's been did and what's been hid" I really love that because it is so true of life. Sometimes too much is hidden and although I don't wholeheartedly think that we need to say everything I think there is something to be said for honesty.

If a blog is a personal one and you are inviting your readers to share a bit about yourself then I feel there are things that do not necessarily have to be kept secret. In fact part of my intention with this blog is to help others achieve a hopefulness of spirit despite what they have experienced or are currently going through. I think that we can often gain strength from the efforts of those around us. Isn't that what humanity should be about? Supporting one another?

So really all I can say at this point is I am trying very hard to grab hold of life. To say to myself that others go through stuff equally as difficult and survive. I have always been an optimist so that helps. It helps me to focus on the beauty in life. But hey I cannot realistically say that this hasn't taken its toll on me. I am only human and it has been a rough road to be sure.

The other thing that I thought about these last few years is how we incorporate spirituality into our lives. I have tried to glean a bit of wisdom from each and every religion that I have chosen to read about. Essentially they all kind of point to the same things. However I have had some difficulty in understanding Buddhism. I really cannot live in the present moment at all times. I find that reliving memories of happier times is actually very helpful to me. And thinking about the future seems to be built into my DNA and always has been. So we all do what we can to better our lives.

There are special memories for me. I have posted a favourite photo taken on a tour of the steps in San Francisco. We travelled there as a family and I love this picture because I was in my element. With both of my girls. That was part of who I always felt I was destined to be. A mother. It was also an essential part of me and always will be.

For those of you out there that are facing obstacles. Keep the faith. That expression simply means to not lose hope in the face of uncertainty and difficulties. The human condition is made up of that. I find what has helped me the most is to focus on working. Working at something that you love of course. I have put a great deal of time and effort into my shop and enjoy every aspect of it. It has given me purpose and something to focus on. Of course I still have a day job too and also enjoy that as well.

Scandinavian people are pretty work oriented. It does really help to be busy. But not so busy that you don't have time to take care of yourself and others around you.

Here is my photo:
Exploring San Francisco 2002

Keeping the Faith 2012 on a ship to Stockholm
So really I guess what has brought me to this point in time is being hopeful. Still hopeful about the future. Yearning often for the past but understanding that we cannot go back in time. Sadly yes this is the case. But acceptance is the key to many things. Accepting things that we cannot change. And of course working to change things that we are capable of. Don't give up. I grew up with an expression in Finnish. That we can go through even a gray rock. I tried to look for it on the internet but could not find it. Perhaps it is Swedish and my Mum had a lot of Swedish expressions too. Or maybe she made it up? Anyway it must have had some influence on me as I am still standing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Looking Forward to next weekend in Naramata!

So I really could not resist writing about our upcoming trip to Naramata.  We have been going there now for about eleven years. My in-laws moved there from Ontario and we have seen the place evolve in so many ways. I say evolve because I believe there are many kinds of change. I see evolution as kind of a natural change and I think that the place has done so beautifully.  It has resisted the unfortunate growth that can be brought about by the wrong kind of development.  I think we all know what that means. Urban sprawl and too many ugly fast food restaurants.  This is not the case for this gem in the sea of the Okanagan.

Naramata is truly a gem. Granted it now has garnered the attention of the New York Times and probably a few of the higher end travel mags. But still a well kept secret that I believe is heaven on earth.  We first travelled there in the early 90s with our first born daughter. We kind of stumbled on it during a trip to the Okanagan and during that visit we met a lovely couple from New York who were also visiting with their little girl. We were amazed by the tranquility and peacefulness of the area. Little did we know at the time that it would indeed become a destination for the future filled with lasting memories and beautiful sunshine filled days.

 A view down the valley with grapes growing in the foreground.
 From the label of Ruby Blues wine.
 The most typical view of Manitou Beach in Naramata. And below the playground there.

Above is a pic of Wharf Park where the market is held every Wednesday and where the wind really kicks up. There is so much beauty in the area and best of all it is very quiet!  And I love the notice board and the ice cream cones from the local General Store:

Really you cannot talk about Naramata without mentioning the local vintners. Ruby Blues is definately one of my favourite wineries there.  The white Stilleto from that winery is second to none.  It is an amazing blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc grapes and the perfect summer wine. While we are on the subject of wine I have to also mention Terra Vista's Fandango, a Gold Medal Winner in 2014.

But it is truly the natural beauty that draws people to vacation here. Getting outdoors and being active is awesome!

This weekend we intend to stop at T-Bones in Penticton for crab cakes as well. It is somewhat of a Naramata tradition. We will have them with green beans from the garden, caesar salad and pair this great combination with the Noble Blend from the Joie winery.  That's the plan anyway!

You cannot go back in time. Today is the time we have. Yesterday has been and gone. We can however have the wonderful memories of yesterday and the people that we shared them with. Now is the time to create new memories. To not forget but also to live in the present moment as fully and as well as we can.

Looking forward to a wonderful weekend with family and friends, good food, good wine, and lots of exercise!

Travelling made Easy

Last night I wrote about the dilemma of what to wear for a special event or occasion.  Now I am going to write about finding things to put in your suitcase or carry on that will look great when you pull them out the next day or even two days later!  We don't tend to carry our steamers or an iron around with us so have a look at these adorable and comfortable dresses and shirts for stylish and beautiful clothing to bring on the long weekend trip.

Are you going to Acapulco?
This shirt is so sweet!  It is labelled a size large but can easily go down a size with the addition of a belt.  Don't you just love the cut out back?  So 90s. And the straw bag that is peeking out at the bottom of the photo begging for attention is an iconic 50s Acapulco purse that will not only compliment any outfit in unique vintage style but will also garner you your fair share of compliments!  It is a conversation piece and in case you were not aware Acapulco was the destination back in the 50s and 60s for celebrities and well travelled people. This particular purse is in mint condition and I am sure you will love the retro colours and the amazing space inside for all your valuables and retro postcards from your trip!
Partying in Acapulco in the 40s
    Even if you can't party in Acapulco this year you can bring the flavor into your sphere by carrying this handbag. Although the handbag appears to have seen very little wear and it is in such beautiful condition you still can't help but wonder who bought the purse there and what their holiday was all about.

Acapulco Here we Come!
 For the photo shoot I teamed it with an equally pretty linen skirt exceptionally well made in Europe.  You cannot find a better made skirt.  This is a 60s to 70s era piece.  And here it is:
The link for the skirt is here:

The shirt can work equally as well for the Fall as the colours are so October.  Love them.  Try it tucked in to a pair of high waisted pants in a dark olive colour and perhaps made of a linen or light wool.  But in this case I am recommending it for a no wrinkle item to throw in to your suitcase or weekender bag.

The other dress that I simply adore for not wrinkling which could also transition into Fall with amazing style is here:

I've teamed it with a gorgeous belt in beautiful natural grain leather that is also in my shop and is amazing because it can work for many sizes as well:

And because I simply adore tooled leather accessories and feel that they will never go out of style if you look for the creme de la creme of vintage as I do, I found this totally unique handbag that goes beautifully with this dress:
It is made of a buttery soft leather and has no label on it but it is unmistakeably gorgeous.

So there you have just a few of the very packable travel garments in my shop.  If you have a look there are several others.  Now its time for me to photograph some exciting new items that I will be listing today.  The sun is shining and a long weekend is coming up soon.  Enjoy those last summer days. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

 No need to look for that perfect travel dress any longer.  There are so many easy care and versatile pieces in my shop.  Here is just a small selection to choose from:
Moss green sheath dress
 Find this dress here:

I styled it with a woven faux leather belt but it can be worn as a simple 60s style sheath or shift dress as well. 

Gorgeous Tribal Print Dress

 If you love tribal prints this dress will travel amazingly well! With its simple sheath styling and crinkle easy care fabric it will never need to see an iron. Wear it with sandals for a casual yet elegant look for day or evening.

What to wear oh What to wear....this weekend.

How many times have you asked yourself that question when a special event is coming up.  And so you hit the mall only to come back with nothing because all of the clothing IS THE SAME.  It happens.  You hope to find something that suits your free and independent spirit.  Not to be copied or imitated.

Have you tried shopping for vintage?  Have you tried shopping in the comfort of your own home for that unique special something to wear?

I have a few suggestions:

You can find this lovely batik dress with natural nut buttons in my shop right here:

Or if that isn't quite it then this lovely homemade linen retro dress may suit your taste:

Have a look at the dresses section of my shop and I think you will find a very interesting variety of different dresses from the 60s to the 90s.  All of them are exceptional quality and value.  Good luck on your search!  And enjoy that special event or just have fun on your summer days.

Oh and by the way there is a nice selection of men's clothing as well.  The link for my shop is at the top and bottom of this post.  

Gluten Free? Not Me! And why I love French baguettes as much as Rice

I know its all the rage now.  Just like so many things are with each passing decade and generation.  Gluten Free.  I totally realize the merits of not eating too many carbohydrates and particularly bread.  But if you do not suffer from an allergy or disease that prohibits the partaking of gluten then why is it necessary?  Everything in moderation as is said.

When it comes to this new bandwagon I would say probably half of the people on it have absolutely no need to abandon their whole grain and whole rye sandwiches.  Certainly white nutritionless gummy bread that does not contribute to a healthy diet could be left behind.  But all bread?  REALLY?  What happened to all the good things about bread?  All the B vitamins, complex carbohydrates, fiber, etc etc.  Really think about that.

Now if you were a baker you would say that the most important part of a beautiful loaf of bread is in fact the gluten!  Without gluten the bread cannot rise to perfection. I am sure by this point I have already taken issue with a touchy subject.  Ok let's be fair.  If you truly feel better without gluten then who am I to say?  I myself first heard about vegetarian diets when I was 18 years old.  I jumped very quickly on to that bandwagon.  Well let's just say I researched it fairly well first and then jumped aboard.  I was a little smug in my beliefs as well.  So really let's not get too self righteous here.  I'm only saying these things because well... I love bread!  Good old fashioned steaming hot or just slathered in butter (or whatever suits your fancy.... balsamic vinegar? olive oil? sardine juice? (just kidding) Anyway how do you have red wine without a baguette?  How does that work?