Saturday, August 30, 2014

Weekend of Transition. . . . Back to School

 LittleGirl heads home this morning, and I'll miss having her here. The long earnest chats about who said what to whom -- whether in that afternoon's sailing camp or in some movie I'm getting a scene-by-scene summary of.  The belly laughs she provokes and those she loves to indulge in,;her cautious willingness to try new foods, alongside her grand appreciation of a plain peanut butter sandwich made with Granddad's homemade bread. Even the transformation of the house by the invasion of My Little Ponies and Brio railroad tracks under the piano. . . yesterday, I picked up some Crayola markers that had been placed in groups of 3 on the livingroom floor and on the stairs. Turned out those were meant to form directional arrows, part of a scavenger hunt she'd built for herself, and I quickly restored them to their places. Even the tiny,sweet surprise of finding a pair of scissors decorated with Rainbow Loom elastics. . . . A wee story there, in the patient threading of each one. . . .

But she will be happy to see her Mom and Dad again, and they her, and I have much to distract me from her absence. I'll spend the weekend making notes for next week's classes and gathering up strength for the deluge of adrenaline needed to get through them. So much is about performance, the first week, and about energy -- meeting 3 groups of 25-30 students, and beginning to build working units from each group while responding to individual needs. In one of my classes, many students are International students for whom English is a Second Language, and I know from some of the emails I'm already receiving that some of them
will only have arrived a day or two before. They'll be jet-lagged, experiencing some culture shock, trying to adjust to English spoken at a speed and in accents and in quantities that may have them struggling to follow. And I'll be throwing readings at the poor things, expecting them to be ready for next class's discussion.

As part of my preparation for all this, I'm sorting out some What to Wears, and I will try to share some of these soon. I've had fun sharing my renditions of How to Wear my toile-printed jogging pants, especially reading your comments about whether/how you'd wear this particular Trendy Item. One of my other Back-to-School purchases is also Trendy, but not too much so, I hope -- I'll show you that soon as well.

As for comments, Sue (from the fashionable High Heels in the Wilderness) notes that she's been having trouble leaving hers. Here's what she says, and her recommendations for a fix:
P.S. Have you had any readers saying how their comments disappear when they click "Publish?" I know that happened to you on my blog and it always happens to me on yours. Now.. I write the comment, highlight and copy, click "Publish" and log into Google. When the comment box reappears without my comment I just "Paste" it in and click "Publish" again. But what pain. I'm not sure why Blogger does that.

I agree that this is a real pain, and I'd like to add that if you find the process frustrating you could email your response to me by email: fsproutATgmailDOTcom substituting, of course, the appropriate symbols for AT and DOT (does that substitution really foil/fool the nasty spamming robots, do you think?), and I'll post them for you.  Because I love to get your comments and would hate to miss a one!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Of Printed Slim Joggers and Photobombers and What I Might Wear . . . .

First of all, thanks for the great suggestions about ways to wear my  new J. Crew slim joggers and/or your thoughts about this style in general.

As you'll note from the photo-bombing (below), my time for playing around with blog-posting is very limited, but I found a "quick second " (I've been watching Nashville and picking up a Rayna James idiom or two) to try out a few options for taking these comfy pants out and about.

I chose to wear them with my nude pointed-toe d'Orsay flats (Vince) which I think makes the look less sporty, slightly more polished, and I also think is more elongating than a dark, closed shoe might be (that said, I fully intend to wear them with black closed-toe at some point and let the stumpiness reign!).

The white sweater in these photos is linen, a J. crew purchase from the spring. Interestingly, I've found that when I wear white (which didn't used to be very often, mainly in the summer), Pater will spontaneously comment that "You look very fresh!". Once I recognized the pattern, I've made an effort to maximize the effect and I've picked up a few white tops.

 In the outfit below, for example, a simple white Gap t-shirt brings that freshness or brightness. A simple grey cashmere short-sleeved cardi adds enough polish that I could wear this in the classroom -- admittedly, a fairly casual workplace, but one in which I do try to convey professionalism.
 And if I wanted to ramp up the professionalism of the look, I'd add a blazer. This Smythe bracelet-sleeve version does the trick. . . .I wore it the other day with my new yellow chinos, and Little Girl said right away, "Nana, you look really nice," and then she paused and organized her thoughts to add, "You look like you just came from your office."
 Her sweet response was a great demonstration of a jacket's power to polish. . . .
I have a few more examples I'd love to show you later. I'm thinking I can wear the pants, for example, with a pale-pink silk tunic and these shoes; with a crisp white button-down shirt, un- or partially tucked and my black patent pointy-toe flats; with this boxy merino sweater in heather-grey; with a new black lightweight merino, slightly slouchy Vince sweater, with my trusty old dark grey fitted cashmere v-neck. .. Honestly, for a pair of pants that seem a bit of a stretch, I can already see these will be very versatile.

But for now, I'd better run. A few things to do before Little Girl wakes up, and I've heard some stirrings from her room next door (Pater's in Vancouver helping the new family for a few days, so LG and I are on our own). While I'm gone, do keep those comments coming -- I'd still love to wear how you might wear these. . . or how you'd adapt the trend (a solid colour, perhaps). . . or whether you think it's an abomination in the workplace but you'd defend my right to wear it (as, generously, does Rubiatonta in last post's comments) . . . 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to School Clothes: Item the Second, the Slim Jogger. . .



































Since losing weight last fall, I've been fairly considered in rebuilding my wardrobe, skewing mainly toward neutral colours in reasonably conservative, simple shapes. Prints have been limited, although I did choose two very graphic prints in JCrew's knit linen summer tops and loved pairing these with my white jeans for a simple, strong look. . . They also work well with my navy pencil skirt and with dark jeans or black pants. . . .



Still, I resolved to continue being very careful about adding new prints; in fact, not really needing any item in particular, my wander through the Robson Street shops a week or two ago was intended mainly as a reconnaissance mission. With no major obvious holes in my wardrobe, I had the luxury of looking for one or two pieces to renew my enthusiasm for Front-of-the-Class Fall dressing -- a perfect piece in some rich neutral that captured this Fall's look while being classic enough to enjoy for many Autumns to come . . .

And then I spotted these slim-cut sweatpants at J. Crew .  I've never been much for a jogging/sweatpant, but I've really been loving the Aritzia cotton cargo joggers I picked up in olive this spring. Solid olive. A neutral. These toile-printed sweatpants, though, take the "trendy" factor of the athletic profile and complicate it with the additional Trend quotient of a print (did I just mix up my arithmetic metaphors?). In their favour, however, the print -- yes, a wee bit wild, but what Francophile can resist a toile print for very long? -- is practically a neutral by virtue of its black on grey, right? And the athletic effect is mitigated by the slimness of the profile. I happened to be wearing Vince d'Orsay flats, nude, pointy-toe, and that also mitigated the "jock" aspect, not that I might not occasionally wear these with my black Converse. . . .

No point carrying out the suspense, is there? You already know that I brought these pants home with me, and I've already come up with many different ways to style them. I'm convinced that I can make them look polished enough for my (admittedly rather casual) academic workplace, while nonetheless feeling as comfortable as if I were in pyjamas! But before I tell you how I plan to do that, I'd love to know: Would you consider a printed sweatpant? Do you think the slim jogger is a possibility for you this Fall? And how would you style a pant like this either for a casual workplace or just for hanging out?


Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Medley, the Rentrée looms . . .


































I quite love that everywhere I turn in the house and in the yard, there's evidence of a visiting 5-year old. But I won't pretend that this little girl isn't a big distraction from the impending Rentrée. We're driving her parents (who visited for the weekend, but have to work during the week) to the ferry around noon and dropping Little Girl off at her afternoon activity at which point I'll head into the office and try to cross a plethora of administrative details off my list. I'm getting the usual before-term butterflies. . . .

But I have something for tomorrow's post, a Reveal of one of my Back-to-School acquisitions and a Question about how you might style the item in question. Or whether you'd consider wearing it at all, the item being rather on the Currently Trending side. . . .

Meanwhile, having seen a Loved One faint this weekend, helping guide that Fainter gently to the sidewalk and wait for that person to recover, I'm reminded of this post which perhaps some newer readers haven't read. . . . life is so precious. . . .and borrowed . . .
Editied to add: This weekend's Fainter is fine. Meal had been delayed too long, probably, and a long cycle before our meeting probably contributed. The next day was spent taking it easy. . . .

Sunday, August 24, 2014

40 years later. . . . Weddings, Anniversaries, Life, Love . . .

40 years ago today, and I'm still smiling at spending a life with this guy. Three daughters, a son, three wonderful sons-in-law/love and a lovely daughter-in-law, three oh-so-lovable granddaughters (one brand new!) . . . Four mortgages, five degrees, one or two big fights, three trips to Europe with kids (England '84, Frances '90, Italy '14), 10+ trips to Europe as a couple, four second-hand cars and two purchased new, every one a stickshift. . . .the list goes on and on and the adventures continue. . . I'm hoping for another 20 years together, at the very least. . . .

Spending the day at home, happily taking it easy, with visiting granddaughter and her parents, our daughter and son-in-law (themselves having recently celebrated 20 years as a couple, 11 years of marriage); our son and his wife also celebrate the second anniversary of their beach wedding this weekend.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Baby, Blanket, Simplicity, Perfection

My new granddaughter, Francesca Rose, 4 days old, wrapped in the baby blanket I knit for her, my version of Purl Bee's Super Easy Baby Blanket, knit in Debbie Bliss' Baby Cashmerino (and yes, completely machine wash-and-dryable merino-cashmere blend with a bit of microfibre).
Really, sometimes the simplest styling is the best. And few words required.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Back-to-School Pants and priorities

So far, I've bought four new back-to-school items, one of which is a pair of shoes (if a pair can be considered "one"!) The least expensive item in the bunch, though, might be the one that's making me happiest: these sunny Broken-In Strwight Khakis from The Gap. Gap calls them Ghanaian Yellow; they're mustardy sunshine, just enough edge to the gold that I'm already imagining all kinds of combos to take them right through the fall. I never get to wear yellow near my face and it's always seemed too much investment to do the "pop of colour" thing with it. But in pants? In this slightly off-yellow yellow? Love!

I ended up partial-tucking this navy top in for a bit more structure. But guess where I took the whole outfit. . . After receiving an emotional email from my new-mama daughter, I cancelled today's hair appointment (I am going to be such a mess by the next available appointment, mid-September!), begging off two important term start-up meetings on Thursday, and I took the first ferry I could manage on Tuesday morning, drove straight over to little Frankie's new home, stopping only to pick up a few groceries on the way. The smile (and wan relief?) on my daughter's face when I arrived at her door told me I'd made the right move. Her partner is doing an amazing job of holding the fort, but given that all R can do is nurse the baby and (barely) get herself from bed to couch to bathroom, it's really too much for one person.

I feel anxious about missing so much of the preparation for the new term. While the administrative details and the meetings can be a nuisance, they also generally help me switch gears from summer's relaxed schedule back to "real life." And I will even admit that I was looking a forward to catching up with my colleagues and to hearing new department and faculty plans for the upcoming academic year. When I get back, time at our sole faculty photocopier will be even more at a premium, and I wonder if I'm missing the deadline for sending my course outlines to the printshop.

But when my anxiety over missing these elements of my academic life mounts, I just remind myself that yesterday afternoon, I held a newborn for almost three hours while her parents caught up on their sleep. A gift for me, a gift for them.

There will be more meetings. I'm doing much of my prep in the evenings here and keeping up with all the admin emails on my iPad mini. Somehow, at the beginning of next month, I'll get up in front of each of my three classes and the teaching and learning will happen all over again. I will hand out course outlines, even if I have to print and collate and staple-sort them ever so slowly on my little printer at home. I've been reading all summer toward these lectures, and I know my material well enough to engage, and I'm good at facilitating lively discussions about the readings. Deep down, I do know this, and the knowledge helps to balance, if not alleviate, my anxiety.

But I will only have one chance to help this little family on their way. Wearing my new pants. Baby Frankie is "wearing" her new baby blanket, knit by Nana. Tomorrow I'll show you how she styles it (hint: closed eyes are an important accessory.

Before I head back to Baby Duty (best duty ever when it's a Nana gig!), thanks again for all your lovely comments. I read every one of them, but I'm going to temporarily give myself permission not to answer them all as quickly as I generally try to. Hope you understand.

 

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