Month: October 2012

Remix Challenge, week 6

Sunday, October 21: afternoon tea & visit

Skirt, The Gap (thrifted); shirt, no label (consignment); belt, H&M; tights, HUE

A dear friend came to visit, and brought yummy scones no less! So we had a spot of tea, and got caught up on each other’s news. Perhaps I should have dressed up a bit more for a proper English tea party (pearls, anyone?), but I was excited enough just to have a reason to wear a skirt on the weekend.

Nail polish, OPI Puerta Vallarta Violeta – one of my faves!

Monday, October 22: work

Dress (as top), Zara; skirt, BCBG; cardigan, Joe Fresh; belt, Kate Spade; earrings, Swarovski; shoes, LAUREN Ralph Lauren; bag, Mulberry; nail polish, Essie Where’s My Chauffeur

I’m still mad at myself for giving in to the impulse to buy this Zara dress; it’s too short and it’s polyester. As “punishment”, I am making myself wear it as much as possible (which requires some creativity given its limitations) before I decide whether to (a) swap it; or (b) modify it into a top. For this outfit, the short length of the dress was a plus; combined with the relaxed fit of the skirt, it definitely passes as a top.

Tuesday, October 23: work

Dress, Diane von Furstenber; jacket, BCBG; shoes, Enzo Angiolini; bag, Chanel; nail polish, OPI DS Glamour

This DVF dress was one of my favourite consignment scores, and I love its modern take on leopard print. With that said, I’m always a little self-conscious about wearing it to work because of its print. So, I paired it with a jacket to “sober it up” a little bit. And I’m proud for using navy and grey as my neutrals, rather than the old stand-by, black.

I went “vintage” for my accessories, with a ring that used to belong to my grandmother (very sixties cocktail chic!), and a pair of screw-back earrings I found on eBay eons ago. As an alternative to clip-ons for people who do not have pierced ears, screw-back earrings are not at all pinch-y, and not all that hard to put on. They do look like miniature torture devices, though.

Vintage accessories

Wednesday, October 24: work

Pants, Dana Buchman; top, MICHAEL Michael Kors; cardigan, J. Crew; flats, Nine West; bag, Yves Saint Laurent

I’ve worn this outfit – or some variation of it – so many times already in the past that I’m not really excited about it anymore. But it works, so it’s often my go-to outfit when I run out of ideas on a weekday morning.

Thursday, October 25: work

Skirt, Dorothy Perkins; top, Winners; jacket, Diane von Furstenberg; shoes, Nine West; bag, Yves Saint Laurent; nail polish, Essie Sag Harbor

I love the soft pastel colour of the Dorothy Perkins suit I bought last year (for a song!), but it’s a bit on the twee side when worn head-to-toe. So, instead, I paired the skirt with some separates, and it looks a lot more age-appropriate, I think.

Friday, October 26: work and hair appointment

Jeans, paperdenimcloth; top, Laundry; jacket, Boss Hugo Boss; belt, Tommy Hilfiger; shoes, Ellen Tracy; nail polish, China Glaze Edgy Copper

I am in the process of growing out my hair, which actually makes my haircuts all the more important lest I veer into Justin Beiber territory. [I feel like I’ve been on the cusp of that for a few months now.] I can’t wait until I can rock a proper bob again!

Saturday, October 27: baby shower

Dress, Liz Clairborne; belt, Betsey Johnson; pearls, thrifted; nail polish, OPI Blushingham Palace

I helped to organize a close friend’s baby shower, and Saturday was the big day! Since she is having a girl, the theme was a pink-and-pearls mocktail party. It was a blast!!

With the fun stuff out of the way, time for a small anouncement. In the last couple of months, it has become very obvious to me that I am terrible at the business of blogging, and that I enjoy it even less. Working to get BCRL established as a “legitimate” blog has taken all the fun out of the experience for me, and I’m still nowhere close to that goal. At the same time, I have come to realize that the effort required to keep BCRL going in its current form isn’t sustainable for me – or justifiable given my many other responsibilities, both on the family and career fronts.  So, what to do?
I have struggled with the answer over the last little while, and have come up with very few satisfactory solutions. The idea of shutting down BCRL, which has been such a big part of my life for over 2 years now, is heartbreaking on a personal level. On the other hand, I’m not very good at doing things by half, so keeping it around in some anemic form isn’t much more appealing. So, it’s time to focus on other things. My family. My career. Books. Traveling. Season 2 of Downton Abbey. It’s time to say good-bye.
I want to say a big “thank you” to all of you. You’ve made this whole experience so exciting and fun, and you’re a big part of the reason why this decision has been so difficult for me. Writing and interacting with my readers have been the best part, by far, of this whole blogging “journey”, and I am eternally grateful for all of your comments and support. To the readers who have become personal friends – please stay in touch! BCRL is no longer on Facebook, but you know where to find me 😉
Happy travels!

Stumbling on Happiness

Have you ever noticed how much time people spend trying to predict the future? We want to know what the weather will be like tomorrow, what the stock markets will do next year, and whether the house we buy today will be a good investment in twenty years. There are a lot of experts out there purporting to be able to help you with these very important questions. But there is another question – perhaps the most important of all – that no one else can answer for you: what will make you happy? It is generally assumed that the person in question is the best possible judge of his or her own personal happiness, and that, again generally, they will get it right. Surprisingly, these assumptions are, more often than not, wrong.

In a wonderful book called Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert describes the mental and psychological processes that make people such poor predictors of their own future happiness. What it comes down is a failure of imagination – not so much in terms of ability (because people have incredible capacities for imagination) as in terms of performance. Quickly summarized, our imagination has three major shortcomings when it comes to helping us, well, imagine the future. First, it tends to fill in and leave out things without making us aware of it. Since it is impossible to imagine every possible facet of a future situation, we are likely to fail to consider some, which may be quite important and relevant to our future happiness in that particular situation. Second, our imagination tends to project the present onto the future. Gilbert uses the example of Thanksgiving dinner, and that post-turkey-feast feeling of being physically unable to eat even the tiniest extra morsel, now or at any time in the next 36 hours or, oh, ever again. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably had that feeling far more frequently than once a year … and you also know how fleeting it always ends up being. Third, our imagination fails us by not recognizing that situations will likely look different once they actually happen and, in particular, that bad things will seem a whole lot better than anticipated.

I can attest to this shortcoming of imagination with a personal anecdote. I spent my last week of maternity leave in a state of near desolation at the thought of being apart from my son for the majority of the day, 5 days of the week. I even started giving serious thought to the idea of working part-time, despite the fact that it would mean a not-insignificant drop in our family income. About 2 weeks after my return to work, my thoughts have taken a radically different direction, and I am now considering whether to significantly ramp up my career path in the next 5-10 years. Can you imagine how (un)happy I might have been now, had I acted on my earlier feelings and expectations about the future?

If you are curious about Gilbert’s proposed solution to the shortcomings of imagination, he suggest that we use proxies – other people currently living out the different choices we are contemplating – to help us in our decision-making. He notes that when people are deprived of the information needed for their imagination to make future predictions, and are thus forced to use surrogates, they tend to make very accurate predictions. He goes on to deflate the myth that we are all as individual as fingerprints and, thus, unsuited to the use of proxies. If you’re no longer in grade 4, and are being honest with yourself, this will not come as a surprise. Gilbert puts it much nicely, and gently, in his book. Really, you should read the whole thing.

I found the book’s insights fascinating, not only because they helped to frame many of my own past experiences, but also because I found that they inspired me with hope. Hope might seem like an unlikely message to take from it, but here’s why it’s not. If future happiness is something of a crap-shoot, it becomes less of a decisive factor in prospective decision-making. I am freed from the fear of “But will this make me happy down the line?” so I can focus on more practical considerations. For someone like me, who is highly susceptible to the nostalgic appeal of the past – making my first preference, always, that things stay the same and not change – this is very liberating. In other words, if the fact that I was happy doing one thing in the past has no precise correlation to how happy I will be doing the same thing in the future (or even more importantly, how happy I will be doing something different), then letting go of the past and embracing change is a little bit easier.

A Royal Romance (part 2)

A few months ago, I shared with you my dream of owning a complete 12-person tea set of mismatched Royal Albert china. Luck has been on my side in the intervening time, and I am now only 2 teacups and one teapot away from a full set. I already have my eye on a lovely “American Beauty” series teapot at Ibon Antiques, but because of the price, I am holding off on buying it until everything else is in place. Still, it’s only a matter of time before my collection is complete, and I am already thinking of events where it might be called into service. Afternoon tea clothing swap, anyone?

Here is a peek at my newest pretties:

“Old Country Roses” looks like a very traditional china pattern to me – definitely grandma-approved.

Royal Albert “Old Country Roses” (Goodwill, $10)

These roses, on the other hand, are florals after my own heart – I love the delicacy of the “Tranquility” pattern (worth its slightly heftier price tag).

Royal Albert “Tranquility” (Ibon Antiques, $16)

The “Dogwood” pattern was one I’d seen at various antique stores and malls, but I wasn’t so enamoured of it to be willing to pay $20 and up for it. Luckily, I eventually found it for a more reasonable $10 – and I’m glad I picked it up after all, because it’s growing on me.

Royal Albert “Dogwood” (Value Village, $10)

I’m not sure of the official name of this pattern, but I call it my “bluebell” teacup. I love blue flowers, so I knew this piece had to join my collection.

Royal Albert (Goodwill, $10)

The “American Beauty” pattern is one of my favourites, so I was happy to find this sugar & cream set for a steal of a deal at, where else, Goodwill.

Royal Albert “American Beauty” (Goodwill, $15)

I decided to anticipate my eventual success with a small afternoon tea for two (thanks, L., for joining me and for the lovely scones!).

A rare moment of peace in the play-room

What do you think of my recent finds? And what would be the best way to inaugurate the full set, once it’s complete? Leave your ideas in the comments!