Back in action with boots

Boots, Spring; jeans, Forever 21; shirt, Old Navy; jacket, Urban Outfitters; purse, vintage Minolta camera bag from The Reuse Centre; shiny metal scarf, Le Chateau; orange and brown scarf, vintage; earrings, gift from Erin; ring, vintage.

So, do you like my boots? I have been whining about wanting a pair of over-the-knees boots for months, so my friends can all be thankful that I finally bought a pair, and that they don’t have to listen to me yearn for something they all probably thought I was never going to buy anyway. (Upward of $150 for boots that, in all honesty, won’t even keep my feet warm? I don’t think so!) Enter The Gift Card, the cheapskate’s almighty saviour. When I receive a gift card, I don’t think, “I can buy one really expensive piece now.”  No, instead I start scheming as to how I can get the maximum value for whatever I have been given to work with. This time, with my $100 gift card to Spring (thanks, mom!), I waited out the post-Christmas January markdowns, and got not one but two pairs of over-the-knee boots for $142.36 (each pair was 30% off the sale price, and the other pair is black suede with a two-inch heel). One-hundred free dollars also meant I spent only $42.36 of my own hard-earned cash, so I walked away a happy customer. This little spree brings my 2011 Tally it Up total to, well, $42.36.

I have been feeling uninspired lately, which has caused me to slack in posting about things I meant to write about, and one of those subjects was my 2010 Tally it Up total. At last count, I was at $679.11, and over the Christmas holidays I bought two long-sleeve T-shirts at Giant Tiger, and one at Old Navy (you can see it above), as well as a blouse. The upscale shopping at GT brought my bank account down $15.82, and the cash registers at Old Navy dinged me for $14.22, which brings my 2010 total to…$709.15! I managed to cross the $700 threshold, after all. I’m wondering if in 2011 I will spend even less because of my depleted necessity for office-wear…? We shall see, as I invite you along for the rocky and tumultuous ride of Tally it Up 2011! *Sirens, sirens, sirens*


Coat, Simpson’s, thrifted; purse, High Fashion Handbags, thrifted; belt, thrifted; leather gloves and scarf, gift.

Shoes, Guess via The Bay; jeans, Paper, Denim & Cloth; belt, Dynamite; blouse, H&M; earrings, Le Chateau; bracelet, Claire’s.

My hair, not quite long enough to wrap around for the hiding of the elastics. But I like it anyway.

I have been writing and editing until Darcy has come home from work every night this week, so we went out for supper on Monday, had so-so suppers the next couple nights, ate a healthy-ish supper last night, and then went out again tonight. By my post title, can you guess where we went? The Keg. Da Keg. Dos Keg.

Since I spend my days at home working, I rarely stray from the uni of yoga pants and a T-shirt. And slippers. And very little makeup. If Darcy’s lucky, I’ll put on a pair of jeans for when he comes home. Tonight, though, he came home to jeans AND a nice top! Surprise! The slovenly mess crawled back into her editor’s hermit hole for the night, where dowds go to die. Maybe, too, if Darcy’s lucky, I’ll even hold his hand.

I was out Christmas shopping earlier in the week, and I bought three things for myself. Merry Christmas! This top is one item, for $7.91 from H&M. The other two pieces are a red-and-navy skirt (with red belt!) from Forever 21 for $10.16, and a pair of navy tights from Walmart for $4.52. Total spent for the Tally? Cha-ching, that’s $22.59, good sir, which puts me at $679.11 for the year. Only a couple weeks left in December. Will I hit the $700 mark? I think the chances are good, because I can never resist after-Christmas sales. Then again, I like sales all year round, so what does it matter? A deal is a deal.


Blouse, thrifted from Goodwill; necklace and earrings, vintage.

It’s hard to believe, but by the time December 31 rolls around, I will have actually kept track of every single clothing-, shoe-, or accessory-related purchase I’ve made since January 1, 2010. I feel like I want to keep it up in 2011, just so I can compare two years’ worth of spending, especially now that I’m starting to get into buying thrift-store clothing. What do you think, readers? Have you found my experiment interesting?

Going back to thrifting, though, I haven’t been able to make the leap into used shoes (I feel squeamish), but when I see other fashion bloggers wearing second-hand shoes, I feel jealous because what they’re wearing looks so great! I mean, it’s probably safe to assume they’re all not suffering from a frightening trifecta of plantar warts, corns, and athlete’s foot, right? I just have psyche myself up to cross this hurdle. Maybe when I find the right pair of shoes, and they call out to me from underneath the piles of cracked, misshapen, sorry-looking reject soles, I will take the plunge. Maybe.

In the meantime, I will continue to buy tops like the one above, whose pattern and colours I am in love with! And for $5.99, it was a steal. I also recently bought an old brown-leather Minolta camera bag (from The Reuse Centre) that I plan to use as a cross-body purse. It was $5, the camera was still inside, and Darcy actually liked said camera, so now it’s on our bookshelf. Five dollars for a purse AND a home decor item? Sign me up!

In other spending, two weekends ago I hit up a few of the “outlet” big-box stores in Cambridge, and, of course, I managed to scrounge up something. I found a navy, green, and white striped long-length T-shirt at Esprit that came to $8.46, and a pair of beige-coloured knit knee-socks from Mexx that were on clearance and cost me a grand total of $2.25. Whoot, der it is.

So, total spending in this post? $21.70. Total so far in 2010? $656.52.

And now, in what must surely be considered real-time blogging (come on, it practically is!), a picture of and Erin and I at the Santa Shuffle 5K this morning:

Dear Edna and De Facto Redhead about to get jacked on adrenalin.

We haven’t run this race together since 2006, so this year was a special treat, as well as the renewal of what is well on its way to being a time-honoured tradition – a tradition that ends with a hug and a knowing look that translates into “Let’s get us some food in our gullet, yo.” Today’s hit: french toast stuffed with Nutella, and that ain’t no lie.

All little bit this, a little bit that

Christmas is coming!

Yes, Christmas is, indeed, coming – in exactly 39 days! I have started my Christmas shopping, but since I obviously can’t reveal my purchases, I took the above picture of some Christmas gift tags I bought this year. Just over a week ago, Erin asked me to go with her to a holiday-shopping open house at Lulu & Lavigne Home Studio, in Hamilton, and with the lure of free cupcakes making me tear up Highway 403 in a fit of a blinding anticipation, there was no way I was missing out. My only purchase was the tags at 40% off, but I can say with confidence that Sweetness Bakery gained a new client because I ate two of their mini cupcakes at the event, and then bought four full-sized confections this past weekend (more on that later!).

Want some?

Staying on the baked-goods track, I made this banana-chocolate loaf (I hate that word) last week, and it was amazing! The recipe said to wrap the loaf overnight, and then cut into it the next day, but that author was crazy to think anyone (read: me) could resist something that looked like this, hot out of the oven. I sold all my bakeware at my yard sale in Edmonton, and I just recently acquired new pans, etc., so this loaf was me, back in baking action. Here’s what my counter looked like mid-bake:

You can check out the recipe for this Two-Tone Banana Bread here.

I got to enjoy the last piece of the bread on Friday, the day after Darcy left for the weekend to visit his friend in Houston, Texas. Yes, I had five days and four nights to myself, and I made them count. The first adventure of the weekend was actually getting Darcy to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, which is in Cheektowaga, New York. The flight on Air Tran was so cheap in comparison to WestJet or Air Canada, there wasn’t really a question about choosing this airport/airline, so after getting through the border safely (I always feel so nervous!), we were early, so we went to eat at a local eatery Darcy had looked up – Charlie the Butcher. It was a great lunch!

The view at Charlie the Butcher.

The food at Charlie the Butcher: Beef on Weck, potato wedges, sweet potato fries, and a hot dog with a German name that I can’t remember. And yes, I know my hot dog looks pathetic, but the condiments were at the table, and I put them on after the picture was taken, OK?

After I dropped Darcy off at the airport, I made my way back toward the border, where I stopped at an outlet mall. I bought an olive-green corduroy skirt at Old Navy, but who cares about that when you can shop at Charlotte Russe! Oh my God, has anyone else shopped here before? I had only heard of it on the What I Wore Today blog, but didn’t know anything about it. The sparkle in this place almost made me pass out, and I felt like I didn’t know where to look because I wanted EVERYTHING! The clothes and accessories were also reasonably priced, similar to Forever 21, but all I took away with me was a tank top with metallic chains hanging on the front of it, and a bronzed metal necklace with brown feathers attached to it. I needed to restrain myself because Christmas is coming up, after all, but I will see you again, Charlotte Russe.

So this all happened on Thursday, and on Friday, I went on a thrifting extravaganza, going to every second-hand store in Burlington. I had such a great time, and I found not only Pyrex for my collection (you can check out my purchases on the Pyrex Collective here), but I also bought a creamy-coloured angora-and-wool winter coat with a fur collar at Goodwill for $14.99, a black cross-body purse at Goodwill for $4.99, and three belts of varying golds and blacks at the Burlington Humane Society second-hand shop for $1 each. Yay! These purchases, in combination with my U.S. purchases (Old Navy skirt, $5.48; Charlotte Russe tank and necklace, $16.80), bring my Tally it Up spending to $634.82.

On Saturday, I made my way into Toronto, where I met up with Caroline at her place. We went out for dinner at Ferro, where we split the Spinacce “insalate” and I had the Gnocchi Alla Napoli for my main. Oh, God, it was so good! Caroline, I’m coming to see you again today, OK?

After dinner, we had a drink of Baileys back at the apartment, and settled in to watch the second Sex and the City movie. We also settled in to…our Sweetness Bakery cupcakes! I told you I would mention them again, and here they are:

How amazing do these look?

Here we are, fake-eating the s’mores cupcakes. We demolished Caroline’s couch with their crumbs immediately after this picture.

That pretty much brings an end to my weekend, as Sunday I went out to the Freelton Antique Mall for a browse, but didn’t get anything for myself except for a couple postcards I plan on framing, and then on Monday it was time to head back to the U.S. of A. to pick up Darcy at the airport. Luckily, I had these friendly woodland creatures to guide me in times of crisis:

We had a serious chat about stores in the area, and one of them told me to go Hobby Lobby. I went forth with their blessings, and I discovered ample bounty. Thanks, Mr. Deer! (Along with Charlotte Russe, I now also love Hobby Lobby.)

Next up, I am heading to the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo this weekend!

Part 2 – Junkin’ Jewels

As promised, here is Part 2 of the junkin’-junket weekend of vintage treasures:

So obviously these are not “vintage treasures,” but the stop at the St. Jacobs farmers’ market took up at least a couple hours, which therefore meant ample time to maximize my purchasing power. Darcy and I cooked up the homemade pasta tonight, and it was good, good, good.

This is my one and only purchase from the Stratford Antique Warehouse. It’s a reproduction of a map of Edmonton from 1907 that was co-published by the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and the University of Alberta in 1979. There were only 500 made, and I got one of them for $15, but why was it in Stratford? How did it get there? So many questions!

I spotted this sweater at a super-cute vintage clothing shop in St. Marys called Pass it On. It wasn’t priced, so I tried it on thinking I wouldn’t be able to buy it because it had this tag and seemed expensive:

When I was changing back into my clothes, I told my mom to go find out how much the sweater was – I thought it might be about $50, but the answer was $4.50! SOLD. I can’t wait to pair this sweater with leggings and boots!

I also spotted this pin, which wasn’t priced, either. It ended up being $2. SOLD. The owner of Pass it On noticed that it was a Sarah Coventry brooch, which is a brand I had never heard of before, but apparently there is a lot of this brand of jewelry out there because it used to be sold during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s at home parties a la Tupperware, PartyLite, etc. This information prompted me to check out my other brooches when I got home, to see if I had anything else SC, and just didn’t know it:

Nope – no other Sarah Coventry stuff in this collection!

This was my final purchase at Pass it On. For $5, I thought this overnight Jetliner bag was a steal!

I love decorating at Christmastime, and this record will make for a nice decor item, as well as satisfy another holiday obsession of mine – listening to Christmas carols! I bought this record for $1 at Eclectic Treasure in St. Marys.

On to Day 2 of the junket. This broom looks a lot bigger than it really is – it’s only about two-and-a-half-feet long. I have decided I am going to decorate my bathroom with an antique theme, so this is only one of the perfect pieces I found over the weekend. Lucky me, everything was half price at this particular vendor’s booth at the Aberfoyle Antique Market, and I bought this broom for $11.

Also bought, for $1, at the same booth, was this hanger. My coveted fur cape would like nice hanging on it. *Tear*

My first officially purchased Pyrex bowl! This was bargained down to $6 at Aberfoyle, and it’s the Horizon Blue pattern (with my St. Jacobs Bosc pears sitting pretty inside it!).

My second piece of newly acquired Pyrex! Technically, I didn’t purchase this because my mom bought it for me as a gift (for $10.95 at the Freelton Antique Mall), but it is part of my wares from the weekend, so I thought I would show it off anyway. This is the Friendship pattern, and I have decided to collect this size (two-and-a-half quart) of Pyrex bowl to place in a lovely display on the top of my kitchen cupboards.

Here is my collection of Pyrex bowls – the middle one is part of a three-piece set that was my great-grandmother’s. It’s the Butterfly Gold 1 pattern. Wheeeee!

Also purchased at Freelton was this vintage washboard – for only $5! I had been considering buying one earlier at Aberfoyle for $17, so I’m happy that I waited.

Another purchase at Freelton, and another purchase for this year’s Christmas decor. It was $3, and there were two, so my mom and I both bought one. We opened them, though, and one of them smelled OLD. Junkers and thrifters, you know the smell.

The last item purchased at Freelton, and, coincidentally, the last bought item of the day. This flour sifter was $3, which I thought was a great price. My mom bought one, too, but hers was in better shape.

And that brings me to the end of my buying bonanza. In there are some purchases for the Tally it Up total (the sweater, bag, and brooch), and I also bought an umbrella on the weekend at Wal-Mart for $14.68, so that brings my Tally thus far to $589.56. It would be higher if I had the fur cape…

Grab-bag blogging

I haven’t blogged since the brandSampler post, and even before I wrote that one, I had other things I wanted to share with you, from antique and farmers’ markets, to new outfits, to Tally it Up purchases. So, before this long weekend gets started and I have more even more things to write about, let me cleanse my blogging soul! I give you:

1) A trip to St. Jacobs with my parents, who were visiting for the weekend. The farmers’ market was incredible, and I’m going again in two weeks when my mom is coming down for a visit. It’s amazing that none of these pictures needed to be touched up – the colours really were that bright!

My bounty, clockwise from top: kettle corn popcorn; potato bread; Ontario garlic cloves; homemade pasta noodles; dill; roasted red pepper and garlic jelly; and Ontario Royal Gala apples (my favourite kind!).

I also bought this vintage food scale. I tried to barter, was shot down, paced around the market frozen with indecision, and then conceded defeat, after which I lovingly cradled my scale in my arms. Scaley was saved from the market orphanage.

2) A new camera (on sale at Best Buy for $119)! And here is one of the flattering first shots Darcy decided to take:

Darcy and I had just finished putting together our couch (OK, he put it together and I watched), and visitors were due to show up any moment. I was frantically cleaning the rug with lint roller. I’m glad he had time to stop and take a picture.

3) My friend Jen’s bachelorette party last Saturday, after the lint-roller escapade. Here is what I wore:

Shoes: Guess via The Bay; tights, Fruit of the Loom; skirt, H&M; jacket, KensieGirl; clutch, Aldo; brooch, bracelet, and earrings, vintage; vintage fur collar, Aberfoyle Antique Market.

My friend Susie absolutely hates this fur, but, really, it’s all I want to talk about when it comes to this outfit. I bought it a couple weeks ago at the Aberfoyle Antique Market (thanks for telling me about this place, Ami!) from a woman who used to have a vintage shop in Windsor, but had to close it due to lack of business. I snatched this collar up as soon as I spied it, and haven’t been so thrilled with a purchase for quite a while. It was priced at $10, I offered $8, and she accepted. Whoop! I also bought a vintage clear-rhinestone-and-silver ring for $5. (Those things, plus a necklace I bought through Aldo Accessories online for $11.28 equals $24.28 to add to the Tally it Up total. That brings me to $561.88. Only three months to go!)

I was also quite proud of my new hairdo, which Susie didn’t have time to take any pictures of because we thought we were going to be late for Jen’s party. But, after reading Orchid Grey’s tutorial on how to do “Heidi braids,” I decided it wasn’t a style that was out of the question for a non-hair person such as myself. And it’s a good thing I put some effort into my hair, otherwise I would have been completely stood up by the hairdo of the party’s surprise guest:

Welcome, Rod Stewart!

ALL of that pretty much covers what I’ve been up to, plus the constant home decoration that’s still going on, but is nearing completion. That’s another post for another day. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

The taxman arriveth

Happy about the undercover debut of my first Victoria’s Secret bra.

(Earrings from Mango, and sweater-dress from Winners.)

Since moving back to Ontario, one of the biggest financially related changes I have had to face is taxes. In Alberta, I paid a 5% GST, and that was it. No PST (or HST), and it was bliss. Three years is a long time to get used to something like that, and when I made those first big purchases at IKEA in August, I almost cried when I saw how much the added tax was. Five percent to 13% is quite a jump! A month and half later of Ontario spending galore, my heart still sinks a little when I look at my receipts.

But that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying good sales, and enjoy them I did when out shopping two weeks ago at the Mapleview mall for a wedding Darcy and I were going to in Sarnia. My list of things to get/do before we left was about a mile long, and it included everything from a very precise need for a black-strapped bra with wide shoulder-strap spacing to KMS hair putty for Darcy. I was successful in finding the bra, but not in finding the KMS product. Darcy had to settle for something from Joico, and while not happy at first, in the end he agreed that it produced the same result. Another mutiny avoided!

The bra I bought was from Pink by Victoria’s Secret. This is my first Victoria’s Secret bra, and I am sold! A couple of my friends have been singing Victoria’s praises for a while now, but I never took the plunge. However, after extremely unsatisfactory bra-shopping experiences at La Vie en Rose and La Senza, I think it’s going to be Victoria’s Secret all the way. The bra fit exactly right, and kept everything in and up so well that I thought the whole effect to be very ad-like. So while your hair might not be that long or shiny, or legs so coltish and shapely, your breasts CAN be as high and perfectly placed as the ad displays! It was a good day in bra shopping, and as many women know, those days can be rare.

On this trip to Mapleview, I also bought a pair of sky-high patterned stilettos from Sears, and a green and brown snake-skin miniskirt from H&M. I wore the shoes to the wedding, as well as the bra, and while I didn’t get a full outfit shot (or a shot of the bra – and don’t expect one, either), you can see me below, full-length with pursed lips and looking pissed off beyond all hell in this action shot from the reception:

I look like an evil Debbie Downer! If you can tear your morbid fascination away from my pinched face, however, you can see the tips of my fabulous shoes that I can’t wait to show off in a much better light when I get my new camera.

Total spent:

Stilettos on clearance at Sears – $33.89

Snake-skin miniskirt on clearance at H&M – $5.65

Leopard-print, black-strapped bra at Pink by Victoria’s Secret – $33.33

Grand total is $72.87, bringing the Tally It Up Experiment to $537.60 spent so far in 2010.

Time to do me sums, guvnah

Here lies my shopping bounty, all of which was purchased between May 26 and July 19. Already, two things have been sullied, and that’s the sunglasses and the owl necklace. Firstly, poor Mr. Owl has a broken link and he hangs lopsided from my neck, but Darcy said he could solder it back together, so one of my next adventures could involve finding such a tool for him to do this with. Can’t wait for that, especially since I only found out in the last five years that “solder” is not pronounced at all like it’s spelled. Secondly, ink leaked from a pen in my purse and, among other things, found its way onto my white sunglasses that I hadn’t even had for a week. Wrath was nigh.

But, let’s take stock of the loot as a whole, shall we? If we travel from the bottom right and work clockwise, we have:

A lovely yellow V-neck T-shirt from Wal-Mart ($7); a vintage white seagull brooch ($4) and Mr. Owl ($22) that I bought at the Lacombe Secondhand store while in Alberta; a 1987 Edmonton Klondike Days pin from the Rocky Mountain Antique Mall in Edmonton ($3); a black tuxedo vest from H&M ($10); coloured sandals from Reitmans ($16); black sandals from Forever 21 ($19.80); a black and white retro-style bikini from Joe Fresh ($12 each for top and bottom); (once-pristine) white sunglasses from Joe Fresh ($7); a nautical three-quarter-length-sleeve shirt-dress from H&M ($7); a pink-with-black-and-jewelled-ruffle-collar T-shirt from Forever 21 ($9.99); and a funky, screaming-loud wallet from Winners ($24.99). Missing from this picture is an item I forgot to include but later recalled: a red souvenir T-shirt with an outline of a moose on it ($19.99). (Darcy and I both bought T-shirts when we got back into Ontario; his is black with a big wolf’s head on the front and back – and the wolf has green, glowing eyes. Take from that description what you will.)

So, total spent here, with tax, is $188.21, and that brings my official Tally it Up 2010 total to $464.73. The year is half over, and I haven’t even hit $500 yet, so I’m going to give myself a box of doughnuts and a bag of candy for that little feat, and call it a day.

Oil changes aren’t all bad

Of course it was on sale!

Last Wednesday I had go and take care of a less-than-desirable errand – an oil change. I am pro-car, yet anti-car. I don’t like dealing with anything car-related, but I love having a car to take to the grocery store. What’s a girl to do? Shop, that’s what. Luckily, located in the same plaza as Canadian Tire were a few stores I could peruse while waiting for the work on my car to be finished. The shops in the vicinity weren’t ones I normally go into, but I had to work with what I had – this was a browsing emergency!

First stop, Reitmans. Quick scan, try on one pair of sandals, reject, exit. A Paderno kitchen store was next. Leisurely stroll, shock at the prices, buy nothing. Stop at Quiznos for a sub. Annoyed that there is no regular mustard, only honey mustard. Buy sub anyway, on a medium-size bun. Grow increasingly disgusted with honey mustard and reject sandwich along with sandals at Reitmans. Irritated with self for not buying the smaller size of sandwich, even with knowledge that medium-size sandwich would have medium-sized serving of honey mustard. Head to Zellers to check out clearance sections. Score above necklace, negating other bad experiences of afternoon. Buy necklace, US Weekly, and gum. Walk back to Canadian Tire and read celebrity gossip in waiting room. Score deal on oil change – sale on synthetic Mobil 1 oil. Yep, I said it – it’s me, talkin’ shop about synthetic Mobil 1 oil.

Tally it Up total: necklace from Zellers – $3.13; overall total so far in 2010 – $276.52

It’s a world of bargains

Shoes, Aldo; tights, Fruit of the Loom; dress, KensieGirl; jacket, H&M.

Shoes, Payless; tights, Fruit of the Loom; dress, KensieGirl; jacket, Costa Blanca.

OK, friends. Last Thursday I went to Liquidation World to partake in their fashion and accessories sale, and even though I found two great bangles there a few months ago, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of clothes. I was wrong, oh so wrong. After trying on about 15 different items from skirts, to blouses, to dresses, to halter tops, to blazers, to jeans, I finally settled on the four things that fit me best: the two KensieGirl dresses you see above, and two pairs of Paper Denim & Cloth jeans. And now, for the prices – the peak of my Liquidation World coup:

KensieGirl dresses: $15 each

Paper Denim & Cloth jeans: $19 each

Total at LW: $71.40; Tally It Up 2010 total: $273.39.

I was on a giddy shopper’s high! I don’t remember the drive home! The clothes were mine! All mine! I’m dancing on exclamation points! Boo-boo-bee-do!