Friday, July 18, 2014

Back in Jolly Old

We went from this, the picture-postcard perfect Lac Annecy, surrounded by the foothills of the French Alps...

To this, Fairhaven Lake at the end of out street, just on the cusp of the sea ....

To rolling sand dunes ...

To the sea. A rugged, windswept beauty.

We don't miss Annecy at all.

We're back in the land of the friendly people, and we couldn't be happier.

The house is gorgeous, the weather's been wonderful since we arrived a month ago (locals tell me it's abnormal to have such a stretch of warm, sunny weather - yeeks!), and I'm having fun exploring nearby Lytham with Adam, and reacquainting myself with St Annes.

St Annes Carnival Day last weekend.

Though we're spending heaps on all the things we need for the house, I'm continually amazed at how much cheaper day-to-day items like fruit, milk and other basics are here. It's a refreshing change from France to not practically have a heart attack every time you see the grocery store bill.

I didn't realize Lytham and Fairhaven are so posh. I've never seen so many luxury cars and gargantuan gated homes in my life. That doesn't mean much to me, except for the fact that crime is low and it's deathly quiet at night - the latter being a welcome change from the din of Old Town Annecy.

(Wool carpet bought at my local charity shop for six pounds!).

Little Man has grown up since moving here. He's now walking, climbing up the stairs (baby gates going up today, thankfully), eating solids and on milk instead of formula. He's also in his own big boy room.

Our super private back yard - guess I should be saying garden now, eh?

Even though the house has been renovated, we still have a ton of stuff to do and buy. It'll be fun settling in. Life is crazy busy and there's not a lot of down time for me, but I'm getting used to the sleep-deprivation, being a new and responsible home-owner (so much more to do!), and running after a busy toddler.

Way back when, in Annecy: sundress & ballet flats, retail, Annecy
Denim jacket: thrifted in Canada
Bling: thrifted in Annecy
Tom Ford shades: Annecy consignment shop
Amazing Italian hobo bag: 1 euro at Annecy thrift shop vide grenier.

Since this is, ostensibly, a style blog, it's time to show you what I've been wearing of late. The last month or so in Annecy was glorious, with 30 degree C temps and no humidity. Needless to say, I lived in sundresses, my summer staple.

Spanish sandals, Banana Republic dress and light wool French scarf: Annecy thrift shop.

In between packing and cleaning, we spent our final days in Annecy soaking up the beauty of the Old Town and the lake.

Fave Ikat sundress: bought new in the Old Town, Annecy.

As I intimated in my last post, even with the awesome beauty of the place, we were more than ready to leave and begin the next chapter of our lives.

A.X.L. (now defunct Canadian brand) dress: end-of-line shop in Toronto
Kenneth Cole shoes, used: 2-dollar-sale in Toronto
Vintage Turkish scarf: Etsy
Rayban shades: Annecy market
Crossbody purse: see below.

Here I am the other day in St Annes. I'm wearing a vintage Turkish silk scarf I found on Etsy and my fave new wee bag purchased with some birthday money (I turned 44 a few days after we moved in June): a vintage Kantha quilt purse by London designer Tamara Fogle, which I've been lusting after since we left the UK two years ago. I snatched up one of the last ones as the designer has since moved on to making bags with different vintage fabrics.

Vintage 1970s Avon necklace: Toronto thrift shop
Bump: my husband.

As you can see, I've been secretive about a somewhat recent development in our lives. And now that the cat is out of the proverbial bag, I think I can most definitively say that my penchant for Slob Chic - ie: wearing loose, comfy clothing, for four straight months in the spring - was most certainly related to constant nausea and debilitating fatigue. Placenta making is a hard biz!

I find it funny that the French doc's estimation has pegged me at 21 weeks, while this week's appointment and ultrasound yielded a 22-week calculation. I'm happier with the latter as I already feel like the Titanic, and besides, I always had the feeling that I was further along than initially supposed. If you can't trust your own bod, who can you trust?

Oops: definitely wear a bra next time!
Silver shoes made in Spain: Annecy thrift shop
Vintage ring, Toronto thrift shop; necklace, had forever
Maternity jeans: retail
Top: St Annes thrift shop.

Of course, we're thrilled, though I must admit to feeling a certain sense of un-reality about the whole thing, even given my expanding girth. And yes, there is some existential angst over our being older parents. But Adam will have a younger bro, and we couldn't be happier about that.

French dress: Annecy consignment shop
Italian suede boots: Toronto thrift shop
Limoges enamel pendant: gift from hubs.

Since getting married 2.5 years ago, life sure has been a whirlwind! We're in for a crazy ride with two kids, but thankfully we're living in an area that we love, in a lovely home, surrounded by kind people who have a sense of humour. People, we discovered in France, can make or break a place.

After moving country three times, the prospect of putting down roots is an appealing one. And it's kinda cool that we've ended up in the same place, geographically, at least, from where we started. Because in every other sense, we've changed completely, and for the better.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Au revoir, Annecy

Wearing: tunic made in Nepal, a euro at my local thrift shop vide grenier
(They have them every Saturday in summer if the weather is nice);
Ethnic-y necklace, local thrift shop;
Tom Ford shades, local consignment shop, "Eclectik."

I guess it's not fair: I've been lurking on your blogs, rarely commenting but receiving regular updates on all your lives, and you've heard nary a boo from me, which has caused some concern, namely for a dear long-time reader in Toronto.

It's sweet that my online absence has been thoughtfully noted, but never you worry. It's been a rough few months, caring for a busy one-year old mainly on my own while hubs acclimatizes away to a new job, and I've been sick, exhausted, blah blah blah. But the fog is lifting. I'm feeling so much better and my energy reserves are fueling up again. I feel my spunky old self returning, at last.

Life continues to charge ahead. Our little man turned one a few weeks ago!

This one cracks me up. It looks like he's reading the card but it's a musical card so he's actually listening to it.

There are some big changes in the works for our wee family.

In just a few short weeks, we'll be leaving Annecy and returning to the UK to live in our dream home - pretty much two years from the day we arrived here.

It's a decision that's been in the making for months, when a new job gave us some flexibility as to where we could live. And though I had hoped to never again see the north-western UK town I lived in for three months after being married, after two years in a foreign country, I have long craved it.

So much is relative, I've discovered, especially when it comes to culture and your own sense of home within that culture. So many ways and mindsets in France perplex and infuriate me on a daily basis. I've come to realize I identify more with Brit culture than I do with my native Canadian (I listen to BBC 2 in the morning, not CBC, if that's any indication). And what used to piss me off two-plus years ago in the UK - for instance, being called "love" by the grocery cashier - has now made me want to run back with open arms after experiencing the aloofness (and rudeness) of some of the locals here.

There are lots of other reasons; most importantly, the move is good for our family. At some point, you want to not always feel like a foreigner and put down some roots. Buy a home with a big backyard after living in an apartment. Be close to good schools (not to mention friends). All those things that tend not to rate so high on your priority scale when your're sans baby.

As excited as we are, we'll miss many things about Annecy; namely, the lake. And the mountains. This is the west side of the lake, which I love as it's always less busy. If you follow this path around this side of the lake (on your bike, as we did many a time our first summer here), you'll find many beaches, some free; others private/pay-only. You may also find our fave bar on the water, just off the bike bath (a bit hidden), called La Bottega, where all the young locals lounge on sun chaises as they sip on wine, smoke, and dip their toes in the lake, which comes right up to the sitting area.

Looking across the water to the north east corner of the lake, you'll see the Imperial Hotel (the large white building in the distance) and the private Imperial Beach, which is lovely. During off-season the gates are open and you can stroll about the grounds. Wee Dinky's ashes were scattered in the lake just beyond this beach. Even though she's absorbed into the sand and the water, it will still feel like we're leaving her. :(

Cross the street and you're back in the Old Town, or rather just on the cusp of it. I like taking the back way into the Old Town, which bypasses the busy touristy area in favor of this pedestrian street, Faubourg des Annonciades, which has a back alley feel to it.

On the right, Russian-born shop owner "Tatiana" makes the most gorgeous embroidered wool coats in her studio and retail space called "Extravaganza". (I have a summer dress from there that I haven't shown you yet). Tatiana swims in the lake every day, even in the winter. What pluck!

In the distance, under the second pink and white archway on the right, is "Eclectik", the wonderful consignment shop I frequent regularly and also consign my castoffs to. Owner "Fabienne" is a real sweetheart. There's also a hip (as opposed to seedy) tattoo parlour on the street, several galleries, and a wonderful shop specializing in semi-precious jewellery where you can also buy huge chunks of pyrite for hundreds of euros - a very arty street!

Keep walking away from the lake and you'll come to one of the arched entrances to the Old Town. Just beyond it is Glacier des Alpes, the best gelato and ice cream place in town - if the super long lineups are any indication. Note: there's a gelato and ice cream shop every two shops in the Old Town, so you could try every one to see which you prefer, then work it all off my jogging up the mountains, as the locals do.

If you walk away from the gelato place, lake and mountains, then you're on your way to our place. Stop at 11 Rue Sainte Claire and try out one (or more) of the goodies in the oldest and best boulangerie in town (if you haven't gorged yourself on gelato, that is). Look up and you'll see the window of the apartment we once lived in. (Are the dead flowers still in the flower boxes?).

Who knows? If you're looking to rent an apartment, maybe ours will still be empty ....

Those are the many things we'll miss about Annecy. If I have time, I'll put up a retrospective or two, though there's still heaps of prep to do before we leave and the clock is ticking.

And though I've brought bags of my Skinny Minnie clothing to the thrift shop (sigh), I have managed to bring a few wee things home on the return trip.

I found these crochet gloves in a box full of super-tiny stained leather gloves. Amazingly, not only did these fit my long fingers, but they were also odor and stain-free. All for a euro. Where will I wear them? An English garden party, perhaps? The force of nostalgia was just too strong. I know gloves such as these were big in the 1950s and '60s, but we wore them in the '80s as well (except sometimes, they had the fingers cut off).

My twin sis had a pair that she wore to grade 8 grad, which were like the undersides of these.

I actually went back for this pendant the next day. Don't know why I didn't snap it up right away. It was all of 2 euros and has "Made in France" and some initials stamped on the back. I just love it. The faux suede cord was only a euro in the Old Town.

I bought the body form at the brocante market a few months ago. It was a really good price and I wanted to replace the ones I left behind in Canada. Normally, vintage Judys go for hundreds of euro here. I didn't want or need a vintage one. I want something to showcase my goodies for this blog and hopefully for when I start selling. This contemporary but slightly beat-up one fit the bill.

Speaking of having long fingers, I also have freakishly long toes (well, I was a dancer). In the 1980s we used to prance around in leather ballet shoes that had little heels on them, as part of our normal street-wear, a la "Fame" TV show inspiration. Again, nostalgia loomed large over the purchase of these metallic pink ballet flats I found for full price (double sigh) in the Old Town. And, unlike the many ballet flats I've tried on here, the toe was ample in its length!

I leave you with another peep at my shaggy do, which hasn't been snipped for over six months. It's driving me crazy!

I hope to post again before we leave, but if I don't, I'll catch up with you soon enough. Hope you're all well and staying true to your style and self.

I'm linking up to Patti's Visible Monday after a long absence. I may not be that visible these days, but I am, most assuredly, HERE!

Friday, May 2, 2014

The post I forgot to name ....

Everything thrifted except for tights and pashmina scarf .

I'm still here. No more butt shots, promise. It's been a challenging time and there isn't much time or energy left over for blogging, alas. If I'm not lurking quietly on your blog before I fall into bed at naptime, I'm leaving the most cursory - and likely silly-sounding - comments. My brain is scrambled due to exhaustion; that's my only defense. But there's so much I've wanted to share with you over the last month. If only I could insert a little chip in my brain and transmit images of all the cool stuff I've been wanting to show you!

I haven't been thrifting a ton, but I did pick up this grunge-inspired swing tunic for a few euros the other day, along with this trench. The tunic made me think of the darling Bella.

These pics are over a month old, but I couldn't NOT show you a prize thrift haul comprising, for one, this kilim and leather knapsack. I've been obsessed with kilim bags forever, but second-hand vintage ones don't come cheap on places like Ebay and Etsy, and I never thought I'd ever find one in the thrift shop. But the Thrift Gods were smiling down on me the day I breezed into the shop (inasmuch as you can breeze in pushing a stroller) and spied this baby for 10 euros, tossed over a display case and completely ignored. Historically I haven't been much of a knapsack gal, but with baby, stroller, shopping etc, it's proved highly useful. I used it on my trip to Lyon.

My life is really just a series of obsessions. You know by now, perhaps, my recent penchant for fringed scarves and shawls. I almost fainted when I saw these thick two-ply silk oblong fringed scarves at the thrift shop, for a price so impossibly low I felt like I'd morphed to the land of Vix deals.

This one has an Oriental vibe. I just love the bright colours.

I don't normally buy things at the local antique market, which I find exorbitantly priced, but last month I found this bright square scarf for a few euros. The polyester is so good I almost thought it was silk. It makes me smile as it's like a big bright starburst.

It's name is therefore apt! Couldn't find much out about this label online except a reference to a 1950s silk cocktail dress.

I found this one too. Kinda tie-dye inspired. It would look better ironed!

They're def best friends ....

You-know-who had a blast playing with them.

Toys have limited appeal, I've learned, but anything else in the house is infinitely fascinating.

I leave you with a few pics snapped in Lyon in early April in its famous  (and famously huge) park, Tete D'Or (Golden Head park).

Cafe right on the lake in the park.

If you do ever get to Lyon, check out Carrie Bradshop (cute, eh?). I bought a vintage brocade jacket there, and the owner, a real sweetie who admired the scarf I was wearing, threw in a scarf I was eye-balling for free. I'll try to show them here one day!

Happy weekend!