Monday, August 31, 2009

Red and Yellow and Orange - Oh My!

My lovely mother-in-law and I went shopping while we visited them - it's a tradition we do together. We hit all the thrift stores and the consignment stores. She always wants to buy me something and sometimes I let her...especially when I can't buy any new shoes or clothes!

I built my outfit today around the shoes. Colour!
Inigo interferes again - he was very lovey tonight.

My groovy vintage top, my yellow cardi for work and where the heck are the shoes??
Oh, there they are! These were $20 at Liquidation World. They say they are leather, but I am suspect. Anyway, they are an orangey-salmony-coral colour and I love them!

The stuff:
They look very pink there, but trust me, they are more orange. That's also my new gold filigree cuff (worn over the weekend as well).

Cardigan (no label, consignment), vintage top (Style Rite, vintage), suit pants (Studio Max), shoes (Valley Lane, gift), cuff (The Bay), earrings (Plum).

Walking for Fitness and Weight Loss

Jane over at The Small Fabric of My Life asked:

Can you let us know more about your fast walking and how beneficial it is to fat burning. I've been told I can't run for a long time and terrified I will get fat! Can you still get that exercise high from walking?

Of course! I've been walking for exercise and fitness for over 15 years, but in the last 3 years since I started my weight loss journey, easily 90% of my exercise comes from walking. Walking is easy on your body, requires little equipment and pretty much anyone can do it.

I've had some racewalk training (racewalking is an Olympic sport), and when I race, I use racewalk form, which has all sorts of rules and gets judged in real sanctioned races. My usual walking style for to and from work incorporates some racewalking style but is not as strict, so it can be maintained for longer distance and duration. I did a marathon in my style and recovered in a couple of days, and I regularly walk between 6 and 8K (3.5-5 miles) easily and comfortably. I do break a sweat, but how fast you go is up to you. Let's call what I do a Fast Walk (FW), just for clarity.

I'm going to outline a few small things that you can do to scale down from running, like Jane, to amp up your evening or lunchtime walks, or to add walking as a fitness element in your exercise routine. Caveat: I am not a doctor or a personal trainer - I'm not an expert, so don't sue me if you hurt yourself.

Okay, everyone knows how to walk, right? You kind of look like this (minus cat):
Your arms are hanging loose, you're a little slumpy, your tummy's pooched out, and you're taking fairly small steps. If you walk for very long like this, your hands will puff up, your feet will slap the pavement and you can't go very fast. You are not going to get a good walking workout like this.

Don't get me wrong, any movement you do is awesome! But to get a workout from FW, you need to tweak a few things.

Movement in General: When you run or normally walk, your legs move like scissors, back and forth. Your arms naturally do the opposite movement, but they're really just there, not moving with any kind of purpose. Your hips don't move much and neither do your shoulders. Your core is not usually engaged unless you are going up a hill or are in a real hurry.

Hips and shoulders: When you do an FW, your hips do a piston-type of movement, rolling in an alluring figure 8 (haha!), which is echoed in your shoulders. Stand straight and let all of your weight fall on one hip, taking the weight almost completely off the opposite leg. Like so:
Shift to the other hip, and go back and forth and get used to the motion. You can slightly exaggerate your shoulders by rolling them backwards as you shift your weight. This is how Speed Walking engages your core: by having you use the power of your core, from shoulders to hips, do all the work. Your legs don't drive you forward - your core does.

This is how you hold your posture to FW:
Knees and legs: Shoulders back and down (loose, not tight), arms at 90 degree angles, and the hip whose leg is going forward is dropped, just like when you were standing still. See how the knee on my leg that is forward is so much lower than the other leg? That's because that hip is lower. That causes me to take a longe stride than if I was just stepping forward. I'm letting my hips do all the work.

My knee that is taking the step is also straight (but not locked). As I land on that leg, the straightness of it will cause that hip to lift and the other one to drop - it's all tied together! It's like science or something! Physics!

Try doing the hip shift again, but hold your leg forward instead. If your right hip is holding your weight, let the left leg go forward - it will naturally want to do that. Try walking forward slowly, knee straight (but not locked) and really shift your hips back and forth as you step forward. Feels weird, doesn't it? It takes a little getting used to, especially with your hips - this type of walking is great for keeping your hips loose.

As you step forward, think about your foot planting on the ground (minus cat):
Feet: You want to plant your heel first, then think about your foot rolling forward, deliberately and evenly, right from the heel to the toe. Keep your toes up! This is difficult, because most people have very weak muscles on the front of their shins (hello, shin splints). I have a very strong front muscle from FW - and I never, ever get shin splints.

Arms and hands: Also, notice how I'm holding my hands; my fingers are very loose, barely touching my thumb. The example I was told is, "Think of holding an ice cream cone." If you only do one tip here, bend your arms up when you walk. Your hands will not get puffy (or as puffy), and you don't have that wasted energy of your entire arm swinging like a dead weight. Your bent arms can speed you up, drive you up a hill, and keep time with your legs. By having them bent, you will be more conscious of your shoulder movement, which will in turn make you more aware of your hip movement.

And...that's it:
1. Use your hips like pistons (think of that figure 8).
2. Roll your shoulders backwards in rhythm with your hips.
3. Keep your knees fairly straight as you plant your feet.
4. Plant your feet and step deliberately.
5. Keep your arms bent and your hands loose (no fists!).

I find this type of walking exceedingly calming - every motion I make is deliberate and precise and efficient. When I walk, the top of my head stays completely even and level, as opposed to a runner's or a power walker's head, which bobs up and down with every step.

While you get used to the motion and re-train your body how to walk more efficiently, try alternating regular walking (but always try to keep your arms bent!) a block, then FW for a block. As you become more comfortable with it, try to speed up - you will be amazed at how fast you can get! I like to vary my pace to match whatever song is on my mp3 player. FW is a very similar feeling to walking in waist-deep water - you have to use your entire body to generate forward movement.

FW works your shoulders (flexibility), back, stomach (if you work on holding it in), hip flexors, butt, quads, fronts of shins, calves and tops of feet. Make sure you warm up by walking slowly in your normal way for a few blocks if you aren't used to exercising, and make sure you stretch your quads, hamstrings, shins and calves well afterwards.

I can do a 10K in the range of 1 hour, 7 minutes - 15 minutes when I'm going all out - I am faster than most slow runners. It is excellent aerobic (and therefore, fat-burning) exercise, but you won't get out of breath unless you push yourself to go faster. I do get a real high when I go out for a long walk, because I am able to put my body on auto-pilot (I walk like this a lot), and enjoy my music and my surroundings.

Jane, I hope that helped you! I'm sorry to hear about your injury and hope that some of these tips are useful for you.

To my fellow fitness women: keep it up and be strong! You can do it!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Casual Weekend - Nothing Goes With Mint Green

I am back from our weekend with my in-laws. I love the drive up-Island in the convertible, even though my hair gets all full of bugs, and the ferry over to the mainland. I did a little consignment/thrift shopping with my mother-in-law - and she bought me a pair of shoes! Woot!

Anyway, when we go visit, I scale back on the dressy stuff, since we're pretty much out in the boonies the whole time. This is my "travel there" look:
I do the layered tee in case I get chilled. I had fun throwing the disc around in the parking lot while we waiting an hour for the ferry.

My Saturday shopping outfit (yes, my eyes are closed and my hair is totally ass-tastic - this is what happens when I have no blow-drier):
My in-laws bought a new house a little over a year ago - it was a lovely warm neutral cream, which they hated, so they immediately painted the whole thing mint green. Why???

Mint green has got to be one of the most ugly colours in the world. It is suitable only for candy, baby clothes or old lady nightgowns. It is repulsive on the walls of an entire house.

This was an excellent shopping outfit - the shoes were very comfy. I also wore this skirt and the shoes out for dinner, with my pale yellow cardi and a cream cami underneath, but I forgot to take a picture. driving home outfit. Again with the really bad hair.
My mother-in-law is laughing at me. I wore the same Vans as in the first picture. This is a new t-shirt that I got last weekend - it's gold and silver and says, "Glamour Campaign" - it also has gold stitching on it.

So good to be home! I am looking forward to featuring the new items I bought this week (I still have some leftover from last week's shop too).

Red t-shirt (Libertalia), striped t-shirt (Majestic, gift from Caro), jeans (Esprit), bug necklace (Heart's Content), shoes (Vans), black t-shirt (BCBG Max Azria, consignment), jean skirt (Bebe Sport, swap), kitten heels (Rinaldi? can't read the brand anymore), grommet belt (gift from Ruth), gold and white gold hoop earrings, gold leaf cuff (The Bay).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Monochromatic and Squeaky Shoes

The new items in this outfit are the black top and the shoes.
The top is a perfect fit on me and is nice for wearing under a jacket. I like how the white piping picks up the white in the skirt. It's actually trimmed the same around the arms (double row of white), but the picture I took was so horrible and unflattering, I've deleted it. Another time.

The brand is I.N. San Francisco, which seems to be a junior's brand sold at Dillard's (I think I've been to Dillard's in the US, we don't have it in Canada).

The stuff:
I love the shoes - the detail on the toes is so cool - but the left one has a bad heel squeak. I don't mind too much, unless it's really quiet when I'm walking by.

I took tomorrow off - we are heading up to visit my in-laws for the weekend. See you on Monday!

Top (I.N. San Francisco, consignment), jacket (RW & Co.), skirt (Le Chateau), shoes (Be Mine, consignment).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And In Her Mouth An Amethyst - A Purple Flashback

I need more purple in my wardrobe. I felt totally "Sheila" in today's outfit, great all day. So many parts of it reminded me of good things.
For one, the black boyfriend cardi. I bought a long black boyfriend cardigan in 1986; I was with my friend Lynette (I miss you!) and it was at Smart Set at the mall. I wore that cardigan to death - and I only finally gave it up about 3 years ago when it was a shadow of its former self. It was the exact same fit and cut as this one, although this one is better quality and thinner in weight.

For two, the skirt. I'm sorry it's hard to see but it's a deep amethyst purple. It's silk satin, bias cut, with a ruffle on the bottom and oh, my goodness, I can't believe I almost didn't buy it. It's a Smoking Lily piece; they have very, very small collections, and they don't have many stores. There were probably no more than a dozen or two of these skirts made. Their designs are hand-made and hand-silk screened. They rarely repeat a design and discontinue styles annually.

This was $27 in a consignment shop. Yes, I scored.
For three and four and five, the stuff:
Three, the shoes. They are sexy, classy and out there.

Four, the belt. This is my vintage Le Chateau from 1986. Major flashbacks to my club days, long sleeveless dresses with this big belt. It's one of the few things I kept.

Five, the jewelry. My mom will be happy to see this - I bet she forgot about it. She and Dad gave me the ring and earrings and the chunk of amethyst on the chain when I was in high school. The heart is my baby locket (it's empty, but I used to keep my birth control pill in there 20 years ago). I don't know where the key came from.

All the amethysts reminded me of that Wang Chung song, "Dance Hall Days" (see title).

Amethysts were believed to keep you from getting drunk in ancient Greece - the word actually means "not intoxicated" in Greek.
Did you notice the pattern on the skirt? Silver chairs. I count at least a dozen different ones in this photo. I am a sucker for that kind of detail. Wow, just wow.

Cardigan (Express, consignment), cami (RW & Co.), skirt (Smoking Lily, consignment), shoes (Ralph Lauren, consignment), belt (Le Chateau, vintage), earrings, necklace & amethyst (gift from Mom and Dad), baby locket (mine!), key (unknown).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Girly Blouse

Today's new thing is this pretty blouse. I am not so much into the foo-foo girly stuff, but I have been known to wear ruffles, lace, pearls and such on occasion.
I had to keep my edge with the gladiators! This will likely be my last opportunity to wear this blouse without a sweater or jacket over it, and even today I was freezing when the A/C came on.

A close-up of the neckline, which I love.
This was I think $9.00 on clearance at one of my regular consignment stores. It's 100% silk. It isn't a brand I've ever heard of (Kaliko) but the sizing is UK/Euro. They carry a lot of girly stuff. Pretty!

The stuff:
I absolutely love these shoes - of course, they are Fluevogs! They are so comfortable and I feel so badass in them, haha!

Blouse (Kaliko, consignment), cami (Mexx), skirt (gift from Heather), belt (Plum), shoes ("Listen" Ivanna, Fluevog), jewelry (Plum).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lazy Monday - Dress and Cardi

I confess, I've been so exhausted by the renos that while my husband was out of town on Sunday, I went shopping! Muah ha haha! So I'll be featuring my new-to-me purchases in outfits over the next couple of weeks.

Today's new thing is the pink cardigan.
Yup, that's pink, my most-hated colour. To be fair, not all pink is bad, and this is one of the few shades of it I can wear.

I was so chuffed to get such a great bargain on this; it's 100% angora, and it still had the original price tags on it. Since it doesn't show any evidence of mark-downs (I'm very familiar with the Esprit store mark-down system), I conclude that someone got this for Christmas a couple of years ago. I remember this being in the store then.

Check this out: you can still see the original price:
That says $99.50. And what did I get it for? $27. Woot! Bargain!

The stuff:
I decided to play up the black and white with the pink and did my lovely Fluevogs. I wrapped the pearl necklace around my wrist to make a bracelet and wore my Betty Rubble bigass pearl studs.

Dress (Do & Be), cardigan (Esprit, consignment), belt (Nygard), shoes (Fluevog "Listen: Harlow"), necklace (late 80s, Eatons), earrings (Aldo Accessories).

Sunday, August 23, 2009


As mentioned, this post is all about our recent renovations. L and I live in large-ish condo that last saw major changes around 1983, back when this grey-green was a trendy colour:
The paint is matte finish, so it shows every mark and reflects no light at all. We have the furniture all squished into the middle of the living room here to make room for us to paint around the outside.

Looking the other direction is our dining room (we don't have a dining room table, so this is normally a social area with the bar). The room beyond is the library, kitchen on the right and green hallway with huge storage closet running down it on the near right.
I loathed that green, but it was not too bad - I can't believe we lived with it for 10 years!

Prepping the walls for painting, the doors are all taped.
Othello is sneetching in the corner.

Entryway hallway all painted...but then we discovered that the crown moulding was not actually white, but a browny white with a pink undertone. It looked horrid with the yellowy-cream of the new we sighed and got out the tape again. All the doors, crown moulding and baseboards would have to be painted.
Othello observes. We put this tile flooring down about 7 years ago. This section of the hall was also carpeted and the bathroom (near right), laundry/storage room (far right) and kitchen (left) each had their own special ugly linoleum, which ran to designs like glitter pebbles. Ugh.

The yellow walls in the dining room (and the bar). All the baseboards had to be removed for the flooring.
The living room painted and and the trim all done. Inigo keeps watch from the stack of flooring.
Othello and Inigo. "What have you done to our house?" Enjoy that carpet, boys, it's going soon.
Next day: the carpet ripped up.
Inigo inspects. You can see the lines where a previous owner sloppily painted the baseboards or crown moulding.

L sits on the coffee table while the cats patrol.
We are really happy that the floor didn't have to be leveled - that would have been even more expensive!

The new flooring!
Closet doors removed, looking towards the living room. Othello goes for a sunbeam. He did well with the floor (he lived in our old apartment, which had hardwood floors), but Inigo really didn't like the feel of it for a few days.

In the living room, looking towards the deck:
Lots of dust everywhere still. We stored a lot of stuff out on the deck. Used a whole box of Swiffers to clean the floor.

The flooring in the library, baseboards all nicely replaced.
Couches still draped in plastic and the kitchen door plastic-ed off for dust.

Inigo's okay with the floor now:
Happy paws!

This last Friday night (you can see I'm watching my PVRed "What Not To Wear"):
Getting the CD cases back into place. Not much has changed this weekend, since we've been busy. We have to get a couple of large 8 x 10 area rugs and then slowly put everything back into place. Of course, everything has to be cleaned, so it's a labourious process. But ah! It's done!

Hope you enjoyed a little glimpse of my home.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Casual Friday - Green and White

Ah, Friday! Reward for a hard week - it feels great to throw on the old jeans.
Hee, who's that in the bottom corner of the picture?

I wore my nice tailored cream jacket all day with this:
Kept it simple since I'm fighting off allergies yet again and I feel like crap.

The stuff:
Here we are nearing the end of August and I think I've only worn these shoes a couple of times. The soles are cracking and the heels are peeling off, so once I can get everything out of my closet and give it a good clean, these are getting turfed. That's one great thing about doing this blog: I can really see what I wear and what I don't. I'm looking forward to taking a big haul to the consignment store after my friends have had a pick through.

Happy weekend!

Jacket (Club Monaco, consignment), t-shirt (Twisted), jeans (Seven7, gift from Caro), belt (no brand), shoes (Gotta Flurt), earrings (gift shop on vacation), ring (not photographed) (Fossil).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Shorts, and Uncropped

We've been having another lovely heatwave, although not quite as sweltering as last month's, so it was time to haul out the shorts for another wear before it's gone for good.
A pretty simple outfit. Meh, I have no strong feelings one way or another about it. It's there.

And, in preparation for the "Renovation Madness!" post this Sunday, I thought I'd show you what exactly I am working with right now: Amazing how much you can crop out, isn't it? On the left side,we have our entry hall, where you can see Inigo near the kitchen doorway, a taped up cabinet that doesn't belong there, and the front door. In the den are boxes of Christmas decorations, the arm of another computer chair, cans of paint (including screwdriver), closet doors, a dolley, a display cabinet from the library and L's little work table (that's where I take my "stuff" pictures, by the way).

It's just a tad crowded.

Onto the stuff!
Once I have room to empty out my closet, these shoes are gonzo. They have turned a funny colour, the soles are coming off and they are cracking. I had fun with the mixed bracelets today: the stretchy charm bracelet and the punk leather/stud cuff. I love Ruth's belt for the one bit of colour.

Shirt (Pink Martini, consignment), shorts (I.N.C., consignment), shoes (Miz Mooz), belt (Denvery Hayes, gift from Ruth), bracelet (charity auction), cuff (vintage), earrings (don't remember).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Black and White and Red All Over!

How many answers are there to that old joke? The embarassed zebra, the newspaper ("read" all over), the sunburned penguin...any more?

I put this outfit together with great trepidation. I haven't been to Weight Watchers in nearly 3 weeks due to dragon boat festivals, and last time I went I had gained a couple more pounds. I am hovering around my goal weight, whereas for the last two years, I've been steady about 8 pounds below it. It's so easy to let things slide a little bit, to feel complacent, to give yourself a few little "treats" here and there. *sigh*
Yes, that's a screwdriver in my hand, a Craftsman (go Sears!) Philips head, if you must know. I was waving it at the cat.

Anyway, my fear was that these pants wouldn't fit. I don't wear pants very often, aside from my walking shorts and some baggy-ass jeans that I wear around the house, and sometimes, like here, I get a bit of a surprise when I put on a pair and oof! they're kinda tight. Not a good feeling!

But I got to work and huzzah! these fit fine and are even a bit loose. I knew I wouldn't be able to go to WW to weigh in, and I really don't want to go back to being heavy again, so I've have been trying to move more overall and eat junk less. We shall see on Saturday...

All that aside, I had fun with this look today. I felt very Audrey.
Good for seeing the cut on the leg instead of being a big black blob. I quite like this corset top - I have worn it a few times, but always with a button-down blouse underneath. Suggestions?

The stuff:
The shoes "farted" all day, haha! I'm looking forward to wearing these with tights come autumn.

Blouse (H&M, NYC Times Square!), corset top (Le Chateau, consignment), pants (Focus 2000), shoes (Franco Sarto, consignment), belt (no brand, consignment), necklace (Jacob).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Another Swooshy Skirt!

L said this looked "hippy-inspired", but that was not my intention. I just wanted to wear this skirt again.
As you can see, things are still chaotic, but now the floors are down! There are still a few things that have to be done and there is dust over everything, but the end is in sight. I will do a picture entry of the renos (there are many cat pictures, be warned) when everything is back in place.

Speaking of cats, Inigo was very interested in what was going on today, and blocked my shoes in the above shot.
Cat out of the way, shoes showing.

The stuff:
My awesome platform shoes, the top with the built-in embellishment, belt and wood jewelry (picking up the wood beading in the top).

Inigo is not a fan of the laminate floors; he prefers my carpeted closet (which needs cleaning out, jeez, I'm messy):

Sheer tie-front cardigan (Guess), top (Nygard), skirt (Marc D'Alcy), belt (Plum), shoes (Le Chateau), earrings (gift from Mom), bracelet (Oscar & Libby's).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Already? Swooshy Skirt

After an exhausting weekend of the Dragon Boat Festival (we sucked, but we weren't last!), I feel like I haven't had any weekend at all. And as of today, my house has no carpet in the living room, dining room, library and hallway - and even though I tried to hold onto my "no stuff in this path" zone for taking my photos, we have run out of room.
Behold, I stand on my hall closet doors! I look strained. I hate chaos.

However, I did feel very pretty in this outfit today, and a swooshy skirt always lifts my mood. I played with this lovely silk skirt all day.

The stuff:
I love these shoes. My jewelry boxes are now blocked, because the giant TV is on the dresser, so goodness knows how this will impact my outfits this week. I keep telling myself, "It's an adventure!" and in 2 days, I will have lovely laminate wood floors instead of the disgusting 20+ year old carpet.

Now, excuse me while I go sit on the bed to eat my dinner.

Blouse (Esprit), cami (InWear), skirt (Nine West), shoes (Jessica Simpson), belt (don't recall - bought it at The Bay), necklace (Caracol, gift from L), ring (Guess), white gold hoop earrings.