Monday, July 8, 2019

Bigass Vacation Post: I Went to Hamilton! (Ontario!)

 Hello, my friends! I am back! And I have many pictures to show you, so pull up your favourite comfy chair and join me, will you?

I took last Wednesday off work, and spent the day packing to fly to Hamilton, Ontario (it's here, in case you don't know), to visit my dear "artner in crime", Elaine, who moved there last fall.
I flew from Victoria (on the west coast of Canada), to Calgary, then on to Hamilton. It's a total of about 6.5 hours, not counting waiting around in airports. There's a 3-hour time difference for me.

I knew it would be smokin' humid and hot there, so I wardrobed very carefully to make sure I had lots of breathable items and still had some style going on. We had sun, heat, torrential rain, and cool temps - I am happy to report I planned well, with no losers in the bunch.
There are a few crappy hotel-room-lighting pictures of what I wore each day below, but it was always a combination of all of this. 

  • Dress - Donna Morgan, thrifted; first worn here in April
  • Silk skirt - Linda Lundstrom, consignment; first worn here in April
  • Tank - Lord & Taylor, thrifted; purchased...well, for cheap, since I can't find it and I don't track these anyway
  • Silk trousers - Pinkerton, consignment; last seen here in June
  • Top - Smoking Lily, thrifted; purchased here for $14.95
  • Linen tank - Gap, thrifted; purchased here for $12.95
  • Lace duster - Lysse; last seen here (2nd outfit) the previous weekend
  • Navy shoes - Born, consignment; last worn here (3rd outfit) in June
  • Gold shoes - Born, consignment; last seen here (2nd outfit) in June
  • Sandals - Born, consignment; last worn here (4th outfit) a week ago

  • Necklace - thrifted
  • Orange hoop earrings - vintage fair
  • Orange cuff/ring - Italian, vintage 60s, vintage mall
  • Blue hoops - Vancouver
  • Blue glass bead earrings - local
  • Blue/gold cuff - vintage, thrifted
  • Gold earrings - thrifted
  • Lapis lazuli ring - Wendy Brandes

It all had to travel well, and fit in my backpack (MEC) and my big purse (vintage 80s, vintage mall). I used my little blue leather purse (Danier Leather, thrifted) every day while I was there; it was emptied and packed flat in my backpack for travel. I used the large black leather bag while flying, to hold my book and all my travel documents. 
 I carried a bag of make-up, and a small bag of toiletries. It all fit into that backpack - I love traveling with nothing but carry-ons!

Someone knew something was up. When that backpack comes out of's never good for Vizzini.
"I don't know what's going on, but I don't like it."

I gave him lots of love while I spent Wednesday doing my laundry and planning and double-checking everything (flight status, maps, weather).

I also took a picture of him and Logan.
"Oh, something's definitely not right here. Too cuddly!"

I missed my guys! I was gone for 5 days - that's the longest I've been away from L in over 12 years, since Mom and I went to NYC together in 2007.

I also took some pictures to show Elaine - we cat people get that!
"Can't I enjoy this sunbeam in peace, Woman?"

His fur was so soft and warm.
"Just go already! I won't miss you."

I hear from L that is is a big fat lie. There was much yowling.

I was up at 3:45am on Thursday morning, and arrived at around 3:30pm (Hamilton time) the same day. I'd arranged to meet Elaine at the hotel.
She left a box of chocolates at the front desk - aw! They were so good. We went to lunch from there.

We walked around Hamilton. It's a pretty city, with a history of manufacturing: steel mills, the garment industry, brick-making, etc. in Canada. Read about it here, if you're so inclined.
 I quite liked the fountain. The temperatures when I arrived were in the low 30s: hot and humid! Phew!

The view from my hotel room looked over the bottom corner of Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes.
The industrial side of the city is evident from the smoke stacks of the factories (still in operation).

Elaine took me to the Redchurch Gallery, where she had 4 pieces hung for an opening exhibition.

Hers are the square ones. I so admire Elaine's work! She has been creating and working to get her pieces displayed. I am so very proud of her! 

The yellow one is my favourite. 
Some admirers flanking the artist.

My brain stayed on Victoria time the entire trip, so I got very little sleep. I stayed awake late in my room, but was up early to meet up with Elaine. I'm pretty tired, but maybe I won't have any jet lag?
 Friday's outfit. These silk pants were wonderful.

Hamilton has been enjoying a bit of a renaissance over the past few years, with some of the vintage buildings getting renovated - I can see that the eventual gentrification and renovation of the city is starting to happen. The art scene is very big there.

We went for breakfast at that cafe, and I was rather smitten with that very shiny gold Maserati. Shiny! 

We hopped a city bus to an historic neighbourhood, and spent the day browsing in oodles of antique shops. 

 I was very restrained and did not buy anything.

We met up late Friday night, but Saturday was a special day: Ally of Shybiker drove up and spent the day with us! Ah, there we are!
 Another roasty-toasty hot day. This new-to-me linen top was too baggy with the full skirt, but otherwise I liked it.

Me and Ally in front of the fountain!
This is our third time meeting - you might recall she came out to visit in April 2018.

I'm totally stealing this picture:

We went to Blackbird Studios (link here, all links because I love, of course) where I fell in LOVE with this glorious red brocade frock coat. I asked if I could try it on.
SO MUCH BROCADE! The black studded cuffs, collar and backpiece are faux leather. The back hem was longer than the shorter front, like a train, and it was very swooshy.

And it had pockets.
 More swooshing! The silver buttons had blue stones in the centres. Such a red carpet piece!

While I loved it and it was fun to play in it, it's not a piece I would ever buy. It was $600, for one thing, but it's also such a stand-alone garment. I would not be able to wear this to work, and might only wear it once or twice, ever. It's just too much. But it was really fun to try it on!
Ally, give me back my camera! Enough pictures!

I have no regrets! I have pictures!

We wandered up James St. Such fun, colourful neighbourhoods.
 Peace out, Elaine!

I bought a few things that day - all from locally-owned businesses, and locally made where I could.
The linen tea towel is a gift for L (who has been raging about our shoddy kitchen towels), as is the Hammer pride sticker. I had to get an "Artists live in Hamilton" button. The "Hamilton Hates You Too" button was a freebie, as was the Local Business Happy Dance postcard. The earrings on the bottom right were $19.00. I had finished my travel book ("Ready Player One", which I loved), so I popped into a bookstore and bought NK Jemisin's book of short stories, "How Long 'Til Black Future Month?" - the "Cool Cats Read" tote book was a couple of dollars extra. 

 We spent a long, lovely day with Ally, walking around, shopping, eating and gabbing. We had torrential rains off and on for much of Saturday (thunder was booming later that night!), so spent a lot of time indoors waiting for it to let up before we could continue. We wrapped up with a wonderful dinner and then said our goodbyes.

On Sunday, Elaine and I spent the morning exploring the waterfront.
 It was sunny and windy and much cooler out, thank goodness!

The waterfront was so pretty.
 I can't imagine not living near the water.

These Canada geese were giving us the side-eye.
That's the only cat I saw the entire time! He's a fluff-ball.

We'd been planning all along to go to the Art Gallery of Hamilton, and as luck would have it, it was free on Sunday! We spent a while in the Milli exhibit. Read about it here, and click any of the below images (including the collages) to embiggen them.
 So much gorgeous, rich fabric!

I love seeing all these vintage labels.
 I did not know that it was common to add a retailer's label to clothes by other brands. Cool.

I really liked this dress, matching shoes and hat.
 Most of the dresses (and it was nearly all gorgeous dresses) in the exhibit had photos of the women who owned them wearing the dresses.

A swarm of gorgeous dresses - Elaine in front.
 The bottom image is a mix of old articles, invitations and ads for Milli that covered an entire wall - do you see the door in the centre?

Yes, please, I will take both this Sonia Rykiel black dress, and the Erdem dress and matching jacket.

And throw in this ice blue Mugler while you're at it.
 Such gorgeous items.

This huge aluminum "quilt" covered an entire wall. But what is Elaine pointing at?
 That little piece there? She made that!

We didn't go out to the sculpture garden.
I didn't realize until I uploaded my photos that I can see myself in the reflection. I'm art!

We explored all of the exhibits, including "My Back Pages", an exhibit about the Art of 'Zines (here). It took a few hours, and we were all arted out.

I bought this Christophe Poly ring in the gift shop.
It was on sale for 60% off, so it ended up being $14.40.

I was starting to feel the effects of 3 solid days of walking all day and weird sleep hours, so the last thing we did was go see "Yesterday" at the movie theatre. It was just like old times when Elaine lived here.
While we both enjoyed the movie, it was more about just spending the time together, hanging out like we've always done. I have missed Elaine - I'll be back! Thanks to Ally and Elaine for freeing up time in your schedule for me! MWAH! to both of you!

Today/Monday? I was up at 3:45am again to catch my 6am flight home via Calgary. I'm tired from my 12 hours of travel and I need to sleep!

After some initial distressed meowing ("Where were you??"), Vizzini is back to his old self, and telling lies about missing me.
"It's like you never left, really."

Sunning himself and being generally cat-like.
"Okay, I did miss your scritches, Woman."

I knew it!

I hope you enjoyed my trip diary! I still have one more day of vacation to chill out and relax before I go back to work on Wednesday. See you then! 


  1. I always love a good trip diary and yours did not disappoint! Happy to see that you visited Elaine in her new city...having friends visit surely means the world to her!

    1. Thanks, Sue! It was so good to connect with Elaine again - I really missed her!

  2. What a fun time you had with your partner in crime. I love the photos especially the one of the lake, it’s so beautiful.

    WOW- the brocade frock coat it glorious!

    Also, that’s awesome that the exhibit had photos of the women who owned the dresses wearing them. Hope you have a restful last day of vacation. X

    1. It was, Jess! Thank you - that's one of my faves too.

      I know, that coat! L said he would have bought it for me, but same thing: I would not have worn it enough to justify it. I'm glad I tried it, though!

      I wish I'd taken some pics of those, or bought the exhibit book. Dang!

  3. What a fantastic trip - and a flight that long is like crossing from one side of Europe to another, it must have been some distance. It looks like your friends are worth it, you're having such fun in the photos.

    That brocade frock coat is AMAZING.

    1. Yes, it's a big country, Mim! It takes forever to get from place to place! My friends are always worth it, though - we had such a fun time.

      I know! Maybe if I was a movie star??

  4. I used to live in Hamilton and never thought of it as pretty. Thanks for showcasing it's finer points.

    1. It's so green, Debbie! And the old buildings are so wonderful, with all that brick. I could see the downside too, but those are just the wrinkles - the city earned them!

  5. I love that beautiful brocade piece you wore - so stunning, but yep too expensive for me! It's great you got to get some photos. It looks like a really fun trip too, I'm surprised you didn't get a lot of shopping in but your days were so fun filled and action packed you probably had no time!

    1. Yeah, no regrets, and I'm happy to have pictures of me swanning about in it, Mica - that's plenty enough for me.

      We went to a few thrift stores and consignment stores, but nothing really grabbed me. I also had very limited space in my bags.

  6. Oh it looks like you had a fab time!

    Elaine's work looks wonderful.

    I love how you have such an enormous wardrobe yet manage to travel so lightly and look so fab! That brocade coat was something else was it not? The exhibition looked fascinating.

    It's great you have a day to recuperate before you return to the same old, same old...

    1. It was lovely, Vronni! Isn't she talented?

      I enjoy the small wardrobe challenges when I travel - it really helps me see what pieces will stay with me and what will eventually go.

      The coat was a dream. You would have loved the exhibits.

      I know, I am chilling out today! Such a treat!

  7. I'm surprised you didn't pack any clothes to abandon on your trip to make room for new stuff! Looks like you found some fun goodies though. I love that 'Cool Cats Read' graphic! Ready Player One was a fun read and the NK Jemisin book is on my to read list also. Love that museum exhibit.

    1. Ha! I wondered if anyone would remember that, Charlotte - good work! I was actually kicking myself for not setting aside some of my recent giveaway clothes for this trip - duh! I totally didn't think of it!

      You can pick the totes up at any Indigo/Chapters. I'm loving the Jemisin short stories - you'll love it.

  8. Guess what, I secretly guessed that it was Ally you would be meeting ... It seems I was right ;-) And what a fabulous time you had, spending time with Elaine and Ally. Love Elaine's work, and Hamilton looks like an interesting city, with lots of things going on to keep you occupied. Love your packing technique. I, on the other hand, travelled very heavily as opposed to light, but then again, travelling by car doesn't impose weight limits. But still ... Love the brocade coat, the waterfront, the Milli exhibition and that gorgeous ring you bought. Oh, and I'm sure that Vizzini missed you lots. Cats eh, they never let on! xxx

    1. Oh, you know me so well, Ann! We had so much fun, just hanging out together, whether it was me and Elaine or the three of us.

      I've learned to enjoy the light pack, and the challenge of the limited wardrobe. We do very little car travel (since we don't have a car), but I'd pack more if we did.

      Vizzini has been all over me today. There has been much cuddling!

  9. What a trip! No wonder you're tired! But how fabulous it is to meet up with old friends!

    1. Yup, it was exhausting but exhilarating to catch up and see both Elaine and Ally again. Thanks, Nancy!

  10. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip. This write-up is beautiful. And thanks for the kind words.

    I admire how attentive you are to everything: your environment, people around you, your clothes, etc. Your mind is very perceptive and sharp. It's a trait that distinguishes you from others and I respect it. Nothing escapes your notice!

    1. I did - it was wonderful, and a big part of that was getting to see YOU again!

      Aw, that's really sweet of you, Ally, thank you! It's kind of a curse - I see everything!

  11. What a fantastic read! I absolutely love seeing how other people pack so I was in my element drooling over your fantastic choices.
    Hamilton looks just my kind of place, an industrial city enjoying a renaissance and nice and hot as well. I love how colourful you and Elaine look together and her work is gorgeous. You and Ally look so relaxed in each other's company.
    The ring you bought is epic and that brocade coat? Just wow! I can#t imagine anyone else on earth doing it the justice you did.
    I bet Vizzini and L were thrilled to have you back. xxx

    1. Thank you, Vix! I like the challenge of a small wardrobe when I travel.

      Yes, it's exactly like that (at least in summer it's hot!). We had such a fun time together, all of us! That coat was amazing, but not a good purchase for me.

      They were (even though Vizzini wouldn't admit it).

  12. Sheila, it was wonderful to see you in my newly adopted city. I miss hanging out with you. Thanks for making it possible once again.
    I learned a few lessons about packing from you, something that I needed help with. Your outfits were just right for Ontario's hot, humid, summer weather, and they looked great!
    I love the blog stories and photos. I still can't get over how beautiful that brocade frock looked on you.
    Ally, it was great to be able to hang out with you too You're correct, Sheila has a perceptive and sharp mind. She can spot an interesting piece of clothing like nobody else can.

    1. It was so awesome to hang out with you, Elaine! I really will treasure the time we had together! I was happy with all of my clothes, although the dress, the duster and the skirt are on the fence for me. The silk pants were the best item I brought for sure.

      I know, I'm so glad I have the pictures, but it would have been too much to have in my wardrobe. Maybe if I were rich, with a massive(r) closet!


    2. Elaine, you and Ally are so right! Sheila is a total pro at picking out pieces, not just for herself but her friends too. I am been the happy beneficiary of her keen eye on more than one occasion.

  13. What a glorious holiday. Much like mine. It is the best to spend time with your dearest friend(s). And that red brocade dress... it did have your name on it, but I wouldn't have bought it either for exactly the same reasons.

    1. Isn't that the best? It wasn't about the place; it was about spending time with them.

      Yup, fun to look at, but pointless to own.

  14. I've spent barely any time in Hamilton, so it was nice to read your post and see what I'm missing. Glad you had a good visit with Elaine, and a meetup with Ally, but I'm sorry to hear you didn't get much sleep. I never know how I'm going to sleep when I travel. The brocade coat is definitely a special event-worthy piece, but think of how much room that would take up in your closet ;)

    1. I think you would enjoy it, especially when they are doing one of the Art Crawls (there is a Super Art Crawl in September). I am a poor sleeper in general - travel just exacerbates it. I know! That coat would have taken the space of 4 in my closet!

  15. Oh my oh my, that coat!!! I'm glad you've got the photos to show it and then could move on.

    What a trip! And your write-up kept me at the screen from start to finish. You are so good at chronicling your adventures and keeping us entertained. What a time you guys had, including Ally coming up to join you. Art, art, shopping, food. Vizzini's comments cracked me up!

    And congratulations to Elaine for her show and her piece in the aluminum "quilt." Right on. I hope you guys are able to continue this as a tradition...?

    1. Exactly! Much as I loved it, it's not a good purchase for me.

      Aw, thank you, darlin'. I find I have to get my thoughts down while I can remember them!

      I hope so - next time, I'm hoping to meet up with Elaine in NYC!

  16. What an exciting trip Sheila! The exhibit I would have loved to attend, thank you for "taking" me there.
    How cool that they let you try the brocade piece - it's truly a statement piece, gorgeous.

    1. It was an awesome exhibit - I would have loved to see even more of Milly's dresses. Oh, they were so nice in that store - if I were rich, I'd have taken one of everything!


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