Friday, 27 November 2015

Buy Nothing Day 2015 Resolution

I re-visited the post, It Just Doesn't Stop, with the intent to re-establish my "buy nothing day" resolution for 2015. Sometime during the past year, I lost the momentum and eventually forgot all about it until the Black Friday advertisements once again began. While several fashion blogs are giving you strategies to attack your shopping today, I will join others in not buying anything. 

When I hear the media proclaim that American Thanksgiving means two things: football and Black Friday, I shudder to think that it has fallen to that. Within the same broadcast, a reporter then tells us that "two out of five Canadians have too much month at the end of the money". Our Thanksgiving holiday is long gone but we piggyback off American culture owing to our dependence upon American television. However, we, as consumers, need some stern advice and I'm ready to give it: "Just stop it!"

Ok, so . . . if one takes the admirable position of not falling into the consumer trap, one has to replace it with something else. If you don't, you might end up like a friend of mine, who paced, watched too much TV, played too many online games and fretted that she might not have anything to eat for dinner because Friday was her usual grocery shopping day. 

Consider it a challenge. Here are two pieces of advice for overriding the "buy nothing day" feelings of remission or omission.

1) Take time. All of us lament the following, "I never have any time to . . . (fill in the blank) . . . do a craft, paint (either your nails or a masterpiece), write, take a bath, bake, make soup from scratch, clean out a closet, listen to music, dance, transplant the philodendron . . . twiddle my thumbs. Here's your opportunity to take the time to do so.

2) Put aside thoughts of guilt. "It's Friday, that means it's pizza night or Chinese food or whatever indulgence you afford yourself and your family." There's nothing wrong with shaking it up a bit and the kids will only stay annoyed for awhile. Think of another way (bake cookies) to indulge yourself or them.

Good luck and I hope you are successful in attempting a buy nothing day instead of overindulging.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

A Comparison of Fall and Winter Outerwear: France & Canada

One of the big clothing differences between Canada and France is how we dress relative to the seasons and the weather. In Canada, fall and winter temperatures demand heavier clothing, winter jackets and even fur. Fur can be considered a necessity in minus twenty temperatures. Here in France, fall and winter fashions dictate the heavier clothing, more so I believe than the weather. Mais oui, the temperatures are cooler and when the rain and fog settles in during the winter here in the south-west of France, there is a humid cold that will chill you to the bones. I may have to update this post in January. However, with November day temperatures reaching 12 to 16 degrees celsius, seeing fur trimmed jackets and capes seems a tad premature - overkill even, by Canadian standards. In Canada many would be pulling out their flip flops on a sunny 16 degree fall day. Unfortunately, as I write, there is snow on the ground on the Canadian prairies.

Although, I must say, the fur jackets I have seen here seem flimsier, much more "fashionable" than "functional". Canadian outerwear, in general, is definitely heavier, and relative to the weather, more appropriate. It is the same with gloves or mittens and scarves. When I inspect the fibres or the workmanship in what is available here in France, I use the Canadian winter standard to judge them. And reasonably, for the most part, none would stand up to the minus 20 temperatures to which Canadians are accustomed. Simply, they don't have to.

Fashion, not only in clothing but in decoration, is curious because here too we see snowmen decorating city streets when in fact snow is seldom seen. Snowflakes and artificial snow even decorate Christmas inspired windows in places where snow never falls. (November 24th update: While in Arcachon today, I watched the city crews decorating the traffic roundabouts/circles with . . . evergreens bearing "snowy" branches.)

Conclusion - winter and Christmas beg for snow, no matter where in the world you are.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Not a Closet and No Clothing Within: Essential Oils in a Wine Box

My apologies for a topic that is totally off-blog-focus; however, I have written about essential oils before.

Although this blog's title refers to "closets" and the clothing within, in particular, I can't help writing about other storage units including cupboards and drawers and medicine cabinets and . . .  so you see, I want to tell you about something else in another storage unit. I have taken a wine box and converted it into storage for my essential oils. After all, if you are not healthy, how can you feel beautiful - and sorry, clothes alone won't do it. 

Before moving to France I was aware of essential oils but not totally convinced. I hate to admit it, but the exorbitant prices of essential oils in North America made me reticent to use them. Here, in France, they are affordable (even the expensive ones).

The most convincing rationalization for me happened when I was advised by my dentist to have a root canal. I would have continued with his advice but I was on my way to Europe the next day and promised him that I would seek a French dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime he prescribed antibiotics and I continued on my trip. When I arrived in France, I had to wait another two weeks before I could see the recommended dentist. I finished my antibiotics and went to the pharmacy to ask about interim care. The pharmacist suggested that I use oil of oregano with a carrier oil such as coconut oil and swish my mouth for a few minutes every morning. He implied that it may hold off the infection and keep me stable until I saw the dentist. He did not offer it as a cure. I did just that and continued to research online. From my online research, I found that those who used oil of oregano for dental crises were satisfied with the results. To make a long story short, six months later I have not had the root canal and the French dentist simply advised me to come back when I was infected and in pain from the abscess. So far, so good. Hooray for oil of oregano!

Then, there was my husband . . . who suffers from a hereditary case of varicose veins. Again a Canadian doctor told him that he will have to have them operated on and the dark discolouration on his shins will simply be there . . . forever. There was nothing that could be done for it. After my success with oil of oregano, I went to the pharmacist again and asked about varicose veins. He suggested some supplements for circulation and then offered the idea of using essential oils, namely cypress and helichrism. My husband took the attitude that "it wouldn't hurt" and so he began a daily evening routine of massaging his legs (with upward strokes toward the heart) with the essential oils mixed in jojoba oil. After six months of online research, experimenting with other oils, varying the combinations, and religiously applying the oils every evening, his legs are amazingly changed. Last year at this time, his legs were so dark, and swollen, I was thinking awful consequences. This year after approximately 6 months of "oil therapy" the colour of his legs is, dare I say, normal. The varicose veins have reduced in size and intensity and his legs are starting to look healthy, if not totally normal. We will continue with his essential oil therapy and if surgery can be avoided, all the better. Hooray for helichrism and cypress oil!

My digression from clothing in one's closet can be rationalized for health sake and so . . . do what it takes. Take care of yourself so that you can enjoy the clothing, the shoes, the bags, the jewellery, the accessories . . . and look great in them.


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Poppy


There are many things I take for granted and make universal assumptions about. For me as a Canadian, wearing a poppy on Remembrance Day, November 11th, is something that I assumed every allied country from World War 1 would have as a tradition. I also assumed that everyone would know the poem by John McCrae, In Flanders Fields. Here in France, the French do not wear a poppy but rather the blue cornflower is their symbol for Armistice Day. In fact, it is the Americans, British and Canadians who have fully adopted the poppy tradition. I understand the New Zealanders and Australians have access to buy the poppy but only a small percentage of the population have incorporated it.

For the French the cornflower represents peace; however for the Americans, Canadians and those from the British Isles there are controversial explanations for the wearing of the poppy.

I have never bought into the controversy - to me wearing the poppy is a symbol of remembrance and a promise to strive for a peaceful world. When I hear about one group or another believing that it represents war: all soldiers, all wars and only that, I don't care to argue with them. I do not believe the symbolism to be that single minded. Then there are those who want a white poppy and others a purple. Interestingly the poppy comes in all colours.

It is what it is for you and you alone. If someone wants to know why I wear a red poppy, my answer has already been stated. With that, I will not bother to try to convince anyone - follow your heart when it comes to wearing a symbol or not . . . but only remember and do not forget that others died fighting for their country's ideas of freedom and many of us have benefitted from these losses.