Thursday, September 11, 2014

Post-Vacation Style Thoughts

I packed sensibly and lightly for our Canada trip. Black knit skirt, white denim skirt, emerald green jeans, white linen shirt, snake print shell, floaty blue and black tunic, black tee, black and white cardigan, black sandals. Earrings, necklace, watch, light scarf for the plane. On the day of my flight, it rained, so I had to add a jacket and proper lace-up shoes. This all fit in my carry-on, which seemed to have more hair products in it than clothes. 
My trusty purple leopard bag.

This all worked very well for the sunny and warm weather we had. I was content to wear the linen shirt with everything. I knew I would shop in Montreal, and I did, finding jewelry and shoes and a scarf.

Usually, when I return from a vacation, I feel like burning the few things I had to wear EVERY DAY. When I came home from Montreal, I found myself wanting to wear those very simple outfits again. In particular, I didn't want to wear a lot of color. My first week back I wore only black and blue. This week I wore only black and red (gray and red on one day). Depending on the weather, I might wear yellow as my color next week. Yellow and white, yellow and gray, etc., and maybe just a shot of yellow at that - a scarf or a necklace.

I'm sure I'll return to bright color combinations eventually; I'm not purging my closet or anything CRAZY. I just want to enjoy simpler choices and more neutrals for a while. Plus I am looking forward to my two new pairs of boots providing a punch of orange (Fluevog suede Milla) or teal (Cobb Hill Bethany lace-ups).
The Milla - so pretty!

Cobb Hill Bethany Blue/Teal
They zip up the back!

I got both of these on sale, but they were still pretty spendy. The Cobb Hill boots come in a variety of rich colors and leathers too. Just a thought.

And my favorite souvenir from Montreal, my fat horsie fridge magnet from my generous and clever friend Heidi:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Montreal, Tout Alors!

Heidi and I went to the remarkable St. Joseph's Oratory on Mount Royal, Canada's third largest church, and the third largest dome in the world. St. Peter's is the largest, and this remarkable place is number two. I'm not a regular church-goer, but I appreciate the emotional intensity of a place where millions of people have focused their hearts and minds on both their own troubles and the power of God to alleviate them. Or perhaps they were filled with joy and thanks when they sat in those pews, or climbed, kneeling, up those many steps. I always light a candle when I visit.

Then we came home and fell on our beds because we were very hot and tired. Lovely, lovely air-conditioning. We had perfectly delicious sushi for dinner.

On Monday, Heidi and Pam hit the airport early - but sadly were delayed for hours, both on the plane and in the airport. That kind of ennui makes me desperate and homicidal. I had booked a later flight, so I went downtown with my suitcase, and ditched it with the pleasant people at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I saw wonderful installations large and small. There was a short film of an artist talking about her memories of her mother's reel-to-reel tape recorder; how fascinated she was with it as a child, and how her distant mother found a connection through the device with her daughter. This film ran side by side with footage of the artist manipulating the recorder in various ways. I found this very touching. My parents also had a reel to reel and I have equally fond memories of it.

I had a leisurely lunch across the street - I pointed to another diner and said "I'll have that salad and a glass of wine." Then I took a moderately sweltering bus (comfy seat by the window at least) to the airport and came home.

It was such a great trip: the company, the city, the food, the sights, the shopping.  I talked with Pam and Heidi a fair amount about the expense and coming to terms with it. I suppose it was a turning point for me in feeling comfortable with taking a nice vacation and all that entails. I'm so close, so close to being out of debt completely, and then a two thousand dollar trip once a year will truly be no big deal. It wasn't much of a deal this year. The apartment was cheap, the flight not too bad, and obviously, I took the bus or walked everywhere. I didn't buy a fur coat. I bought two pairs of shoes, a really nice scarf and a variety of souvenirs. I had an amazing meal/experience. That was key, feeling like I was spending my money on an experience, not just stuff. And when I came home and found the orange suede Fluevog boots at my local store for $200 off their original price, that felt like pure lagniappe.

Fluevog Milla Boots in rust

Of course, I haven't gotten my credit card bill yet.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Montreal August 2014 Part One

I just returned from a wanderjahr through the streets of Montreal. Except wanderjahr usually implies tents, backpacks and beef jerky, and we were staying in a lovely Mile End apartment and snacking on sopressata and Brie.

Montreal is a lovely city and we had a wonderful visit. Here are some of the highlights.

First, our rental apartment on Avenue du Parc! We each had our own bedroom, with a full kitchen and laundry included, and a fantastic shower. No low flow shower heads here. We were also in a wildly diverse neighborhood, with restaurants and bakeries and shops to suit a Hasidic/Muslim/hipster/student community. Those fantastic shtreimel! We tried the Montreal bagels and didn't think they were all that, but the pastries and sushi and Thai food were delicious. Plus, we were across the street from fabulous markets for fruit and cheese and wine and maple bacon potato chips.

On our first day we strolled down Rue St. Denis and just happened to stumble on some amazing shoe stores. OK, I knew there was a Fluevog store there, but I didn't know that I would buy sandals and boots at La Boutique Marcheur. The owner was quite cheerful after our visit. I bought a pair of teal lace-up Cobb Hill boots and red leather Fidelio sandals. THEN we went to the Fluevog store and tried on many things. They had the boots I want in my size but not in the lovely rusty orange I want, so I will check the Chicago store, and if they don't have them, will order them online. After this arduous experienc,e we enjoyed a plate of steak frites and walked back to our apartment. On our way, we found jewelry and funny t-shirts and souvenirs.

That evening we indulged in the tasting menu at Tocque! it is worth commemorating the seven courses. We began with two glasses of champagne to compare and contrast, and during the meal we had a friendly and extensive lesson in wines. Thanks to Heidi and Pam for generously sharing their glasses with me; I couldn't have handled the full flight, but I did enjoy a sip from each.

Scallops with blueberry water and beebalm mousse 
Swordfish tartare with watermelon and daikon radish
Foie Gras, brioche, pistachio crumble and peaches (my first foie gras!)
Barbecue quail, polenta and a corn foam 
Lamb, merguez sausage and petite vegetables
A fabulous cheese plate  - with slivered beets and melted cheese on a slice of pickle! 
Sponge cake, sorbet (maybe currant?) and vanilla cream
Tiny Maple cream candies and tomato/watermelon gems

The whole experience was cheerful, unhurried and completely satisfying.  Hats off to Tocque! (hee hee). When we emerged from the restaurant on to the Place du Congress, the square was filled with dry ice fog, drifting among the trees and benches. The fountain had a ring of fire burning in it. Magical. We took the bus home, slightly stunned, talking about that amazing pickle.