The Journey

Today is an interesting day. I’m turning fifty-one today. Yep, fifty-one. And I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fact that being a fifty-something can have some negative connotations in our youth worshipping culture. The phrase “over-the-hill” being one that immediately springs to mind. I always find it simultaneously flattering and insulting when someone looks at me and says incredulously, and in a loud voice, “I can’t believe you’re fifty!!” So, yes, thank you for saying I look good for my age but what do you think fifty is supposed to look like? A hag?

Happily, I don’t feel like I’m too much past my prime (well…most days). That’s not to say that I haven’t slowed down a bit. I have. Or that I don’t have wrinkles and a few patches of sparkly, silver hair. I do. And some days I look in the mirror and think “ÒMG, my face has fallen and it can’t get up!” But the feeling passes and I don’t feel that my life is over or that it even has lessened really. It has definitely shifted but I’m finding that I like the changes and my life actually feels richer because of them. I’m not so interested in shopping as a sport or late night parties any more and I’ve gotten into nature in a very big way. Also, when I was younger and living in Toronto, I drank and danced enough for a few lifetimes so don’t feel that I’ve missed out on a thing. No mid-life crisis required.

Deep down I feel pretty content with my age, good with where I am in my life and excited about where I’m heading. When I let myself be influenced by the media though, things can shift rapidly. What I really grapple with these days are the never-ending beauty ads, doing their best to keep women unhappy with how they look at any age and especially unhappy when you reach “a certain age”. You know, the airbrushed, photo-shopped, almost unrecognizable faces of models and celebrities gracing various anti-aging products. All of the shadows, lines, and even pores, whisked away by computer technology. Use this product, the ad implies, and you too can have a face that looks like a perfect, blank, and ever so slightly inhuman mannequin. So we look at the flawless, porcelain faces in the ads, then look in the mirror and think, OH MY GOD!! Better run to the drugstore and buy (insert cream du jour) right now!! Since modern day marketing is so pervasive and slowly, subliminally, saturates our brains, these are the ads that I avoid at all costs.

My friend Louise, a fabulous and lovely fifty-something, and I were discussing the subject of aging gracefully at a cocktail party the other night. Our “what not to do” list included the overly filled lip syndrome, also known as “trout pout” (so loved by a certain “Real Housewives” kinda gal), as well as the frozen face look, courtesy of too much botox and too many fillers. This look, unfortunately, is becoming more and more prevalent these days as even dentists have started administering botox. As we talked, I found myself getting quite heated about the whole “be ashamed of and hide your age” message that our society sends on a regular basis. Louise and I both agreed that we feel so much more content and at home in our skin now than we ever did in our 20’s, 30’s or even 40’s and that is, by far, the biggest gift of getting older.

I think my main issue with trying desperately to wipe out our wrinkles, sags and bags is that by doing so we aren’t honouring ourselves or the journey that got us all to where we are now. If we feel happier and more self assured in our 50’s, why wouldn’t we celebrate everything about that? Why would we try to erase any of the years of our unique journey from our faces? Wouldn’t it make more sense to embrace the way we look now and the beautiful, painful, joyful, funny, tragic life experiences that have made us who we are today?

So, ladies (and gentlemen), here’s the moral of my post: Eat right, work out, laugh a lot, especially with good friends over a glass of wine. Get outside, go on an adventure, use a great moisturizer and maybe even get a little injection of botox for that special occasion but don’t try to erase the journey that has made you the uniquely beautiful person you are now. Love your wrinkles, especially if you acquired them doing something great, ie. laughing or lying on a warm, sandy beach.

Don’t hide your age. Be proud of it. Be an inspiration to everyone following in your footsteps and revel in your glorious, wise(r), fifty-something self. When you think about it, why would you want to do anything else?

More Aging/Self Love Posts…

http://www.happyolks.com/camp-cobbler-the-living-continuum-to-which-you-belong/
http://jennifereverson.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/turning-40/

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The Horizon

No matter how far a person can go, the horizon is still way beyond you. – Zora Neale Hurston

canon be

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/weekly-photo-challenge-horizon/

Eco Fashion Week – Fall 2013 – My Sister’s Closet

My friend Robyn called me last week, excited because she found a vintage Jessica McClintock gown, in perfect condition, for $15.00 at My Sister’s Closet. A producer in the film industry, Robyn is going to look gorgeous at her next gala, wearing this midnight blue, classic gown with such a 50’s Hollywood glamour vibe that I could easily imagine Rita Hayworth in it. She also won’t have to worry about wearing a carbon copy of anyone else’s outfit. And that’s what My Sister’s Closet is all about.

MSC is, hands down, the most amazing thrift shop I have ever seen. And why is it so amazing you’re wondering? Well, for starters, the staff is very particular about what goes on their racks. They sort through all donations, picking only what is in great shape and fashion forward to stock their boutique. But don’t think for a second that they throw away the garments they can’t use. Nope, they send them to other charities in need so absolutely nothing is wasted.

What else makes this boutique so amazing? How about all of the proceeds going to BWSS? If you’re reading this post, chances are either you or a woman you love has been a victim of violence. It’s that prevalent in our society and the women at BWSS are working every day to change that horrifying fact. Shopping at My Sister’s Closet helps fund immediate shelter for women and children in crisis situations as well as education and awareness regarding domestic violence, and that’s the other reason it’s an awesome boutique to support.

During Eco Fashion Week, My Sister’s Closet’s collection is always one of the highlights for me. This season their collection was aptly named Fearless and all outfits in the collection are styled from garments currently for sale at the boutique. Below are a few of the fierce looks that hit the runway…

Can fashion really help change the world?

With boutiques like My Sister’s Closet…it absolutely can.

68 Pounds

Is my title referring to the weight of the average runway model? Nope, it’s the amount of clothing the average North American throws away every year.

What??? 68 pounds?? That’s one half of me, every single year. Yikes! I was so shocked by this statistic that I had to do some research to make sure it was accurate, and yes, it’s frighteningly true. I guess living in Vancouver, where a lot of people struggle with the high cost of living, I personally don’t know anyone who tosses 68 pounds of clothing in the trash and most of my friends give their items of clothing to charity when they’ve grown weary of them, so trashing so many garments is truly shocking to me. But, who knows, maybe the dumpsters of West Van are lined with Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton??

To demonstrate just what can be done with this amount of textiles, Eco Fashion Week presented The 68 Pound Challenge, with uber-talented designer, Evan Ducharme. Mr. Ducharme was presented with 68 pounds of discarded clothing and his challenge was to re-work the garments into a brand new collection.

efw day one 127

“Making clothes from repurposed garments and textiles is how I started in design, by producing collections for charity fashion shows while I was in high school. I look forward to returning to my roots and producing another collection for EFW.” – Evan Ducharme

And this is the magic he wove….

Halcyon Collection – Spring/Summer 2014

hal·cy·on

Adjective – Denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful.

Thrift Chic

A recent stat shows that North America makes up roughly 10% of the world’s population but uses over 30% of the world’s resources with our unbridled consumer culture.

A large part of this is due to our beloved fashion industry becoming cheaper and more disposable than ever, with the majority of garments mass produced very inexpensively in Asia. A couple of problems with this system is that we are using so much of the earth’s resources to keep producing and then discarding all of these items at such a fast pace and also creating considerable amounts of pollution shipping these pieces all over the globe. Time for a change?

eco

Yep, I think it is. And on that note, Eco Fashion Week, Fall 2013 opened last night proving that fashion forward and eco-friendly aren’t at all mutually exclusive.

As one of my favourite designer/stylist says, “Vintage fabrics are always the best quality anyway”. I totally agree and often search out vintage and thrift pieces when perking up my wardrobe. Pre-loved and vintage are easy on the wallet, easy on Mother Nature and as eco-friendly as you can possibly get. So, I was excited to see thrift shopping celebrated last night with the $500 Value Village Challenge. Three designers are given $500 each to buy items at VV Boutique and then use their creativity to style the garments into a runway collection. The results? Eco-fabulous.

Below are a sampling of photos from the opening night Value Village Thrift Styling Challenge by stylists Kenneth Wyse, Dandilion Wind Opaine and Claire Bouvier, all proving just how amazing artful thrift fashion can be…

A Northwest Picnic

A few friends and I planned a fresh, local, wild, seafood picnic on idyllic Keat’s Island last Sunday. We excitedly hopped on my buddy, Greg’s boat, loaded it up with food and headed out to sea. But as we sailed along to our island destination, nothing seemed to go as planned.

lunch and beaver lake 005

First the bright, sunshine of the morning abruptly disappeared and we were overtaken by ominously gloomy skies. I glanced up to see dark, heavy clouds looking like they were getting ready to burst open. And then, yes, they did burst open and we found ourselves drenched in chilly rain. Next, an air bubble formed in Greg’s fuel tank causing the boat to sputter and move at an extremely slow pace. With the last development, we had no choice but to turn and head back to the mainland. Although we were all disappointed, everyone handled this change of plans with a lot of grace and zen. If even one of us had been too invested in things turning out the way we had planned or the way they were “supposed to”, this morning easily could have been a disaster. But instead, it turned out to be a really great reminder that usually when your well laid plans don’t work out, it’s because the universe has something better or different in mind for you and your only job is to go with the flow.

So, we exited the boat and after a bit of driving around, ended up in a sweet, little park in North Vancouver. It was surrounded by tall, leafy trees, a beautiful, sparkly stream and a maze of off-leash dog walking trails. Our picnic table was situated right beside the walking path and tons of friendly dogs and their humans came over to visit. I sipped my wine and watched the clouds float away as the afternoon turned into sunny, crisp, autumn perfection.

Oh, and we had some mouth-watering, gourmet food too…

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Chef Pedro’s Recipes:

 Poached Mussels with Red Curry Sauce

 2 lbs. Fresh Mussels/ pair of needle nose pliers

1 cup dry white wine or fish stock

2 tbs olive oil

1 shallot, finely minced

1 400 ml can coconut milk

3 tbs Thai Red curry paste

4 fresh Kefir lime leaves

Loaf of fresh crusty bread

To prepare:

In a sink carefully pull the beards off of each mussel using the pliers. This is important as they aren’t edible. Purchasing note: shell fish should not smell overly fishy but like the ocean. Purchase only the day before as they are particularly unstable and will not taste their best after a day in your fridge. When you bring them home, remove from the plastic bag and put into a bowl with damp paper towel on the bottom and lay a damp towel over the top. Don’t leave soaking in water or sealed in a bag. They are alive and need air to live.

When ready to cook, put the olive oil into a hot stock pot and sauté the shallots, curry paste and lime leaves. Add the mussel and stir, deglaze with the wine and coconut milk. Cover and let cook for 30 seconds. Stir, watching the mussels as they should be opening, cover and keep checking every 30ish seconds until the curry has reduced and 90% to 100% of the mussels are open. If mussels don’t open or very few open, they are old and dead it would be wise not to eat them.

Alder Whiskey Grilled Halibut with Mango Salsa

 1 Cup Alder wood chips (pickup at a hardware store)

½ cup Whiskey to soak chips

1 cup water

Halibut filet with skin on

Olive oil

Blackening spice

Mango

Red peppers

Red onions

Fresh cilantro

Serrano chilies

Salt and pepper

To Prepare:

Place the chips in a mason jar with the water and whiskey, weigh down so wood is covered with liquid. Let soak for a minimum of 24 hours but the longer the better for the wood to absorb the liquid.

Marinate the halibut with olive oil and blackening spice. Let marinate overnight.

Remove mango from seed and and dice ¼”.

Mince finely red onion, pepper and Serrano and add to mango. Mince cilantro finely add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat BBQ on high to warm-up. Turn down to a medium heat. Place drained wood chips in an aluminum “bowl” and place on grill, wood should smolder and burn creating smoke. Once smoke starts, place halibut skin down on the oiled grill (I like the top shelf to cook, it gives great flavour while limiting scorching to the fish.) Cook until centre is opaque but flakes. Remove immediately so as not to overcook. Add salsa and serve.

Black Bean and Avocado Salad

 1/14oz can Eden Organic Black beans

1 large avocado

¼ cup red onions

½ tsp Buffalo Salsa Chipotle Hot Sauce

3 pinch granulated roasted garlic

Pinch salt and pepper

To Prepare:

Drain the beans and rinse in cold water, then let dry. Split avocado and slice lengthwise and into ¼” cubes. Finely mince red onion. Combine first three ingredients add seasoning to taste, more chipotle sauce for a spicier flavour.

New Potato Salad

 1 lb.tri-coloured nugget potatoes

1 cup red, orange and yellow peppers

½ cup red onions

½ cup green onions

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tbs dijon

3 pinches granulated roasted garlic

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tbsp fresh pepper

To Prepare:

In a well salted pot of water place the potatoes in and bring the water to a boil. Check potatoes regularly once the water boils. Potatoes should be firm but cooked through. Check multiple potatoes and colours to ensure cooking consistency. Once cooked, drain thoroughly and lay on a baking sheet to cool completely. Don’t put them in the fridge hot or you will have a starchy potato salad. Finely mince all vegetables. Once potatoes are at room temp, combine mayonnaise, Dijon and seasoning in a bowl, add potatoes and vegetable and mix thoroughly. Place in the refrigerator overnight or a minimum of 8 hours for the flavours to combine. Check the next day for consistency, add more mayonnaise if too dry.

Watermelon Sorbet

2 cups or 1 baby watermelon, peeled, seeded

liquefy and strain

Caster Sugar

Fresh mint

To Prepare:

Once the watermelon is liquefied and strained measure off 2 cups. Measure off 1.5 cups castor sugar and combine in an ice cream machine. Add very finely julienne mint. Process as per instructions of machine. A simple way if you don’t have a machine is to purchase rocket Popsicle stick makers. Process as above but whisk sugar until completely melted into watermelon juice, then add mint, ladle into Popsicle holders and freeze.

And, there you have it, a gorgeous, gourmet picnic menu. Fresh, local, wild and guaranteed to impress.

“If you just go with the flow, no matter what weird things happen along the way, you always end up exactly where you belong.” – Tom Upton