Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A Room with a View

Paris hotels

On our recent short weekend trip to Paris, Professor M and I stayed at Novotel Paris Les Halles. As we only had a bout 48 hours in Paris, the location of the hotel and easy access to both the airport (for me) and Eurostar (for him) were the deciding factors when choosing a hotel, and we decided to forgo the boutique hotels we would normally go for.

And the location of the hotel is certainly central: Adjacent to Forum des Halles, and within a walking distance from Rue de Rivoli, the hotel was a good base for our aimless walking tours on both banks of the Seine. What we had not anticipated was that at the moment Les Halles is basically a huge construction site...

Paris Hotel Novotel

Still, we had a nice room with minimalist decor and innovative window shutters...

hotel Novotel

And a built-in tv chair reminiscent of the 1960s space age designs...

Paris Hotel Novotel

Speaking of the 60s, the hotel play area for children featured some Finnish design: the 1967 'Pastilli' chair accompampanied by 2 'Puppies' (2003), all by Eero Aarnio, one of my favourite furniture designers.

Paris Hotel Novotel

What about the amenities?

Well, there was a nice enough fitness room, but we managed to find enough excuses not to try it out...

And breakfast...

The breakfast room was busy, really busy... and overtaken by barbarians, I mean hotel guests... The buffet breakfast was great, there was plenty of choice, and the staff were attentive and quick to replace empty trays. But the staff had their hands full cleaning after the barbarians, sorry, the hotel guests running around frantically as if afraid they were going to run out of food any minute... I have seen my share (if not more) of hotel buffet breakfasts, but I've never seen hotel guests behaving so badly: pushing and shoving, trying to cut the line, dropping off their dirty plates on a pile of clean plates, dropping food on the counter... Having breakfast in the restaurant was so stressful that we decided to have breakfast in the room the following day. And the staff very kindly catered to our request for brown bread instead of white and natural yoghurt instead of sweet pastry.

Oh well, it was a very short trip. But I'm sure I will be back, one day...

Tiina
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Monday, 27 October 2014

Hard Rock Halloween...

Halloween outfit over 40

Happy Halloween!

I am joining the Share-in-Style Halloween party today, and dressed accordingly...

40+ hard rock style

Well, sort of... less witches and vampires, more Hard Rock and Heavy Metal.

Halloween accessories over 40
hard rock accessories
scarf: Alexander McQueen / vintage evening bag / necklace: Uno de 50 / ring: Femme d'Esprit, Paris
My dear husband kept telling me to pose more convincingly, to look scary and fierce, a bit bitchy (his words, uttered with love), and I was happy to oblige... But you won't see the bitchiest pics. Why? Well, first of all, he liked them way too much... and second, I'm trying so hard to hide my true (bitchy) nature by only posting pics where I look halfway decent... Yes, I'm vain. But I think most bloggers would refrain from documenting their fat days and bad hair days... So, as I have a bad hair day every day, I insist that the rest of me must look spectacular...

40+ hard rock
jacket: Zara (old) / top: Banana Republic / necklaces: L.K.Bennet, Uno de50 / sunglasses: Tom Ford
Talking of hair... I don't know if you can see it in these photos, but this is my hair when it hasn't been 'done', i.e. I haven't tried to tame the natural curls. And now if you tell me that you can't really see a difference, I'll be gutted...

Tiina 
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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Bad Tourist in Paris

Paris

48 hours in  Paris...

From Saturday afternoon till Monday afternoon, that should be enough time for some sightseeing, some cultural activities, and just soaking in the atmosphere, maybe even squeezing in a quick shopping spree on Monday morning (most shops are closed on Sunday).

Yeah, right, it's not going to happen.

I used to live in Paris, for a very brief time, a very long time ago. That means that I've been there, done that, or can at least pretend that I've 'seen' everything worth seeing...
And if you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I'm a bad tourist anyway, and way too snobbish to get caught doing anything as clichéd as rushing from one tourist attraction to another...

Paris

So, I passed the Notre Dame to get the mandatory touristy snapshot (you're welcome, it's the only one you're going to get...), only to turn left after the (second) bridge and have some quality time mingling with the locals:


There are still several pet shops on Quai de la Megisserie, facing the Seine, and I can't think of a better way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon than admiring the cutest little kittens and puppies.
This feisty little girl stole my heart, and I wish I could have brought her home with me... but even if there was a quick cure for allergy, la Petite Mademoiselle was already reservée.

And off to soak in the atmosphere, then...

Just walking around aimlessly can lead to unexpected discoveries, such as interesting architecture. And often the most interesting architecture is not the celebrated landmarks in guidebooks but ordinary buildings where ordinary people live and work. After all, that's the architecture that makes the city something more than just an outdoor museum. I also believe that art, architecture, music etc. should be experienced, not explained.

Paris architecture
Marais

Wherever I go, I'm always fascinated by street art and graffiti:

Paris graffiti

And I love art that isn't hidden away in a museum but contributes to a living, breathing city. Art that can be touched, like these sculptures in the patio of Hotel Pavillon de la Reine (in Marais):

Paris sculpture

I look for artistic expression in the most mundane places. And it's a real thrill when 'art' matches my own style...

Paris Graffiti

As I said, I used to live in Paris, a lifetime ago. So, I had to make time for The Mandatory Walk Down the Memory Lane:
I spent a year studying in Paris, about 28 years ago. As a fashion student, I made regular trips to a small shop just outside Les Halles. It was the place to find unusual buttons, ribbons, beads, feathers... a fashion and jewellery designers' heaven, with dedicated sales people determined to find whatever you were looking for. And guess what, La Droguerie is still there. It's nice to know that some things never change. I wish we'd had a few more days in Paris. I would have wanted to see if the wholesale fabric district in Mortmartre is still there, too. Maybe next time...

crafts in Paris
Crafts

So, has Paris changed since the last time I was there? 

I've been to Paris a few times in the past 25 or so years, and yes, I think a lot has changed. For starters, it was incredibly eas
y to find people eager to speak English... No, I'm not one of those people who can't be bothered to try and speak a foreign language when they travel. After all, English is a foreign language for me... And yes, I did try a few phrases of French here and there, but my French is a bit rusty (although I can still understand it quite well). That's the language lesson of the day: use it or lose it. But no, I'm not going to rush to take French lessons (or any other language lessons) any time soon.

Saint Paul Paris
Metro Saint-Paul

So, what hasn't changed? 

The metro is still as horrible an experience as I remembered... Anyone who thinks the London Tube is bad, consider this: in London it is customary to let people get out first, before getting on. In Paris, it's some poor people trying to get out  while others are trying to get in, and it's every man, woman and child for him/herself, and if anyone gets in your way, just elbow them out of the way...

So, these were the highlights of my very brief glimpse of Paris. I wanted to tell you about the hotel, too, but I'll leave that for another post.

I hope you enjoyed the 'tour'

Tiina
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Sunday, 19 October 2014

A Wrap Dress + A Wool Coat = Autumn Uniform

fall coat

The late autumn explosion of colour, crisp mornings, dark nights...
I really wanted to do a post with very autumnal photos: posing in front of some autumn leaves, wrapped up in a warm coat... and I'm glad I finally managed it before the leaves are all gone, and it gets grey and cold...

over 40 blogger

So, what was the problem?  
Well, my photographer (a.k.a husband) is only around at weekends (yes, I'm a weekend wife...), and recently we've been spending weekends in England (except for the weekend in Paris). This means that I've been taking the plane on Friday evening after work and getting back late on Monday, just in time for work on Tuesday afternoon...
So, we've only spent one weekend in Finland during the past four weeks. And that's when these pictures were taken.

wrapdress over 40
statement necklace
dress; Boden / pashmina: Balmuir /necklace: Kenneth Jay Lane
This is what I call my late autumn uniform: a wrap dress and a wool coat. 
Let's make one thing clear: this is not a winter coat. Sure, it's thick and warm... provided the temperature is above freezing. And it's not winter unless the temperature drops below freezing. What can I say? I'm Nordic, we have a different definition for winter here... Lets get back to that in January, OK?

wool coat
sunglasses: Chanel (old) / brooch: Nina Ricci via Hirst Antiques
And, as this is an old coat, 
you can see that I haven't resolved my winter coat issue yet. I finally decided against getting a new wool coat, mainly because I didn't find anything I liked (I have a natural aversion to neutral / dark colours and I-hope-this-won't-make-me-look-fat cocoon shapes...).
And at this point of the year it makes more sense to look for a coat for the really cold weather as I will get more wear out of it. However, I'm beginning to think that maybe my expectations are too high. On the other hand, choosing a winter coat is a bit like choosing a husband: you must pick one you won't get tired of seeing every day, for the rest of your life... (or, in the case of a winter coat, from December till April...)

fall colors

What's your favourite late autumn cover-up?

Tiina
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Friday, 17 October 2014

AdSense? More like No Sense...

adsense

As you may have noticed. I've had some Google AdSense ads on the sidebar... 
This is an experiment, and I have very mixed feelings about it. No, it's not that I'm against monetising my blog. In fact, I'm firmly in favour of capitalism and free enterprise: like all freelancers, I have deep-seated respect for any work that generates money... And no, I'm not expecting to get rich by showing ads... as I said, I'm a freelancer, i.e. by definition a realist when it comes to assessing whether a project is worth my time (i.e. likely to generate some money...)

No, it's about the kind of brand I want my blog to be. 
Yes, I do see my blog as a brand (but not an extension of my professional reputation or career; that is a completely unrelated brand in itself), and therefore I work hard on each post, tweaking the photos and my writing. But that's OK, I'm determined to have a certain standard of quality and focus when it comes to my content. My blog may be just a hobby, but I still see it as a brand that represents who I am, maybe even more than my 'day job' does. And that's the problem:

 most of the ads have nothing to do with my brand or the content of the blog. 
Do I care if advertisers throw their money away by displaying their ads for oscillators and heating oil on a website about style and travel? No, I don't, that's their problem.
However, I do have a problem with some other type of equally irrelevant and unrelated ads: those that seem to go against my personal values. For example, ads that try to make people take out loans, or invest in dubious schemes. Or ads that promote narrow beauty ideals by suggesting my readers might need to lose weight or hide their age. Certain types of 'dating agencies' also come to mind. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against people looking for love. Except when they make me play this absurd game of whack-a-mole: as soon as I block 'Asian ladies looking for gentlemen', 'African ladies' with the same agenda pop up, then 'Baltic ladies'...
Seriously, I don't have time for this shit, I have a job, a life, a blog to write... So, 'Ladies Looking for Gentlemen' (whatever your ethnic origin or hidden agenda), find another street corner!! There are no 'gentlemen' cruising here.

And Google, this is what I have to say to you: WTF???!!!???
AdSense is supposed to be serving ads targeted to site content and audience. So, Google, would you mind explaining what exactly about my content makes you think I want to have a second career as a pimp, or my readers would be desperate to send money to faraway places??? And then there are the ads in languages I don't know (and I understand quite a few languages at least a little bit)... How am I supposed to know what they are all about??!!
Of course, I have asked Google and Blogger these questions, several times: I'm one of those annoying people who like to give feedback... Since I started this blog, I must have sent Google and Blogger hundreds of messages, using that little feedback form, about every single problem I've encountered. And they've never got back to me, not even once. Now, how rude is that?!?

Anyway, I have given AdSense lots of feedback on the type of ads displayed, asked why there is no list of ad categories to choose from, or a way to exclude certain types of ads (I suppose this sort of feature may exist in some countries?), and complained about the lack of clear and simple explanations on how the whole thing works. And as I keep seeing the same inappropriate ads over and over again, my messages get less and less polite. I guess I could plead cultural differences here: I'm a Finn, we don't mince our words but say it like it is, take it or leave it.
But it's also that I tend to get very frustrated trying to translate the so-called instructions from Geekspeak into Plain Language. Any language... And as I speak two languages fluently, I have checked some of these pages in both Finnish and English and still have no clue what the hell they're about... So frustrating.

So, what am I going to do about AdSense?
I haven't made up my mind yet. However, I think my patience is running out, and I'm getting really, really tired of playing whack-a-mole with irrelevant / inappropriate ads. Seriously, Google AdSense, this is a deal breaker: my blog, my rules. Take it or leave it.

Do you have any experience on AdSense? 
Do share in the comments, I would love to hear your views.

Tiina

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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Paris, when it rains...

travel wardrobe Paris

A weekend in Paris... 

Correction: a very short weekend in Paris: arriving on Saturday afternoon and leaving on Monday afternoon. Still, it sounds wonderful, glamorous and romantic, right? Except that I'm not that girl: Paris has always failed to wow me, there is definitely nothing glamorous about travel these days, and I wouldn't recognise 'romantic' even if my life depended on it...

Paris

If you've been reading this blog for a while you know by now that Paris is not one of my usual weekend destinations (i.e the continuous loop Helsinki-London-Helsinki with some Barcelona occasionally thrown into the mix...). So, there has to be a reason why I suddenly find myself in Paris. And there is: Professor M had a conference in France, and couldn't get away until Saturday. Thus, I flew to Paris to so that we could spend the rest of the weekend together. And it was great to see a little bit of Paris, too, as it's been a really long time since my last visit.

trench coat over 40
trench: Burberry, sunglasses: Prada

What? No Planning-What-To-Wear-To-Paris post before the trip???

Well, very little planning goes into my 'travel wardrobe' or packing... Either Professor M or I 'commute' every weekend between Finland and the U.K., so weekend trips are just life as usual, i.e. routine, and 'packing' consists of checking the weather forecast and quickly tossing a few separates into the cabin luggage...

Michael Kors bag

So, what did I pack?

As you can see, I wore my trusty, old trench (it was raining all Sunday) and good walking shoes. I also packed two pairs of trousers, 3 short-sleeved T-shirts, 2 long-sleeved T-shirts, one cardigan, a jersey dress, 2 scarves, 2 pairs of sunglasses, an umbrella, a small handbag and a tote bag (yes, it all fits in the cabin luggage). I didn't wear everything, but that's OK as I like to have some options. It was a bit too chilly for a dress, so I ended up wearing trousers, a T-shirt and the trench all the time.

Paris

Uncharacteristically for me, I didn't even wear any jewellery, except for a bracelet and my wedding ring. It is liberating to make do with a minimalist wardrobe every now and then...

accessorising with an umbrella

And if you think the umbrella is not very Paris-themed, you're probably right: it's the NYC skyline, before 9/11 (i.e. with the twin towers). I grabbed it on my way out of the door as I was leaving for the airport and suddenly remembered the weather forecast... And it came in handy as it was pouring with rain all Sunday...

So, what did we do in Paris?

For that you'll have to wait a week or two so that I can sort out the pictures and my thoughts (it's a bit hectic at work at the moment...), but I'll get to that next week when I'm taking a little break from work and relax in Homebase 2 in England...

What do you pack for weekend trips?

Tiina
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Monday, 13 October 2014

Attitude Adjustment

leather jacket and leopard print over 40

I sometimes think I'm a bit bi-polar when it comes to style...

It's as if I have two distinct style personalities: there's the wannabe fashionista who likes her clothes sophisticated, streamlined and classy and would give her right arm for perfect hair... And then there's the angry rock chick who just can't be bothered with mirrors and make up...

leopard print over 40
dress: L.K.Bennett / leather jacket: Karen Millen / sunglasses: Tiffany & Co
when I was younger, it was the angry rock chick who had the upper hand: in my teens and early twenties I used to live in jeans and my studded black leather jacket. In my thirties I realised that I needed a more professional look, but one with enough attitude to keep me from having an identity crisis...

how to style a fringe bag

And now... the leather jacket still comes out to play every now and then, but now it has to play second fiddle to colour and a streamlined silhouette. And I'm certain that I've lost none of the edge in the process...

statement necklace

In a way this outfit is an attempt to merge my two style personalities, the wannabe fashionista and the angry rock chick... So, I guess that makes me a middle-aged style addict with an attitude... I can live with that.

What's your style personality? And has it changed over the years?

Tiina
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Thursday, 9 October 2014

Just Some Amazing Autumn Photos

fall colors

I love autumn...

I have been taking photos of the amazing autumn colours I see around me every day, both in my own neighbourhood and on my way to work. I wanted to share some of these pictures with you. I hope you like them.

fall colors
fall colors
fall colors
fall colors
fall colors
fall colors

Enjoy the autumn colours

Tiina
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Sunday, 5 October 2014

Colour and Harmony

40+ style

Harmony, that's what colour coordination means to me...
You know, when all the items that make up the outfit blend together into a sophisticated look, with a colour palette that suits my natural colouring.

Because of my natural colouring (= pasty white skin with pink undertones, light blue/green eyes, medium brown hair) I usually gravitate towards mid-tones: slightly muted, toned-down colours. I avoid neutrals (except navy) and pale pastels next to my face as they tend to wash me out. I also avoid very dark and very bright colours as they overwhelm me, and I think I should be wearing a colour, not the other way around. I prefer cold colours; warm colours make me look as if I'm suffering from some sort of serious disease... 

colour coordinated
cardigan: Freequent / dress: Phase Eight
So, if just stick to the cold mid-tones that suit me, I should have the perfect wardrobe full of mix and match separates that I can turn into new outfits. That should be easy...

colour coordination
necklace: Anna Gav / vintage brooch: Notting Hill market / sunglasses: Tom Ford
Of course, real life is always a bit more complicated: everything is almost perfect, except for that one missing piece. More often than not, you have no shoes / bag / coat that goes with the perfectly harmonious outfit you are picturing in your mind, or even if you do, the missing item is currently unavailable (i.e. in another country, in my case...)

colour coordination
bag: Gloria Ortiz / shoes: Clarks
Nevertheless, harmony is a worthy goal, in personal style as well as in other aspects of life. It may just be a bit easier to achieve harmony in style, so that's where I will direct my energies. It makes no sense to be goal-oriented if the goal itself is impossible to achieve; my life will never be stress-free and uncomplicated, but I can control what I wear.

And maybe, in a small way, controlling what I wear can also help me make my life just a little bit less stressful and complicated when I commute between my two homes. It certainly saves a lot of time when I can just toss into a holdall some nicely colour-coordinated pieces: a cardigana dress, a pair of trousers, a few t-shirts... enough to mix and match at will, depending on the weather and my mood.


Do you colour coordinate your wardrobe?

Tiina

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