Archive for the ‘life on the lake’ Category

As wedding season begins to bloom, and with North Kootenay Lake being such a prime location to get married, I was delighted to discover that Kaslo has a wedding registry in my favorite shop, the Willow Home Gallery on Front Street! The owner/operator, Marlaina Blanche, has been open 3 years this July, and says business is going swimmingly! The secret to the shop’s success? Her prices… For the more desirable items like bamboo towels and sheets, you can’t go wrong with this store for a registry!

Willow Home Gallery has a fabulous selection of  beautiful kitchen, bed and bath items that are perfect for outfitting your home in affordable comfort, and is wall to wall with gift ideas for the newly weds. There is something for everyone in this store from gourmet tea and ruffled pillows to locally handmade luxury soap and natural skin care. I started by asking her what was her favorite item in the store…. We started out in her tea section, of course!

These complete tea sets were incredible and were flying off the shelves while I was standing there being mesmerized by how practical and original they were! A must see…

I saw some highly attractive egyptian cotton sheets, gorgeous wool and cotton quilts, down and wool pillows, beautiful drapery, dinnerware, chimes, cast iron hardware, and some very well designed kitchen gadgets that would make really fantastic and useful gifts, encouraging some love to happen in the kitchen!

We continued touring through the shop, and every corner we turned had some special treasure nestled in it.  This natural rustique chair was displaying some wonderfully designed outdoor picnic sets and these sturdy folding baskets, which I’ve been told are great for harvesting vegetables or for bringing them home from the market.

Here is Marlaina and her super pooch, Tilly. What a welcoming team!

I had a simply lovely time walking through the entire store with Marlaina and seeing all the other really unique items she sells that I’ve never seen before in some of the big city shops; some imports, some locally made.

She’s got some great pet transportable bowls, handy Tyvek luggage tags and wallets, these big pretty birdie dishes, a fantastic Rustique furniture display, cool clocks of all shapes and sizes, locally made jewellery, and an irresistable baby section with a Beatrix Potter theme. I have a new shop crush and it is the Willow Home Gallery in my own hometown of Kaslo!

Are you the next smalltown bride?

(newspaper clippings of brides from 1930’s from our Kaslo house renovations.)

Coming next from kaslotown..the real story on the Kootenay farmerettes of today; their fight for land, for food security, and their love of local designers for farming in style!


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Kootenay women really know how to celebrate Spring and Summer because alas, winter always returns; we know it so well. So…our first instinct when the snow actually starts to melt is to get ourselves a Spring frock. International Women’s Day is March 8th; a perfect time to splurge on something gorgeous and locally made.

Loosening the layers and showing some skin allows the warm sun and air to caress our figure, and the flirtation with Spring begins! Here is our Ms H, looking relaxed,  in the back garden amongst the hops and flower beds in about 1933. Her sleeveless fitted frock and choker of baubles looks so fresh with the signature cropped hair of the 30s,  which is now all the rage in Nelson!

Although Kootenay women are known to swim year round in Kootenay Lake, those glacial waters are never for the faint of heart!  Even if you don’t take the plunge you can still soak up the sunshine and the mountain air. Here are some swimming beauties from a 1934 newspaper that my partner fished from the inside one of the walls of our Kaslo house.

Once the temperature rises so do the hemlines, or lack-there-of, in the case of a more sultry Spring style of short-shorts . I’m sure the brothels of Kaslo produced some fantastic clothing for their ladies in their time. Kaslo had many brothels, hotels and saloons, including the “Theatre Comique,” which boasted 3 floors and a revolving stage. Imagine the performances that must have went on in Kaslo! My, my…!

The pin-up girl and Burlesque styles of costume have been influencing my eyelash and accessory design lately, and my hoop dance routine, which now has a chair, (a-la Cabaret!) added in. This style of performing can be very classy and I think women are living in the best era for creative expression because we can be any color, shape or size and the only rule is…anything goes! Rules?! What rules? I’ve been teaching sexy hoop moves to women in their 50’s and 60’s in North Kootenay Lake, and they’re the ones that swim year round, come to think of it.

This project with small town designers and talent is so delicious…. Lara is working on a fresh crop of corsets for another fantastic  photo shoot with her crew, coming soon. I’ve never worn anything so sexy and I’m so excited to have something made just for me! It will be a first!  Burlesque hooping, anyone?

Happy Women’s Day and Happy Spring!

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With all this bridal bliss happening here with Lara’s projects, my location scouting flooded naturally from fashion shoots into magical places for weddings around Kaslo. The first love birds to occupy our house were this business man and his striking Scottish bride, Ms H’s mother and father. They arrived and built the house in 1897. This photo was taken in Nelson, BC, and might have been taken freshly post wedding with their little matching corsages.  The husband had hotels and businesses in the nearby city of Sandon, a booming mining headquarters high up in the Retallack Pass, and his wife began raising the children in the Kaslo house, which I now live and design out of.

The roles of men and women were much more defined in those days, although women’s clothing was beginning to take on a more suit-tailored, masculine edge combined with very feminine details on puffy sleeves and cuffs . Here they are, looking ready for departure into their lives as newly-weds, moving to a brand new town called Kaslo on the windy shores of Kootenay Lake, where wool was an excellent choice for travel clothing .

For  brides who are looking for a naturally stunning and picturesque spot to hold an outdoor wedding ceremony, there are many options in and around the Village of Kaslo that offer softly lapping waves, soaring peaks and rolling forests and a more pristine feeling, ( the area was well known for its incredible rainbows over Kootenay Lake,) and yes, the wind could be a major element factoring into your wedding day and photos. I witnessed friends of mine getting married in the more sheltered Kaslo Bay Park with the groom arriving by canoe from across the water and the bride dreamily walking out onto the beach from the woods surrounding the park. The big trees gathered the breezes off the lake and shaded the guests on that hot and sunny summer day.

The view of the brightly colored boathouses against the lake and mountains is stunning year round and there are wild flowers and beautiful gardens everywhere around the village. The Kaslo Golf Club is another excellent wedding/reception spot its ample timberframe clubhouse and dining room with lovely covered decks and large trees around the course. I’ll have to investigate the golf course along with the Kaslo Hotel!

Oh my…apparently I have been swept away by the beauty of my own small town, Kaslo, again! It’s a special place and I can feel some romance in the air and some amazing photos on their way this season. I’m excited to see how hoops, eyelashes, brides and frocks will all come into play as this fashion friendship continues with the two of us mailing little swatches of lace and dyed feathers up and down the lake to each other, just like in the old days. :)

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Ever since meeting Lara Blackman, I’m seeing my little Village of Kaslo through a different pair of eyes, and I am on the hunt for Kootenay themed locations for fashion shoots. I’m imagining how everything looks in the Spring, with the first green sprays of  baby birch leaves and little wild flowers growing on the lakeshore of North Kootenay Lake. Besides obvious places like our 1897 house and other heritage homes, I’m scoping out the  Blue Belle Bistro and Beanery, which is housed in a very old building and has a lovely new fresh and feminine color scheme inside. The paint colors are beautifully combined with the old wooden trim and the wood stove, and in summer, cheerful cascades of flower baskets and planters are all around the restaurant and deck. It’s a cute and polished location and has excellent espresso. The owner, Christa Paige, also caters and makes wedding cakes, (and I can you tell that I’m also encouraging the Smalltownfrocks/cakes-are-in-fashion theme to continue!?) ;)

Just a wander down the street toward the lake is the land-locked SS Moyie Sternwheeler, now a museum and National Historic Site, and I remember the ladies lounge on the SS Moyie being pretty swank with its velvet cushioned window seats and gold painted walls. The men’s lounge (which now all may enter!) also has a fabulous gambling table and other location jewels! The giant ships of Kootenay Lake have served as backdrops for other glamour shots of days past, including our Kaslotown Fashionista, Ms. H, pictured below.

This photo looks like it was taken on a sternwheeler, although the fleet on Kootenay Lake looked very similar so it’s difficult to say if it was taken on the Moyie.  I have other photos of Ms H in this dress where you can see more of the lovely neckline and lacy cuffs. Here she has a shine on her shoes and I see the outline of what I think are long white gloves in her hand to wear with her fancy woven and beaded hat. She’s daringly dressed for any occasion and I do wonder what she was up to that day…

Onward on my location scouting mission, I’m looking into the Kaslo Hotel and Brewery. Its 3 story balconies, luxury interiors and chandeliers would make an exciting shoot location; it is so beautifully finished with that old western saloon flavour. The view from the hotel spans the Purcell Mountains that face Kaslo from across Kootenay Lake, and looks North toward other communities where steam ships used to drive right up onto the beach and pick up passengers from Argenta to Nelson. I’ll have to get up onto the 3rd floor and see what we can see!

Another very hot location is across the lake from Kaslo where there are enormous cliffs that climb up out of Kootenay Lake and are nicknamed the “Ink  Spots,” with near-by creeks and little beaches with pile-ons for the old ships. Doing fashion shoots in more rugged locations that mimic Kootenay photos of the past are definitely up my alley! Row boats, mine shafts, alpine and horseback! Giddyup!

Anything is possible with a crew of Kootenay women artists and a truly great and local photographer~ we have the technology, (and even the horses…no really!) Kaslo, you better get ready to get frocked!

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Kootenay women…Who knew that two treadle-pumping , wood-splitting females who both spent half of the last decade or so living off the grid, (and away from the streets and fashion TV,) would find each other on Facebook, only to immediately dive in to a creative alliance with a high fashion flavour without even meeting each other?! I’m blissed out on this project and the women in it!

I finally met Lara in person, and stood in her tidy studio, wide-eyed, and soaked in all colors, textures, and presence, and marvelled at the gowns, buttons, and felted wigs. The other gem in this ring was Avrell Fox, who, to my delight, turns out to be a fabulous makeup expert as well as my long time favorite painter of glamorous women, and she was educating me on eyelash glue and getting me more excited for their photo shoot, which thanks to an incredible team had amazing results! I’m still reeling from the experience of having my work be included in this project after lulling in a bit of a silent, snowy winter in Kaslo.

The Kootenays are a place full of artists. BC is a haven, and Kaslo and the Kootenay Region in the southern interior have a high concentration per capita of people who live for their creativity, and live on it. Internet lines keep making their way further into the nooks and valleys and revealing this area’s rich and hidden talents, and alliances and collaborations continue to be cultivated.

The woman whose family owned our house for the last 100 years had a true nose for fashion. The photos of her are a testament to the trendiest hair cuts of the day,with ropes of pearls and lovely shoes with a little extra flair, and she always looked polished, even leaning on an old driftwood fence and leisurely sniffing a flower. Here she is out front of the house with my studio windows in the background. She reminds me of my mother with her dark hair and petite frame.

She makes me remember that just because I’m living in a small town like Kaslo doesn’t mean I can’t dress with a little effort put in and make myself  look presentable. It’s a way to feel more feminine and beautiful while I take feed out to the chickens and bring kindling from the woodshed. This old 1934 newspaper article came out of an outside wall on our porch reno and really speaks to me of my fashion and hoopy-loopy lifestyle choices. Women will always have a keen sense of where the world is heading!

So, I want to protect my lady’s identity, and flaunt her style. I’ll call her “Ms H.” Sometimes I think she’s still here in this house, assessing my outfit choices for the day. Her voice is muffled in the thick plaster walls and, what was that you were saying, Ms H…..?

“Put on some lipstick and brush your hair, would you please, Darling?”

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