22 In Women Now

Post-Fire Fashion Tidbits and Tadpoles

J.Jill Chelsea coat

Cozy in my non-smoke and non-ash gray J.Jill coat


Little fashion things have come up as life rolls along after the fires and I’ve wanted to share them with you. And when the words Tidbits and Tadpoles came to me in my morning writing I knew that would be the vehicle.

I just love the rhythm of those two words together. Go ahead and say it out loud: tidbits and tadpoles. See? You just want to say it over and over again, don’t you? I’m determined to figure out how to get tadpoles into this post. It won’t be easy but I’m taking on the challenge.

Let’s start the tidbits off with a story from a friend and reader about symbols and jewelry.



My friend Vicky shares some fashion symbology with us

Meet my friend Vicky who unfortunately isn’t in one of these pictures. She lives in Sonoma. We first met when I lived in Larkspur. She’s an amazing person. In fact, she’s in my book, Brenda Kinsel’s Fashion Makeover! She’s an expert at many things including spas and spa treatments.

We get together for a glass of Mathis Grenache wine at the Girl and the Fig periodically. It’s a little ritual we have. We always pick up where we left off and there’s no telling what comes up in our conversations.

This last time we got together we talked a lot about the fires and our evacuation experiences. Her son Devon is a news reporter for KQED radio. He was reporting from the fires in Santa Rosa and called his parents and said, “You have to get out of here.”

It was what my daughters told me as well that first morning. I’m still pondering what it’s like to be a mother at this time of life when our kids are stepping up to keep an eye on their parents and watching out for them.

Vicky also told me about being with her friends on a camping trip and how symbology came up in jewelry. I’ll let her tell you about it. She says:


Vintage Trailers

Vintage trailers in the Sierras


I had to share these pictures and story with you. A couple of weeks ago I was camping with a couple of long-time friends in the Sierras. My friend Joan collects vintage trailers and drove three of them up to a beautiful mountain lake so we could stay in them. One night around the campfire we were talking about the fun necklaces Joan made for Lisa and I (they had a trailer charm and a quote about the lake on them). It made me think of your blog about “Give your outfit a power boost by wearing a symbol” so I pulled out my iPhone and read them your post. They loved it too (of course)! So I just had to share this with you.


Personal jewelry

Memories captured in jewelry


Jewelry symbols

Friends gathered at the lake wear their lake jewelry


Is this a thoughtful gesture by Vicky’s friend Joan, or what?


What are the fashion chances?

So while we were evacuated from our home in Sonoma and in the big “I don’t know what’s going to happen next” anxiety bubble during the Wine Country fires, I paid a visit to Nordstrom. I went upstairs to see my friend Mariam who had been sending me well wishes all along. I was talking to her at the counter in the Individualist department when another buddy who works there, Patty, showed up. She asked about our safety and then a customer arrived and needed Patty’s help.

The customer was wondering what colors a particular item came in. Patty looked it up on the computer and then she turned the screen so the customer could see it and said, “It only came in two colors: smoke and ash.”

I said to Patty, “Do you hear what you’re saying?” What are the chances that we were talking about the fires and a customer is looking for something that comes in smoke or ash? I’ve used those words before to describe shades of gray, but I don’t think I will be choosing them any time soon!



I received a J.Jill (gifted) Chelsea coat to try out. I love it! I had to look at the invoice to see what color it was. It’s labeled “dark grey heather” which works well for me! Here’s a link to check out details about the coat.

It’s funny; I had purchased a coat like this a week before and it stayed in my closet covered in the store’s plastic bag the whole time. You know that when I buy something I’ve generally used it in an outfit within the first 24 hours and that hadn’t happened. I tried to figure out why It wasn’t getting used.

I figured it out once I looked at them side by side. It was because it was too tailored. I’d call this Chelsea coat pretty tailored but it has that soft curve at the neck instead of a notched collar. This one feels more like me.

Do you do that sometimes? Buy something and then realize it’s close but not quite nailing it? Do you have an internal barometer for purchases?


Check out Bright Star on Netflix which is full of great fashion


the movie Bright Star

A film by Jane Campion called Bright Star


I haven’t been watching much TV lately but the other night I was on Netflix and came across this Jane Campion film. I was blown away by the rich images, especially the fashion parts of the movie and there are many of them. Of course, I thought of you guys and knew I had to tell you about it.

It’s about the three year romance between British poet John Keats and his muse, Fanny Brawne. Keats, if you remember your poetry facts, is a 19-century poet, considered after his death to be one of the greatest British Romantic poets ever. Yeats is played by Ben Wishshaw. I’ll watch anything he’s in which has mostly been British crime movies or BBC TV series. Abbie Cornish plays his true love. She makes fashionable clothing with all kinds of intricate detail. In fact the moving opens with her slipping a needle through fabric, pulling it out and pressing it back into the fabric. That opening scene alone made me want to hold a needle and start sewing again! Her fashion prowess plays heavily in the movie.

Yeats died in 1821 at the age of 25, thinking he was a failure. You can learn more about him here.

If you watch it, pay attention to all the scenes in nature. Jane Campion makes beautiful films. All the trees, bushes and flowers are layers of texture that could be easily imagined in fabrics.


A fashion accessory to remember the fires by

My daughter Erin assists me in all my client work. We’re the BK/EK team. After one of our client days a week or so into the fires she gave me a little gift with a card attached.

I’m going to share it with you. She’s in Tokoyo right now and I’m not asking her for permission. I hope I don’t get into trouble.


Owl card

Erin knows I love owls


Erin's card

Erin’s message and introduction to L’il Smoky


I unwrapped the tissue paper and there was a little gray bag, a perfect example of something the girls in our family would respond to with these words: “Oh fer cute.” Autocorrect doesn’t like the way I spell that. It wants me to say “for” instead of “fer” but “for” would be incorrect.

My mother loved cute things. When she saw anything cute, and she saw many of them, we’d hear her say, “Oh fer cute.” It’s almost like saying “offer cute” but in her Scandinavian Minnesota way it always comes out as “fer.”


Pretty Lisa Bayne pant outfit

Erin’s gift to me which she insists on calling “L’il Smoky”


Erin found this bag in her comings and goings and she knows how I like the color gray but she managed to tie in a memorable reference. She insists it’s called “L’il Smokey” and for good reason.

I’ve always liked the way her mind works. She pays attention to people and what they say and do and always manages to come up with gifts that are meaningful for them. October of 2017 will be memorable without any effort. But when I wear L’il Smoky, I’ll remember how my kids jumped in and supported Russ and I with all their efforts.

If I was telling Mom about Erin and this gift I know just what she’d have said: “Oh fer cute.”


And finally, the tadpoles!


Tadpole scarf

My client’s tadpole scarf


The only way I could figure out how to bring tadpoles into this post is to ask to borrow my client’s scarf. This is a go-to scarf for her. It always comes out in the fall. Erin and I have loved adding it to outfits she wears. And although we’ve labeled it in different ways, today it’s the tadpole scarf! Thanks, Veronica!

As we’re heading into short days and long nights, maybe you have some fashion-related movies or a TV series or two to share with us. Let’s make a big list!

Happy week to you!




You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    November 14, 2017 at 3:45 am

    Sweet, sweet post, Brenda. So many lovely things in there. I especially love the idea of your friend getting not one, but three vintage trailers to a lakeside campsite for her friends’ outing.

    All your friends seem quite lovely. You are a fortunate woman who has clearly made her own good fortune! 🙂

    • Reply
      November 17, 2017 at 9:43 am

      Ann, I love your heartfelt words! Good fortune is everywhere I think. We just have to be open to it and not have expectations about what kind of package they arrive in! Your presence here is part of my great fortune!

  • Reply
    Sandi McDougall
    November 14, 2017 at 5:56 am

    Have you watched Chef’s Table on Netflix? We are working our way through three seasons & found it educational & interesting. I will check out Bright Star. Another great post Brenda!

    • Reply
      November 17, 2017 at 9:41 am

      No Sandi, I haven’t. Someone recently told me about that. I’ll have to check it out!! Wish I was picking up some goodies from Nichole’s Fine Pastry for Thanksgiving!!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2017 at 6:02 am

    Brenda, what a wonderful soul you have! Your musings on life give my days a little colour, even on grey ones like today… fer cute, fer sure. Smiles.

    • Reply
      November 17, 2017 at 9:40 am

      You are giving me a giggle, fer sure!! I’m glad my musings add some color. Color is a good thing! Blessings to you, Lea!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2017 at 6:32 am

    I’m watching The Collection on PBS, about a fashion house in post war Paris, the clothes are beautiful! It’s on Sundays , and on Amazon also as another option. Check it out!

    • Reply
      November 17, 2017 at 9:39 am

      Wow! I have to check that out! As a member I can access past shows. I hope it’s up there! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Reply
    La semaine d'une gourmette
    November 14, 2017 at 6:58 am

    Oooooh, I have to watch that movie!
    Did you watch “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” (also on Netflix)? It’s an Australian TV series, I love it, very feminist, and it is set in the 1920’s and has the most amazing clothes! I’m waiting fo season 4…

    • Reply
      November 17, 2017 at 9:38 am

      Ooh, are they making Season 4? My heart has skipped a beat! That romance was the slowest burn. I’d love to see that relationship more. She’s so feisty and daring. I loved that series even though it took several recommendations before I took to it!

  • Reply
    November 14, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    What would we do without our daughters??? Such a never ending source of joy they are!!! You are blessed.
    Love your J.Jill coat. I think we have all bought something, hung it in our closet, and then wondered why we have no desire to wear it…it’s just maddening trying to understand how what we sure was love ended up being a brief infatuation. I held on to a white wool skirt for 10 years trying to rekindle my initial attraction when I finally decided that counseling wasn’t working and I accepted the fact I had to move on and it had to move out of my closet. That’s the Catholic girl in me….divorce is hard to accept even from a skirt!!
    As you move towards thanksgiving know how thankful I am you are well and in my virtual life as I look forward to your blog each week! God Bless

    • Reply
      November 17, 2017 at 9:37 am

      You are so funny! Yes, that sounds like it was a painful divorce. I get guilt (and I’m not even Catholic!) over clothes that go unused so my leash length for new purchases is pretty short. I will let something slide for a few days but then it has to be dealt with. I just can’t bear to be responsible for something that isn’t being used! Your white skirt is in a better place now. Thanks for your very kind words. This community has become so rich and wonderful to me. So happy you’re in it and part of that lusciousness!

  • Reply
    Laurie Valle
    November 15, 2017 at 4:03 am

    Thank you for the travel packing tips I found on Pinterest. I’m planning a trip from a cold weather climate to the West Coast for Thanksgiving. I need to ‘up my fashion game’ for 5 days. Your tips were great. I have ‘zero’ organizational skills, and you help me figure it all out. I do so love, love, love to accessorize, that’s where I get tripped up. I’ve got a pile of ‘potential outfits’ at the ready for ‘sorting’. Can I ask you to talk more about your shoes? You always wear such funky and fun shoes!! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Reply
      November 17, 2017 at 9:32 am

      So happy to hear my tips helped you! Getting a few potential outfits together is a great plan. I just did that for my trip to Cabo Sur. I did a final edit a few days before leaving. We’re still in Cabo now and I have to say I’m so happy with what I brought!

      Shoes. Well, I am so limited when it comes to shoes. So my go-to brands right now that usually work are AGL, Lucky Brand, Gabor, Rag & Bone for sneakers. I buy shoes and try them at home to see how they feel in real life. Usually every one of them goes back except one if I’m lucky!

  • Reply
    November 15, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    TV……….is picked and commanded by that ITALIAN!
    Your needle and thread show WON The OSCAR didn’t it!?
    I have zero recommendations at this time…….MADAME SECRETARY was our favorite but now it comes on too late!!10pm.My husband gets up at 4:30 am……and I am right behind him!SO, off to bed we go by 10………
    Have a GOOD WEEK………..XX

    • Reply
      November 17, 2017 at 9:25 am

      That’s cute! Hopefully you’ll meet my oldest daughter when I meet you in Corte Madera at that new store. If you get a DVR you can tape everything and watch it when you like. I don’t watch TV after 9 pm so that’s what I end up doing. The people we’re staying with down here are fans of Madame Secretary. I just may have to check it out! XX

  • Reply
    Trinnie Q
    November 16, 2017 at 1:19 am

    Oh Brenda, I loved the way this post wanders softly along, as if through the lovely forest, out there with your friends. I would love to stay in one of those darling vintage caravans! So peaceful. Like others have said, thank you for sharing your own, and others you cherish, lives and gestures with us. Beautiful ! I love lil,smokey, and how she came to be. Those special gifts given especially at times of adversity are so precious arent they! I loved the series of Phryne Fisher when it came out, especially the costumes. It was based on some Murder Mystery books , which were wonderful to read, and they made it come to life so exquisitely. Wow, the authors name escapes me, oh just looked it up, Kerry Greenwood. One of them was based on the town I live in, and the Railway and Lovely old Hotel featured, still exist today. Just saying ! Anyway, am going to dream of caravaning by the lake , and all being well in the world. As always, sending love from Oz.

    • Reply
      November 17, 2017 at 9:23 am

      I just love to hear through your words what you see in mine. Bringing these tidbit stories to the page seals them in my memory. And it’s just so fun to share other people’s cleverness. I LOVE Miss Fisher! I will definitely have to go back and rematch if not all off them, at least #13! I’m so excited! Love from Sonoma!

  • Reply
    Trinnie Q
    November 16, 2017 at 1:40 am

    additional comment. The book I mentioned by Kerry Greenwood, of Miss Phyrne Fishers murder series. Is no. 13 in the series. The Castlemaine Murders. Gorgeous books, with exquisite costume descriptions, Sending love

  • Reply
    November 16, 2017 at 6:56 am

    Those fish on the scarf remind me of M.C. Escher. Very cute and enjoyed the post.

    Love Miss Fisher!

    Thank you, Brenda!

    • Reply
      November 17, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Cara, you are SO RIGHT!! That does look like M.C. Escher! I’ll have to tell my client! And yes, I adore Miss Fisher and just may have to watch it again from the start. I originally started it and for some reason didn’t get hooked. But a year or so later I went back to it and loved it and watched it all the way through! I want to be more like her!

  • Reply
    TJ Southwell
    November 17, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    Dear BK
    I loved your article on symbols in jewellery, and I looked at my own collection and the only symbols I wear are the Georg Jensen Sunflower collection – I have earrings, necklace which I wear most days, and the ring I wear on special occasions (https://www.georgjensen.com/en-au/search?q=sunflower). As an aside, I absolutely love anything Scandi, and I have quite a few of Georg’s pieces in our home, the children and I bought my husband the 3 standing Cobra candle holders for his 50th last year (https://www.georgjensen.com/en-au/gifts/christmas/cobra-floor-candleholder-large/3586633.html#q=cobra&start=13). Anyway, I have been going through my own equivalent of your week with fires – uncertainty, pain and suffering coming in from 2 different fronts – work and a child with a sever mental illness who needed to be hospitalised. I was in my favourite department store browsing for nothing in particular the other day, when I spied this little silver angel. It is actually a tree decoration, but I saw it immediately as a long pendant. And an Angel to watch over me and protect me. And it was made by my favourite good taste designer – Georg. I thought of you at the time. I felt a bit silly buying a tree decoration to wear as a pendant, but reading your blog about self-expression has really encouraged me. I felt strong enough to decide to buy it. I wear it on a thin black leather strap, but I will get a nice long silver chain when I get a chance. I wore it for the first time yesterday over a black loose fitting shirt with a nehru collar and black 7/8 slim fit pants. My Angel looked striking. I just wore plain Tiffany studs. (https://www.georgjensen.com/en-au/home-decor/new-arrivals/2017-ornament-raphael-palladium-plated/10002886.html#q=christmas&start=12) As it turns out, the designer decided to call this Angel Raphael. I guess I will be taking him with me for now while I feel the need for protection.

    Blessings to you and yours dear BK.

    Tracey (and Raphael) Xxxxxx

  • Leave a Reply