Weekend Snapshots

On Friday evening, my adventure partner and I enjoyed another outdoor dinner date in the “park” at Gourmet and Company. The weather is now very chilly after sunset, so this may be our last for a while. Before dinner, we visited the campus of the VA Center to snap a few photos.

When the sun shines on the mountains late in the day, the effect is spectacular. Below, Buffalo Mountain rises above ETSU, as seen from the grounds of the Mountain Home VA.

I tried merino wool sweaters this year for the first time, and I’m so glad I did. Merino wool is a natural fiber grown by merino sheep. It’s thinner and softer than regular wool—making it very comfortable to wear next to the skin. My sweater is available in several colors here. I am wearing a size medium.

Fine gauge knitwear is a wise choice for us gals with inverted triangle shapes since no bulk is added. I also appreciate that I can layer a jacket over these sweaters to stay cozy and warm. The crew neckline is not overly high, and it is finished with a very feminine edge. I also added the long V-shaped necklace and left my jacket open. Those long vertical lines are the key to making this look work for me.

That’s the same textured navy and black moto-jacket I’ve been wearing for about four years. Similar items at the following links. JacketPantsShoesBagHoseRingRing

I’m wearing chevron pantyhose to keep warm and to add an element of interest to my look. My outfits may seem rather dull from a distance, but you will always find various subtle textures when you look closer.

The meal included bowls of hearty wild mushroom soup, and I couldn’t pass up my favorite Brussels sprouts appetizer.

The dress code for Saturday was upscale-casual as we took a ride over to the Biltmore Estate. We stopped along the way to enjoy the fall color. It won’t be in full regalia for a couple of weeks. The tops of a few trees are just starting to turn. For more information about fall foliage near Asheville, click here.

My skincare routine is detailed here. Grooming and self-care are a significant first step in every look.

That’s the navy version of the same heather smoke Margot sweater above. I used accessories in shades of light taupe to pull the look together. The wool blazer and other items are not new.

A similar blazer is here. A similar scarf is here. Jeans here. Booties here. A similar bag is here. (My bag is now unavailable the color ecru.) Similar sunglasses here.

My all-time favorite no-show socks are here.

I snapped a few photos for you as we wandered around the grounds, far away from the crowds.

We removed our masks for the photo, but otherwise, wear them when outside the car.

Shopping links in my posts may allow me to earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

  1. Good morning Susan. Thanks for sharing the beautiful scenery. Haven’t been to the Biltmore in years but I want to go back soon after seeing your photos. Thank you the information on the Merino wool sweaters. I’m always freezing in the winter so I will have to consider adding one to my wardrobe. I was wondering what size you bought. I’m between sizes so not sure if I should get a medium or large. Chico’s size 1 in tops fit me well. I always enjoy your posts and the helpful information you share.

    1. Hi, I am a 1 in Chico’s and I have just bought a J crew Merino sweater in Large.. it fits me perfectly….not too loose and not too tight. Love it. Hope this helps.

  2. Lovely scenery and outfits. I’m looking forward to seeing the fall colors from your area since we can’t travel much. You have made two beautiful outfits from simple basic pieces.
    Would you ever wear a brooch, or more than one? I’m determined wear some of my mothers beautiful pieces even though they are considered “old fashioned “. I have tried to figure something a little different to make them less dated but always end up back on the left shoulder lapel.
    I see the Queen still wears them regularly!
    Thank you

    1. You can wear brooches in unusual ways to make them feel more modern. Try wearing one on a hat or at the side of the waistband of a skirt. Pin a few of them to your denim jacket. If the style suits your personality, don’t worry about the trends. Place them up near your shoulder instead of down on the bust to draw the eyes up to your face.

  3. Susan, how do you feel the merino wool compares to cashmere? I love my cashmere sweaters but always try to wear a camisole under them just to keep skin oils from rubbing off onto the cashmere. Seems to be that merino is to be worn next to the skin. Please share your thoughts/guidance between the 2 types of wool. Many thanks and I’m heading to Black Mountain in a few weeks to hopefully enjoy the colors!

    1. Merino wool and cashmere are both soft and comfortable against my skin, but the Merino is a much better choice for layering, which is how I plan to wear them. Cashmere is warmer than merino wool, and it has a higher loft, which makes it softer. Merino wool is sturdier and resists pilling more effectively, so it is easier to care for.

  4. What a beautiful fall outing! I love your classic look! Quick question – is your Dooney bag white, or bone?

    1. I think they called this color Ecru, but they don’t have it now. My bag isn’t bright white or bone; it is more of a pale gray. I put my straw and white bags away for the next few months.

  5. Loved the top photo. You look so classy for your outing. I would take a double look at you in that outfit. I was surprised by the high heels, but wow, what a great look. Another picture for my photo album…

    The extra photos of where you go for your trips are really appreciated. We will be in that area later this week and the tips on weather and what to see/eat by your recommendations will certainly be taken into consideration.

    Hope you have many more outings before it gets to cold to be outdoors.

    Clara from Iowa

  6. I love merino wool! I have many types of cardigans, jackets/blazers and sweaters made of it. It provides warmth without bulk or the itch of other types of wool. I also wear merino wool socks in the winter. It’s fairly easy to wash and dry as well- depending on the garment.

    Autumn is my favorite time of year as everything looks so fresh, renewed and vibrant against the bright blue sky. I really miss living in the mountains ( when I lived in the mountains, I missed the sea…of course!) I love Beautyberry ( Callicarpa) and have a few in my garden. They look spectacular in the fall with those purple berres and the birds love them. I believe the red berries are on a Viburnum species…perhaps cranberry viburnum.

      1. Susan,
        There are several cultivars of the beautyberry. I think the one in your picture is the American variety that grows native in wild uninhabited areas or on the borders of pastures and woodlands. You can find them for sale at just about any garden center though maybe not at the big box stores. They aren’t very interesting until they bloom and berry in the late summer/fall but I still think tucking one or two into a border is worth the wait 😀

  7. I’ve never had cashmere, but I love merino wool. It doesn’t cause itchiness for me. Other wool does, and I end up with a rash.

  8. Susan,
    I have a quick question.. we have been to the Biltmore House before but would love to go just to walk around the gardens and maybe eat in the village. Do you happen to know how much it costs just to go in to the Estate without the house tour ?

  9. Two great outfits from basics! And you are right about the subtle things such as the patterned hose. I like subtle patterned socks in winter such as herringbone or polka dot.
    Kathy, I love pins and brooches too. I button up a chambray blue shirt and wear one at the throat with boots, a bit of a western vibe and also place small pins at tbe cuff of jackets/sweaters. Also wear them on jean jackets near the shoulder. They feel more modern worn anywhere away from tbe lapel.
    Susan, great pic of you and Mr Mickey and to see you out and about carefully!

  10. Looking good. Always a specular view and beautiful gardens to say nothing of how you put fashion together. I did go to the site you recommended and bought a merino wool sweater. I live in Michigan and I think our winter will be cold and snowy. I can wear wool without any itching and it helps to keep me warm. I continue to enjoy your blog, photos and your great information on putting pieces together. Thank you!!

  11. Love cashmere and merino! Both are easily hand-washed so, don’t be daunted with thinking they need dry cleaning.
    In fact, dry cleaning is full of nasty chemicals that aren’t good for fabrics or our environment. Remember, sheep, goats & other fiber-producing animals, are fine in the rain. If you wouldn’t wash yourself or your pets in a chemical bath, why put your clothes in them?
    A low-suds liquid soap (not detergent) is safe for all your woolens. My go-to for all our laundry is Zum Clean Laundry Soap in Frankincense and Myrrh scent. Only a very small amount is needed, it cleans gently & has a delightful spicy essential oil fragrance. I use about 2 tsp for a dish pan size sweater bath.
    Note: Cashmere does require some special handling when wet. You need to support the fabric when lifting it out of its bath (so the fibers won’t stretch with the added water weight).
    Soak your garment for a few minutes (I use a dish pan) in warm water (just a bit warmer than room-temp).
    Gently squeeze the sweater in the soaped water.
    Drain the water, leaving the sweater in the pan. Refill with fresh water, gently agitate the sweater & repeat the drain/fresh water, until no suds appear. Drain, again.
    Very gently, squeeze the sweater of the excess water (don’t wring it!). Place it on a large bath towel & arrange it into its natural shape. Roll the sweater, with the towel, jelly-roll fashion, and squeeze to allow the towel to absorb the last of the water.
    Remove the sweater and allow it to dry flat, in its natural shape, on an open surface overnight (I use an over-the-door mesh drying rack I bought on Amazon).
    This method will leave cashmere soft and looking good for a very long time and you save time & money (with no driving to the expensive dry cleaner).
    Along with more recent wool purchases, I have several 50-70+ year old cashmere sweaters that belonged to my Mom (I’m 61). I wear all of these 3/4 of the year. They’ve always been hand washed with this method and still look great!
    I store my cashmere in cotton pillowcases, on my closet shelves. Never store woolens in plastic!
    Sorry to hijack your post, Susan! I just love sharing that fine fabrics are really not difficult to care for! They are an investment that will last a very long time with just a little extra personal care.

  12. Thanks to you Ann, I just need help with the “thinking” and ideas!!! Now with yours and Susan’s help I will be wearing those brooches!!!!

  13. Thanks again Susan for letting us in on your weekend adventures. I love everything about your blog. The fashion tips, the yummy food, and beautiful photos. I miss you on Facebook but my Instagram feed reminds me to go to your blog on Tuesday and Thursday.

  14. Hi Susan…What type of music do you and Mr. Mickey listen to when you’re on your nature drives?
    You both look good!

  15. I’m not sure of the name but there is an app that recognizes plants and gives all information on them. You see so many different plants and share them. It’s always nice to know what you’re looking at. Thanks for the blogs. I really enjoy them.

  16. Hi Susan, thanks for sharing some more great ideas. I don’t think I would ever call your style “dull”, from far away or close up. It’s beautiful and classic. Thanks also for the reco for Merino wool, I have a couple of items, and they are a thinner gauge sweater. I’m not sure if I’m fully converted to them versus cotton though, but I’ll keep trying. That soup in the photo looks amazing. As for The Biltmore images, heavy sigh, what a beautiful place and you’re blessed to live close enough to cruise around in every season.

  17. Love your photos and choice of fashions.
    We’ve traveled to most of those places and they are always wonderful times and memories
    Thank you.

  18. Thank you for continuing to provide a pleasant reprieve for all. I appreciate the lovely photos of nature, food, your adventures, and fashion. You are a classy, gracious lady. Increasingly it seems bloggers are either constantly raising the bar, with fashion and home goods that are exorbitantly priced. Or they are bringing up politics and other contentious issues. Your blog is a breath of fresh air, where your readers can come for a visit and feel like they’ve just had tea with a good friend. Isn’t that what many of us are looking for during this challenging time? Now that you’ve gone to two days per week, it seems your posts have so much to offer (they were great before, but now, it seems like there’s more to enjoy, not less). Blessings on you and thank you for your hard work and for giving your readers a safe place to come.

    1. Thank you for the lovely comment. Part of the reason I wanted to drop down to two blogs per week was to cover subjects more in-depth. Some bloggers have a team of people working to create videos, do research, write content, post on social media, and work on collaborations. I am doing everything myself, so I have to be more selective.

  19. With the cold weather coming I will be wearing my scarfs and I would like it if you could show how you fold and wear your scarfs. I have two of yours and am having a hard time with the size.
    Enjoy going on your trips with you! Louise

  20. Nice to hear you commenting on merino wool. My husband and I are merino woolgrowers here in Australia. It’s a natural fibre and beautiful to wear and because its crimp is fine, it can be spun into yarn that when knitted into garments, can fold into the softest lines. I now wear more merino than cashmere because of its fineness.

  21. Lovely as always. I so like your classic look. Wondering about cashmere sweaters. How often do you have to defuzz them? What is the best way to do that? I’m thinking Merino wool is a better choice at this point!
    Freddie Brammer

    1. I have a little shaver (here) that is for de-fuzzing sweaters, and I gently use it whenever I notice pills. I keep it in my closet in a basket with other items such as lint brushes.

  22. Susan, you always look wonderful! We drive by Johnson City twice a year on our way to and from N.H. one day we’ll stop by Gourmet and Company…the food looks amazing! We have stopped in Abington thanks to your tips. You are my daily inspiration…thanks for your continued upbeat, common sense, and positive thoughts!

  23. I love wearing scarves. I’m eager to read your tips and suggestions on how to style them. I have many in various sizes from triangular to rectangular shapes.

  24. You and Mr. Mickey look so cute. I love the Biltmore, but have only been there once. Your pics make we want to go back.

  25. A beautiful place. Thank you for the pictures. I like mirino wool sweaters too. I find them more comfortable than I expected. You look wonderful and so does Mr Mickey.

  26. Susan, you look absolutely lovely here! I hopped onto the link and ordered two of the Merino sweaters.

    After sleeping all day after a small surgery today, I’m up tonight going thru all the saved posts of yours throughout the years. Cannot find the one I am looking for. You had a very large gray cashmere scarf from Everlane and showed multiple ways to use it. I can’t find it! I ordered it that year and have never worn it because I could not recall how to wear it. Is there anyway you can either send that or re post it?

    1. I haven’t done a post about a scarf from Everlane, so I went looking for some helpful videos. Here is one video to show you ways to wear a large square scarf. Here is another to show you how to wear a large rectangle scarf.

  27. Loved all the photos- you look perfectly put together for the occasion! I love seasonal soups! Also enjoyed pics of the flora and fauna especially the secret garden one of the bench tucked away with vines and trees! Happy Fall!

  28. I love the outfits you chose for your outing. It’s colder here in the Midwest so I’ve gotten out my jackets and blazers too. Can’t wait to see your pictures of fall in it’s splendid colors soon.
    Hi to Mr. Mickey.

  29. Thank you Susan for all the dressing ideas and beautiful photos!
    You dress so classic!
    i enjoy your posts.

  30. I took the plunge and ordered the merino wool sweater. Will you please tell how you store wool and cashmere so the little beasties don’t get to them? I see there are cedar hangers, planks, chips and lavender scented packets and I have no idea what works best.

  31. I am so grateful for your post. This is what I needed to enjoy my wardrobe again. Your style,grace, values, and humble character inspires me to do better. I have been reading your post since pandemic started and now have replaced my wardrobe with several of your suggestions. I have tried some of your recipes and started taking walks. Thank-you for all of your work and please continue to inspire. Be Blessed,Mary

  32. Susan, I’m so sorry. I goofed on where this scarf/wrap was purchased. It was from Garnet Hill. It was a gray scarf/wrap and still on their website. You posted one or two posts showing how you were using it. I freeze in winter, and you’ve gotten me into cashmere. I just can’t find those posts to remember all the ways you were using this item. Does this ring a bell? I know it was from you because I don’t read any other fashion people except yours. Your site has changed my life. Hugs, Billie

  33. You looked as lovely as the beautiful grounds at the Biltmore Estate. I love the patterned hose beneath the pants. ..A question. Is merino wool the same or similar to what was called lambs wool?

    1. I had to look up the answer to your question. This is what I learned… Lambswool comes from young sheep of many breeds, while merino wool comes from merino sheep at any age. Merino wool has a much smaller diameter, around 20 microns, than lambswool, making it even softer and finer.

      1. Thank you Susan for the information. I was raised to know better, but then life interfered. Thank you so much, you are such an inspiration.

  34. Thank you Susan for another uplifting post. Always good to learn about new subjects: the fauna of Biltmore Estate to Merino sweaters! Also nice to view photos of VA architecture and appreciate what this country has built. Love your classic look utilizing wardrobe favorites. In addition to sparking clothing creativity, you’ve given me ideas that my “Adventure Partner” and I can adapt to our Northern and Southern environments. We too enjoy fun while maintaining safety in these pandemic times. I find your elegant simple words a joy in a world of noisy rhetoric. You are an inspiration!

  35. Lovely pictures. I feel like I go along with y’all on your trips. The purple beauty berry is one of my favorites. You and Mr. Mickey look like you have a good time together. As always, you both look stunning. Thank you once again for all the time you put into your blog. Yours is my favorite blog to read.

  36. The pants look particularly nice on you. They flatter your figure and your legs. I think you should wear more like these.

  37. Thank you, Susan! That was it. . . the gray scarf with that beautiful gray studded moto jacket. You look so stunning in that outfit. Winter and I do not get along very well. I freeze, and zeroed in on a large, warm, cozy scarf in my color. Then I finally got one and had no idea how to wear it. Thank you for the link. How that got deleted I’ll never know. It has been one of my favorite looks on you. I appreciate you going to the trouble of sending out the link so I can keep it. It’s now saved in two different places. LOL

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.