July 10, 2018 – That Was Unexpected (OOTD #327)

Nepal is full of adventures. Sometimes, that adventure sees you getting an expected tour of a water treatment facility.

I’m not sure where even to begin this blog because I don’t really quite remember how I wound up here — I think it was just another one of those days when I went out for a walk with some friends and we saw where fate decided to take us. At times, that has been to a giant golden Buddha, down the side of a mountain, or to the edge of a cliff.

Today, it was to some septic tanks and a filtration system.

It was just about as exciting as it sounds — interesting, in that I hadn’t really expected to wind up at a water treatment plant, and boring, in that it was, well, a water treatment plant. There were some locals who were happy (I think?) to offer a tour, but they didn’t speak any English, so it was more of a tour to the Pakistanis I was with. I just sort of nodded my head and pretended to be engaged — much like I do when I’m in class at Notre Dame.

Here’s something cool about my Pakistani friends — they’re not shy at all about photos. They take photos of everything, they want photos taken of themselves all the time, and they’re not at all judgmental when you ask if they’ll take a photo of you. It’s fabulous. When I’m with my American friends, I could be somewhere spectacular like the Taj Mahal, and I’d still be self-conscious about asking them to take my picture. With the Pakistanis, I could literally want a picture with a cool rock, and they’d oblige.

That’s why I wound up with photos of myself at the water plant — I would not have otherwise done pictures here, but they all wanted pictures, so I joined in the photoshoot. I wonder what they’ll do with them. Post them to Facebook? Write a post on their fashion blogs about it?

After that, we stopped by a grocery store to pick up some snacks. Once again, I wasn’t really expecting to take any photos, figuring my high fashion septic tank editorial shoot would be enough, but once again, I was wrong. Turns out, there was another beautiful sunset (ugh, another one!) and we had another perfect view of it.

One of these days, I may get tired of Himalayan sunsets, but, as Aragorn says in Return of the King, “today is not that day.”

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Some boutique in England

Pants: J. Crew (thrifted)

July 9, 2018 – A Developing Building In A Developing Country (OOTD #326)

Hey look, I’m back!

Whoops, looks like I accidentally took a three-day hiatus from this whole daily blogging thing (again). It’s like I’m flawed or something.

Anyway, let’s jump right back into the Nepal adventures — it’s day nine in Nepal, and I’m back in Dhulikhel after a day trip to Kathmandu. Dhulikhel, for as different as it is from suburban America, is beginning to grow old after having been here for a over a week. It’s in Nepal, which is exciting and exotic, but it’s still a small town in Nepal. Small towns only have so much to do.

So here’s what Dhulikhel had for me — a temple, momo’s, and an unfinished building.

First up, the temple. It was…a temple. I’m not sure what else there is to say about it — sure it’s totally different from anything I get to see in my normal life at Notre Dame or in Kentucky, but at this point, I’d seen dozens of Nepali temples. With the exception of some of the bigger ones in Kathmandu, the smaller ones like this were beginning to run together.

The South Asian students with me were also not terribly excited by the temples either, on account of them being pretty used to seeing them all the time around there own home towns. I got a few photos, and then we moved on.

After walking aimlessly as we so often do during these afternoon walks in Nepal, we ended up coming across a restaurant in a field.

Does that sound weird? A restaurant in a field? Well, that’s what it was. It was off the road a little bit, and just sitting there by itself in a field, no other buildings around.

With such a strange location for a restaurant, we of course had to go up and order something. My friend, Haya, was craving french fries, and I was interested in trying momo’s, a Nepali dish similar to Chinese dumplings (spoiler alert: Chinese dumplings are way better).

While sitting at the table waiting on our food, my friend, Elsa, spotted an unfinished building sitting nearby the field that looked abandoned. With nothing else to do, we decided to explore.

There wasn’t really much to explore, in truth. The building appeared to have been begun, but never finished, so there was little to see except the foundation and framework of what it was to be. We got a nice view of the sunset from the second floor — but I’m pretty sure I’ve wound up with a pretty view of the sunset almost every day I’ve been in Nepal from the various locations I’ve ventured to. Pretty views are pretty much just the normal, everyday views here.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: The LOFT

Pants: H&M

July 8, 2018 – Getting Edgy (OOTD #325)

I bet my mother about had a heart attack when she saw these photos.

As much as I generally don’t mind heights and don’t mind climbing to the top of slightly sketchy perches, I would not have actually done so if it were actually as dangerous as these photos make it look. While my friends did once tell me I was probably the most likely person they knew to die while trying to get a selfie, I do actually care somewhat for my physical wellbeing.

So rest assured, I’m actually safer here than I look — there’s a ledge not far below the rock I’m sitting atop, and then the cliff below. It was still pretty scary looking down though.

So why am sitting on a rock in the mountains, seemingly perched on the edge of the Kathmandu Valley? Believe it or not, I did not actually climb all the way up here just for a rock and some pretty views — it was actually a temple to the Hindu goddess Kali that I had in mind.

One of the very first excursions I went on while in Nepal was to the “1000 steps temple,” which I never actually ended up reaching on account of the sun going down and our legs getting tired. Instead, about 250 steps up, we stopped to see to pay a visit to the giant gold Buddha, and then, satisfied with what we had seen, turned around and went back.

This time, we decided to go the rest of the way and finally see what was at the top of those 1000 steps. It was literally about 45 minutes of climbing, but finally, the steps ended and we were greeted with the infamous 1000 steps temple.

And you know what? It was pretty lame. I’ve seen plenty of religious structures so far while I’ve been in Nepal — mosques, stupas, temples, shrines — and pretty much all of them have been exciting experiences for me in one way or another, either because of the architecture of the buildings themselves or the beauty of the rituals performed there.

The Kali temple, however, was no architectural marvel, and there were few people there to actually observe doing anything. In fact, I think the only people we saw there were tourists.

In fairness, we were unable to visit part of the actual structure due to damage that had been caused by a bad earthquake a few years back, so perhaps that would

If the temple itself was relatively uninteresting, the views we saw there at the top of that mountain were the exact opposite. Nepal, and in particular, the Kathmandu Valley, is full of spectacular mountain views. I’m actually surprised I’m not tired of them by now with how often I see them. The sight of the cloudy hills never gets old, though.

July 7, 2018 – I Fell Down A Mountain (OOTD #324)

Oops.

I’m going to cut straight to the moral of the story, here — don’t wear a tea-length skirt hiking in the Kathmandu Valley.

I don’t know how or why anyone would be stupid enough to do that — in fact, I myself am still a little hazy on the details as to how I ended up in a skirt to go hiking. I guess I was hoping to spare the pink trousers I had worn earlier in the day from getting dirty by wearing something I’d already worn and was thus already dirty. It didn’t work. That skirt was plenty dirty by the time we were done.

That’s why we’ve got two very distinct outfits and backgrounds featured in this blog — there was the outfit I wore to class during the day, and then the (poorly chosen) outfit I changed into in the afternoon to go hiking in. Honestly, I should have just stayed in the outfit I went to classes in — it ultimately would have been more practical than the skirt I went with.

After session, a group of us decided to go out, as per usual. We had no particular goal in mind, just wanted to get out of the hotel for a while and stretch our legs. For some reason, I assumed this meant a stroll around town.

What it ended up being was probably the most intense physical activity I did the entire time I was in Nepal. I mean, I’m used to walking, and I’m used to hiking, but I’m not used to sliding down a mountain on my ass in a tea-length skirt. That’s a new one for me.

The nice thing was that after a very steep decline to get down to the main path, the rest of the walk was fairly easy — just a gentle sloping road. It was simply a matter of getting up and down.

Like I said, I slipped and slid most of my way down, leaving myself coated in mud and with a weird rash on my palm from grabbing some plant that I guess I shouldn’t have in order to try to stabilize myself after tripping for the 20th time. ‘Twas an adventure.

We did get to see some cool views of the valley though, and made some stray dog friends who followed us most of the way begging for food. It was a good time, albeit a muddy one.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Altar’d State

Trousers: The LOFT

July 5, 2018 – A French Dress in Nepal (OOTD #322)

As much as I wish I had purchased this dress in France myself, instead, it was purchased for me by a friend.

Actually, I guess it wasn’t purchased for me. She purchased it for herself while on vacation in France, decided she didn’t like the fit, and then gave it to me because I’m smaller and she figured it might look better on me. But indeed, it was in fact purchased in France — if that gives me any classy fashion blogger points in your book.

It was fun though to be able to tell people in Nepal that I got the dress in France. Made me seem more cosmopolitan and worldly I guess, even though I’ve never been to France and I’m pretty sure the dress was purchased on sale for less than twenty euros. I’m not going to stop anyone from thinking of me as wealthy and chic.

Despite my outfit, I didn’t really do anything particularly expensive or chic in it. After a normal day of classes, I went out into town again, though unlike yesterday, I came across no fun street art or oriental architecture or ancient temples. Instead, I trudged through the mud and rain to see…well, not much of anything.

Dhulikhel’s neat and all, and wildly different from anything I’ve seen in the US, but it’s not a huge community, and there’s not a to do. After the first few days of exciting adventures, the novelty of Dhulikhel began to wear off, and we sort of began to ran out of interesting places to go. The rain prevented us from really doing any hiking, so we stuck to the main roads and ended up coming across a university.

This university campus wasn’t much to see though — not like Notre Dame, and not like what I imagine I might see if I went into a bigger city like Kathmandu. It was pretty much just a single building for dorms and a single building for classrooms. I’d show you some pictures, but I didn’t take any, as there really wasn’t anything worth taking a picture of.

Regardless, it was still fun to go for a walk and to chat with some friends, even if that walk was fairly aimless. Sometimes, it’s just nice to get the exercise.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Dress: Some vendor in France

July 4, 2018 – This Isn’t America (OOTD #321)

Once again, I’m out of the country for the 4th of July.

This is the second year in a row that I’ve been away for Independence Day — last year I was in the air flying to London, and this year, I’m in Nepal for a religious studies conference. Will I ever get to just relax at home with some barbecue and enjoy my city’s small fireworks display?

Whether I do or not, I wouldn’t have traded a day in the US for the day I had on July 4 in Nepal. There were no fireworks, no parades, no 4th of July sales, and no Americana-themed outfits (though I guess you could argue that my top is blue with white stars, kinda like the flag), but what I got to do instead was even better.

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plant aunt

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Once again, I spent most of my time sitting in class during the conference session, and only afterwards did I get to go out and explore Nepal. And once again, I decided to head up the mountain and go into town and see what there was to see.

This time, I went out with my two roommates, Elsa and Haya, and Haya’s friend, Sadiq. With no particular vision or plan in mind, we started walking.

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DhulikCall me 🇳🇵

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After climbing through some brush off the main road, the first sight we came across was a nice view of some rice fields at the base of a hill. I guess to anyone who lives in Asia, the sight of rice fields isn’t really anything to write home about, but for me, it was cool. Plus, the lighting was good, so I got some good photos.

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This Is (Not) America 🇳🇵

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[insert lotr quote about wanderlust]

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From there, we went into the old part of town. Or at least, I think it was the old part of town? There were no signs that I could read, or people whom I could ask, but after walking past several more “contemporary” (quotation marks because I don’t really mean it as an architecture style, but more as a description of the age of the buildings) shops and houses, the road grew narrower and the designs seemed to grow more traditional.

In the US, traditional might mean Victorian or colonial style homes. In Nepal, though, traditional seems to mean more ornamental — for lack of a better word, oriental. To me, an American who doesn’t really see much oriental architecture, it was really cool to see.

While in the old section of town, we came across a temple. I’m not sure if it was Buddhist or Hindu — like I said, I had no ability to read signs or ask locals — but at any rate, it was neat. It didn’t seem to be in use as a religious site, at least at the time when we visited, but more of a local hangout. Some kids played football around the courtyard, and friends sat on the steps and chatted.

At the top of the steps leading up to the temple, there was even a nice view of the town of Dhulikhel. It would’ve been the perfect place to set off some 4th of July fireworks — you know, if I had them.

Overall, it was a less than conventional Fourth of July — but not less than fun. In fact, I think it beats my average Fourth of July activities (i.e. shopping the sales at the mall.)

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: The LOFT

Skirt: The LOFT

July 3, 2018 – Dichotomous (OOTD #320)

There are two distinct outfits in this blog post, so allow me to tackle them one by one.

Outfit #1, the main outfit for today, was actually not one I had intended to pack. I was afraid the leather pants would be too warm for monsoon season Nepal — and I was kind of right. Even sitting around in an air conditioned resort, I found it to be a little uncomfortable.

Why did I pack it, then? Well, it’s a really cute outfit. It was so cute I even got a living, breathing male who was not my father to compliment it — not like, the way I looked in it, or anything of that nature, but the outfit itself. How often does that happen? I don’t think many guys outside of the fashion industry ever notice the composition of outfits.

The second reason why I brought it was because I needed to bring more clean clothes. I didn’t really have the ability to do much laundry while at the resort, so I decided to simply bring enough clothes to do me for the 21 days I’d be away. In other words, there will be a lot of laundry to do when I finally do get home.

It was just another normal day of sitting around and chatting about Islamic theology and modernity, so there’s not a lot to report on that front. What there is to report about is what I did after the session was over for the day, and that is where outfit #2 comes in.

Outfit #2 is basically just a rehash of an outfit from a few days back. In fact, it literally is just the same outfit, but minus the jacket. I knew I’d be going out and possibly getting sweaty and/or dirty, so rather than go out in the cute outfit I’d been wearing the majority of the day, I went digging in my dirty clothes pile and threw these together. If it’s already dirty, there’s no harm in getting it dirtier, right?

Anyway, after finishing up classes, a group of us decided to go out for a walk into town. Town? Is that the right word? We’re in Dhulikhel, which is about an hour outside of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Dhulikhel could perhaps best be described in American terms as a suburb of Kathmandu, as it’s a primarily residential area outside of a major city with some of its own shops and businesses, and yet, it’s so far from what I typically imagine a suburb to be like. Village seems to be best word to describe the collection homes that dot the side of the mountain (which I saw yesterday), town seems to be the best word to describe the feeling of the ‘’downtown’’ shopping district, and suburb seems to be the best word to describe the location of Dhulikhel in relation to Kathmandu. The point is, I don’t really know what Dhulikhel is, other than a relatively small place where I’ll be staying for the next to weeks.

There were six of us who decided to go out for this adventure: three Notre Dame students (including myself), and three Pakistani students. And thank goodness those three Pakistani guys were there, otherwise we probably would not have made it very far away from the hotel. None of the six of us could speak any Nepali, but the Pakistani guys could speak Urdu, which I guess is similar to Nepali, or otherwise the Nepali people could understand Urdu. Anyway, they were able to walk into shops and ask for directions around town, which was fabulous, because I doubt Citymapper would do me much good in Dhulikhel.

The instructions we were given by the locals was to head to the ‘’1000 steps temple,’’ which was about a 30 minute stroll away from the hotel. As the name suggests, it involved walking a lot of steps up to the top.

Was it actually 1000 steps? I’m not sure. We only made it up a couple hundred of them before we reached the giant golden Buddha. Giant gold Buddha was not the temple we had in mind to go to, but when you reach a giant gold Buddha in the forest, you’ve got to stop and see him. 

Only problem was, the gate was locked.

Apparently, the gates to gold Buddha closed at 5:30, and we arrived at 6. At this point, we split into two camps: those of us who wanted to try to get in, and those who wanted to go home. As the photos suggest, the first camp — the one I was a part of — won.

One of the guys with us managed to climb over the gate and unlock it from the inside, allowing us all to get in. And I’m sure glad he did, because when else am I going to get to see a giant gold Buddha statue in my life?

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Outfit #1

Top: H&M

Outfit #2

Top: Vintage (thrifted)

Pants: Thrifted

July 2, 2018 – A Foggy Memory (OOTD #319)

I swear, there were mountains here yesterday.

I’ve seen a lot of fog in my life, but never like this. It’s so dense that you literally cannot see the giant green mountains all around but only the thick white curtain of mist — it’s a little disorienting. I feel like I’m in a video game with a bad draw distance.

Also, apparently these giant green mounds of earth that I’ve been referring to as “mountains” are not, to the Nepali locals, mountains, but rather, big hills. Apparently, it’s only a mountain if it’s capped with snow. I guess I can’t really argue with the locals, but to my sore knees that regret the hike I did down the “big hill,” it certainly feels more like a mountain.

After classes, a group of us decided to venture further down (what I’m going to call) the mountain and see what there was to see. Despite still struggling with jet lag and low-key wanting a nap (though I did get four hours the previous night instead of two! Yay!), the FOMO got the best of me and I decided to go. If the other Notre Dame students were going to go out and do some bonding, then I was too.

Unfortunately, the only shoes I brought for walking in were my running shoes, which are just fine for the relatively simple hiking I do in Kentucky, but apparently not fine for the Kathmandu Valley. While a lot of the trail is pretty easy, in parts where it’s rocky or particularly steep, I found myself having to grasp hold of whatever trees or plants were around in order to keep my balance. While there weren’t really any places where feared careening off the side of a cliff, I did fear falling in the wrong way and twisting my ankle.

While I suspect the views down the way would be even more spectacular on a clearer day, they were still pretty beautiful to my eyes, which have really only ever seen mountains in the form of Appalachia. Along the trail, there was not a whole lot to see — some houses, with local people doing housework like hanging up clothes to dry or weeding their garden, and some stray dogs. I mean, it was still leagues away from the suburban American neighborhoods I am used to seeing, but after the initial shock wears off, a hut is still just a hut, even if it is very different from the kind of homes I am familiar with.

Once again, though, we did not make it far down the side of the mountain before the sky started getting dark and it was time to go home. Despite the increased physical strain of the climb, I still found it easier going up. I’d much rather strain my leg muscles trying to maintain my stamina going up a hill than strain my brain trying to maintain my balance going down.

I’m not sure I’ll ever get to make it down to the village that’s supposedly at the bottom of this mountain; I just don’t think there’s enough time or enough daylight given the scheduling of the conference. I guess tomorrow, I’ll go up the mountain and into the city and see what there is to see there.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Pants: The LOFT

Top: The tiny clothing section of my local Kroger

July 1, 2018 – Jet Lagged (OOTD #318)

Oh dear, it looks like the jet lag has hit me like a…well, a jet.

My first night in Nepal, I had no trouble sleeping. After the long, stressful journey of 30 hours, I was ready to crash. The second night though, apparently, not so much.

It’s interesting because I remember having no trouble justing to the time difference in London — perhaps that was because I stayed up the entire plane ride, so that by the time I made it to Heathrow in the morning, and I was forced to stay up for another 8 hours, I was more than ready to sleep at night.

Here, though, I slept pretty easily throughout the plane ride, making it more difficult trying to adjust to the 9 hours and 45 minutes difference. Why 9 hours and 45 minutes? Apparently Nepal wanted to distinguish itself from India, so their clocks are 15 minutes off from India’s time. There’s your fun fact for the day.

Anyway, after a night of barely sleeping at all, I decided to get up at about 5 AM and just start my day. No point in just laying there in bed and feeling badly for myself for not being able to sleep, right?

That’s when these photos were taken, actually — in the wee hours of the morning before anyone else was up. Since I had nothing to do, I figured I’d prop up my phone and take some simple photos in the lounge area of the hotel. No one but a few housekeepers was around to judge me, so it made it pretty easy.

The rest of the day was spent in the conference. The first half was a lecture by a professor from Duke on feminism in Islamic texts and law, and the second half was  a guided discussion amongst the students on our thoughts about the lecture.

Not being a scholar of Islam or even a Muslim, it was a little difficult to think of things to stay during the discussion. The people at my table seemed interested to hear my perspective as a Christian American woman, but I’m not positive that what I ended up saying was really all that helpful. My purpose here is not to say anything wildly controversial or profound though, but just to add more dimension to the conversation, to provide another facet of the human experience. I hope I did that.

But even if I didn’t, there’s plenty more time to do so! I have 13 more days before the conference ends, so even if I was useless today, maybe tomorrow, I won’t be.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Jacket: H&M

Top: Vintaged (thrifted)

Pants: Thrifted

June 30, 2018 – Calm Before The Storm (OOTD #317)

Here I am, my first full day in Nepal!

This was the day that most of the students attending the Madrasa Discourses conference were to be arriving, meaning I was finally not completely alone at the lodge! My two roommates arrived, one of whom is a Notre Dame student I was vaguely familiar with before Nepal, and one of whom is a Pakistani woman in a full niqab (who arrived at like, 1 AM in the morning, the poor thing).

In all, there are about 20ish Pakistani students, 20ish Indians, 7 South Africans, and 7 American students from Notre Dame. Since there was no programming today, those of us who arrived in the afternoon (or like me, the previous night), simply hung out, chatted, and took meals together to socialize and kill time.

An American student, a Pakistani-German student, and I were all feeling energetic enough to go for a short hike after lunch, so we decided to venture down the mountain of Dhulikel. We heard there was a village at the bottom, but little did we know, that village was probably a solid two miles away. Two miles isn’t bad when you’re jogging on flat terrain, but walking down a steep mountain is another thing. We didn’t even make it a quarter of the way before giving up and turning around, sweaty and exhausted. Meanwhile, several local Nepali people walked by, steady-footed and swift, to put us all to shame. At least we got a pretty view of the area as we went down.

I wanted to get some sleep after our walk, but I knew it would be best for me if I stayed up all day and didn’t sleep until the night. The jet lag was hitting me like a truck at that point, and even though I desperately wanted to take a nap, I resisted.

That night though, I of course had very little luck actually sleeping. I got about three hours before my Pakistani roommate showed up, and after that, I really wasn’t able to sleep anymore. My body kind of hates itself for the nine hours and forty-five minute time difference, so I guess I can’t blame it.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Nepal. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Top: Abercrombie

Pants: Forever21

Scarf: My mother’s closet