Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

Search Results for: robin

Tuesday

2

May 2017

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Hope’s How-To: The Robins Are Back

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hope's how-to: Robins are nesting

If you were following along on the blog last year, you read all about the family of robins that nested on the nesting shelf that Wes built me. Well friends, the robins are back! Wes and I were so excited to see on Saturday night that the robins have officially built their nest on our nesting shelf, and we are so looking forward to seeing another robin family grow and take flight right in our own yard.

A bit of back story for you: At the beginning of April, I noticed that there were some twigs on our nesting shelf. I knew these had to be recent, as after our robin family flew the coup last year, Wes and I disposed of the old nest and sprayed down the nesting shelf. I noticed one day that there were grackles up on top of the shelf. Concerned, and thinking that perhaps it was grackles and not robins using our shelf, I cleared off the shelf once again.

Three full weeks passed, and I waited patiently for the robins to nest. Nothing. Then, last week, I asked Wes to spray off the shelf again (lest the scent of the grackles was deterring a robin family from nesting). He did, and what do you know — we checked on Saturday night and in a span of less than 8 hours — the robins had built a whole nest!

hope's how-to: robin's nesting shelf

While it’s certainly not as neat as last year’s nest, it would appear that the robins are here to stay for the season. If you’re looking for ways to attract robins in your own yard, you should note that robins love blueberries (any berries, really). Also, if you’ve got a lawn that is more moist than dry (worms love moisture), you’re more likely to attract robins to your yard.

So far, it appears that our robins are making themselves at home. The robins have been busy around our yard, searching for worms, mating (I think?), and preparing to lay their eggs.

hope's how-to: robin's nesting shelf

Stay tuned for more photos as the season moves along. We are excited once again to be sharing the journey of the robin’s nesting shelf and robin family with you!

hope's how-to: robin's nesting shelf

For more on last year’s robins, click here.

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Friday

17

June 2016

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Hope’s How-To: Build a Robin’s Nest – Part 4 – Robin Fledglings

Written by , Posted in Gardening, Hope Reflected, Hope's How-To

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robin fledgling 1

This happened several weeks ago, however lately our lives have been in a constant state of motion, so I’ve not had time to post a robin update until now. The baby robins flew the coup (quite literally)! All four of our baby robin fledglings have left the nest and set out on their journey through… our yard.

baby robin fledgling in nest

Wes and I came home from church a few weeks ago, and I wanted to check on the baby robin fledglings in the nest. As the robins had been living right on our patio by our living area, it was easy to sit out and observe their growth, feedings,  and daily habits. Wes had encouraged me since the robin eggs hatched to keep my distance, and of course this particular Sunday in May I just had to get out there to see them.

Obviously the little guys were developed to the point that they were actually crowding the nest, however when I came out to see them, without being too close, they all fledged from the nest.

At first, I panicked. Wes ran around the yard and rounded them up to put back in the nest (see photo above), however it was clear; the baby robin fledglings were ready to embark on their adventure away from the nest.

baby robin fledglings

Over the past few weeks, a common sight in our yard has been Mama Robin bouncing and flying around the yard, with her young not far behind. While the robin fledglings have grown so much since the time of these photos almost a month ago, what remains of the family still calls our yard and trees home.

Unfortunately, we did lose one of the three robin fledglings — we aren’t sure if a cat got the robin, or the cold — however, three of the young survived (to our knowledge).

baby robin fledglings

While many of our friends and family still have robin fledglings in the nest, our robins have flown the coup! Before they were developed, it was so funny to watch them try to take flight with small wings and no tail. Clearly they’ve grown in the last few weeks, and we’ll try to capture more photos as we go.

Watching the baby robin fledglings in our yard has certainly been an education; when they’re young, robins are defenceless. They’re yet to learn how to fly (we were blessed enough to watch them practice in our yard), they’re dependant on their parents (Dad brings the young to the robin roost at night, while Mama Robin feeds the fledglings by day), and they’re testing their vocal chords (hearing robin fledglings start to exercise their vocal chords is one of the most adorable sounds).

Hint to those who’ve built a robin’s nesting shelf: When your first “family” leaves the nest, be sure to dispose of the robin’s nest, clean and spray off the area. Once abandoned for their real world adventure, robins don’t return to the nest where they were birthed. The old nest can attract lice and mites, so it’s best practice to dispose of it once the robins leave the nest for good.

 

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Thursday

19

May 2016

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Hope’s How-To: Build a Robin’s Nest – Part 3 – Baby Robins Are Here

Written by , Posted in Gardening, Hope Reflected, Hope's How-To

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mama robin feeding baby robins

They’re here!

While Wes and I were away, looks like Mama Robin had plenty of time to sit on her eggs! Four sweet baby robins have entered in to the world and are being raised on our patio. Wes has had to remind me several times to give the new family space—especially since the temperatures have been so cold—however today I was able to capture some photos of our tenants.

mama robin feeding baby robins

Mama and Papa Robin have pretty much taken over our property, and even pulling up the drive I can see them bouncing around on the lawn, giving me their most threatening glances. Fortunately, yesterday evening, I was able to get some photos of mama robin feeding her baby robins.

mama robin feeding baby robins

It is quite a phenomenon, watching robins feed their young. Robins are an altricial species, meaning that their young are hatched or born in an undeveloped state that requires care and feeding by the parents. Unlike chicks who hatch in a more mature state, baby robins aren’t the best looking birds of the bunch (although admittedly I do find them quite adorable).

mama robin feeding baby robins

Most baby robins have very few or no feathers, bulging eyes, and almost transparent skin. It is truly a miracle of creation to see these little birds up close, and also to observe the parent robins feeding their young.

mama robin feeding baby robins

Interestingly enough, robins start feeding at sunrise, and often Mama and Papa robins feed their young about every twenty minutes from sunrise to sunset. Their diet consists mostly of worms and berries.

mama robin feeding baby robins

Typically it takes baby robins two weeks (likely 9 to 16 days) to be fledged before they fly from the nest, and you can usually tell once baby robins are a week old as the parent robin(s) stop sleeping in the nest around that time.

mama robin feeding baby robins

Another important thing to remember about robins is that the parent robins go by sight and sound, not by smell. This means, that unlike other animals with young, if you discover a baby robin that has fallen from the nest, you can gently pick it up and place it back in the nest without the Mama and Papa robins abandoning the fledglings.

mama robin feeding baby robins

“Look at the birds of the air….” {Matthew 6:26}

 

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Wednesday

27

April 2016

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Hope’s How-To: Build A Robin’s Nest – Part 2 – The Robin’s Eggs

Written by , Posted in Gardening, Hope Reflected, Hope's How-To

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robin's eggs

Robin’s nest update for you all: The robin has laid two — count it, TWO — eggs! Yes, that’s right! Robin’s eggs! Yesterday afternoon, I noted whilst driving away from the house that the mama robin was in the nest. Sure enough, last night when we checked, you can imagine my delight upon the discovery of two beautiful robin’s egg blue robin’s eggs.

My initial exclamation was something about how exciting this promise of new life is; Wes’s initial exclamation was about the future of the robin species. The robin deciding to lay her eggs is a beautiful example of a delicate, fragile new beginning, right on our porch. Whatever way you choose to look at it, we are  absolutely thrilled with the prospect of two baby robins starting their lives and learning the ropes from the comfort of our porch.

robin's egg - hope's how-to build a robin's shelf

We are being careful not to be disruptive while the mama robin incubates and raises her young [although I have to say in hindsight I wish we’d set up a time lapse camera to capture all the action; note to self for next year].

Here are some fascinating facts about robins and their eggs:

  1. The incubation period for a robin’s egg is 12 to 14 days.
  2. The female robin typically does the incubating, rarely leaving her eggs for more than 5 to 10 minutes at a time.
  3. After birth, baby robins spend an average of 9 to 16 days in the nest.

Stay tuned for more action as we keep an eye on the mama robin and her young. Anyone else have robins planting roots in their yard this year?

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Wednesday

6

April 2016

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Hope’s How-To: Build a Robin’s Nesting Shelf

Written by , Posted in Hope's How-To

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april6_hopereflected_robin2

Spring is always an exciting time of year: The days are getting longer, the sun is shining brighter, and there are signs of new life everywhere. All this to say, we’ve had a less than stable Spring so far, what with fluctuating temperatures and seemingly endless snow. That’s got the returning robins scrambling, looking for a secure place to nest, and also foraging for food.

You’ve likely noticed the beautiful birds by the roadside or out on your lawn, looking for worms, berries, or other items to eat. They’re also deep into scouting season — looking for the best place to settle down, lay their eggs, and raise their young (for a full 13 days).

Being the compassionate person that I am, — save all the animals! — Wes agreed to build me a robin’s nesting shelf (or two!) to see if we could welcome a couple of new feathered friends to our home.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, in fact building a robin’s nesting shelf can be quite simple. You don’t have to use the best wood, and measurements don’t need to be exact. Just remember to include the fundamentals of a sturdy shelf made from non-pressure treated wood, a shelf approximately 8 inches squared (or something in that range), a height of at least 7 feet off the ground.

Here’s how Wes built ours:

  • For building my robin’s nesting shelves, Wes used 4-inch Spruce straps, non-pressure treated. You could use any other kind of wood, permitting it’s not pressure treated. Wes just used Spruce straps since we had them on hand.

april6_hopereflected_robin_nesting_shelf2

  • The platform should be approximately 8 inches squared, and depending on where you plan to install the nesting shelf, it may or may not need a roof (cover). Wes made one for me without a cover for under our covered porch, and one with a cover that’s on a more exposed side of the house.
  • Another key is that you don’t want to have any kind of barrier on the front of the nesting shelf.

april6_hopereflected_robin_shelf1

  • You’ll also want to be mindful that the nesting shelf is secured in a location where there is no way for cats or squirrels to climb up into the nest.
  • A good rule of thumb for where you’ll locate the nesting shelf, is to find a place close to your home that is between 7 feet tall and tree top height. It should be in a location that gets some sun, but also stays cool and dry.
    • Many people choose to secure a robin’s nesting shelf onto their home (rather than in a tree or on a fence) because predators like cats, squirrels, and even other birds (like Starlings or Crows) are less likely to get too close to your house. (You may have noticed in the past, that sometimes robins will choose to nest above a porch light or on top of a downspout, and this is why.)

april6_hopereflected_robin_nesting_shelf3

  • If your house is made with brick or stone, secure the nesting shelf with a tap-con or a concrete nail. Be sure to pre-drill to the appropriate size for that fastener. If your house is made with siding, before drilling, make sure you’re not compromising the house material or drilling into electrical/plumbing/etc.

april6_hopereflected_robin_nesting_shelf4

  • When the season is over, make sure to dispose of their old nest and clean the nesting shelf. Old nests have the potential to breed lice or mites. Besides this, next year, returning robins will build a fresh nest.
  • If you’re looking to make your nest shelf even more attractive, you could set out some berries or meal worms for the robins.

april6_hopereflected_robin_nesting_shelf5

Robins appearing are a sure sign of Spring. I hope you are able to take some time to get outdoors and appreciate the beauty of God’s creation during this season!

“The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young…” {Psalm 84:3}

april6_hopereflected_robin1

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Friday

18

August 2017

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Hope Reflected | Watching Your Words

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected, Published Work

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The birds sing among the branches. Psalm 104:12 Watch your words | See more at hopereflected.com

Watching your words

If you follow along on our blog (www.hopereflected.com), then you know how much Wes and I love bird watching. From robins and blue jays to cardinals and mourning doves, there is something so soothing and therapeutic about watching God’s creations live their lives and interact in our yard. When I told him my column this week would be about the tongue, Wes commented about how so often we think of “the tongue” as something that gets us into trouble, when in reality, our tongues were created to bring glory to God. And not just our tongues, but the tongues of the birds out side as well. Birds sing to attract mates, birds call to protect their territory or alert others in their flock of food or danger. And sometimes, birds just sing. The Bible tells us in Psalm 66:4 that all the earth worships God and sings praises to Him.

What’s the first thing – in nature – that you hear when you wake up in the morning? Likely birds singing (or possibly dogs barking). If you’re into whale watching, it’s a fact that you’re most likely to see whales at their most active and vocal first thing in the morning. As part of God’s creation, we are also created to glorify Him with our lives and our voices – and that includes the words that leave our lips. The Westminster Catechism says that, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” That starts when we awake in the morning!

What prompted me to write about the power of the tongue this week was reading Psalm 141, where verse 3 says, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” Many times throughout scripture, we are told of the perils of the tongue and how important it is to be mindful of our words and actions. You might think that guarding your tongue isn’t of much significance, but even Jesus “held His peace.” (Matthew 26:63). If Jesus knew the importance of guarding His tongue – especially right before He was crucified – we should also be mindful of His example.

Through scripture we read about the bad implications of the tongue, but we should also consider what the Bible says about the blessings that come when you guard your tongue and watch your words:

  1. You will gain understanding. “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” (Proverbs 17:28) Sometimes it can be so tempting to interrupt and get your two cents in before the person you’re conversing with finishes their thought. Consider how the quality of our conversations would improve if only we would take the time to listen to the thoughts of others before responding. As it says in Proverbs 10:19, “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” What you say reflects what’s in your heart. When you listen rather than speak, you gain understanding.
  2. You will have fewer regrets. “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23) Like turning jelly back into powder or putting an egg back in its shell after it’s been broken, once your words leave your lips, you can’t take them back. This is a lesson we are all constantly learning. Our words have consequences. You may have heard the quote, “Our words are free; it’s how we use them that may cost us.” How true it is! Just remember the next time you’re tempted that it’s not necessary to react to everything you notice.
  3. You will encourage others. “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 15:4) Our words have the power to build others up, or to tear others down (Proverbs 15:1) – especially when we speak out of turn or talk about others behind their back. Proverbs 16:24 says that “gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Knowing this, why not use your words and your tongue to edify others?

Isaiah 55:12 says, “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” God’s creation, even the trees of the field, have their own way of speaking. Before you let those words roll off your tongue, consider who you’re directing the words at and the permanent impact that your words may have on the life of another.

Originally published as “Watching your words.” Minto Express, Independent Plus, Arthur Enterprise-News, Mount Forest Confederate. August 10, 2017: 7. Print. Web.

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Tuesday

14

March 2017

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Outdoor Living | Birds of Winter

Written by , Posted in Gardening

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bird feeders

While it’s no secret that Wes and I love birds (you’ll recall that last Spring we welcomed a family of robins to our patio) this winter we’ve had some issues attracting more feathered friends to our yard.

At first we thought maybe it was the feed, then we thought perhaps it could be our timing (we waited until well into December before we set up our winter feeders), and then we discovered it was really just the bird feeder placement.

We’ve got three bird feeders:

  • A tube feeder (metal, enclosed hanging feeder that feeds seed out at ports with perches) which is store-bought,
  • A suet feeder (metal/wood construction with spots to hold two suet cakes),
  • Our favourite is featured in today’s post. A handmade cedar tray feeder which we bought from one of our neighbours (he constructs them as a hobby).

bird feeder

We started our cedar tray bird feeder out on one of our stone benches, but found the only creatures it attracted were squirrels. Last weekend, Wes relocated the tray feeder so it now hangs outside one of our kitchen windows, and after repositioning the bird feeder to eye level, voila! We’ve got birds, people!

Likely a combination of the location of the feeder, as well as its proximity to the fence, our cedars, and our Japanese maple tree, we have a real community of birds visiting our bird feeder once again.

I’ve yet to capture some decent images, so for now you’ll have to enjoy these quick snaps. In the past few days, we’ve enjoyed watching cardinals (both male and female), dark-eyed juncos, slate-coloured juncos (according to our bird book, the slate-coloured junco is a rare variety), as well as house sparrows. (Wes is somewhat concerned with the territorial nature of the house sparrows, as they have been known to extremely aggressive against other birds.)

What birds are frequenting your feeder this winter?

bird feeder

 

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Monday

11

April 2016

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Tulips

Written by , Posted in Gardening, Style at Home

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A couple of years ago, I purchased some tulip bulbs, which sat in my kitchen through the winter, until one day when my Mum was visiting, she planted them. Last Spring, when the tulips bloomed, they were the most vibrant red.

Those same tulips in our garden started to sprout up with the warm weather we had a few weeks back. Wes and I both intended to cover them, however — as frequently happens in life — things of more importance took precedence.  Since then, we’ve had sleet, snow, ice, rain, more snow, and as a result we’ve been questioning whether or not the tulips will bloom when Spring finally makes an appearance.

red tulips bouquet

Being the incredible man that he is, Wes brings me home flowers every Friday. This past Friday, he picked up the most beautiful, fresh tulips from Elora St. Flowers — and they’re red, just like the ones in our garden. *sigh* I’ve been enjoying these beauties the past few days, and I have to say, they make me eager for warmer days and to see our outdoor flowers!

Like robins, tulips are a sure sign of Spring. Part of the lily family, tulip flowers come in a wide array of colours, and there are more than 3,000 varieties of the flower. You may associate tulips with Holland, and rightfully so, however tulips are thought to have originated in Central Asia.

red tulip flowers

While the tulips in our garden are midseason bloomers (late April/early May), you can purchase tulips that bloom as early as March and as late as mid-May. These attractive flowers offer a lot of vibrance for very little maintenance.

On a more important note, April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and the tulip is the symbol of hope for a cure.

red tulip flowers

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Friday

8

April 2016

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Outdoor Living and Patio Inspiration

Written by , Posted in Gardening, Interior Design, Style at Home

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We’re several weeks into Spring, and like I was saying earlier this week, the weather has been SO unsettled. Wes and I are already planning some outdoor DIY projects, and I’ve been spending a lot of time dreaming about all the time we’re going to spend outdoors this Summer.

Today, I’ve carefully curated some of my favourite outdoor living and patio inspiration setups from Pinterest. From classic and white to modern and black, my Outdoor Living board on Pinterest has some incredible, inspiring pics — follow along with Hope Reflected if you haven’t already!

  1. White Victorian.

    white patio inspiration

    Img src delbosco.tumblr.com

    Lots of white, lace, and vintage accessories make this stone patio table and dining set an absolutely beauty. I especially love the built-in-like cushioned bench that lines the windows. An outdoor light perched atop a well-positioned shelf completes the look. The pergola has a creeping vine feature, and the home owner knew exactly what they were doing by staging potted flowers of like merlot colours. A real bonus for privacy is hanging curtains from your pergola with weather-resistant cloth material.

  2. Classic Cape Cod.

    cape cod patio inspiration and outdoor living

    img src StyleMePretty

    Cape Cod cottages make everything look more desirable, don’t they? From the cedar shake siding to the pop of red in the patio door, this Cape Cod patio is picture-perfect. I love how the strong wrought iron outdoor table setting is softened by all that greenery – hydrangea, boxwood, vines, and a few complementary flowers – and anchored by the interlocking brick. While interlocking brick can prove to be high maintenance, this is a patio that would have plenty of visitors throughout the Spring and Summer seasons.

  3. Black and Modern.

    loft like patio modern patio inspiration and outdoor furniture

    img src Elements of Style

    What I love about this patio setting is that it’s very modern and very loft-like — clean lines, black, exposed brick, industrial lighting, and very modern. I especially love the panelled french doors! This patio furniture would be ideal for an urban outdoor space. Notice that this outdoor furniture set and deck is composed of natural elements — Brick, wood, iron, — and complemented with a few green plants (nothing too feminine or flowery).

  4. Southern Beach House.

    southern beach patio inspiration and outdoor living

    img src Southern Charm

    A Southern girl at heart, this beach house setting has me swooning. I love the strength of the stone-topped hardwood table juxtaposed against the whimsical wicker furniture. Anchor all that with classic Southern architecture built on the beach, and you’ve pretty much got my dream vacation home! Surrounded with fresh beach air, sand, plenty of greenery, and filled with plenty of chairs, this patio setting would be ideal for entertainers. Also, those centrepieces!

  5. Backyard Oasis.

    backyard patio setting and outdoor living inspiration

    img src Hope Reflected

    What would a post about outdoor living be without a photo from my Mum and Dad’s backyard. For years, I’ve enjoyed the serenity of my parents’ backyard oasis — complete with deep adirondack chairs, a lovely English garden, and the occasional linen table cloth for dining al fresco. I think what makes my Mum and Dad’s space so divine is the cedar hedge surround, the stone patio, healthy boxwoods, and seemingly endless boxwoods, ferns, hostas, and hydrangeas (plus several other specimens which I can’t even name). Looking forward to lots of memories this coming season!

For more garden and outdoor living inspiration, visit my Pinterest: Hope Reflected

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Monday

3

May 2010

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The Met Costume Institute Gala and Exhibition

Written by , Posted in Trend-Spotting

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Hard to believe it’s already been a year since we saw Rihanna strutting her stuff in that androgynous disaster Dolce & Gabbana cropped tuxedo at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual gala and benefit.

Last year’s theme at the Met Costume Institute Gala and Exhibition was ‘The Model as Muse’. This year the theme is no less fascinating – ‘American Women: Fashioning a National Identity’, curated by Andrew Bolton. The exhibition runs from May 5th until August 15th, and will supposedly include information from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection as well as some top-secret pieces that haven’t been seen in almost half a century. Studying American women from 1890-1940 and how these women have influenced our interpretation of the ‘modern’ woman, this is an exhibition not to be missed.

The Gala Benefit will be held TONIGHT at the museum (check back for my favourite looks later this week) and will be hosted by Oprah, Patrick Robinson, and Anna Wintour (talk about a dream team).

My choice looks from last year include Diane Kruger in Chanel (an adorable and off-beat selection for such a night, non?), and the classic Kate Bosworth channeling Veronica Lake in a lace Stella McCartney number. Most bizarre look of the night – in my opinion – went to Leighton Meester, who took the word ‘costume’ literally and went all out in patterned Louis Vuitton.

 

 

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