I am beyond delighted to feature Deb & Graham Milne on Ageless Style today. Deb’s blog Dumbwit Teller was one of the first blogs many of us enjoyed. She no longer blogs but she continues to inspire and entertain us on Instagram with her quick wit, unique style, and engaging personality @dumbwitteller. Welcome to Ageless Style-Deb & Graham Milne.
How did you two meet?
We met at a Christmas party. Guido Perla & Assoc. threw the holiday event in
Ballard, WA and I was the plus one for a naval engineer. Graham wasn’t hard to
spot. Tall, dark and wearing a grey pinstripe suit. When I had a chance to speak to
him the accent sealed the deal.
It was at my work’s Christmas do. A group of us were invited to an after-party
and it was there that Deborah first spoke to me. Months went by and I received a
letter posted to me at my office. Deborah had re-introduced herself and invited
me out for dinner. Her first questions were, ‘how old are you, and do you
remember that I have four children?’ Kismet!
Tell our readers a little bit about the places you have lived.
A born Montanian, I grew up outside of Seattle in a town called Snohomish,
Washington. It wasn’t until Graham and I married that I began my journey as a
serial mover. After marriage, we moved to Las Vegas, San Diego (x2), City of
Seattle, Houston, Aberdeen, Scotland, La Mesa, and now New Orleans.
I grew up in Aberdeen, Scotland. In 1990, I had the opportunity to work in
California, and of all places, San Diego. I went from rainy Aberdeen to living at
Pacific Beach. Only a daft man could turn down such an opportunity. From there
I’ve lived in Baltimore, then onto Seattle, (where I met Deb). Deb shared the rest
of our journey to date. Stay tuned!
You two have traveled extensively and lived all over the world, how has that
influenced your style?
Massively! They say it can take a lifetime to really find one’s style. It’s pretty much
taken me 55 years. I had a mother who dressed beautifully. At 5’ 10” she pulled
off a suit and hat like no other woman in our small home town. But we had
different styles, she loved bright colors and I am most confident in black. I have
finally found peace recognizing that for me, less is more. As long as I can
remember I paid close attention to style icons, whether it was fashion or interiors,
it’s all in those minute details. What made them/it stand out, and remain
timeless. As we all know, the French have this ability locked uptight. It’s looking
chic with the attitude that it’s effortless. I could sit at a Paris cafe and watch every
gender, every age pass by, every day. They exude grace, and style from 3 to 103.
I fell in love with Paris and how smart the French dressed. Dressing for the office
in Scotland is a sharp contrast to how colleagues are dressed for work here in the
states. Even going out on the weekends, the Scots are dressed up. I find great
satisfaction with looking my best.
Of all the places you have lived do you have a favorite?
Aberdeen, Scotland. It was surely not because of the weather! I found-myself
there. I was forced to put my big girl pants on. If you think it’s easy because the
spoken word is English, think again. However, I had the complete ability to
reinvent myself. I learned to have fun again. I learned what was really important
in life, and I started to question why as an American I thought about certain
social, and political issues like I was accustomed to. As a ‘nut’ about architecture
and history, every corner brought new excitement, and every castle a tea room
with fresh scones, and clotted cream. How do you beat that?
San Diego. The weather is the number one reason. As an avid cyclist, it’s the
perfect climate. No more cycling in the sleet & snow!
How would you describe your style?
Classic with a slight biker-babe attitude.
Do You Have a signature piece in your wardrobe or your home that Defines Your
My black leather hip-length motorcycle jacket and my Marcel Breuer style dining
chairs. Timeless – they have history and yet still have that youthful vibe.
My Gorham Brothers hat(s). Absolutely the cherry on top. I can’t leave out my
Pinarello bicycle. Italian crafted, Italian handsome.
You two are huge diyers. What is your latest project?
We have just wrapped up the completion of our 2 bedroom, short term rental
apartment here in New Orleans, just steps from Frenchman Street. Who knew
we’d be done just in time for the complete shutdown of the city/country. None of
us saw this coming.
As of this week, we’ll now start rehabbing our own living space. We have our eye
on a Palm Desert condo as our next project, but the weeks and months ahead will
dictate this decision.
Do you have a diet and exercise regime that you subscribe to?
Walking and more walking. We often laugh about who needs to go to the gym
when you love to DIY, truth that.
For me it is cycling. I love food, but I religiously limit quantity.
Do you have any anti-aging foods or supplements that are your go tos?
I take a dose of Frankincense in my Kombucha every morning & add probiotics to
my diet. After raising 4 children, and habitually moving, I don’t take the best care
of myself as I should. A goal that I finally need to achieve.
After just completing cancer treatment, I am focused on building my immunity
system and gaining strength. Lots of prebiotics and probiotics for me; fresh veg
and fruit a must. We subscribe to Blue Apron for our nightly meals. It forces us to
eat properly, eat less, and cook as a tag team.
How are you two handling this difficult time?
I’m not going to sugar coat it, this..all of this isn’t easy. We are big homebodies, so
I think for us, this confinement comes a bit easier. The other tool we have is our
ability to go with the flow. We’ve been through many hardships, & our fair share
of stress. The ‘why does it always happen to us’ syndrom. I have always told
myself it’s all been an important life-lesson and now I’m paying attention. When
I’m upset, I need to clean. When this is all said and done (I pray), our cleanliness
should please even a Martha Stewart type. It is most definitely hard with our
families either on the West Coast, or Scotland. Not the best feeling to be here
alone. We have to really rely on each other and a lot of FaceTiming with the kids
What works for me is staying busy. Yesterday it was hanging drywall, today it’s
working on wood trim. I’m grateful that I have so much to keep me from not
dwelling on the news. That along with two crazy pups (Finzean *Fing-In and
Duthie) who have no care as to what is going on as long as their food is placed out
at their regularly scheduled time.
What are you doing as a couple to stay calm and optimistic?
Our walks through the French Quarter, planning for the future, (what style of
houses we’d love to rehab before our rehabbing days are over), and laughing
about the past. That time when we had to exit the train car in the bowels of the
Paris subway due to an ‘unrecognizable odor’. We’ve been married 19 years
come June, and we’ve jam-packed a lot of crazy experiences in those years to
This is the biggest challenge. I am currently unable to work remotely, and my
health has forced me to self-isolate. The idea of no income is constantly on my
mind. I think trying to retain some sort of our previous routine at home is
important. Even if it isn’t much. Searching for Scottish homes online is always a
stress reliever too. We sit and look at floorplans and discuss how we could
improve the house as if we were buying it. Our version of a board game!
What are your favorite distractions?
All the many great blogs of course, and keeping up with all the amazing (and I
don’t use that word loosely) people I’ve ‘met’ through Instagram. These kind souls
are my support and my rock when life gets tough.
Watching a good movie. My favorite subject is Time Travel, I think I need to start
working on my own time machine right about now.
What do you love about NOLA?
The spirit. I admit I have had my fair share of frustration adapting, but the
warmth, and vivacity seeps into your soul, and the history and architecture, your
heart. This is the city that got me..ME…to embrace pink! I rarely dressed my
daughter’s in pink.
Architecture, hands-down. It’s the poor man’s Paris.
Has NOLA imposed any restrictions on its residents?
Deb & Graham
Most definitely, as of 5pm on Monday all non-essential business will now be
closed. Bars, restaurants have been shut-down for just over a week. The French
Quarter is a ghost town. It’s an eerie feeling to see our bustling streets like an
empty movie set, but it’s also comforting to know people are isolating.
What are your hopes for the future?
That we won’t now live in constant fear. I hope that our politicians will finally
understand the planet’s dire future if we don’t take action now regarding global
warming. So many of us have kids, and grandkids, don’t we want a future for
them? How I wish my grandchildren had a childhood like I did, even their parents.
The biggest thing I had to worry about is a flat tire on my Schwinn or lost skate
The hopes of life returning to normal; it’s getting harder to trust that idea by the
hour. I can’t help but think our daily lives will be forever altered.
I’d love to hold onto the thought that we could live/work in Paris or London
before we have to put down roots permanently
Thank you so much, Deb and Graham, for joining us. I talked to Deb awhile ago about doing this post but hadn’t got my act together with the questions. Deb indulged me and we put this together quickly as I knew they would be just the “shot in the arm” we all need right now. Now pop over and see who the Contessa is featuring this month.
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