Friday, April 29, 2011

DIY Nails: Leopard Print

My girl Sara did my nails a couple days ago. They are pink and purple leopard print. As you can see I am very excited about this. I am notoriously bad with nails and makeup and all things girly, but this is really super easy! Here are are the steps Sara used to do my nails. Let each new "coat" dry before moving on to the next one. You're going to need a little brush, even smaller than a nail polish brush, to put the dark ring around the colour. Some sites suggest that you use waterproof liquid eyeliner, but I think a little brush with real polish works better. We used an old lip brush that I haven't used in years.

1. Put on a base coat. Make it fairly light, so the black or other dark colour around the spots shows up well.

2. Put four of five smallish dots of another colour on each nail, depending on the length. 

3. Take a some dark polish onto your new brush. Try to circle around the colour drop a little bit, but don't do all the way around. Try to make each one different, a leopard's spots are not all the same! If the dots are very small, just put small dark marks on opposite sides, the effect will be the same.

Ta da! If you let each coat dry properly, you can just do a little wipe off to fix any mistakes that you've made. I love this style. It's much more fun and personalized than the Sally Hansen stick on polish, although I'm dying to try that too. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

K9, 24/7

Yes, I have had a tab with the PuppyCam open for two days, and no, I am not ashamed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

DIY: Polishing Silver Jewellery

It really was lovely, this Easter weekend. I spent the first few couple days doing the things long weekends are made of—daily brunches, late night movies, swapping clothes and sleeping in late. But best of all, I headed home on Sunday.

Because I only live about a half hour away, I usually head back to Toronto the day I visit my parents. But I never feel like I get enough time at home to relax, to wake up late and sip my parents' super strong coffee. So this weekend, I did. I booked Monday off so I could have a childhood-style extra-long Easter weekend, and I stayed over on Sunday night. I woke up late and had peameal bacon sandwiches and hunted through the garage. I found a box of my grandmother's costume jewelry, and my mom and I sifted through the broken brooches and huge plastic earrings.

My mom collects silver bangles—she always makes sure to pick one up on a trip so she's reminded of all the places she's been. We came across a few pretty ones in Memere's old jewels, textured and heavy and blackened with tarnish. So we found an easy, inexpensive way to shine them up and it totally made us feel like we were DIY scientists. I was a bad blogger and didn't take photos when I was home, so I thought I'd demonstrate with some of my rings and Laura's that needed a good shining.


Polishing Tarnished Silver Jewelry*

Things you will need:
Aluminum pan or foil
Baking soda
Boiling water

1. Use a disposable aluminum pan or line a small pan with aluminum foil. It has to be aluminum or it won't work.

2. Place your tarnished items in the pan and coat them with baking soda. The piece should be mostly covered in the stuff—lay it on thick.

3. Pour enough boiling water on the coated pieces to cover them.** It will start to bubble and you might smell some sulfur. This adds to the magic of your science experiment. You probably shouldn't breathe in too much of the steam that comes up though, so just lean back.

4. You can use a spoon to move the pieces around in the baking soda until it is no longer reacting or bubbling. You might see some yellow flakes or browning of the foil—don't worry, that's normal.

5. Remove the pieces from the pan using the spoon (be careful, that water's still hot!) and give them a little rinse in cool water. You can wipe them with a soft cloth to help loosen the tarnish.

And that's it! You'll probably have to repeat this a few times, depending on your level of tarnish and how gleaming you want your pieces to get. To repeat, just rinse out your pan and do it all over again—you don't even have to dry it off.


We probably had to treat each piece at least four times, so don't be discouraged by the first attempt. It's especially useful for chains, because you can't rub in all those nooks and crannies, so science does the work for you. SCIENCE! Making magic a reality every day!

All in all, it really was the best kind of weekend.

*Note: some sites recommend not to use baking soda to polish silver because it can be too abrasive. I didn't notice any damage to the pieces we shined, but you may want to use a silver polish or another method if you are worried about hurting your piece.

**The woman from the video we watched is very worried about how you'll handle the boiling water. She suggests keeping your pan near the water so you don't have to carry it far. She REALLY likes to talk about water safety. I trust that you're clever enough to figure out how to use boiling water, but my pro tip is this: don't boil your water in that huge pot! Use a kettle! GOSH, lady!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Poly Styrene

Poly was an awesome lady and punk style icon.

Poly started up X-Ray Spex in '76, and though they only released one album together before breaking up, it was a hit–but only in Britain. Germ Free Adolescents eventually made it's way across the pond, appealing to a much more casual punk listener, someone who enjoyed her shouting but also the pop aspects and social commentary of the lyrics. Poly's high-pitched vocals tie every song together and really stand out, in a time that the genre was still mostly male.

Poly was a little spit fire who could not stay still, and every time I see this video I want to join a band and wear a silver pillowcase as a dress.

After her X-Ray Spex fame she came out with a few solo albums, one just earlier this year, and joined the Hare Krishnas. She was diagnosed with breast cancer only recently, and died at the age of 53. Let's remember her for her awesome talent and endless energy.

DOWNLOAD Germ Free Adolescents here, you will love it, I promise!

All pictures are from her page.

Monday, April 25, 2011

April Mix: Oh Woman, Oh Why + Chiaroscuro

So we discovered this cool little music streaming service called 8tracks, were you can create and stream music mixes really easily. The only catches are you can't have more than two tracks by the same artist or from the same album, and it has to be longer than eight tracks long.

The other night, the night of our roomie dinner, we decided to have a go at it and try making a mix each, based on a lovely image by photographer/artist Ellen Rogers. In particular, Solipsism. We limited ourselves to 8 tracks each (tricky!), and didn't discuss any of our choices with each other, making this a gut-reaction response to the artwork.

Our takes below!


I looked at this picture and saw the carnivalesque: the use of selective lighting is almost like a spotlight, trapping these girls in the middle of a circus ring. Rogers' use of chemicals and other elements of the dark room gives an old fashioned feel to her photos, which I also see mimicked in the hair and makeup of the models. I see them as gymnasts or contortionists from the '30s, sisters at the circus.


First impressions that shaped the mix: contrasting light and dark, Bergman's Persona, séances, Lynch's Lost Highway, womanhood, growing pains, with a hint of danger. The image brought to mind a sense of things moving a little too quickly, of getting caught up in something you don't understand. 'Chiaroscuro' was my go-to phrase when choosing tracks, so it stuck as the title. I hope 8tracks doesn't mix up the order—finding the right balance was tricky with these picks!

Still from Persona via

We also have a version you can download, if you want to take the mixes on the road. Find it HERE.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

In Short

There are few feelings stranger than pulling on a semi-shorn pair of cutoffs.

Real girl thighs!

Easily an ideal activity for the first truly warm day of the year.

P couldn't resist

It's shaving season again, girls!

Friday, April 22, 2011


Happy Easter! Amanda and I are going to be relaxing all weekend, probably looking like this.

No use in Keeping Up Appearances.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Five Senses Friday, one day early

I've been a bit busy of late, so I don't have a calm, cool, collected post for you—I will give you a sensory treat instead. Along the same lines as Abby Try Again's weekly five senses friday posts, I'm giving you my take.

Long Winter Farm, you had me at lip balms that smell like maple almond and earl grey tea. Not only do Amanda's creations have mouthwatering names at great prices, but it sounds like she's living an idyllic life—she spends her summers in a yurt with her two kids, husband, and a troupe of goats, kittens, and puppies.

She sells soaps, creams, balms and perfume oils in her Etsy shop in a wide range of delicious scents, like pineapple cilantro, peppermint hot chocolate, and iced lemon biscotti. She'll even do a custom perfume oil or cream for you at the same price as her regular stock (a measly $8.50!) She has a bunch of floral and berry scents too, but the gourmand ones always get my olfactory nerves excited (you read that right).

Scents I just HAD to order? Campfire, chocolate lavender and clover lime. Come home to me now, so I can get sniffing!


Miss Moss's truly excellent blog always makes my day, but this mid-month mixtape really takes the cake. Download It Was A Good Day if you know what's good for you.

This isn't something I can actually touch, but a cry for help to prevent me from touching something. Please, if you have size 9 feet, put me out of my misery and take these beauties off the market:

I've loved Clever Nettle's shop and blog for a long time now, but these boots are breaking my heart. I've been keeping an eye out for a pair of black or navy Ropers for a while, and then they come up in a marbled grey and slate blue? Just one size too small? I've considered cutting off my toes to make buying these worthwhile. At the very least, these give me hope that there's an equally perfect pair of tens floating out there in the world somewhere.

via Martha Stewart

Laura and I had a roomie date last night and made dinner together, and we made Martha's Herb-Crusted Salmon with Spinach Salad. It is so so so unbelievably good. It will make your heart feel full of the sunshine that's been sorely lacking this week. It will make your new cat stay by your ankles because your kitchen smells delectable. It pairs well with hemp beer in honor of 420 (our brew was Buzz). And it's nearly as delicious the next day for lunch, served cold. We added some dried rosemary to our herbs, but this is pretty damn near perfect as is.

Last night, we also watched Valley Girl. Nicholas Cage's 'punk' look is like, totally rad, and he even breaks out a bit of the ol' crazy in the last act (disclaimer: I love batshit Nicholas Cage, and you will hear more about this). I've been punctuating my speech with "like"s and "totally"s and "fer sure"s all day. My favourite character was Loryn, Julie's tramp friend, played by Elizabeth Daily. I kept calling her Dottie (her character in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure) because I couldn't remember her name, but she's the most stylish of all the gal pals, and she's also the voice of Tommy from Rugrats! Who knew!

Anyway, she's a babe, and I am infinitely awed by her hair.

via — also, I will take those shoes, please.


Hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend everyone, filled with even more sensory delights.


If you know me, you know that I am cat crazy. After years of living without cats, Amanda and I decided to foster a few. This was nice, but I couldn't let myself get too emotionally invested, because they would always leave to find real homes.

Recently I decided to take the plunge. This is Penelope. 

She is just darling. You will all be seeing a lot more of her in the future.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Road trip

This August, Dan and I are going on a road trip. I have never been to the south, a place that for me holds some sort of magic that I need to experience. You will hear lots about this trip in the coming months, but for now I would like to share the south as the place that I have made up in my mind.

from here
These are shots from Vogue UK a few years back, and make me want to grow out my hair and get an old, beat up car. I should mention that I don't drive, but I'll have a chauffeur. (Love you, honey!)

Here's another tidbit that makes up my idea of the south. This undeniably sexy video probably isn't even set in the south, but it's carefree: road trip, classic rock, shoplifting, cross dressing, stripping, swimming, and super endearing. It also makes me feel old. I was never that cool in high school.

Anyways, our tentative plan is to end up here.

My mom told me that the only good thing about Graceland today is the gates. But I don't care. I borrowed a book from Amanda a few months ago called Elvis and Me, and I feel totally compelled to see the place where he lived.

Maybe I'll even see his ghost.

Bottom Feeder

I just needed to share how mindnumbingly rad this stingray necklace is.

Jewelry designer Christophe de Menil, shot by Advanced Style

That is all. Proceed as usual.

Monday, April 18, 2011

On Pinterest, and the various ways to sort a virtual life

I've recently rediscovered a website that everyone got hip to a long time ago. Pinterest is, at first glance, just a cool way to collect images you like. For those of you who aren't using it, it works like so: you create boards, and add content to them by pinning an image and adding a note. You can add prices, hashtags, and tag other users. They even have a handy toolbar bookmarklet so you can save content really easily.

My original mistake was assuming that Pinterest could only be used as a visual inspiration tool, a need that I had already filled by using tumblr (which I still do infrequently, over at press the pause). But then I realized I was using a few tools which Pinterest neatly streamlines into one place.

Screenshot of my Svpply main page

I was using Svpply as a wish and shopping list. It has a really beautiful, streamlined layout, and is an easy way to have everything I'm interested in potentially purchasing one day (or having purchased for me, hint hint) in one place. While I like the items it suggests for me, I could only save items that came from an e-commerce site (and those didn't always work), and I found what was recommended for me was often a little too aspirational (read: expensive) for my meagre budget.

Screenshot of my Google Reader hair feed

I've been using Google Reader for a while now, and I've been using the tags feature to categorize posts I want to save for later. For example, every time I come across a street style or blog photo with lovely hair, I'll tag it 'hair'. That way, the next time I'm heading to the salon, I click the hair tab and have everything I already like culled into the same feed. Neat, right? Like a hairstyle magazine designed by me!

But this lacks the ability to leave notes to myself, and it's still in the standard text-heavy GReader format—great for navigating blog content quickly, but not so great for mostly visual use. I've also tried using the starring feature on GReader, but I rarely checked that feed, so I haven't found it useful.

I would email recipes to myself under the label Recipes, and I still do when I'm immediately going to be referencing it. But where to put all those recipes I wanted to try one day, but a) I didn't have in a GReader feed to tag and b) would get lost in the annals of my inbox?

Screenshot of Etsy's Circles

What about Etsy? I've been favouriting items and shops for a while and now, with Circles, it's easier than ever to have my tastes aligned with others'. But sometimes I'm saving things because I want to buy it as a gift or for myself, sometimes it's because I want to try making it myself, and sometimes it's purely from a lust/aesthetic point of view, and there's no way to tag these different uses. There's no easy way to navigate through the stuff I've saved either.

Screenshot of my Pinterest page

Pinterest solves all of these issues. I save the clothes I like to a board called, unoriginally, Clothing, where I note all the things I like about an item, including the store (so if I place an order, I can gather all of the things I like from that shop). I have my Hair board, which I can note whether it was the cut or colour was I was admiring. I have a Recipes board, so I can save a visual of the food I was drooling over as well as the recipe (and tag it with the meal type, so I can find all my favourite desserts or dinners down the line). I note all kinds of things in Colour Inspiration, from cool photos to runway outfits to vintage baubles. I have a board called Sensible Buys for recommended products that I know I'll need one day. I even have a board dedicated to glasses, spectacle nerd that I am.

I've only started into using this in earnest about a week ago, and it's already becoming one of my favourite browser tools. To make it even more dangerous, there's an iPhone app coming soon so you can even use your camera to pin things! I could have really used this on the bus last week when I saw a gal with the most perfect colour of red hair imaginable. Like, Anne of Green Gables red.

Basically, it's a little spot of the web that looks like what I'd imagine my idealized life looks like, beautiful and organized and filled with things that inspire me. Come on—follow me, follow Laura and we'll all have fun inspiring each other.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

This is the story of how we begin to remember

With our weather firmly planted in spring and our days growing longer, I always find myself listening to music that speaks of renewal. Music that captures the buoyancy you feel when sunshine hits your skin after a long winter, and your days are growing longer, and you want to be outside more and growing more and doing more. These days, that album for me has been Graceland.


It seems funny to me that I'm just now finding deeper meaning in an album that has been with me for my whole life. My dad would dance with me to this album as a baby, bouncing me rhythmically to songs about a man being 'blown apart' by broken love, or about following a girl with diamonds on the soles of her shoes. I feel like I've heard that moment recounted so many times, I can see it as an external observer.

I can see the yellow August light filtering in through warm linen curtains, and my dad with a beard much darker than it is now; a fat baby perched on his arm, the pair swinging around the small living room. In a strange way, I feel like I remember this, although it's not an actual memory, but a fabrication so real I feel the hot air, the smell of summer in the city, the texture of the rough couch, all painted in the sepia tones of the faded family photographs from that time period.

Not only is the atmosphere of the changing seasons one of renewal and growth, but I feel like the seasons are changing in my life. I crave growth, like those flowers digging in their roots and reaching up, like patio umbrellas blooming in restaurants across the city. This is a moment of change, and while it's welcome, change is painful. Change means realizing you don't have that much in common with people you once felt so close with, and realizing limitations, and finding new homes, and making new friends. It means redefining yourself at a time when you're trying to do so much and time never feels generous.

Maybe now is the time when I am feeling Graceland so deeply because it's ingrained in me. It's an album about the search for solace after pain, without overindulging in sadness. It's about taking a pilgrimage to find out who you've become after you've realized you're growing up, and to feel part of a community seeking meaning. In that light, it makes sense that I'd find it the perfect soundtrack to this moment, right now. It was bounced into my body as a baby and to me, it speaks of a time when there is nothing but possibility and potential wrapped in a new father's loving motion.

You can download Paul Simon's Graceland here.

I've also recently read an excellent article about Graceland at This Recording that I think you'll like too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Listening to this, and wishing I was here! They go so well together.

[Flash 9 is required to listen to audio.]

via Matchbook

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cheap Eye Candy

I have very poor vision. This is the result of faulty genetics and many childhood evenings spent straining to read The Babysitters Club after lights out. I've been wearing glasses since I was about seven years old and since then, have never gone a day without a pair of frames perched upon my nose. My vision's so bad I couldn't leave the house if I were glassesless, and I've never worn contacts.

Last year, I decided to invest in a pair of designer specs for the first time, eschewing my family's regular glasses guy for Spectacle, a boutique lenswear store on Queen St. W. That place is like a candy store for the poor-visioned—row upon row of colourful designer and vintage frames, set upon brightly lit shelves, and a staff of helpful and trendy glasses-wearing assistants. I had a ball trying on pairs, squinting at myself in the mirror, and finally settling on these, my yellow and brown Cutler and Gross beauties. Handmade perfection, a pair to frame this mug.

Good quality comes with a high price tag though, and while my Cutler and Gross frames are totally, utterly beloved, sometimes your budget is too sparse to spare $800 for a pair of glasses. THIS IS THE POST FOR YOU, moth-walleted and bespectacled brethren!

I've lusted over Warby Parker frames for a while—their designs have a smart, retro appeal in a huge variety of shapes and colours, and they're dirt cheap at $95 USD a pair (including prescription lenses unless you're super-blind like me, in which case it's just an extra $30). They've also recently started shipping to Canada (yay!), but if you live in the States, you can even order try-on pairs to see which you like best. Plus, WP is partnered with vision non-profits worldwide to donate a pair of glasses for every pair sold. Good for your eyes, good for someone else's too.

Winston in Old Fashioned Fade from Warby Parker

Tenley in Burgundy Fade from Warby Parker

Fillmore in Light Tortoise from Warby Parker

Another online retailer I've been scoping on the regular is BonLook. They carry frames in a few different materials (plastic, metal and wood/bamboo), and prices seem to vary from about $45-95 USD per pair. They have some pretty good guidelines on how to measure your frames and what shape will suit your face best. They also send every pair out worldwide with Green Shipping, which buys carbon offsets so your specs' travel time isn't adding to your carbon footprint.

Barbarella from BonLook (on sale for only $45!)

Happy Tuesday in Horn from BonLook ($55)

Creme Caramel from BonLook ($55)

If you're living in the States, there's another great online shop to try called Classic Specs. Sadly, they don't ship to Canada yet, but they do have really awesome looking glasses, priced at $89 USD including shipping. They do home try-ons too, and have a pretty slick-looking website—not bad, for the squinty set.
Freeway in Crystal from Classic Specs

Amherst in Gunmetal Fade from Classic Specs

Falmouth in St. Tropez from Classic Specs

"But," you say, "what about frames for the irreverent and slightly jaded?" Never fear, dear reader! Eyebobs caters to you most especially (or so they say). These guys sell reading glasses and sunglasses at $75 USD a pop, so if you've only got a slight prescription, these chic shades might be right for you. Their frames can also be turned into prescription glasses by your local optician.

Kimball frames from Eyebobs

Nudnik frames from Eyebobs

Another online retailer that I have a bit more experience with is Clearly Contacts. I got a pair of Joseph Marc glasses through them a few months ago for super cheap. Like, bought a Living Social deal for half price and waited until the frames were on sale kind of cheap. They are cute, but ended up being way bigger than I had been expecting (but I didn't measure, like they recommend). Oh well—I love them and they'll be perfect for my Twin Peaks Log Lady costume next Halloween.

The shipping was lightening fast at about a week's turnaround, and they sent me all sorts of extras, like a tiny screwdriver kit. Prices range from about $38 CAD to $200+ for some of the designer frames, including Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Persol, Dior and many more. And apparently, if you wear contacts, their prices are some of the best available. I'm partial to their Derek Cardigan line of frames.

Derek Cardigan Cateye frames from Clearly Contacts

Sorry I've rambled on so long, but I really love the glasses hunt! What is your favourite retailer for glasses?

Monday, April 11, 2011

BUtterfield 8

Ever since Liz Taylor died I've been meaning to watch some of her movies. I've seen Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and loved it, but Dan didn't want to see it because he's jealous of how much I love Paul Newman. Which he should be.

I wasn't in the mood for the emotional depth of Suddenly, Last Summer and so we settled on BUtterfield 8, a movie starring Liz and her fourth husband Eddie Fisher. After my initial confusion (what's BUtterfield 8? is she a call-girl? why doesn't she take Weston Liggett's money?) I came to really enjoy the film, and appreciate the immortal style of Liz.

Liz plays Gloria, a young woman who sleeps around, steals fur coats, and brushes her teeth with liquor. (Isn't that a lyric in a Ke$ha song?) She always look completely gorgeous and put together, even in the midst of a complete breakdown. Her "job," the way she makes money, is a kind of modelling—putting on fancy designer clothes and showing up at bars to be "seen." (Is this a real job? Can someone get me this job?)

We can see a lot of echos of Gloria in Liz's real life—a glamorous lifestyle, moving from man to man, and looking for the wrong kind of love. Gloria seems confident on the surface, but is really a fragile and shy person, looking for acknowledgement. I was shocked when I saw this video of Liz accepting the Oscar for Best Actress in BUtterfield 8. Liz had the reputation of having a large personality, but in her speech she is nervous and soft-spoken.

(Youtube won't let me share the video but you can click here to watch it.)

Even more fascinating to me, since I've been on a makeup tutorial kick, is this video of Liz putting on her famous eye makeup. This is from a movie called The Driver's Seat which I desperately want to watch. (It's about a mentally disturbed spinster!)

Look at the crazy in those violet eyes!