Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Soundtrack of Summer

If you call Toronto home, chances are you're planning on being outside today as much as possible. It's supposed to get up to 31 degrees Celsius (and feel like 41!), so it’s time to roll out on the park grass like cats in the sunshine, y’all.

And, if I can make a slight recommendation, break out the Death Proof soundtrack*. I was listening to it on my walk in today, and I realized it’s my favourite album ever. YES, a soundtrack is my favourite and the best. I was actually fantasizing about walking around with a huge boombox perched on my shoulder so everyone else could also have the perfect soundtrack to their morning, but then I remembered those people are assholes.

Don’t believe me? Download it here and listen for yourself. Here’s a taste: Hold Tight by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. JUST TRY to resist a band name that rad.

So break out the sunscreen, crank up the tunes, and get ready—summer’s only just begun, dolls.

*With some tweaks! Do as I do and remove the following tracks: Paranoia Prima, Planning & Scheming, Stuntman Mike, Sally and Jack, and Whatever–However. Tarantino has an awful habit of sticking in bits of dialogue and atmospheric music that wreck the vibe of the whole album. I could've removed them for you, but I'm an album completionist and prefer to just untick the box in iTunes. Just do it and thank me later.

Monday, May 30, 2011

My new favourite breakfasts

Hi friends! I have three great recipes for you today, all for yummy breakfasts, and all totally basic and cheap. I'll list them ranging from easiest and least time consuming, to the most challenging.


Inspired by this post by the Nutrition Diva, I have been making smoothies almost every morning. They are perfect for when you are still half asleep, and don't have much time to make food. These ones are super good for you, filling enough for a meal, and taste like a cup of sunshine... seriously.

I use a magic bullet to whip this stuff up, but you could use any blender as long as the quantities are right.

My version: 
2% milk, however much you want (I find this has the best taste and consistency once it blends)
one banana, chopped up
some strawberries, if you have them around
one ice cube, to cool things down
one spoonful of almond butter
one spoonful of cocoa powder

Blend it, pour it in a glass, and you've got a tasty way to wake up in the morning.

Next up, Skillet Eggs with tomatoes and goat cheese:

I made these this morning, which were easy and the perfect breakfast for two! (Since I'm just one right now, I will have leftovers, my favourite thing in the world)

My version:
Add a tablespoon of butter and cream to a skillet, and put it into the oven on broil
Once it melts, add four eggs, a whole bunch of chopped up grape tomatos, and some goat cheese
Put the skillet back in the oven, the recipe says to let it broil for 5 minutes, but I'd say 7 or 8, depending  if you like your eggs runny or more firm

Okay, now I'm pulling out the big guns (but not). Hollandaise on poached eggs!:

This one was a group effort. I did the eggs and sauce while Dan fried up some bacon and toasted the english muffins to perfection.

I took my recipe from here, and followed it pretty much to a T. Read it on the site itself, because hollandaise can be pretty tricky. I had to make two batches because (beware!!) if you take it off the heat, even for a second, the egg yolk and the butter will separate. Keep it warm, and keep whisking, until you pour the sauce over your poached eggs, which are sitting on top of applewood smoked bacon, on top of an english muffin. YUM. This is definitely the most complicated of the three, but still not so bad, as long as you have 4 hands instead of two. Give yourself some time for this one, and have extra ingredients on hand.

Friday, May 27, 2011


I'm having an off week. You know, those weeks when you only reach for the same ol' standbys to wear, or the weather just isn't agreeing with you, or you're on the home stretch of a long and drawn out project? Yeah, one of those weeks.

Luckily, it's Friday, and I have fun plans with good friends, and a new 'do, and a ballin' new ring.
  Bar of hearts ring and freshly gingered hair
That unpainted pinkie nail feels very indicative of my mental state right now.

So you get style inspiration for summer instead. These are some things that have been floating through my radar, and that I'd like to have floating on my body. Light, loose, sheer, easy clothes in soft colours and bold prints. Enough of this rain—give me shorts season instead!

Vanessa Jackman
The Sartorialist
Happy Because
Closet Visit

Mr. Newton

Isn't that fabric just the best thing you've ever seen?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mini Cat Zine

Just a quick post today…I want to share with you a zine that I learned about on Frankie magazine's website.

Li-Kim Chuah from Melbourne is an awesome collagist. I like to think that my collage work would be a lot like hers if I actually put in the time and work to make it look good. 

Her latest creation is about cats!! Of course, I am biased, but I think it's just the best. It reminds me a lot of Sonja Ahlers' eyelash print, but on acid. I highly suggest you either pay the $6.50 to buy this zine or get out there and make one your damn self. Tell me where and when, and we'll have a craft night.

All images from Chuah's etsy

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Toronto Camera Style

Inspired by this awesome website documenting cool cameras around Tokyo, Dan and I have started a blog about our city's cameras called Toronto Camera Style! It doesn't look like much yet, we only have three pictures, but it's growing fast. Anytime we see someone around town with a cool camera, Dan usually wants to stop and talk to them anyway, so we have started snapping pictures of the ones we like the best. There are some awesome cams out there, and very interesting people attached to them. We have a flickr group set up (called Toronto Camera Style) so you can contribute your own pictures!

CHECK IT OUT! We'd love some feedback.

UPDATE: Amanda is now featured on the site!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Post Frittata

A few things I'm feeling inspired by right now, in order of colour saturation.

Megan's long bob (photo by Lisa Warninger)

Scout and Catalogue's lightweight wool scarves. She hand dyes each one herself. This one looks like the rainy weather we haven't had a reprieve from lately. Once I save up some pennies, I plan to buy one of her lovely totes too.

Cocorosa's styling is enough to make me reconsider sweatpants, almost.

Calivintage's pretty layering.

via Craftster
The linen stitch. I love how it creates a sturdy fabric with just enough textural interest, and how it can even out very colourful yarns. Yes, I lust over stitch patterns.
via Refinery 29
Sephora by OPI's latest nail decals, Chic Print for Nails. I'm partial to the Giraffe and Tiger versions.

The home of the late Mimi Weddell, shared by Matchbook Magazine from Vogue Casa Oct 2005. The fearless colours and golden light are what draw me to these, although the hoarder bookstacks hit a little too close for comfort.

This raspberry limeade cocktail from The Kitchn. It may be cold in TO now, but soon it'll be hotter than we can handle. Cheers to that, friends.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


For my last class at university ever ever ever (!!!!!!!) my only option was to take a class on the history of critical and literary theory. I thought I'd be okay, but this is not cool. 

This is a far cry from the novels that I am used to reading and analyzing. This is an anthology that weighs as much as my laptop. I've never read Plato, Kant, or Du Bois, and I always kinda liked that about myself. This is all changing now. For my last class, I will truly be learning. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Crop to it

I've been dreaming of loose, easy crop tops in every incarnation. Tissue thin tanks and chunky cotton knits, paired with high-waisted pants and cutoffs. But, of course, rather than find these things in stores and thrift shops, my plan is to make them.

That's the problem with getting your feet wet in a few crafty disciplines, isn't it? I'm forever seeing items and thinking, "I could make that", even though I never have enough time and my project list is ever growing. Seriously, the things that actually make it into production are just the tip of the iceberg, and even those get dusty from neglect in my project pile. I just have too many ideas and only one pair of hands, you know?

Anyway, this is something I'm actually going to do, because I have to. It's just too damn easy (famous last words?). That is, sew up a few shirts, made from the lightweight thrifted cottons that have just been begging to be made into soft summer staples. The sweater I've been imagining will take a little longer, least of all because it'll be knit, but because I haven't been able to find a pattern I like, so I plan to design the damn thing too. Oh, my poor project list, how bloated you grow.

Of course, I'll document the proceedings for you, so you too can make some sweet summer shirts.

A few ideas that have been floating around my Pinterest boards.

Amimono Knit Collection
Liebemarlene Vintage
stay fancy free (the blog of the talented knitter behind yarnovermovement)
Leah Goren

American Apparel

If you're looking for a cute option of your own and aren't insane enough to take on designing on a whim, check my sources—most are shoppable, and some, like the Leah Goren kitty tank and yarnovermovement's Welland sweater, are handmade by some smart, admirable crafters. I may have to cave and get something from them myself (sorry budget!).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Summer tunes

I have a fantasy that once this week wraps up and the rain goes away, it will feel more and more like summer. Except for those unfortunately friends with allergies, this is the happiest time of year for everyone. To get in the mood, and chase the rain away, I have been searching out fun, happy, summer music, and I'm looking to girl bands because—let's be real—they are much more fun.

I feel a bit guilty doing this, because you should all BUY this album on LP rather than just download it, but here is a sample of my new favourite band, Peach Kelli Pop. They hail from Ottawa, but their myspace page says that they're from Nunavut (even cooler!!).

 So cute! I love girls and the sweet music they produce. I want to listen to this while drinking mojitos and reading old issues of Sassy! (Speaking of which, have you seen Jane Pratt's newest foray?)

Another great band that I know nothing about yet is called Las Robertas. They have kind of a noisey garage rock thing going on, and they are doing it all right. You can sample their album here.

While going through my friend Nik's records the other day, I found a record by a band called Oh Ok, and there was a picture of a cat on the cover—which sold me, obviously.

Hope you love some of the music I've shared. Take a minute to listen and relax, and picture yourself outside in the sun wearing cute shades and sandals.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Oh dear.

I had today's post all written up yesterday when Blogger crashed, taking my words and pictures along with it. And today, I've somehow pinched a nerve on one side of my neck, so I've spent my whole day with my head cocked inquisitively and wincing when I shrug.

So for now, I'll leave you with this trailer for a movie I'm going to probably end up watching as I cuddle up close to an ice pack. Elvis in the Middle East!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Words of wisdom

Everyone knows about This American Life, so I don't  have to give it much of an introduction. I like it most of the time, when the subject matter is light and funny, not interviews with people who have attempted suicide, or the Chernobyl disaster. When I listen to those, and this speaks to the ability of the people on the show, I want to stay in bed for like days. Forget about it.

Anyways, I really look up to the people who run This American Life (my girl Jane Feltes) and other shows like it. They make a real-paying job out of teaching people through media, which is honourable and smart. I hope to do something like that one day.


Most of the people I know who are no longer in school are trying to "make it" in the creative world. This advice from TAL host Ira Glass really stood out, and it's the best advice I've seen out there. It's never going to be easy, and I think we can all relate to the "not being great at what we do" feeling. This is like a different kind of It Gets Better project, and hopefully will inspire people to not be lazy and content, but try to produce things of interest. This is one of the reasons that Amanda and I started this blog, to get more practice in writing and sharing our common interests.

So go forth, friends, and make something with your time and talents! If you do, I promise to feature it here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Morning Cuppa

I make no apologies for my coffee addiction. Every now and then, I'll try to deny the death grip that little caffeine compound has over me and make a switch, even just to black tea. I usually end up seriously regretting it by about 11am, right about the time my inner addict realizes she isn't getting her morning fix. It doesn't take long for me to cave. I've accepted my lot.

Having a KeepCup might be a nice addition to my morning routine. This pretty little mug is not only barista standard, meaning it can fit under any espresso maker, but is fully customizable in colour scheme. It comes in three sizes for now (8oz, 12oz, 16oz), and the price seems very reasonable (a medium cup comes to just under $20 including shipping to Canada). For colour-craving (and eco-conscious) creatures such as myself, this is Very Good News indeed. Even just playing around on the Cup Designer is fun.

My preferred colour combo

Perennial favourite of the Burgundy Girls and coffee lover extraordinaire David Lynch has put out a line of coffees, called David Lynch Signature Cup Organic Coffee. They're probably pretty good as Lynch sure loves his java, but the best part of it is his recently released commercial, a 4-minute long conversation with a Barbie doll. It's infinitely weirder than you'd ever imagine it could be.

I'm really not a morning person, and maybe that's part of where my strong yearning for coffee comes from—I need something warm and friendly first thing to lure me out of the comfort of my bed cocoon. I think mornings might be easier on me (and easier on my wallet) if I didn't have to make a stop at Starbucks to get my fix, if I could simply wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Enter the programmable coffee maker, my one true desire of late (and, fingers crossed, a soon-to-be birthday present from ma and pa).

No model preference for me, but this one's from Oster

Imagine waking up to coffee already made! Living the dream! That, plus a Wake 'n Bacon alarm clock or this Egg and Muffin toaster, and my life would be complete. Actually, if I could request that someone out there invent a way to fully automate my morning routine so robots just washed, fed and clothed me, that would be great, kthxworld.

Back to Basics Egg and Muffin Toaster, only $60 (via Amazon)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sharing is caring

I thought I'd share with you all some pictures that have been inspiring me lately.


The hair! The shorts! The boots! I've always dreamed of having gigantic hair. The all-white outfit looks great with black accents. Real simple, looks laid back and cool.
Friends, flowers, and yummy food in a bright space. Drinks served out of mason jars! I have been dreaming about springtime potlucks lately, and I found a great recipe for sangria gelato.

Comfy bed with iced coffee, a laptop, and records. I could spend all day in this bed... with occasional visits from Dan and/or Penelope.

I've been trying this, and it's really hard. I don't think we realize how easy it is to say mean things about people, and this is a nice reminder to try to see things from another point of view, or just keep your mouth shut! Try it!

And here's a fun little song that I've had on repeat for a while!

Monday, May 9, 2011

DIY Nails: Lassoing the Moon

Last week, I just couldn't decide: creamy peach or racecar blue. The answer?


Laura showed me how to do this fake moon manicure, and it's so ridiculously easy that you should do it too. Here's how:

1. Paint on your clear base coat, then your base colour. Depending on the opacity of your polish, you may want to do a couple coats. Here I'm wearing two coats of American Apparel's Summer Peach.

2. Let it dry. If you don't, you'll get weird little bubbles in your accent colour. Don't ask me how I know this.

3. Load up the brush on your accent colour and do one smooth circular motion on the bottom portion of your nail. It helps if this is an opaque polish so your coat doesn't have to be so thick, and feel free to get it all over your skin. You're only doing one coat, so get it to the coverage you want now. I'm wearing a discontinued Nicole by OPI sparkly blue colour.

4. Clean up the edges of your cuticle with a Q-tip dipped in nail polish remover. Don't soak it too much or it can remove some of the polish you want to keep on.

And that's it! I usually wait a day before doing my top coat, so it's extra dry and the little bits around my cuticles come off in the shower.

Think of all the magical colour combinations this knowledge opens up! I've already been daydreaming about what colours to pair next, because I'm the type of girl who daydreams about painting her nails. Aim this low, folks, and you too can achieve your dreams!

All You Had You Wasted

New life goal:
become as mindnumbingly badass as mid-nineties Shirley Manson.

Friday, May 6, 2011


I went to a silent auction last weekend, and I won something fantastic.
Julia Child's cookbooks!!! How exciting and extravagant. I'll have to have you over for dinner one day very soon.

I love watching her videos on Youtube, and I wish I had been alive when her show was on TV. I could watch this woman for hours. She's hilarious and I've actually learned quite a bit from her.

But my favourite Julia video has got to be this one. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I first encountered kombucha in a great book by the creator of MAKE magazine, Mark Frauenfelder, called Made by Hand. It's an exploration into DIY-culture, and he does everything from raising chickens and bees in his LA backyard to learning how to whittle and build his own cigar box guitars. It's a great read, and not just because of the wealth of neat projects he and his family take on. Mark's honesty about the triumphs and difficulties of living DIY creates a compelling picture of a modern life  integrating old-fashioned methods.


In Made by Hand, Mark tries making kombucha, a fermented, naturally carbonated tea that develops in tandem with something called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), a thick mushroom-like film created from the active cultures and sugar. Its use dates back to 19th century Russia, and perhaps far earlier by Chinese and Korean texts. The purported health benefits are unproven, but include liver detoxification, treatment of cancer, improved energy, aiding in digestion and a few other benefits.

I can't remember how it tasted going down for Mark and while the concept of growing a kombucha is pretty cool, the idea of drinking a tea that's been sitting with a giant mushroom in it is a big turnoff for me. But I just saw something that helps change my perception of the bacteria-brewed beverage.


Suzanne Lee's TED talk on growing her own own fabric using kombucha is a really interesting look at the future of textile production. She creates giant sheets of SCOBY to use as the textiles of her clothing designs. She can create paper thin sheets of cellulose or thick pieces of vegetable leather from the dried culture. It has its drawbacks, but she hopes that we can engineer workarounds for some of the material's flaws.

While it's not ready for commercial use anytime soon, it's an inspiring vision of how scientific advancements and design can work hand in hand, literally brewing up a product with unique characteristics ideal for production. Sure, I may not want to drink it, but it's easy to see the benefits of such a unique and easy form of textile production, especially in a world where cotton prices keep rising and textile production is usually not an eco-friendly endeavor.

So I'm taking this as a reminder: To look at raw materials in different ways, to continue collecting random information and filing it away in my memory, and to always be trying new things. Who knows where the next Big Thoughts will come from, but it could be as humble as a home-brewed jar of tea.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Alice Springs


Alice Springs, or June Newton, is one of my favourite photographers. She is the wife of another famous photographer, the late Helmut Newton. Helmut's photographs are internationally recognized; his interest in the female body, specifically large and powerful women, comes across in an incredibly stimulating way. June's photographs often share a similar outlook: her subjects are mostly female based and often nude, but are shot from a very different point of view. I am so inspired by their lifetime together as lovers and contemporaries, and how their works feeds off each other's. I don't think you can have a full understanding of the work of one without looking at the other's as well.

In my favourite picture of her, taken by her husband, you can see the beauty both in stylistic elements, but also in capturing an intimate and suggestive moment.

She seems like a really cool lady. Here are some of her photos.


pas un autre
Compared to her husbands' stark and even kinky images, June's exude a softness—but have, I think, a very keen and sharp sense of humour to them. The portrayal of women by women differs greatly, and complicated issues of the male gaze no longer apply.

June is a great talent, who's work alone shows the passion that existed in her marriage. Here is a documentary she shot of their life. (This is part 1, the rest you can find on Youtube.)

richard porter
It seems, on the surface, that her life is dictated by his work, but you can see that he respects her not as an assistant but as a colleague. It takes a great woman to not feel overpowered by a successful partner, but to use it to her advantage—to take on the images that they both find inspiring and give a female point of view to the starkness of her husband's work. In one of Helmut's most famous photos you can see, just like in many others, that June is present, always on the side-lines, and just as much of a creator. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nailed It

Just over two weeks ago, I embarked on a terrifying mission. It was nerve-wracking, a battle of wills, and most of all, required patience (not always my best suit). I knew in the end, it would make me stronger, but at what cost?

Well, as it turns out, about $25 and about 5 minutes every other night.


This winter has been brutally harsh on my nails. Maybe it's just because I'm older, or maybe it's because I've started vowing not to let the dirty dishes pile up for more than two days at a time, so my hands are in hot, soapy water more often than they're used to. All I know is that this year, the tips of my nails started cracking and peeling constantly, taking along with it any vestige of perfect painted polish and, of course, my sanity.

Because you see, I am a reformed nail biter. Yes, until the age of about 20, I would gnash my poor nails down to little nubs. It was a gross dirty habit that I had tried to kick many times before, and it wasn't until I found my triggers (ugly nails, ragged ends and stress) that I found the solution. Even that special polish that tastes bad didn't work on me. The solution is to keep my nails pretty and polished, try to have a nail file on hand at all times, and to chill the fuck out (I'm still working on the last one). As long as I can do these things, I am stone-cold sober.

So yeah, having polished nails that only lasted a day before they started chipping was wearing on my last nerve. But then I saw one of Jane Feltes' How to Be a Girl columns that asked about this exact question. So I took her advice, trucked on out to a Beauty Supply Outlet, and started applying OPI's Nail Envy.

It's kind of terrifying, not only because it costs $25 for one bottle of nail polish, but also because it's the only polish I've ever bought that comes with a paper insert of instructions.  Those instruction tell you to paint it on in three strokes, staring from 1/32 of an inch from your cuticle. Paint on two coats, then a coat every other day for a week, then take it off and start again for another week. And please, dear god, don't let this shit touch your skin at all. That's because, on every piece of packaging with it, comes this screamer of a warning:


which to be perfectly honest, scared the living daylights out of me. Like, could I still eat with my hands, which is my heathen way of choice? Could I pet the cat? Would I die if this got in a hangnail?*

check out my all natural white tips!

Two weeks later, and I'm still breathing. And best of all, my nails are the best they've ever been. Seriously. They are longer than ever before, they are super strong, and the Nail Envy works like a super glossy top coat. I only chipped at the tip of a nail ONCE by a tiny bit when I was trying to pick off a lid. Who would have thought coating your nails in a rock-hard formaldehyde solution would make them superhuman? Plus, because I'm terrified of my stiff-as-a-board coating, I never ever try to mow down on my nails (and I heard a rumor that this makes them really difficult to bite after the fact too! Wheeee!)

So OPI Nail Envy. Worth every penny. Sure, there are other formulas that don't contain the formaldehyde, but where's the fun in that?

* FYI: a baker friend of mine said that a small amount of formaldehyde is often used in commercial gingerbread houses to make the cookies really stiff. That made me a lot less afraid, and also wow, food for thought come Christmastime.