Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thrifted Life: the squishy-faced cat

Amanda and I first got the idea to start Burgundy Girls from our BFF Jill who suggested, since we are both hoarders packrats collectors of cool things, that we share with the outside world some of the awesome and amazing items that come in and out of our apartment. Now that we no longer live together (physically, at least, emotionally we will never part) I figure that we collectively have even more stuff that you would ever possibly want to read about.

Amanda and I both love thrifted items; part of what makes a piece so special is the history behind it–and if I don't know the history then I'll just make one up. Knowing that something you own is not really yours, that is has already had a life of its own and will probably have one after you, makes it more important–the feeling that it's not really yours, it's bigger than you, and you are just borrowing it. I feel that way about lots of things in my apartment. A good 75% of the nicknacks I have, though, belonged to my grandparents and great-grandparents, so their histories are known to me, and I love them for it.

I propose that this can be the first of a fairly regular column, Thrifted Life, when we need a break and run out of more creative content (because seriously, we do this every single weekday).

This is a sketch of a squishy-faced cat that I got from my grandmother's basement, that on first glance is probably the worst picture of a cat you've ever seen. My grandma said that when she worked in the accounting department at Eaton's in her 40s there was this married guy that was in love with her. He and his wife would come over for dinner and he would embarrass himself by drinking too much and paying her way too much attention. This picture, she says, was his last-ditch effort to win her over, knowing that she loved cats, and hoping that she would love him for his "artistic side." He eventually cut off all contact, and this picture went down into her basement for almost 40 years.

So here's to Jack in '73, whose picture is now hanging in the house of the granddaughter of his unrequited love.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Past Few Days

Get set for a life update, guys!

I had a ton of fun at the Ex. I had the good fortune to go with two gals who, like me, just wanted to try everything in the food building, so our day was a marathon of food punctuated by leisurely activities. We saw the Superdogs and left with huge smiles on our faces. We tried Deep Fried Cola, and you should too—it tastes like gingery funnel cake. We looked at all the weird, purebred cats (and their even stranger owners).

The biggest score of the day came from the discount makeup section, where I stocked up on purple and gold nailpolishes and this awesome sheer red Sally Hanson lip balm. I like how they didn't skimp on the packaging – it's not just gold, it's holographic gold! You can also see my blinging new fave nailpolish in this pic too, a colour called Golden Nugget.

Tonight, I'm totally going to turn my nails into gold leopard print while I watch the latest True Blood and then go to bed at 9pm. I'm really stoked about it.

Yesterday my dog Charlie came with me to the office. I haven't really updated you guys on how it's been going because I've been too busy going. I really lucked out—he's super bonded with me and my guy already, and he's a perfect little gentleman. He just loves affection and being near his favourite people, and he's very low maintenance. I love our little morning walks together before the busy street near us starts waking up (when I'm not too exhausted from being sick! It's made getting out of bed really difficult the past few days). Here's a pic my friend Sandy took of us dancing together yesterday.


Training him has been going well so far—his desire to please people is really strong, so he's taken to the leash really well. We're going to have to work on his confidence though, as he doesn't seem all that interested in playing with other dogs yet, and he suffers from a little separation anxiety when he's been alone for a while. My boyfriend works from home, so Charlie's used to having company all day.

He's such an old soul, and we've also figured out he's probably a Capricorn (just like Laura!). I also like to try and guess what kind of dog breeds he is a mixture of. Miniature Schnauzer for sure, and probably some other kind of terrier too, but he has a very soft coat. I've thought Westie maybe, and another dog owner suggested Wheaten terrier but they're double the size of this 20lb boy. Any thoughts, guys?

My other favourite thing the past few days has been Sudafed Sinus Advance. Have you tried this stuff? Oh man, it's wonderful. It's ibuprofen (Advil) mixed with some sinus-clearing magic. It has totally helped ease the pressure in my face and my body aches like no other. I know this is a bad time of the year for allergies and summer colds, so if you get them often like I do, you might want to pick some of this stuff up*.

Also, I've been attached by the nostril to my neti pot lately. It's so gross, but so satisfying. I love watching my sickness spiral down the drain. Just make sure you have lots of Kleenex on hand afterward.

I hope all is well on your end of the computer, friend!

*They didn't pay me to say this or anything. I just want you guys to have fun days at The Ex while suffering from sinus infections too.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Coveteur

Has everyone heard of the Coveteur yet? It's a site that takes you inside the closets of "some of today's most recognized global tastemakers." Sounds pretty cool, right? It doesn't hurt that the styling is beautiful, the pictures are immaculate, and the two founders, Erin Kleinberg and Stephanie Mark, are Toronto girls! If you haven't heard of the site before then now is an especially good time to check it out—this week they are focusing on Canadian style icons, so we can all see inside the closets of those closer to home. 

This is the only website that I visit independently of my Google Reader, and for good reason. Just like a site like Pinterest, or the editorials in a beautiful glossy magazine, the Coveteur is full of inspiration. For people like me and Amanda, however, and probably you too, this kind of life is almost unknown, and if not a total fantasy than at least a daydream. I look at the closets of these women, who are creative directors, writers, stylists, designers, journalists, etc., and I am inspired to make beauty out of what I have. I will never have closets like this women, and even if I do there will be more Springsteen T-shirts than there are ballgowns; but the organization, and the pride that these women take in their most cherished possessions is what's truly enviable.

In the spirit of coveting my most prized possessions, I'd like to share with you my own personal Coveteur.

Here is the wall of clothing that I share with Dan...
and the rest of the contents of my little closet. Keep in mind that I share this space with a man who owns more T-shirts and cut-off shorts than you ever thought possible. 

Now let's go deeper inside my closet and take a look at my most-loved wardrobe staples.

My Jeffrey Campbell flatforms. I love these shoes more than I should. 

I bought this Wood Wood sweater last week and haven't worn it yet. To me it epitomizes the crisp fall weather, and biking to work with a latte.

These were jeans that my dad wore when I was growing up that he made into longer cutoffs years later. I stole them in '08 and shortened them to my liking. They remind me of everything wonderful about my dad and even though they look like hell I will always feel cute in them.

This is a Miu Miu bag that belonged to Dan's grandmother. I "inherited" a lot of beautiful sweaters and purses from her, though this simple leather bag is my favourite.

Though I have more jewellery stored away, this is the stuff I wear day-to-day, kept in little teacups. You can hardly see the details here, but there are many rings in the front right cup, bracelets in the back, and hair accessories in the front left. 

My small collection of vintage watches, from my grandmothers and Dan's.

Possibly my most prized possession, and the reason that I'm not scared to walk alone at night.

My favourite rings, a collection from all over the world

I got this sheer lace top years ago when I was in Montreal with my best friend. Just on the outskirts of China Town there is a vintage store that stays open late, and we wandered in after having large dinner and way too much wine. I didn't trust my judgement, so I only bought one top, and I have to stop myself from wearing it everyday.

Dan brought me this dress back from his trip to Ghana. He had it made perfectly to my measurements and it fits like a glove. It smells like incense and the colour really brings out my eyes.

And there you have it, friends: my humble, iPhone-picture version of the significant items from my wardrobe. I hope that you have been inspired, and I encourage you all to turn to your own closets to find the pieces you love the best. Too often we covet the beautiful things that other people have. Cherish the items that are handed down or that you broke the bank for, it will make wearing them that much more special.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Weekend Warrior

Not sure what your plans are this weekend, but mine involve deep fried Coke, a spin on a sketchy giant fair swing, and seeing lots of kitties that look like this:
Why yes, I am going to the CNE, only the best summer fair on earth. I'm going to eat my face off in the food building and sneeze when we go see the horses and try to talk LJ into seeing the SuperDogs show. It shall be glorious, and I'll try to remember to document it with some photos.

Not only that, but I'm also heading to see John Waters, the Pope of Trash, at the TO Underground on Saturday night to talk about his influences. Seriously, I could hear this guy talk about ANYTHING, so I think it's going to be pretty sweet. I'm not sure if there are tickets left, but you should snap them up if there are—it's going to be one hell of a show.

But I'm feeling under the weather today, so I'm off to get some last minute work done and rest up.
Hope you've got plans you're psyched about this weekend too!

(If you're still looking for some, you should go get your nails did by pros, bros. This Sunday only!)

I've also got a new piece up on Vive Magazine this week about J. Crew – check it out!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Event: Fancy Sunday Nails

I wanted to share with you some coolness that is happening in the city on Sunday, August the 28th, which somehow is like 4 days from now. Where does the time go?

At Miracle Thieves, just across from Bellwoods on Dundas, local artists Mahban Ryude and Michelle Lafade will be painting nails like crazy. When I say like crazy I mean that your nails will be crazy in a way that Amanda would die for.

all pics from Mahban's tumblr
On her blog, Mahban explains that "Every set of nails posted on this blog is done by [herself]." "I'm the one who appears the most," she writes. "I've been documenting them for almost a year now. So there are a lot of them."

I learned from the facebook invite that anything you get done is $20, which is totally worth it for the experience of hanging out with these awesome girls while getting bold colours and patterns on your tiny little moving canvases. This is more than a manicure, friends, this is art.

Call ahead and book some time (find their numbers on the facebook page), or you can do a walk in, but I wouldn't chance it. These ladies will be working from 1–5.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

From One Cat to Another: Givenchy Fall 2011 RTW

For sure you've all seen this line already on your Google Reader, but I think that Givenchy's 2011 fall deserves a bit more in-depth attention. I will admit that the panthers and the pansies are what caught my attention right away, and made me pretty obsessed with the show. But looking further into the line, and watching this video especially, the details emerge in an unexpected way.

I love the videos from, in which the collections are always introduced by the lovely and bitchy Tim Blanks, and celebrities and fashion insiders talk about their impressions on what they saw on the catwalk.

"There is this hard/soft, push/pull, repulsion/attraction. There's always a duality and that's his big thing. It's never one way." Inez van Lamsweerde, half of famous photographer duo.

Here are some of my favourite detailed shots from the collection. I love the sheer balanced with the dark, thick collars, and in the second picture the sheer drop skirt, which I am desperately trying to recreate in my own wardrobe. The beauty in the almost-Baroque detail in the last pic is impossible to deny. This collection impresses the me who loves to breakdown an outfit and think and write about it critically, but it also impresses the 10-year-old me who love cats and flowers. In a very smart move, Riccardo Tisci's collection can appeal to the fashion conscious and those just chase aesthetic pleasure. Following in the large footsteps of McQueen and Galliano, who also had their hand at designing for the famous design house, Tisci is really making a name for himself, ensuring that we'll all see a lot of his work in the future.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cool Your Jets

This week, there's a chill that's edged into the air and I'm digging it. My bike rides into work are cooler, my guy's back in his blazers, and I'm slipping on jeans instead of shorts for my morning walks with Charlie. I'm looking forward to pulling on tights again, sweaters again and even one day soon, coats again (but not too soon).

I'll be heading to Disney World in 22 days (yes, I have a countdown clock on my dashboard) and it's only August 23, so I know there'll be a few more days of warm weather, but for now, in our hot little apartment, it's feeling quite refreshing.

And the colours of fall are so refreshing! I'm looking forwards to rusts and mustards and forest greens, hues that have felt out of place for months. I'm looking forward to woolly felts and soft plaids, cozy knits and solid boots. I'm looking forward to letting my hair hang loose, warming my neck and falling across my shoulders. I'm looking forward to considering my clothes in a way summer doesn't ask you to.

Right now, I'm thinking of fall transitions, how to get some of the pieces I love wearing right now working into the next two months. And here are some of the ideas inspiring me.


What are you feeling inspired by this fall?
See more of what's inspiring me at Pinterest.

Monday, August 22, 2011

In Memoriam: Jack Layton

We're going to take a break from our regular scheduled programming for a moment of silence.


Jack Layton, the leader of the NDP and Canada's official opposition, passed away this morning at the age of 61. He had recently taken time off from politics to fight with an unspecified cancer, and he passed away this morning in his home.

It was hard news to wake up to this morning, not only because Layton was progressive Canadians' best hope of representation, but because he seemed like a truly great man. He went by the nickname Smilin' Jack, and it was fitting—he was a true optimist and a community man, rarely seen without a smile. His wife, Olivia Chow, is also a federal politician (and in fact, represents my riding of Trinity-Spadina), and they always seemed very happy and in love with one another.

We here at Burgundy Girls are shocked and saddened by the news. We celebrated Layton and the NDP's historic win during the last election (they more than doubled their highest amount of seats), and hoped this meant there was a reversal of the conservative tide in Canadian politics. Regardless of your political leanings, there was no denying that Jack Layton loved Canada, loved Toronto, and did his job admirably—providing a voice to a huge portion of the Canadian population.

Now, with Layton's passing, we can only hope the mantle of hope and change will be taken up by other politicians. He will be sorely missed, and we're glad we got to experience some of the joy and optimism he brought to the political table.


For a taste of what Layton was like, enjoy this fun little spot from the Rick Mercer Report from last year, where Layton shows Mercer around his eco-friendly home, right in the heart of an old Toronto neighbourhood. He also speaks Cantonese with his wife and mother-in-law, and pokes some fun at himself.

He also modeled for Prada and Gucci back in the day—what a babe, right?


Here's to a great man whose legacy, spanning all party lines, will never be forgotten.

Layton's last note to the Canadian people, written two days ago, can be read here. It contains his advice for the future of the NDP party but also the future of the country. We should take solace in his final words to us. We should use it as a new opportunity to live with intention and stand for the change that we want to see in how Canada is governed.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Graceland, In Pictures

 It was scary hot this day. Outside, unlike everywhere else, there was no AC, so waiting for the bus to get from the main compound up to Graceland was pretty uncomfortable. Note the guy passed out on a bench in the background. That is how everyone felt.

This, however, is how everyone looked. Everyone had their pictures taken in front of a mural of the Graceland Gates. The bus tour didn't actually include a stop at the gates. This was the closest we got.

Dan, being a true documentarian. With the price of a ticket everyone got a headset to wear when walking around the grounds. The recording spat Elvis propaganda at you in an informative tone while directing you from room to room. That's the bus in the background. We were carted around pretty much everywhere, though it wouldn't have been far to walk.

This is the front of the house itself. Doesn't look so big, does it? That's because it was not that big. I was surprised; after hearing so much about the place I thought it would be larger than life. It was roughly the size of a McMansion.

This is the sitting room, and no, the colours have not been adjusted in this picture. It was kind of beautiful it a really retro way, and the carpet was strangely spotless. This was the only room light enough to capture with my 400-speed film, but you can imagine the other, equally as elaborate, but in asian style, jungle style, etc. 

We weren't allowed up the stairs, but up there is where Elvis actually died. I wonder how far I could have gotten if I'd just bolted. I'm pretty sure there were armed guards keeping the privacy of the Presley family. You can see at the bottom right how packed the place was with people. There was a lineup to walk through the entire house.

The lineup continued outside the house to the Meditation Garden. I half expected to see people crying, and I was disappointed when no one did. For a mediation garden, though, it wasn't very relaxing.

Here are the remains of the man himself. Grave sites are always kind of underwhelming, aren't they. One thing I found interesting is that Elvis' granny outlived him and his dad Vernon. Priscilla talks a lot about Elvis' grandmother is her book Elvis and Me, which I have plugged before. I found a small stack of them in the gift shop (I kind of can't believe they carry it there, it's almost like blasphemy) and I wanted to wave them around shouting "Read this and then tell me what you think of him!!!!!!!!" You should all read the book, it's very enlightening, and paints Graceland in a way that is very different from the way it's seen today. There is a disconnect for me between the real Graceland and the Graceland in my book, in its heyday, and in my dreams. I still loved it though.