Monday, October 31, 2011

Best Halloween Costumes I've Seen

I thought since most of us adults have celebrated Halloween already (doesn't it feel like it's already has come and gone? Today is just a normal day...) that I'd post my fave costumes of the year. And don't worry, I'll keep posting more as I find them. Thanks Facebook non-privacy settings, for letting me steal all the pics. Feel free to send me more at and I'll post them.

This is sexy Rob Ford's 911 tape, FYI

Friday, October 28, 2011

Five Things That, Yes, I Did This Week

I've been running late all week. I can't seem get on top of my to-do list, I've never had enough coffee, and I still don't have a Halloween costume. So, rather than think about everything I haven't done, I'm going to focus on five things that I have.

1. I made this pulled pork from the Pioneer Woman, and damn, was it good.

Plentiful too – I made it on Sunday and we've had it for dinner almost every night this week (including one evening with chief knitting pals, Steph and Karen). I cooled the sauce separately and removed the fatty layer, but next time I'd reduce the sauce too, and give it a thicker consistency. We might try it on pizza tomorrow.

2. I finally finished this little bow scarf.

I apologize that I've only got this grainy Photobooth pic, but I knew I had to document it at the moment of completion or it wouldn't exist online for at least another month (I started knitting this last January, for an idea of how timely I am). This is a gift for someone, so I won't say who for in case she reads this. Her price for the scarf will be for her to model it for me properly.

This was a great little knit – very straightforward with a tweedy worsted yarn in a garter stitch, and if I had given it the proper dedication, I'd imagine it knits up quickly. It would make for a good beginner's project, as it covers some basic techniques (increasing, decreasing) in a short and simple little scarf. It's a free pattern too, so you might want to knit one up for yourself (or as a last minute gift idea!)

3. I finally threw out the nasty old makeup remover I'd been using since university (six years ago, blech!) and replaced it with this Clean & Clear Soothing Oil-Free Makeup Remover.

It works well and gets the job done, but I'm just really happy now that I don't feel grossed every time I get fed up with wearing days worth of mascara. It was like $10, guys. Why didn't I do this sooner? Do you have any products in your medicine cabinet should have met their maker long ago? Take it from me – treating yourself is so worth it.

As a sidenote, buying Clean & Clear made me feel prepubescent all over again, but without the mood swings.

4. This is one thing I haven't done, but I'm proud of myself for not doing. That is, spend too much money on a knitting kit from Wool & The Gang. Specifically, this sweater kit:

This pretty much THE SWEATER I have been looking for this fall. But the thing is it's like, $150 dollars for a sweater you knit yourself. That's crazy talk. And no, the yarn is not spun out of the hairs collected from angels or qiviut or something – it's plain ol' wool. It doesn't even specify if it's merino. And while I'm sure the wooden needles are nice, I think I already own a pair of 15mms. I just can't justify that.

I asked The Gang if I could buy the pattern separately, which I cannot, and I'd want to adapt the pattern anyway (not a fan of those reversed stockinette sleeves). So I've found yarn that I LOVE that will make a nice sub (that yarn alone is going to be $90, but at least it's Malabrigo), and I'm just going to design it myself. Should be easy peasy (famous last words?), as soon as I save up the pennies to buy the yarn.

5. Speaking of pennies, I did this super rad moon manicure that I never want to remove.

I used American Apparel's Summer Peach and Revlon's Copper Penny, which is just slightly less coppery and slightly more rose gold with a touch of white shimmer. I did a moon mani tutorial a few months ago if you'd like to try this out (apparently I like using Summer Peach for this!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Growing Up in Toronto: The Mad Hatter

"When people who grew up in Toronto in the ’80s talk about their childhoods, one thing inevitably comes up: The Mad Hatter. “Did you go there? Was it real?” And when people who were not children in 1980s Toronto overhear us talking about the place, they always think we’re making it up. Yet even those of us who went to parties at The Mad Hatter wonder if it wasn’t actually some collective hallucination."

via The Grid

I read a Grid article this morning called "Down the Rabbit Hole" on The Mad Hatter, a birthday-party venue in North Toronto that was... for lack of a better word... dismal. Have you read it? If not, do yourself a favour. It's written by Sheila Heti, who is probably Toronto's best current author, and it's made up almost entirely of quotes from people our age who went there and remember it better than I do. It's so, so funny.

As soon as I saw the bizarre, ominous mural that adorned this place, something clicked inside me. This vivid memory came into my consciousness that I hadn't thought about for years, and I really hoped that I wasn't just making it up, influenced by the article and jealous of the experiences I'd read about.

I was in a dark room with at least 10 other kids and there was a strobe light on. I remember this really well because that was my first experience with the in-out-out of vision strobe effect that I still get whenever I'm high. The door was locked from the outside and we couldn't get out. There was a huge pillow fight going on. I was not having fun—in fact I was terrified. Someone hit me in the face with a pillow, and I tasted blood. I remember wondering if I was going to die. This was probably also my first experience with anxiety.

I emailed my childhood best friend with this memory and a link to the article, and she confirmed not only that we were there but that it was her birthday party. They fed us boiled hotdogs on lunch trays (though, to be fair, this probably happened at the Bathurst Bowlerama as well) and a chocolate McCain's cake.

According to the article this place closed in the early '90s, which must have made me under the age of 5 when I was there. Does anyone else remember this place? I am fascinated and would love to hear more stories.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kitten Cousins

Okay, truth time: growing up, I used to tell other kids in the schoolyard I was part cat. I was like seven, okay? I don't really know why I told people that or why I wanted it to be true with a sort of quiet desperation, except that I loved cats. Adored them. Had a cat-themed wallpaper border up in my bedroom sort of love (remember those?). I wasn't allowed to have one myself until a few years later, so I guess they took on a somewhat mythologic sense of importance to me. I just thought they were like, the ultimate in cool (they still kind of are—James Dean ain't got nothing on felines).

Long story short, this book probably would have been right up my alley as a youngster.*

It's a Choose Your Adventure style book where you are a cat. Every frame of this graphic novel, drawn and written by Sherwin Tjia, is drawn from a cat's perspective, and you make decisions about what to do. Is this a "nap in a sunbeam" sort of day? Should you chase a squirrel? Fight another cat? Hang out with your owners? The choice is yours.

(Charlie, is that you??)
All images via Tjia's set of illustrations
This is such a cute idea, and I can think of a couple people for whom this would make a perfect little Christmas gift (coughLauracough). As the back cover says, "It's a brand new Caturday! What are you going to do? Unlike dogs, you do what you want!" That's so true, man, so true. 

If you're in Toronto, there's a booklaunch party at the Drake Hotel on November 5 that is sure to have lots of cool cats and kittens in attendance. You can meet the author, find out about his illustrations and story process, and hear about other projects he's got going on.

Check here with the publisher, Conundrum Press, for more info, including ordering a copy for your very own.

*This is rated as mature content, so probably not. Or maybe, and I just would've learned about the birds and the bees a little earlier.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Warning: Videos of Cute Animals

I say WARNING, because if you are anything like me, you'll see one of these and then spend the rest of your day watching them all. I'm not really a VICE fan, I'm obsessed with "The Cute Show." It's not often that they do stuff that is genuine and real, but when they do I'm a total supporter.

These seriously have made my day about a hundred times better, if you don't feel the same way then you've got a heart of stone. Juuuust kiddingggg.

And I'm not gonna lie, this one totally made me cry a little at work.

There are tons, tons more on the Vice site, so check 'em out and kiss you afternoon goodbye.

Thanks, Mishki!

Monday, October 24, 2011

DIY Nails: Galaxy Nails

Let's get intergalactic, friends.


This was one of the first fancy manis I figured out how to do, but I've only recently discovered the magic of sponges and nail polish. Not even makeup sponges—I'm talking straight-up dish sponges.

Washing your dishes and blinging your nails

I used to just paint on blotches, wait until they were tacky and then press down so they dried faster. They would get all fingerprinty, and I think that actually helps with this mani. Texture really works in your favour here, and that's the greatest part about a galaxy mani—you pretty much can't mess it up. Well, that, and your nails look like outer space. That's pretty killer too.

You'll need a few polishes for this, but you can be very flexible in the colours you use. The polishes I used, in order from first to last and left to right:

1. Black-blue with navy shimmer (Revlon in Midnight Affair)
2. Dark lilac with white shimmer (Sally Hanson Hard as Nails with Teflon in Applause)
3. Bright yellow with acid green shimmer (Sally Hanson HD High Definition in Hue)
4. Fluorescent violet creme (Sinful Colors in Dream On)
5. Gold shimmer (Sally Hanson Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear in Golden Nugget)
6. Clear base with silver glitter (Gosh Nail Polish in Silver Star)
*Not pictured: Clear base with fine holo glitter (Sally Hanson New Lengths Ceramics in Urban Chic)

You certainly aren't limited to those colours though— there are many lovely colours in space.

via Julia

1. Cut a few narrow pieces of sponge that are long enough to easily grip. I cut the edge off a new dish sponge and then cut that strip in half. I found I only needed to use two pieces. I also used a small plate covered in tinfoil as my working surface. You'll need to put nail polish on something, so make sure you use a surface that won't absorb polish or get damaged.

2. Do a clear base, and then a coat or two of your base colour. This could be black, violet or a brighter blue instead of navy. I could even see an emerald or Vamp-esque burgundy looking good too.

My cuticles are going to be messy, so be warned.

3. Brush a few globs of your next lightest colour on your working surface. Dab your sponge into it lightly and start applying to your nail. It's good to vary the way you're concentrating the colour from nail to nail—try going diagonally one way, put colour in two places, or centering it. You're best to start with little on your sponge and gradually add more. This will be the largest nebula coat, so make it as large as you'd like your final nebulae to roughly be.

First colour: dark lilac
4. Use your next lightest colour and start to dab it on top of your previous sponged coat. The great part about sponging is there is minimal dry time, so you don't really even need to wait between coats. Try to keep slightly inside the lines you made with your previous coat so you can still see each colour, like a topographic map. See?

cool paper topography by Crafterall

Second colour: yellow with acid green shimmer

4. Add a few more layers of colour. I like to add a bit of rosiness to keep it warm (I used the fluorescent violet for that), and gold because, duh, this ain't no time to be demure. I like to use gold as my last coat so it really pops, and to make it as concentrated as possible. Let these dry well.

Third colour: fluorescent violet
Final colour: gold

5. It's glitter time. I like silver glitter for outer space, but I also added a coat of fine holo glitter because I'm a magpie. Just make sure you're not using a thick one coat glitter—you definitely want to see your handiwork underneath all that glitz. If your glitter clumps together too much, add a little nail polish remover to the bottle and shake it up.

*Pro tip: You can leave this step for the next day if you're about to go to bed, because the glitter will mask any sheet lines you'll inevitably get on your nails.

And that's it! Your nails, the final frontier!

I took these final shots a day or two after I had added my glitter coats, as you can tell by the slight wear along my nail tips. This can get thick, so try to keep each coat as thin as possible (sponging really helps with that). I cleaned up around my nails with a Q-tip dipped in nail polish remover—no need to get fancy.

All in all, one of my favourite ways to have a really sweet looking, totally foolproof mani. And please, if you try this out, show me pictures of your galactic nails! That would just make my day.

Friday, October 21, 2011

31 day photo challenge

I've been (mostly) keeping up with this photo challenge, and it's been a lot of fun. I encourage you all to do it–even with a crappy cell phone camera–as it keeps you looking around for creativity at all points during the day. In no particular order, here is the first group of pictures I've collected.


something borrowed

fall leaves

in my bag


walk to work
self portrait


If you have been doing the challenge please leave us a link in the comments. It's so interesting to see what kinds of pics people come up with when under the same restrictions!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rationalizing My Sleep Problem

I have to get better about waking up on the morning. I just have to. It really sucks, but it's one of those things that until I've got it down, I'm only half a grown up.

Society has structured itself, somewhat unfairly, on this schedule where the work day starts at 9 am and ends, for me anyway, at roughly 5 (and for those of you unlucky to be tethered to work at all hours by your smartphone/laptop, I feel for you so deeply). I don't actually know anyone who likes 9 am, by the way—I think morning people must be an urban legend, or at the very least, a very solid minority, which is makes having to roll into the office at 9 really cruel. #occupyAM

via Miss Moss

So I need a better system, because my system of setting my iPhone for an appropriate snoozable time, then turning off the alarm and going back to sleep isn't an actual system that works.

What can I do?

Go to bed earlier. I go to bed around midnight, which should be enough time for an appropriate sleep (I only have to get up at 8), except I'm convinced my body needs like 9–10 hours of sleep to feel well rested. I'm just addicted to sawing logs y'all. So maybe I need to start acting like the old I truly am and head to bed earlier.

Stop sharing a bedroom with my boyfriend and my dog. Those two are also addicted to sawing logs, and because D works from home, most days they get to sleep in together. Do you know how much it kills me to get ready while D dozes, take Charlie out to do his business, feed him breakfast and then he just crawls back into bed? SERIOUSLY? Every morning I feel like my household is invited to a way cool party and I'm Cinderella. (ZZZinderella?)

Set my alarm farther away. I could do this, and D would probably be less annoyed by one loud buzz than by the 20 smaller buzzes that happen with the current, non system. But morning air is so cold, guys, and it's just getting colder. Shock therapy is my least favourite way to start my day, you know?

Get a programmable coffee maker. I have often thought about this, how nice it would be to wake up smelling fresh brewed coffee. What's holding me back is the price of the programable brewers (in the $60–70 range) and adding the routine to set the brewer the night before (routines are not my strong suit). Yes, I could just press coffee in the morning, but let's be real—my problem is getting out of bed. Giving me more AM tasks is probably not the way to make that easier.

Practice, practice, practice. This is actually a neat idea to essentially trick your body into autopiloting when you wake up. Essentially, at another time of the day, you set up your bedroom to your sleeping conditions and set your alarm for a few minutes into the future. Wear pyjamas, brush your teeth, turn off all lights. Get yourself into the mindset of the morning, and imagine you've just had a restful night's sleep. When the alarm goes off, immediately get up and start your routine. When you're through, return to your sleep conditions and try again (this guy recommends 3–10 reps per session). Then wake up at the same time every day for at least 30 days, to condition it fully into your subconscious.

Do I care enough to practice waking up? I like the idea of jumping out of bed, rarin' to go, and I like how you can train your brain to work on autopilot (like a robot!).  But I don't trust myself to stick to this kind of routine. Sleep ins are one of life's greatest joys, and I don't think I'm willing to give them up cold turkey.

In short, I don't know what to do. I hate mornings, and I have to actually figure out a way to work with them. I don't want to, but I do. And I'm too tired right now to figure out an actual solution. What are your suggestions for getting up on time? PLEASE, help me!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Street Style Photography: Hopeful or Harmful?

Lewis Mirrett for

I've been pouring over all the street style blogs lately—now more than ever—since it's been fashion month, and finding so much inspiration in the photos. But then I read this article, about how this fairly new incarnation of photography is creating a new unattainable ideal for women, and it really made me think about the effect the pics are having on the women who covet them—including myself. Take, for example, style snaps like these. If you look at these photos and take away the idea that you have to own a pair of your own Prada creepers then I think you have the wrong idea.
This deliberateness has surely had an effect on the authenticity of street style photography. Will Welsh lamented on, “When the street-style trend went nuclear, all the accidental “Who, me?” unselfconsciousness that once made it so fresh was tainted.” The Cut took a similar stance, saying, “One could argue that ‘original style’ isn’t what attracts photographers anymore; rather, it has evolved into street style stars wearing different versions of their signature looks, perpetuating their own fame.” — Fashionista
 Sure, the photographers snapping the pics might be searching for the socialite or the next It girl, but to many of us those designer duds are a far away fantasy that we easily do without. I always thought of street style as akin to runway style—it may be equally as untouchable (though not always!) but that doesn't stop people from looking to it for inspirations that can feasibly touch their own lives. Friends of mine who have been style snapped lately (like here and here) don't make me feel bad because I can never have what they have, and for the record, neither do these ladies. I look, and I edit out what I like, and I think about it the next time I'm looking in my closet trying to decide what to wear.

How do you guys feel about style style photos?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: October Luxe Box

Last night I received my first Luxe Box, and guys, I'm keeping signed up to this until the day I die. Well, except that I'll probably die from a cupboard avalanche of tiny bottles of wonderful things.

What is a Luxe Box, you ask? Well, it's a box that comes once a month, filled with 4–5 deluxe samples of beauty products. The company who produces them, Loose Button, is partnered with some great companies, like Moroccanoil, Stila, Essie, and Benefit, and previous boxes have including full-sized versions of some products (small ones, like nail polishes, eyeliners, etc.). It costs $12 per month, and you fill out a questionnaire about you and the types of things you'd like to receive, and just like clockwork, your box appears around mid-month. All day yesterday, I knew my box would probably be waiting for me at home, and YES, it DOES feel like Christmas when you get to crack 'er open.

Onto the goodies!

I was really impressed with the level of personalization my package had. It opens with a card (addressed to me) that runs down everything that's in the Box, including what each item does, and the size and cost of the full-sized versions. The sticker holding the tissue paper together was also labelled with my name – classy.

I received a little $25 rebate to Dealuxe, an online retailer I've never seen before but that, at a cursory glance, has a wide selection of designer clothes and accessories. Maybe I'll indulge in a ballin' new ring from House of Harlow or something.

The goods! This month, I received:
– a Mineral Glow powder from Pur Minerals. This is intended to be a bronzer, but I used it as an eyeshadow this morning and really like it. It's a tawny, dark camel colour with a very pretty gold shimmer, and the particles are small so it looks very smooth. The size is really good too, bigger than a MAC eyeshadow.

– a vial of Olay Professional Pro-X Eye Restoration Complex. I've been thinking of trying something to reduce the dark circles under my eyes, so this came at the right time. Probably not the kind of thing I'll invest in (the full-size is $60), but it'll be nice to see if this sort of product makes a difference.

– a large sample of Moroccanoil. I've never tried this before either, but have heard so many rave reviews. They sent me a sample of the Light version, which is formulated for fine and lighter coloured hair. The sample I received was 25 ml, which is a quarter of the full-sized version which retails for $40. That means this sample alone is probably worth about $10. Score!

– a Lise Watier Flash Lift Radiance Vial. This is a new product that is apparently just launching – like, is not even available in stores yet. It claims to instantly revitalize your face and make you look more radiant and less tired. I'm not expecting miracles, but I'll give it a try one day when I've stayed up too late keeping up with the Kardashians.

– a pretty little sample of Chloe. I was very pleasantly surprised by this addition. I'd never smelled Chloe before and had been curious to try it. Plus, look at how adorable the bottle is! I'm wearing it today, and it's a really nice scent – probably a little more floral than I like to wear at this time of year, but very womanly and rich. It reminds me a lot of Miss Dior Cherie. It's a welcome addition to my growing little fragrance collection.

I know that not every Luxe Box is the same, so I'm curious to hear if any of my pals who subscribe received anything different in theirs. As for me, I feel completely satisfied by what I've got. It was well worth the $12, and I'm looking forward to what I might receive in future packages (now I just have to get over my irrational habit of squirreling away things I only have very little of).

For now, it is a Canadian-only service, so sorry to any American friends that might be interested (you can always sign up for  the US-only BirchBox and console yourself with all-American activities like listening to Pandora and eating Cheez-Its).

If you'd like to sign up, I'd very much appreciate if you'd use my referral code.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Food Plans

I got the NOMS.

 Do you ever get to busy that making food for yourself is a luxury that time just can't afford? It's the beginning of Toronto fashion week and things on the home front are just going to have to suffer for a while. That doesn't mean, however, that a girl can't dream. Here are some recipes that I'm dreaming of while I eat another veggie wrap from Subway.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Golden Girls Fashion pt. 1

I had the idea for this series while I was falling asleep a few nights ago, and I still haven't decided whether it's totally awesome or just a really bizarre mixing together of things I love. Both Amanda and I always strive to post things on burgundy girls that we ourselves would like to see on the blogs that we read, and so without further introduction here is something that maybe you thought you would never see in your life and maybe never wanted to.

If the characters in the Golden Girls could be best represented by any of the Spring 2012 runways shows, I found myself wondering, which shows would they be? After watching every episode of every season I feel like I know the girls' style as well as they do. I know the show ended almost 20 years ago (how is that possible?!) but in my mind they are stuck wearing so many dated prints and bright colours (I won't even mention the rhinestone-encrusted gowns I've seen them in). It was a pleasure to bring the girls into 2012.

Today I will talk about the golden girl who is closest to my own heart, and whose affinity for forearms I wholeheartedly share.

Dorothy and Christophe Lemaire: 

Dororthy is long and lean, and is really able to pull of loose and drapey clothing. This dress would be a perfect staple her her, best suited to grocery shopping with her Ma or hanging around the house with her best gals. If she put on some bangles and a pair of drop earrings she would totally wear it on a casual date.

While this might be a tad casual for the classroom, it mimics Dorothy's menswear-inspired blazers and slacks. It might be a little too risque for her to wear the blazer without anything underneath, but we'd just tell her "Hey! Live a little!"

Another blazer, this time with a wider, palazzo-style pant. I know this is another black outfit but can you imagine how her silver hair would pop against all the dark colours? Perfection. Notice the sleeves, a little long for Dorothy but she could get them taken up.

Another perfect menswear-inspired piece. This would be for those extra hot and muggy days in Miami, as most of the time ladies of a certain age do not like to show their arms. With this outfit you can really see the Japanese inspiration that Lemaire had in mind, which I think mixes well with Dororthy's laid-back, covered-up, billowy but chic sensibilities. 

Check back soon for the next instalment!

All pictures (except of Bea Arthur) from WWD.