Friday, December 30, 2011

Sayonara 2011

Sorry things have been a bit quiet over here at Burgundy HQ for the past week. Laura had her birthday on Tuesday (happy birthday, doll!) and has left our fair northern soil for a trip to Stateside, while I have been alternating between playing the busy bee catch-up and lazing with my dog in bed watching the Kardashians. We were both in need of a thorough break, so we'll be back with lots of fresh jazz for y'all in 2012.

But I just wanted to pop in and say, have a really wonderful new year's eve, guys. Don't get too wild and crazy, or do, and take lots of messy photos. Don't forget to celebrate National Mic Check Day either (1/2/12 – snicker). I hope you're out using up the last of your benefits for the year, and get your party nails on, for god's sake.

I'm wearing three coats of American Apparel's "Supernova",
which is a pretty dope dupe* for that Deborah Lippman Birthday shit everyone lost their minds over.

I love you guys, and I can't wait to grow a little bit older with you.

*Is it an actual dupe? Pfft, beats me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Eat It: Eggless Carrot Nog

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, guys. I've been holed up at my parents' house the past few days and it's been pretty great. My parents are dogsitting the world's sweetest toy poodle, Mia, and Charlie is just beside himself, trying to get her to play with him. We just watch the action from the sidelines, aka. the couch, while running marathons of House Hunters and drinking eggless nog.
Mia. She weighs maybe 4 lbs, tops.

Eggless nog, you ask? Well, my mom is severely allergic to eggs, so this year I made it my mission to whip up a batch of frothy goodness that she could enjoy too. And boy, was this stuff good.

Creamy, thick and better for you than traditional nog, it tastes like spending the holidays in Hawaii, due to the coconutty flavour it's sporting. It's a pretty orange colour, and as an added bonus it's lactose-free, so my fellow lactards can enjoy copious amounts without feeling hella bloated/smoking out the family. It's pretty sweet, so I'd recommend cutting it with some dark or spiced rum, or do as I've been doing and use it to whiten your coffee – it makes your morning cuppa taste just like pumpkin pie.

Eggless Carrot Nog
Adapted from here
Makes 2 cups

1/3 cup coconut milk (I used cream of coconut, which is slightly creamier)
1/2 cup carrot juice
1 1/4 cups vanilla soy milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Put all ingredients in a blender or use an immersion blender for at least 2 minutes to whip all ingredients together.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Must Watch: The Star Wars Holiday Special

If you're looking to kill some time wrapping gifts or wait out the clock during what must be any office's most boring day of the year, allow me to make a humble suggestion. Treat yourself to a viewing of the Star Wars Holiday Special.

It was only broadcast once – on November 17, 1978 – and pretty much everyone involved has spent that last 30 some-odd years pretending it never existed. The only copies that still exist have that grainy, sunsoaked saturation of aging VHS. Thankfully we have the internet, or this gem may have been forever lost to the annals of time.

Yes, that is Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher reprising their roles. Yes, that is the first appearance of Boba Fett. Yes, that IS a 10 minute long conversation entirely in Wookie without subtitles. YES, THAT IS BEA ARTHUR SINGING. I swear, I get a contact high just watching this thing.

Fuck the newly remastered Blu-rays – this is the only Star Wars special I'll be watching this holiday season.

On an entirely serious note, happy holidays you beauties you. It just warms the cockles of my heart that you guys read what we do here on Burgundy Girls, and that's the best gift us gals could hope for.
Hope this season's a wonderful one.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

5 Christmas songs that won't make you want to kill yourself

If you have tried to brave any retail stores in the month of December, chances are that you've been inundated with bad Christmas music. It's everywhere—Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber, and nameless, faceless other singers who, because it's a Christmas song, take advantage and go full-on cheesy and over the top. I've started to despise most Christmas music, but there are a few saving graces—songs that I go to year after year to get me in the holiday mood.

Putting this list together I realized that a few of the songs contain either racist and homophobic remarks, but I'm going to chock that up to the songs being from a different time. Besides, if you like them kind of ironically then it's not bad, right?

The Pogues "Fairytale of New York"
This is a classic that my dad introduced me to when I was a kid. Yesterday, a bad bar band played this when I was having drinks with some co-workers, and I kind of glazed over and let myself slip into the world of the toothless Shane McGowan, a world where it's okay to be in a drunk abusive relationship in New York. I feel like I'm not really selling it, but it's a great tune.

Bandaid "Do they know it's Christmas?"
This song is so mislead it's crazy to think that it was written and performed in the '80s. It's kind of a guilty pleasure, guilty because the lyrics are so fucked up ("The only water flowing [in Africa] is their bitter sting of tears"). But it was for a good cause, and look at how much fun they are all having! Thank God it's them instead of you, huh!

Elvis Presley "Blue Christmas"
Elvis makes it onto every top 5 list that I make, just because he is wonderful in every way. Here is a live performance of his, but he has a whole album of Christmas songs that are pretty cool. This is my fave by far. And I like this little country-ish take on a song that's usually pretty soulful.

Vince Guaraldi Trio "O Tannenbaum"
I usually steer clear of a lot of the other songs on this album (I hate the sound of children singing) but this instrumental is a jazzy take on the original. It also reminds me of my Grandma, who taught me the words in Estonian was I was a kid (I don't remember them). Also, if it's not already, you should make watching the Charlie Brown Christmas special a yearly ritual.

Joni Mitchell "River"
 This one is sad, but worth it. I have been listening to her album Blue on repeat these days, and I have this theory that listening to Joni does the same thing as what happened to the Grinch at the end of his story—your heart can actually get bigger and have the capacity to hold more love in it. (AWWWW.) This song makes me feel reminiscent of the past (a Christmas pasttime) and lucky for what I have write now. So many feeeeeelings! (If you really want a Christmas-themed heart boner, watch this version of the song.)

I am going to add one more song that doesn't make the top 5, mainly because it's really annoying and grating, but I love it nonetheless. WARNING: this one might make you want to kill yourself.

Alvin and the Chipmunks "Christmas Don't Be Late"

Monday, December 19, 2011

Review: December Luxe Box

Another month, another Luxe Box. This month, just for the holidays, they've broken out the big guns and given us a shiny foil version of their usual customized sticker.

In addition to the samples, they've also included a letter thanking customers for their loyalty, and for making Luxe Box such a Big Deal since sending out their first box in February of 2011. That's actually pretty impressive.

First look at the goods:

First up, we've got a Slim Eye Pencil in black from NYX. It's a full-size version, but considering this is a drug store brand that retails for $4, I'd expect nothing less. It's a basic pencil—no bells or whistles in the form of a creamier or waterproof formula. As such, I probably wouldn't buy it because I'd prefer something with a smoother application, but no harm, no foul. My current black eye pencil is a stub, so thanks for taking that off my shopping list for now, LB!

I've also included the LB Belgian chocolate coin we received in this picture too. It's about the size of a chocolate loonie, but I could tell it was better chocolate—creamy and rich, not like cheap Easter chocolate (which has its place, don't get me wrong). It maybe lasted 10 seconds after this picture was taken.

In my little card telling me all about the products, LB tells me this full-sized sample of Yves Rocher's Rouge Dragée lipstick is my thank you for being an existing customer. And it's a pretty enough lipstick—I received colour No. 66, a soft creamy pink that goes on sheer and feels pretty nice. The packaging is a little tacky—the translucent fuchsia reads very '80s Barbie—and it smells like old-school lipstick, but overall, I'll probably wear this often. This is what it looks like on me:

But like, seriously guys? This full-sized "gift" costs $5 in store. That price comes straight from their own little info card. I'm not trying to be a greedy Gus, but I signed up for deluxe samples. And it kind of gets to the heart of my problems with this month's Luxe Box generally, but more on that in a minute.

I also received a bottle of Yves Rocher Italian Mandarin Shower Gel. Which, yes, smells like those delicious Christmas oranges we know and love so well. But also, this is a hotel-sized shower gel, full stop. And not even a good one. If it were Kiehl's or even Lush, I'd forgive you, but I don't need a tiny bottle of drugstore shower gel, LB. My shower is cluttered enough as is. This inclusion felt like a cop out.

And then I got two little spray sample vials of Nina Ricci perfumes, L'Air du Temps and Nina. L'Air du Temps is very floral and rose-based, while Nina is a much more modern scent, an apple-y oriental. Of the two, I prefer Nina—I like smelling a little bit like food generally.

And that was it.

If you didn't get the sense I wasn't impressed by this month's Luxe Box, let me make it clear – I was not impressed with this month's Luxe Box. Maybe it was because the first one I received was so good, but last month's and this month's have felt like they've been increasingly declining in quality. This month, I don't even believe the items I received even added up to the amount I paid for the box ($12)—sure, I got two full-sized items, but they total $9 (by LB's own admission) and then I got a hotel sample shower gel, two perfume samples I could get for free at any beauty counter, and a chocolate coin. And it's unlikely they're paying the retail price to send us these items.

I'm not trying to be greedy, but when you've promised and previously sent items like MoroccanOil, full-sized Lise Watier eyeshadows, and Benefit skincare products, that's what customers are going to expect. I don't care if you want to send me a couple items I can get at Shoppers around the corner, that's fine—but I do expect there to be some level of "deluxe" to your deluxe service. Otherwise, what's the point? Why am I paying full-price for these items I wouldn't have chosen myself? And including a note doubling over, thanking me so profusely for my support, while sending me a bargain-bin box didn't make me feel any better.

While I really like the idea of Luxe Box and I have received some good samples in the past, I don't know if it's going to continue to be worth it for me unless they step up their game. They are the most pricey of the monthly sample boxes (with both Glymm and Topbox being $10), and while last month's had better quality items, I didn't find I liked them that much. I'm going to give them one more month, and if I'm feeling similarly disappointed, I'm switching to another service.

If my review didn't scare you off too much and you'd like to try Luxe Box for yourself, please use my referral code!

Some quick notes from Laura Kathleen: I felt pretty similarly to Amanda on this one, though I didn't piece together the actual financial drawbacks of this month's box. The lipstick and eyeliner are both great—but perfume samples? On signing up for the service, you can "customize" what you are getting in the box (where I asked for no perfume samples, btw) but I'm not going to use these. Like, never. If you want mine, don't hesitate to get in touch!

I think people get this box for different reasons. I am not ordering it to find the next love-of-my-life product that I wouldn't otherwise buy, I'm getting it for the Christmas morning-like surprise I get when it comes in the mail and I open it. And this Christmas morning kind of got shrugged off.

December should be a month that's better than usual, not worse. Let's see what the next month or two has in store.

Did you get any different products in your box? Tell us about them!

5 Beauty Products We Can't Live Without

Laura Kathleen's beauty faves:
via makeupforever

1. I'll wash my face with anything (handoffs from work or friends, Luxe Box samples, oil and water, Ivory bar soap) but I won't leave the house without tinted moisturizer (with SPF 15, totally essential). I've been wearing the lightest shade from Boots (at Shoppers) for years now. It's never let me down. And I'm lucky—this and some powder is all the coverage I need.

via greenbeautyguide

2. MoroccanOil is probably the priciest beauty product I own, but seriously, once you try it you can never go back. There are surely cheaper alternatives—I haven't tried them, and I'm okay with that. I used to use coconut oil on my hair (after some great advise from my fave Youtube hair sensation Loepsie) but I am addicted to the smell of MoroccanOil and I'll never give it up, ever. You can buy it for me though.

via sephora

3. Tarte blushI've got it in "Blushing Bride" and it smells like raspberry-flavoured Crystal Lite. I've tried the rest, this is the best. And I don't care how gross this makes me sound, but I've been using the same stick for like 4 years. Whatever, this stuff never goes bad.

via shutterstock

4. Black eyeliner and mascara is like an everyday, no matter what kind of thing. I'm blonde, with really light lashes and brows, so if I don't wear something dark around my eyes I can look washed out. I rarely take off my eye makeup at night (tsk tsk! seriously, it's so bad) so I'm usually racoon-eyed in the morning. If I'm trying to dress it up I'll use liquid liner, otherwise any pencil will do. Same with mascara: the blacker the better, but I'll use whatever's around.

via temptalia

5. They'll often be chipped, but I don't remember the last time that I wasn't wearing some kind of nail polish. It started when I was a kid—a woman who worked with my mom used to wear different shades of Hard Candy nail polish everyday (remember those jelly rings?) and would hand them down to me when they were close to empty. I was hooked. I rarely do any fun designs, that is totally Amanda's forte, and I usually rotate my favourite colours of the moment—which right now is Chanel's "Peridot," American Apparel's "Mount Royal," and Essie's "Lady Godiva."

Amanda's beauty faves:
via kimwhite

1. Rose water. My new holy grail. I use it daily to wipe off the flakes from yesterday's mascara (oops), and just give my face a gentle wake up. It makes my skin feel baby soft, plus I can imagine it'll be really refreshing once the weather warms up. Rose water 4 life, homes.

via sephora

2. Conceal FX in X-light. I recently bought this for about $30 at Shoppers Drug Mart, and I love it. I just use it under my eyes and on any redness I'm sporting. It builds up sheer levels of coverage and actually sets, unlike Benefit's Erase Paste, which I was using before. I also really like that you get squeeze out a little product at a time, rather than dip your finger in a pot—way more hygienic. The cosmetician who helps me find it said it was developed in the Sunnybrook Burn Care unit, and I was going to make a joke about this stuff being on fire, but that would be in pretty poor taste so I held myself back (you're welcome).

via savvymom

3. Glysomed hand cream. It's so soft and absorbs quickly, and makes my hands feel like I'm wearing velvet gloves. It's very protecting, but not in a gross way, and was developed for sensitive skin. It comes in little bottles too, which is very convenient for purses. I usually use fragrance free, but the fragranced version isn't bad, so try that too.

via hairboutique

4. OPI Nail Envy. I've been using this stuff since May, and I have to say it's worth the $30. I use this as my base coat each time I paint my nails. It's a magical nail bandaid, and stops my nails from splitting or peeling.

via parfumslolitapicka

5.  L de Lolita Lempicka. I love this scent SO MUCH. It smells like grown-up cupcakes with spicy vanilla, bergamot, and bitter orange notes. Supposedly the scent is based on a mermaid, but it is very warm and gourmand, and not aquatic at all. The packaging and branding seem very misleading in this sense, but they're pretty, so I don't mind. I recently started wearing the embarrassingly named Loverdose, but every now and then, I have to wear L and it feels like coming home.

What are your beauty favourites? Any of ours on your list?

Some Last-Minute Gift Ideas

It's the Monday before Christmas, and if you're anything like me, you've still got a few people on your to-buy-for list. And often those people left last are the ones whom you have no idea what to gift. It's past the point of online ordering. It's okay, guys. We can do this. Just take it easy, collect yourselves, and go in with a game plan.

Have a list. Even if you're not sure what exactly to get someone, scribble down a few ideas of things you'd like to be on the lookout for. Try to think of the ways they enjoy spending their free time, and get something in line with that.

– The best advice I have to offer is to skip the mall. If you thought Sunnydale was the hellmouth, you've obviously never been inside the Eaton Centre the week before Christmas. Just looking at that picture is giving me chest pains. If you can find a way to avoid your local shopping emporium, by all means, do it. It's just going to send your stress levels through the roof, and any time you think you'll save by going to stores in one location is going to be decimated by fighting the crowds.

Go to "gift stores", even if your closest option is Indigo. That's what they're THERE for. You'll find bookends and blankets and tote bags and really, those are three really great ideas right there, and they'll probably be some of the first things you see. Don't give gifts that require work on the behalf of the recipient, like photo frames, unless you a) are willing to do the work of putting a photo in beforehand or b) know they're really into picture frames. Toronto has a few really great shops, but I consistently have great luck at Outer Layer and the Drake General Store.

– You'll find my absolute favourite last-minute gift at gift shops: candles. It's the kind of thing people never invest in for themselves (says the girl with a stockpile of those $4 vanilla tealights from IKEA) but everyone will need at some point, even if they just leave it in their bathroom. My top picks?

via Eco-Culture
This one from Eco-Culture smells like real maple syrup, and has been my favourite candle for about two years running. They're hand-poured soy wax, made in Canada, and feature the cutest syrup tin you can reuse to hold pencils or flowers afterward. You can find them in a plain cotton wick version, but you're really going to want to upgrade to the wooden wick, because then it CRACKLES like a FIRE. I've seen the wooden wick one selling for about $18, while the cotton is a few bucks less.

This year, I discovered KOBO pure soy candles and I want to give them to eve.ry.body. My absolute favourite is the Opoponax Amber, which is this rich citrusy oriental with sandalwood, violet and patchouli. It basically smells like a grand old dame who is infinitely glamourous has just walked into your room. I like the travel size become it's reasonably priced and comes with a little set of all-black matches, which is every bit as glamourous as the grand old dame in my head (who is definitely Lauren Bacall). This size will run you about $15, but there are bigger versions which are around $40. (I'm just noticing they have a scent called Leather Mahogany, with notes of leather, armoise and cardamom. You maybe just want to sniff around their site and see what else interests you because they all sound so appealing.)

– It's no secret that I love DAVIDsTEA, but part of the reason why I do is how well-thought out everything is—their teas are tasty, their packaging is pretty, their accessories well-designed.

And really, the pinnacle of this achievement is their Perfect Tea mug, which really is perfect. It's the perfect size, comes with the perfect tea infuser (which you can also use in a regular teapot), and even has a perfect little lid that becomes the perfect place to rest said infuser. It comes in a bunch of colours, costs around $20, and should be easy to find in Canada—those DAVIDs locations are popping up like wildflowers. Pair with a bag of tea (my crowd-pleaser pick is Forever Nuts, which tastes like apple pie and turns bright pink) for an easy, perfect gift.

– If you live in Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal, you can order from until Wednesday and it'll make it by Friday. That is serious shipping voodoo. How do you do it, Amazon? Nevermind, just focus your energies on sending us poor hapless gifters our goods. My recommends, which are still in stock:

For a gal you love/respect/admire: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
For your friend planning world domination: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
For the romantic in your life: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
For your friend who is always complaining: The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky

For lovers of vintage/Breakfast at Tiffany's/fun times(/or let's be real, EVERYONE): Charade, starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant (DVD/BluRay)
For film buffs/horror fans: Night of the Hunter, starring Robert Mitchum and Shelly Winters (DVD/BluRay)
For your comedy-lovin' pal: Complete season one of Louie, directed/written by/edited by/starring Louis CK (DVD/BluRay) (alternately, support his way-cool Internet experiment for $5, Louis CK: Live at the Beacon Theatre)
For the holiday purist: It's a Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart (DVD/BluRay)

– Anyone who is left on your list? You're already heading to the LCBO. You know what to do. Go with something that can be easily blended with/hidden in holiday favourites like eggnog or coffee, and choose your level of engagement: namely, this, this or this.

Happy holidays, and godspeed, fellow shoppers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How to Cheer Up

 You know those days when you're tired, you're grumpy, and you're just looking forward to going home and eating pizza in front of the TV with your parents (err, or something like that...)? Sometimes the best way to get through the day is to kind of proactively force yourself into a better mood. It takes some work, but the whole day will go by a lot faster, and you might even enjoy yourself. For me, writing things down or compiling a list of things that don't suck always helps (which is why I have a blog, duh). Here's a quick 5 things that make me feel pretty good.

1. This article on about raising chickens in Toronto. So what if it's still technically against the law? Each person interviewed gave totally positive, non-descript reasons for why owning chickens is so great. The neighbours love them! The eggs are tasty! They're not super loud or smelly! All kidding aside, I would want to get more information—it would be a huge responsibility—but I am seriously considering getting a hen for the backyard. I eat tons of eggs and it would be nice for Penelope to have a friend.

2. Pictures of cats. To share the happiness wealth a little (and because Google Reader no longer allows sharing) I started an album of (mostly) cat pics on my facebook. It always cheers me up and I love my friends' reactions to the stupidly cute pictures that I post. Most of them are from this one site that is just GOLD in terms of pictures that make me laugh out loud.

 3. Pictures of peoples' homes, which are purposefully cluttered and look quirky and homey instead of sloppy. I have given up trying to get rid of all my stuff, (side note: About a month ago I was all like "Hey friends! Come over! I'm giving away a bunch of books! Slowly, without any friends coming over to take them, they all made their way back onto the bookshelf.) so now I am trying to study homes that are full of goodness but don't look messy. Or at least as messy as mine.

 4. The photographs of Alexander Girard. Girard's photographs are those of an observer. I love that they are mostly of his wife during their travels together, I love the colours, and I love folksy quality of them. They're very genuine and real, and all that stuff is very aesthetically appealing to me. The bright pops of colour brighten my day. Check out the rest of them here. The picture of his wife in a yellow dress is the background on my computer.

5. Robyn's performance on last week's SNL. I had momentarily forgotten about this wonderful little pixie until I saw the videos on The Hairpin. Some people are saying that her performance was subpar, but I think those people are crazy. I don't have words to describe how much I like Robyn (her shoes and her dancing give me the biggest heart boner) and her music does this thing to me, where I am sitting at work listening and like dancing inside my head without moving at all. I've been listening to Body Talk all week. I suggest you do the same.

Friends, that really seriously worked. I'm feeling great. (I also just got an email to say that there's rum and eggnog tasting this aft in the office, so that doesn't hurt.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Three All-Natural Skin Care Remedies

Winter’s on its way, and my face has caught wise. I’ve had an awful time this year with trying to get it to calm down, but it’s pretty determined to throw a temper tantrum. And seeing as I usually don’t pay it much attention at all, I was at a loss as to how to handle it. 

A bit of background: I have a fair complexion, mostly dry and prone to slight redness, but generally not problematic. My nose has always been a bit oilier than the rest of my skin, and it tends to get flakey and oily at the same time. I usually just rinse of my face with water and use a light hydration gel daily, and it has always seemed happy to truck along. But this year, although the routine didn’t change, my skin rebelled.

Rosacea runs on both side of my family and when, my nose turned Rupolph-red and started getting little white bumps underneath the surface, I figured my time had finally come. It was my time to bear the dreaded Curse of the Celts. And then I discovered skin magic, in the form of three little products. Even better? They’re all natural. I’d call it witchcraft, but I’m too busy being grateful to Mother Earth (and my sweet pal Jess who hooked me up with samples). These three are entering in my regular rotation, for sure. 

Apple Cider Vinegar
I remember Laura tried this out back in July, although I’m not sure if she still uses it. This was the first step in my skin’s rehabilitation program—I mixed three parts water to one part apple cider vinegar (I just used the grocery-store Heinz version, not the ‘raw with mother’ stuff The Velvet Bird originally recommended), and shook it up in a little spray bottle. Nightly, I spritzed some on a cotton pad and gently rubbed it on my face. Yes, it stinks a little at first, but the smell dissipates very quickly. This made my little pimples disappear, and lessened my redness. It feels like it cleanses your face without drying it. I've even gotten my boyfriend to start using it, and it seems to really work well on his oilier skin. Soon enough I was dealing with a smoother, if still a bit ruddy, palette. 

Rose Water 
I got a sample of rose water, and I think it might be my Holy Grail product. Seriously. I just want to bathe in this stuff. It makes my skin feel so smooth and so happy, and it smells like glorious, deep, fresh roses. It brings my senses back to the good ol’ days of my career as a florist, and it’s so delicious and refreshing.

I use this in pretty much the same way as the cider mixture—sprayed on a cotton pad, wiped on. I’ll even just spray this all over my face and then wipe gently. I’ve taken to using it morning and night, and on evenings when I’m slightly oilier, I’ll use the cider mixture first then follow up with this. A close second: orange blossom water (also called neroli) is similarly satisfying, and is probably better suited to skin that’s more naturally oily than mine. 

Argan Oil 
I know this is the hot new trend in natural beauty products, but with good reason. It's rich in vitamin E and can be used on your face, hair, nails and body (there are even varieties pressed for cooking). Plus, all argan oil produced today supports women's collectives in Morocco, providing a stable income for tribespeople, and is paired with UNESCO to protect and reforest endangered areas. If you want to try it, make sure you get version processed for cosmetic use that is “100% argan oil”, not that “contains 100% argan oil”—you want argan to be the only ingredient (and you can find it for way cheaper than that Josie Maran stuff).

You need very little for it to be effective—roughly two drops lightly coats my entire face. In the couple days I’ve been using it, my skin has been happier than a clam. The dry areas of my cheeks and forehead feel healthy and supple, and I use a very light touch on my nose, which isn’t flaking anymore. Serious, feel-good magic.

If you’re Toronto-based, I got my samples from Noah’s Natural Foods, and you can order from them online. It shouldn’t be hard to find these items though, wherever you are—your local health food store will likely carry them, or there are plenty of sellers online.

Here’s wishing you good luck, and glowing skin.

Monday, December 12, 2011


I love the internet. I spend a lot of time on the internet. I spend a lot of time reading about things that interest me and things I hate. And then every once in a while I come upon something that makes me so excited I start to vibrate, and I get really thirsty. When I get really thirsty I know I'm on to something.

Here are my latest internet goodies. StyleLikeU is a site that has videos of people talking about style, clothes, family, design, life, and all that good stuff. I find these videos incredibly inspiring in a way that I don't quite understand yet. I think it has to do with the videos' subjects being able to explain their style and talk about their lives in a way that can be captured in a 6 minute video and in a way that makes them seem wise and experienced even though they are just normal boring people. Maybe I need my own video and then I can see how normal the subjects are and fall out of love with the whole process.

They're called Closet Interviews, which make them seem like they'll be about clothes only. But even in talking about clothes, and ergo the ways which they present themselves, something more comes out. It's that something else that I find so intriguing.

Here are a few of my favourites. Sit down with a beer or a latte and watch a few.


Wamuhu Waweru Closet Interview With StyleLikeU from StyleLikeU on Vimeo.


Tat Vateishvili Closet Interview With StyleLikeU from StyleLikeU on Vimeo.

The wonderful, always interesting Glenn O'Brien:

Glenn O'Brien Closet Interview With StyleLikeU from StyleLikeU on Vimeo.

There are so many more, and I've only seen a fraction of them, slowly working my way back and taking my time so they'll never be over. Or maybe I'll just watch them all over the holiday. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bad to the Bone

I love the new gallery on the New York Times today, Touch of Evil. Just little short films, starring some of today's best actors, representing famous cinematic villainous tropes — the fighter, the narcissist, the former silent-screen star, the possessed dummy, the dictator. They've also included some stills (and interviews) here.

Mia Wasikowska

Rooney Mara

Jessica Chastain

Viola Davis

Brad Pitt

My favourite videos? Jessica Chastain as the firestarter, Mia Wasikowska as the Hitchcockian ice-cold beauty, and Michael Shannon as the bigwig (Orson Welles as Citizen Kane?). Special nod goes to Rooney Mara as Alex from A Clockwork Orange, filmed backwards.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Google Street View Done Right

Aaron Hobson is a photographer who, as well as taking many beautiful photos, has captured some of the most breathtaking visions taken by Google Street View cameras (and you all thought the bloopers were the best thing they came up with!).

Here are a selection of my favourites, but check out the rest here.

It's always nice to see beauty come from unexpected places.

All photos taken from


There's too much cool stuff in the world today for me to keep it to myself.

via the Examiner and NASA
There's been a rad new planet discovered! Called Kepler-22b (for now), its 1.6 times the size of Earth, features temperatures similar to southern California's and has a calendar year of 290 days (about 2 months shorter than Earth's). So, essentially, there's a retirement planet nearby where you get old faster but live like a king. It probably never rains either. Before you pack your bags, know that they're still trying to figure out if it's made of rock, gas or liquid. Fingers crossed it doesn't go all Melancholia on us.

The New Yorker posted this cool little story about fear and writing—how writing can calm fears, or exacerbate them. I fall on both sides of the divide, in equal measure. Writing! What a curse, what a joy! (Oh, also, if you're excited about The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, as I am, David Denby's review has caused quite the uproar by going against the studio's embargo on reviews of the film published before December 13. The producer Scott Rudin and director David Fincher have both decried his actions and banned him from future screenings, even though the review was very positive. Oh Hollywood, you DO go on.)

These Maryland convicts have been transformed by a program called Knitting Behind Bars, which does exactly what you'd think it does – teaches hardened criminals how to knit. I've long extolled the benefits that I think knitting has on me personally (besides the warmth of knitted goods, that is), and I totally believe that it would have a really positive effect on someone in prison. The inmates all seem to have a really great attitude about knitting, and it even helps them reach parole more easily, due to the calming effect on their demeanor and that they're giving back to the community. Knit on with yo' bad selves, guys. (It also really reminded me of a great TAL episode, Act V, where prisoners perform the last act of Shakespeare's Hamlet.)

I thought this was a really cool local news story: a teacher in the middle of a first-aid lesson on CPR and defibrillators actually had to USE it when a student's heart stopped in a nearby class. Now he and the other teacher who helped restart the kid's heart are up for Emergency Medical Services Citizens' Awards. Talk about good timing (and heartwarming? Ohhhh...)

I saw The Skin I Live In this week, and let me tell you, it was every bit as amazing as I thought it would be. Beautiful, lush photography, gorgeous people and performances, and a melodramatic, twist-filled plot that kept me absolutely hooked. And looking back, the trailer makes perfect sense. I'm still trying to parse out what all the complicated layers of meaning suggest, but all I can say is, the less you know about this one going in, the better.

And also this week, I read the first book of The Hunger Games in less than 26 hours, with about 6 hours of actual reading time. Talk about a fiction hurricane. I'm getting the next two books this evening, and I expect the rest of my week to be detonated, with me curled up in bed, furiously flipping pages. A serious ton of fun (and I was impressed by the trailer for the upcoming film adaptation—they only cover the introductory third of the book.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What's In My Bag?

Every time I see Amanda I bring a camera, hoping that I'll remember to put her on the spot and ask her to spill out the contents of her purse, with a promise that I'll go next. I never remember. I'll still get you, girl, when you least expect it. Here are the insides of my purse, with very little editing (I took out a crumpled receipt and a few pennies, but that's all).

Here's my daily purse. It's from Townshoes, I'm not embarrassed to admit. It can be worn about a million different ways, and it's pretty spacious without really looking it. Working at a fashion magazine and trolling the internet daily for deals has it's bonuses.

This baby deserves its own picture. I graduated from University recently, and I had been considering getting an iPad for ages. I won't say it was a surprise, but it was the most generous gift I've ever received, and I still feel like a lucky little girl. I carry it to and from work mostly to read the New Yorker while I'm in transit.

I'll try to go from the bottom left and clockwise here:

  • Sunglasses from White Crow. These huge, round shades come with me everywhere.
  • A receipt for the only seamstress I've ever gone to. She's up by my parents house and I only get there about once every 3 weeks, but it's worth it. Right now she's got a silk dress that I thrifted and am hoping comes out a tunic dress.
  • Matte FX powder that belongs to my best friend—I borrowed this stuff a few months ago and forgot to return it. Too bad she lives in New York. On top is some Joe Fresh shimmer powder that I got for free from a Joe Fresh gift bag at work.
  • Visine, necessary for anyone who wears contacts or states at a computer screen all day.
  • Lipstick and lipstain in a similarly dark burgundy wine colour. I rarely remember to reapply, so it usually wears off after my first coffee in the morning, or my first beer on the weekends.
  • My keychain, with a memory stick, hello kitty pendant, Swiss Army knife with edelweiss (cute!) and about 10 keys. I'm a trustworthy girl!
  • Current nail polish and a quick dry top coat, just in case I need an on-the-go touch up.
  • Two hair elastics, just in case I need to get my mane of hair off my neck. 
  • My wallet came from Dan's grandfather, who was a photographer. It's made by Leica and smells like really old leather. On it is a Post-it that I found in a Diane Arbus biography that I was reading. It says: "Most people go through life dreaming they'll have a traumic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They've passed their test in life. They're aristocrats."
  • Blue pen, I'll never go anywhere without a pen to jot things down.
  • My two favourite rings. They are my babies but I can't wear them and type at the same time. They spend most of their time in my purse, and only come out on special occasions.
  • I hang up my bag when I get home, but somehow my cat always sneaks a little present in there for me. She has a life of her own while I'm asleep.