Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tapped Out

Feeling a little bummed, a little burnt out, bros. I've been pretty slammed getting my career on lately, but that hasn't left much time for the rejuvenation of my soul, you know? I've been feeling under the weather today, went to the chiropractor and got a wee bit pummeled, and then had to slog home through winter slush, which has finally reared its ugly head. To top it all off, I was planning on reviewing my January Luxe Box for you, but it has yet to arrive. It's in shipping purgatory. No, I'm not kidding.


It was at my damn house! They could have left it and they didn't! They even took the time to come back and take the notice card! And now its shipping status is unchanged, and it is back in Mississauga. We just haven't had much luck lately, Luxe Boxes and me.

Anyway, it was the icing to a day that felt altogether too long. So I did the only thing I could do.

I put on my Chainsaw Face t-shirt.

(Oh, you ask, what is Chainsaw Face? Just an easy two minutes that never fails to make me smile.)

Then I pretended I was someplace warm and sunny (which obviously requires mood music).

And I tried to become one with nature.

Then I cuddled with this little sausage.

And somehow, everything seemed a lot less awful.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Toronto Street Style

As much as I talk about how I want to move to Detroit/rural Quebec/Copenhagen/Ambelos, I really love Toronto. It's my home town! And I love when talented people show off some of what Toronto has to offer. Enter Daniel Goodbaum—my friend and old roommate—and his street style videos. I've always been fascinated by the people that Daniel chooses to capture—not all are typically fashionable but each have a unique look and really interesting quality to them. (And the old dashing men? I wish he'd make a videos exclusively of old men in suits.) Of course, I think his choice of subjects reveals a lot about him as well. Take a look! Below, I've posted a handful of my favourites.

Toronto Street Style - 6

Toronto Street Style - 15

Friday, January 27, 2012

Shades of Beige

A few things that caught my eye this week.

Miss Moss posted about these way cool editions of Lucas Massen pieces, which he's hired his young sons to paint. Dutch labour laws mean the kids can only work for 3 hours per week, hence the unfinished nature of the items. Such a beautiful result, and a pretty easy DIY, I think.

via Need Supply

It's not even February and I'm already dreaming about summer footwear. These Azores sandals from Jeffrey Campbell are pretty much my ideal pair – minimal and entirely adjustable, swoon! (Having long, skinny feet will do that to you).


Brown sugar blueberry cookies. I can't even, you guys. These are next up on my To-Bake list.

via Found

I saw this Found leash in person at Fetch Canine Social Club on Roncesvalles last weekend and I've been thinking about it ever since. Sure, it's a $60 leash, but it can also be clipped cross-body style so you can walk your dog handsfree. Plus, it's all made with all weather marine rope and was founded with rescue animals in mind. I've already started saving up my pennies.

images via etsy

Speaking of saving up my pennies,  how beautiful are these waxed canvas bags from Southern Field Industries? They look like the perfect size and I love the colour combinations, especially the red+natural and turquoise +tan.

For more of what I'm finding, you can always check my Pinterest.

Have a happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Criterion Collection's Top 10s

I watch a lot of movies; I collect them and absorb them and I take in their messages—a really good movie will make me feel like I understand the world a bit better. I have an ongoing list of films that have either come from recommendations or passing mentions, and the more films I have on that list the more I feel I have to look forward to. Is that kinda sad?

Well here's something even more sad: I regularly troll the Criterion website, a site I think can teach you a lot about the literary Cannon—or, at the very least, will send me scribbling down names of directors and films. They have many top 10s, from directors and film lovers, and the lists are kind of confessional. In the case of directors, you can see where they draw their inspiration—would you be surprised if I told you that Brunel and Wes Anderson are on almost all of these lists?—and in the best cases you can be introduced to a kind of film that you never even know existed.

Sometimes I'm like... "Seriously? Chungking Express? Tell me something I didn't already know." But sometimes I will stumble upon gems.  Let me give you a little preview of the goodness.

First up is the top 4 Criterion pics of Anthony Bourdain:

via Criterion
 How can you read those blurbs and not want to watch the film?

Here are the top 3 of Mike Allerd. Seriously, I will watch anything on his list. Anyone who loves Charade as much as I do must be my kindred spirit.

Check 'em all out for yourself! You never know what goodies you'll find. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Winter Cold Remedies, the Second

This title is a little misleading, as I am not actually sick. No, not yet, I'm not in full-blown recovery mode like Laura, but I feel it coming. I feel that dull ache starting in my forehead. I feel those chills digging into my bones a little deeper than they normally do. And I am fighting it with all I have before the sickness actually takes root (especially considering I no longer have sick days, eep). That means canceling plans to get to bed early, bundling up, eating healthy and stocking up on my essentials below. If indeed I AM getting sick, I want to be prepared to kick its mucousy ass quick.

Things to Put In My Body
Chewable Vitamin C
I am popping this shit like candy right now. You can't OD on it, so I take some whenever I think of it. I'm really digging the blueberry flavour right now, but orange is a solid choice. And actually, remember to take your daily multivitamin too – I know when I'm in the depths of a cold, all that daily routine stuff falls by the wayside, but your multivitamin will help you get better quicker, I promise.

I know I talk about DAVIDsTEA a lot, but that's because my affection runs deep, and at the very core of my barrel o' love is this one: Organic North African Mint. At once refreshingly minty and soul-warmingly spiced, this green tea will cure what ails you. I love it because it feels like the breath of fresh air your sinuses have been too clogged to experience for days. Resting your nose over a steaming cup of this and inhaling will do you a world of good, sicko.

My runner-up is perfect for sore throats: Bravissimo. It's camomile-based so it'll relax you, and it feels like it coats your throat in honey.

And if you're not the tea-totallin' kind, hot water with lemon and honey. Throw some ginger in there too if your sinuses are loaded.

Straight up. As a child, it was always Lipton's chicken noodle, so I keep that in my cupboard for a quick fix and easy comfort. If I'm feeling a little housebound and bored after a few days (or if you have a sick partner/roommate and you feel like being really nice), I make some Portugeuse-style chicken soup. The recipe I roughly use is this one, but I don't use the bread, cheese or pork and instead I add in onion, carrot, and a boned chicken breast, then shred the chicken after it's been boiled in the broth. Load it up with whichever veggies are on hand, but make sure you use that rapini – it's rich in vitamin C. Insta-cure.

Wonderbread toast with melted butter
Obvious. This is the easiest thing in the world to make, fills you up, and tastes like memories. You're sick – you deserve bleached flour. As a plus, it won't make you feel nauseous if you're that kind of ill.

Raspberry Ginger Ale
Do they still make this? I don't even know if it's still available. It is my favourite drink in all the world, and I think it may only be released seasonally now. Cranberry ginger ale or even the regular kind are good in a pinch. This is especially necessary if you're feeling queasy, and for even more calming power, let it go flat before drinking.

This stuff knocks you out. It's like getting a very good version of drunk, but also satisfyingly warm and filling. For use only if you're feeling truly, untouchably awful, which is a personal rule. I'd get way too addicted if I drank it more than twice a year. I'd become a Neocitraholic, which is just one rung above glue sniffer, I think.

Hot Toddies
If you have to be sociable, at least be sauced. My go-to is a blueberry tea: a shot of Grand Marnier, a shot of amaretto, and black tea (I prefer Earl Grey). I once had a bad case of strep throat the day of a party at my house and I drank these the whole time. I was pleasantly lubricated and feeling fine all night long.
(Alternate drink: screwdriver. Orange juice for the vitamin C, vodka to cut the phlegm and make you feel better.)

Thing to Put On My Body
Consonant Lip Balm
My nose always gets chapped from blowing it so often, so I keep a good lip balm on hand since it's more effective than anything for your face. This one is locally made, unscented and really rich without being greasy in the slightest.

Soft, Shapeless Sweaters
Completely essential. My current fave is this alpaca one I found in the men's section of a thrift store. Cute animals are certified to make you feel better.

My Ugliest Pair of Sweatpants/PJ Pants
Your moment of weakness is their moment of glory. Wear 'em loud and proud, you have the ultimate excuse.

All of My Blankets
I bury myself in duvets, twist myself in afghans, curl up under comforters. I go in full on nesting mode. When I emerge a few days later, it feels like shedding a cocoon of sickness and emerging a glowing, well-rested buttefly. Glorious.

And Beside Me
Good Company
It's simply the best when you have someone to hang out with on a sick day. Any healthy person willing to hang with your sick ass is a saint, your partner or your mom. Fellow sickies are so-so as company because while you can commiserate and have the same schedule (watch TV, sniffling, nap, repeat), they'll also be irritable and annoyingly loud like you. Dogs are swell because they really do try to cheer you up, but also force you to go outside with them which sucks. Cats really are the ultimate in sick partners.

What are your get better quick tips?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter-time cold remedies, pt 1

Inspired by the wonderful blog Lawrence, which has been reaching out to other bloggers about what they need to get through the winter months, Amanda and I wanted to share with you a bit of what gets us through. We are both sick—I am on the tail end of a cold and she's just starting one—and even more cold, miserable, and isolating than a Toronto winter is a Toronto winter when you've got a hell of a cold. Check out Lawrence's winter must-haves, and read on for my sad sap winter cold essentials: our fave things that get us through being sick.

Netflix: Since I work from home, I don't exactly get to call in sick. But since I'm on the computer all day anyway, most of my down time is spent watching wonderfully trashy TV online. I love—I don't care if Canada's selection pales in comparison to the U.S., I am just happy with what I have. Right now, what I have is The X-Files and Twin Peaks. I've been watching The X-Files for the first time, and it's so so scary to me. This is my third time around on the Twin Peaks wagon, and I'm enjoying it even more than the first two times. I will continue to watch that show until I die. When I was feeling really sorry for myself yesterday, being cooped up indoors and looking out my window onto a grey, rainy back alley, I day dreamed about moving to rural wherever and taking long walks and eating at the Double R Diner. A girl can dream, right? I also watched 9 to 5, and if you haven't already seen that gem (starring Lilly Tomlin, Jane Fonda, and Dolly Parton) see it immediately.

Nail art: Another thing I watched on Netflix lately is the insanely amazing Earth Girls are Easy. Have you seen that movie? I wish that Geena Davis was my manicurist, because they have some of the best nails in that movie.

As much as I love these crazy nails, they are just not conducive to my lifestyle—typing, doing dishes, rummaging through my purse—any manicure I do only lasts a few days, so  like to stick with nails that are cool but aren't like works of art. I tried out a new style that I love, seen here, and I think I'll be doing this one for a while.

Knitting: My on-again, off-again love affair with knitting is on, and I've been knitting this awesome turban I found in a knitting book I got for Christmas. I won't show you until I've finished the final project, but you are going to be so proud of me. Most of my knitting is scarves—they're really easy, you don't have the count stitches, and you can knit 'em up while watching a movie. With the turban, it has my full concentration, and a whole bunch of Googling—to learn new stitches.

Wolly socks: You know those ones with the red stripe? They are keeping my feet really toasty.

NeilMed Sinus Rinse: Sorry to get gross for a minute, but this thing, as unpleasant and messy as it is, this stuff has basically saved my life. I used it for the first time on Saturday—you fill the bottle with distilled water and powdered medication and squirt it up your nose. It is honestly one of the worst sensations I've ever felt, but it gets the job done. I can breath through my nose again! I should do a commercial for these guys. I'm a sinus rinse convert.

via savingwithshellie

A "sympathetic" kitty cat: Penelope has stuck by my side through this trying time. Last night, I actually used her as a pillow. I really believe that our animals know when we are sick and try to make us feel better.

Soy lattes: Usually a little bit out of my modest budget, these cups of joy are something I treat myself to whenever I'm feeling rotten. Coffee always seems a little too harsh, but now is not the time to try and kick my caffeine dependancy.

Leonard Cohen's new album: It's called Old Ideas and it's streaming right now on NPR. It's the perfect melancholy sick music. And it sounds a little like Tom Waits, which is never a bad thing.

Dreaming of bettering myself: Specifically, taking these coding classes. You should check out this article written by Haley, a very cool girl, about ladies-only coding classes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The View From Here

Now that I've got an iPhone 4S, I've been taking a lot more pictures lately. I didn't realize how little I felt like doing that with my old 3G, as the camera was pretty grainy. And so, of course, I've taken to Instagram. Follow me if you feel like seeing more.

Charlie got some new boots because the salt was stinging his poor little paws. He's got the rubbery kind that look like balloons, and he hasn't seemed to mind them at all. The sound of his paws sticking to the floor is pretty much the highlight of my week.

I've been wearing this bright green glitter polish all week – it's from the Muppets x OPI collection, called Fresh Frog of Bellair (thanks, G!). And I finally made it out to Topshop this week and picked up this chunky brass ring. The small bands are from H&M.

My bestie Gillian, waiting for me to buy a stack of magazines before we saw Beauty and the Beast 3D. Such patience.

Poor little Joey. He's my boyfriend's mom's dog, and is just the cutest thing ever. He gets too hyper though, and needs to take crated time-outs when we come over. With his dark tear stains and lonesome expression, I thought he looked like a jailed bandit.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reality TV Worth Watching in Real Time

My love for the boob tube is well documented. And, seeing as I'm a non-cable subscriber, I have to get my fix by more, ahem, unsavoury means. There are only a couple reality shows I keep up with as they air though – most of the time, I'll just catch a little of whatever's on while I'm near a TV. But these bad boys, no, these I anxiously await the latest episode's airing, then scour torrent sites within a couple hours. I plan date nights with pals so I can watch them on their TVs. And what are they, you ask?

Project Runway All-Stars
God, I feel conflicted about this one. On the one hand, we have the return of some of the best (and most dramatic) runners-up in Project Runway history – Austin Scarlett's back, Mondo's back, bitchy  Kenley's back, whiny Michael Costello's back – but on the other hand, Lifetime has finally made the changes we've all known was coming since the day the show changed networks. A new host, new judges, new mentor – all seemingly subpar. As my friend Sandy put it, it all feels a little bargain bin now.

Isaac Mizrahi? Really? The new model host is devoid of any sort of personality, and that dishrag Joanna Coles as a mentor (who has yet to say anything but "I'm interested see where this is going") is a poor substitute for Tim Gunn. On the plus side, the prizes seem much more substantial than usual (priced at nearly half a million dollars) and there seems to be a higher calibre of guest judges and appearances than the show's ever had before – Valentino's popped up his leathery little head, and the duo behind Badgley Mischka did a great job on last week's panel.

Lifetime made a smart move in bringing back fan favourites to help ease the switch, and one can only hope that for the next round of newbie designers, we'll be back to Heidi and Co. But guys, I can't help but keep watching until then – not only am I way too curious to see more from some of these designers, but Miss Piggy's the guest judge next week. I CAN'T EVEN.

The Bachelor
Whoa, whoa, hold your horses. I was once like you. I once thought I was above this show. But nay, I am not, and if you gave it half a chance and a viewing with your snarkiest pals, you wouldn't be either.

The bachelor this season is a nice enough guy named Ben, a typical beta male who makes wine in the Sonoma Valley and has a floppy haircut. He's pretty boring which, paired with a lopsided grin and his oodles of family money, is enough to make the gaggle of women competing over him completely bonkers. Seriously – some of our noble contestants are as follows: a blogger/aspiring Carrie Bradshaw, a Nomi Malone-alike hooker with a heart of gold, a possible lesbian, a girl who rode in on a horse, a germaphobe PhD student who rapped about catching the disease known as love, and a psychopathic model. That's not even the half of it.

Put these women in a house filled with nothing but alcohol, time, and one dude to fall for, and watch the kindling ignite. Best shared with similarly jaded pals, wine and/or Twitter tuned to the hashtag #bachelor.

Kourtney and Kim Take New York
This season opened with a sampling of the media frenzy that broke out after news of the Humphries/Kardashian split had been dissected to death, and then a fade to black with the words, "Eight Weeks Earlier". The producers on this show were probably thanking their lucky stars that this poorly conceived marriage was dissolving as the cameras rolled.

But in watching it, beyond the sheer voyeurism of the show generally, it's a fascinating look at a relationship falling apart. Ill-designed as the union may have been from the start, with neither party willing to give or take what's necessary to make a true partnership work, I don't think Kim went into it expecting it to fail. Really, I'm not sure what her expectations were at all, since I'm not sure she thought much about what would happen after the "I Do"s had been said (I don't know that Kris Humphries even has that kind of cognitive ability, but that's another story).

It's interesting to see how the tide starts to shift, how the play fights become less flirting and more power struggles, how Kim's relationship with her family and her whole demeanor begins to change. And Scott Disick, lord love him, is by far the best part of the show – the voice of reason and the surprising anchor of the New York group.

Ultimately, although the Kardashians are some of the silliest celebrities we've got, there's something so compellingly raw about this drama, something so achingly familiar about realizing you've made a terrible mistake, and about Kim's unwillingness to recognize it, especially given the high profile life she leads. It's especially interesting to see this example alongside Scott and Kourtney's relationship which, though far from perfect, shows evidence of two people actually trying to make it work. In short, it feels like the Kardashians are sharing some of what feels like the most honest relationship depictions in reality TV by showing what happens AFTER the fairytale wedding.

What shows, reality or otherwise, are you completely addicted to right now?
Anything you think should be on my radar too?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thrifted life: Candelabra from Moore's Pharmacy

Maybe it's because I watched Beauty and the Beast too many times as a kid (okay, and an adult) but I have this obsession with candelabras. I have several that hold one candle each—most of those I got from my grandparents, garage sales, and the like. This is my favourite candelabra by far: it holds three candles, it's perfectly tarnished, and it comes with a great story.

Have you ever passed the place on Bathurst just south of Dupont on the east side of the street? It looks like an old junk shop that hasn't been open in years, and technically that's the truth. The old sign still remains, "Moore's Pharmacy," (ed note: although now I think it's being covered up??) and no other name for the store is visible. When Amanda and I lived together, right near Bathurst and Dupont, we would stake out this place and gaze in the windows. It was never open, even though we walked by on different times each day. We did notice, however, that the buildup of mail would be picked up once in a while, and the display in the windows would be slightly altered.

It was a rainy Wednesday night when I got a text from Amanda, in ALL CAPS, telling me that the store was open. She had gone in and looked around, she said, and it was fantastic in there. I hopped on a bus to get there—it might be my only chance!—and forced Dan to come with me. But what we found in the store was not exactly what I had been expecting.

The door was slightly ajar, and we walked in and looked around. Stuff was piled up everywhere, and the only walking space was little aisles made in between the rows upon rows of junk. I say junk not in a condescending way—my mind was racing and I couldn't believe my luck. Who knows what treasures could be buried in this shop! I called out a tentative hello, and from behind one of the piles popped the head of an old man. Little did I know that I would be listening to him talk (and acting as a mannequin for his old clothes) for the next 45 minutes.

I was super curious about the history of the shop, which he said he had owned for many years but had let slide in the past few: he had a sister and a mother who had been ill. He was opening up every Wednesday evening, and hoped to start regular hours again soon. He said he worked in the fashion industry as a young man, and his passion for the clothes in his shop certainly showed: he had no problem getting in my personal space to lay across my shoulders fur stoles, bejewelled vests, and silk scarves. This guy was getting really into my personal space. I couldn't tell whether he was a practiced old-time fashionista or a creepy old dude. Dan looked on in horror.

Every piece in the store had its own history and meaning to owner. Many of the items, especially those in the front window, were pieces that he was not ready to part with. I made it out of there with this candelabra and a black silk T shirt that I was too scared to try on. I feel like I paid for the item less with my hard-earned money than I did with my time and patience.

I don't mean to knock the store—it was certainly an experience that I will never forget, and I really do wish him all the best. An old man in a junk store sounds kind of like a kindred spirit, but this guy was operating on his own level. I probably won't go back, but I would suggest to anyone interested to check out the store for themselves. But some advice: if you're going in, make sure you have lots of time, and don't mind being fondled. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Golden Rays

It was a lazy Sunday afternoon, and the sun was pouring in my living room, and I thought I'd show you some newish things while getting my fill of vitamin D.

I've been pairing plain triangle studs and this ear cuff for the past two months and it's pretty much my ideal earwear. Just the slightest nod to the nineties and a bit of gold is all I need. I ordered both off Ebay, but got the idea from the ever wonderful Ivania of Love Aesthetics.

I found this necklace at Urban Outfitters when I popped in just to kill some time last week. I can't stand how high their prices are normally, but their sale racks have some great finds. My wardrobe has been lacking a long gold necklace, and this one fits the bill – plus at $5, I really couldn't say no. I especially love the little chainmail part and the long fringe.

These leopard print pants were another Urban Outfitters find. They're BDG Cigarette fit, I think, but I bought them a size up so they're just a bit slouchy. They don't have nearly as much stretch as the regular BDG jeans have (I think these are twill?), but I prefer it – they last a few wears longer before saggy butt takes over. The small scale leopard print and $20 price tag have made these my favourite new neutrals.

The sweater was a recent find from Winners. I don't really have one on my route so I don't stop in that often, but this slouchy sheer knit was just calling my name. IT KNEW we were meant to be together, so who am I to stop fate? I especially love that it's just a plain knit – garter stitch up top, and reverse stockinette with some eyelet rows on the bottom. I might try to replicate this one, as I have a feeling it'll be in major rotation come springtime.

And this? This little guy is my new best friend. I've spent the last few months designing my first jewellery collection, and this is one of the latest pieces I've been working on. That's a chunk of peach moonstone and some little wooden beads, paired with some vintage chains. What do you think? I promise, you'll be the first to know when I get to opening my Etsy shop.

That killer bedhead? All natural, baby – thanks, late Sunday sleep ins.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Morning pages

Have you heard of these things? Julia Cameron wrote a book called The Artist's Way, which I haven't read, but I've read about quite a bit. It's a book aimed at writers, and one big piece of advice she gives is to write morning pages. Immediately after you wake up, Cameron advises, you should write out (that's what she says, write them out—no typing!) three full pages. You can fill them with... anything. What you are writing is not to be read by anyone or even reread by yourself. More than anything, it's about transcribing your thoughts. Cameron argues that this helps to open the floodgates of your writing for the rest of the day.

When we write we have several habits that hold us back. We are judging our own writing ("No one will want to read this"; "This sounds like crap, I'll have to rewrite"), we are rewriting sentences, we  move ahead to the next sentence before we finish the one we're working on. Morning pages help with all these things. They are useful to get out negative feelings about our writing. They let us be scatterbrained and write stuff that no one is going to read—this means that you can jump around, you can make up words, you can make no sense at all, and it's all still helpful.

via artuccino
I have done these on and off in the past couple of years; on during times when I am feeling more proactive about doing things to better myself, and off when I'm just lazy. I liken them to going for morning runs, because while they are super helpful, but there are concessions you have to make:

  • You have to wake up earlier. Three full pages before you start your day? I do two, single spaced, and that still takes a good 15 minutes.
  • It's hard work. You'd think it would be easy, but when you're transcribing your thoughts you actually have to confront those thoughts—and if you are like me, you spend a lot of your time sitting on those thoughts to make them go away. (While that sounds kind of cryptic, remember that the thoughts you are writing down are the ones that no one else will be reading, probably not even you. Honestly, morning pages are just as effective as therapy as they are for writing blocks.)
  • You can't do 'em without a coffee. Or maybe you can. But I sure can't! I don't do them as soon as I wake up, or else I would fall asleep mid-page. Just like you can't roll out of bed and hit the road running, there does need to be a buffer in between sleepy time and hard work.

Not that I'm trying to disuade you! This is an exercise that people swear by and do every morning for years, and I think they would help anyone—writer, musician, engineer, lawyer, salesperson. You can read more about them herehere, and here.

But I'd like to give a piece of advice that I haven't read in Cameron's book or in any of the blog posts I've seen about morning pages. After you've built up a good amount of text, say a week or two, go back and read over what you have written. Don't expect much from the writing and don't be judgmental, remember that the point was not to write a masterpiece. Look instead at what you chose to write about. When you see, day after day, the same issues come up in the morning pages, you might recognize something in your life that you are stuck on. In my case, I learned a lot about myself by reading things that I had otherwise repressed. This can help your writing but it can also help you to figure your shit out. 

Try them tomorrow! It's the perfect time of year to start a new positive habit! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ask a Hairdresser: Winter vs Summer Styling, Growing Out, and Going Organic

We Burgundy Girls love playing with our locks, but are often a little lost on how to baby them. Enter Jamie Furie to the rescue. She works at Shampoo Hair Studio in Toronto's Kensington Market, and is our go-to guru on all things hair related. She's offered to very generously answer our questions – and not only that, but she'll answer yours too. So, if you've always been wondering how tame your mane, now's the time to ask.

Should I change anything in my hair routine when the seasons change? What are some things I should do for my hair in the winter versus the summer?

via Free People
Yes! It's important to remember that as the elements change, so must your hair routine. In the summer, I like letting hair dry naturally, so I don't recommend using stiff or sticky products like gel or mousse. Exposure to sun/wind/saltwater can lighten hair and dry it out, so using a protectant product is key. I tend towards oily products on the ends of your hair and a light smoothing balm all over, to prevent frizziness and maintain natural texture. A sea salt spray works wonders on naturally wavy hair, but as it can be drying, a great conditioner is a must. In the summer, use conditioner for colored hair (even if your colour is natural) as it locks in moisture without making hair feel greasy. The sun is a natural lightener, which will make your ends feel dry and split if you don't do some preemptive damage control.

Winter is a whole new ball game! I find my clients blowdry a lot more often (because Canadian winters plus wet hair equals mega badness). The plus side to this is that a nice blowdry means you can go a few extra days between washings and you don't have to worry about humidity ruining your 'do. I like to use mousse in dryer climates, like Alberta, where static becomes an issue in the winter, but in a damp, windy place like Toronto, a light gel will give you volume, retain shape, and protect your hair from the heat of a blowdryer. Keep in mind things like dry winter wind, touques, and wool scarves can cause a lot of dryness and breakage, not to mention mini dreadlocks at the nape of the neck. This is the time of year when you should start doing mini treatments on yourself: comb conditioner through damp hair, wrap it in plastic and let it sit for half an hour. The plastic will retain heat and allow your cuticles to open up and accept more of the conditioning molecules, then, as it cools, they clamp shut, locking in conditioner and leaving your hair smooth and shiny.

originally via We The People

Does cutting your hair regularly help it grow?

I get asked this question on a daily basis and my response is yes and no. Obviously, cuts take away length but if you've decided you want a mane of long, healthy hair, it is imperative that you trim off those dry, dead split ends. When you brush your hair, the dry ends will break off, meaning instead of the 1/4 inch splits that can be trimmed off every few months, you can lose an inch or more, depending on where your hair gets caught in the brush. It can make the already lengthy grow-out process way longer than it has to be. Hair typically grows at a rate of a 1/2 inch per month, so just think: in a six month span with two 1/4 inch trims, your hair will have grown 2 1/2 inches, while in six months without a trim, your hair will have grown 3 inches but have broken off an inch and a half or more, leaving you with just 1 1/2 inches of growth. And don't forget how much easier it is to style when splits are a non-issue.

I keep hearing about natural hair products being better for your hair. However, I often find they leave my hair feeling dry. Could you explain why this is and how I can keep my hair feeling as healthy as it does when I use non-natural products?
via Pinterest

I really want to like organic products. I love the idea of using something "natural". However, I have yet to find a product line that works well. I'm going to lay some science on you: a shampoo molecule has two parts to it, a hydrophilic end and a lipophillic end. The lipophillic end, which is usually some sort of sulphide, attaches itself to oil and dirt on your scalp and follicles, and the hydrophilic end (combined with the kinetic energy of water running downwards) actually pulls the oil off your hair and down the drain. The problem with products that don't include sulphides (like most organics) is that they can leave a waxy residue behind, which can cause dryness and breakage, leave the hair feeling dull, and make it tricky to style. 

If you decide to use organic products, I would strongly recommend doing a clarifying treatment every other week. Use a clarifying shampoo (something with rosemary or mint would be an ideal choice), put it on dry hair, and let sit for 5 minutes before you hop in the shower. This will help strip that residue off before before your hair has a chance to get damaged.

Ask Jamie your hair questions at heyburgundygirls [at] gmail.com

For more of my favourite hair images, check out my Pinterest board

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January's blog roll out

It's a silly thing to say—because it's completely reductive is it not?—but I love the internet. No matter what I say about it sometimes (didn't I just blame it for what I see as my own lack of creativity?) it daily introduces me to new ideas, funny cat videos, recipes, and goings on in Toronto and around the world.

Here are some of my favourite blogs this month.

To satiate my need for meaningful quotes: Slaughterhouse 90210.

I've got about four books on the go right now—one of them is How To Write a Sentence and How To Read One by Stanley Fish, which is basically a glorified grammar book without all the confusing lingo. He puts a lot of importance on sentences that stick with you and really make you think. Another book I can't put down is Diane Keaton's memoir/biography of her mother, called Then Again. Turns out Dorothy Hall (recognize the namesake?) kept journals for her whole adult life and wrote down inspiring words, sentences, phrases, whatever, on pieces of paper or post-its all around the house. A big one, Diane said, was just the word "THINK." 

It's because I'm reading all this stuff that I flipped when I saw the tumblr Slaughterhouse 90210. Maris Kreizman, "Kurt Vonnegut, meet Brenda Walsh," pairs up screengrabs of TV shows like Downton Abbey, Portlandia, Breaking Bad, and Freaks and Geeks, with quotes that she finds, I dunno, somewhere. I find them to be really poignent.

When I'm in a musical rut: So Many Records, So Little Time

When I want to see beautiful pictures restaurants, flowers, and pretty things bought in Toronto: Thank You, Okay

When I want to read about fashion, food, entertaining, and everything else I love: Sous Style

When I want to learn something new about contemporary culture: NOWNESS

And of course, when I want job advice, life advice, the hard truth, or just an opinion that's very different than my own: Penelope Trunk

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lessons the New Year has Already Taught Me

Use your brow pencil. This is my new beauty essential, prioritized above even mascara. You look like you've jumped a social class just by thickening up your brows, and you're more expressive too. Get a cheap drugstore one with a little brush on the end and thank me later. If you need help, Jane Marie's oh-so-charming How to Be a Girl video is a girl's best friend.

Eyebrow champion (via)

Trust your Oprah whispers, and trust your best girl's too. I'm nearly caught up with the Kardashians, and I just finished watching Kim's Fairytale Wedding (horf). I was expecting a trainwreck, and I mean, I have the benefit of hindsight, like them krazies did not, but it was pretty damn obvious that something was off. Every 5 minutes, Kim was defensively saying how "everyone thinks they hate Kris until they spend time with him." NO, girl, NO. If everyone hates your boyfriend, it's because he's not a likable person. It's fine to be someone who takes time to warm up to new people, but if you're being a dick to the family of the girl you love, something's wrong. The only one who sensed this deep-seated shadiness was Khloe and after she got her head bitten off for the warning, she smartly backed off.

I'm not suggesting you spinelessly accept your friends' judgements, but it's wise to listen to your heart. Kim was constantly on the offensive, spouting off about their love, making excuses for her man, and jumping down the throat of anyone who showed the least bit of trepidation. If you find yourself making excuses for yourself or others, listen to your inner voice about why you're so quick to snap – you're probably trying to shut down feelings within yourself too.

On the first day back to work, your dog will poop on the rug, even if he has never so before. Have cleaning products handy. Don't take it personally – his love for you just goes beyond the boundaries of polite society.


If you're looking to make a change, adopt constant vigilance. I am happy to say I'll be heading to a new job soon, and it couldn't be better timed – my office is about to move, meaning I'm avoiding a 2-hour commute. It's taken a long time to get here, but the biggest thing I've learned is to be ready for the right opportunity: if you're looking for a new job, keep your resume updated, your schedule flexible, your ear to the ground. Get yourself some business cards and hand them out to everyone. Have a generic cover letter that takes you a few minutes to customize. Update your portfolio regularly. Be willing to take meetings with anyone, even for jobs you're not really qualified for.

The most important thing is to ask questions that will help you in the next interview – find out what skills are best suited to the work, where the company's headed, what kind of work they're interested in pursuing. That sort of forward thinking only gives your conversation forward momentum and, in my experience, resonates well with your interviewer. At worst, even if that company doesn't bite, you'll have a better idea of desirable skills to work on presenting going forward. For a little inspiration, check out these two posts from Penelope Trunk on asking smart questions.

Taking a break from your habits isn't rewarding. Dance class kicked my ass this week, and rightly so – I hadn't practiced at all over the holidays. Making stretching part of my daily schedule will bring me back up to speed faster, and will allow me to do a better job in class in the future. I'm also trying to adopt this theory with my sleep schedule and prevent myself from sleeping in too late on the weekends – Mondays are just that much harder.

Try on jeans at a clothing swap. This is something I seldom do, since trying on pants can be an arduous and ego-bruising process, and jeans are the trickiest of them all. But I was able to score a pair of barely used Cheap Mondays that fit me like a fucking dream, and it's all because I took the time to take off my tights. Take off your tights, ladies!

What has the new year taught you so far?

Friday, January 6, 2012

On inspiration

I've been thinking a lot about inspiration—where it comes from, what it means, and why a particular idea or act can cause such a knee jerk reaction of "I've got to get in on that!"

Here is the original post I was going to share with you today. It's called "Things I've done and made that I love"

I am notoriously bad at painting my nails, but I've been practicing this whole nail art thing and getting a lot better. I like to think of these as like part of a Grace Hartigan painting. 

Now I know she didn't make it up herself, but I've been learning so much from FASHION's Paige Dzenis about how to apply makeup, including my new favourite style—the kitten flick. I always feel self-conscious about wearing my regular heavy eye makeup in the morning, but, as you can see, this style is pretty understated when your eyes are open, and just a little retro. 

After reading a hundred and one DIY collar tutorials, I finally got around to making my own. The collar's from an old thrifted shirt that I was never going to wear, and I got these round studs a few years ago. I always feel silly when a project I've been meaning to do for months takes me about five minutes to complete. 

As I was putting these pics and captions together, I was reading this NYTimes article called "The Joy of Quiet." I'm a sucker for anything that toutes the idea of a simpler life, so I dropped everything to read about what I thought would be the benefits of having some quiet time. And it was about that, but it also touched on a more important idea, about the "urgency of slowing down" and unplugging.

 "I read an interview with the perennially cutting-edge designer Philippe Starck. What allowed him to remain so consistently ahead of the curve? 'I never read any magazines or watch TV,' he said, perhaps a little hyperbolically. 'Nor do I go to cocktail parties, dinners or anything like that.' He lived outside conventional ideas, he implied, because 'I live alone mostly, in the middle of nowhere.'

I often find myself wondering when the last time was that I had an original thought or idea. I feel inspired a lot (I'm feeling inspired by this article, even!). As a blogger, copyeditor, editor, writer, and avid Google Reader user, I am constantly on top of news in the worlds of fashion, food, and literature. I'm inundated with great ideas coming from smart, creative people—so much so that perhaps it's a detriment to my own creativity.

It's arguable, I've heard it said many times, that there are no new ideas, and that everything has been done before. And being inspired by people is a way to open your mind to new thoughts and experiences, which is, obviously, invaluable. But what can happen if you aren't following anyone else's rules? Is being outside the influence of others a way to push to envelope and create new and exciting content? Or do you have to be plugged in in order to see what direction media is headed?

I've got no answers here, only more questions, which—if you get drunk with me anytime in the near future—will be a major topic of conversation. I'll be doing a lot more thinking about this, and I promise that us Burgundy Girls will keep our content as creative as our busy schedules permit. 

Do you have any thoughts about all this stuff? Inspire me!