Let’s all be brides, k?

When I was a child, I did not have white things. “You can’t get white, you’ll get it dirty,” my mom would say. I didn’t wear white for the first six or seven years of my life.

Then came the day I was to graduate from Velcro shoes to laces and I fell in love with my first accessory: a pair of white lace sneakers with purple accents. And I begged and begged and begged until my mom finally folded and got them for me.

Needless to say, mere hours after purchase, the shoes were white no longer due to playing with my neighbours in the mud. My mom took away the shoes and I had to wear my ugly old Velcros for the rest of the year (and explain to all my friends that I did, indeed, know how to tie shoelaces, I had just lost the privilege).

Well, I’m 27 now and although my mom would still prefer I not wear white for fear of me getting dirty, I am now legally old enough to make those decisions for myself (but only just).

If there’s one steadfast rule I’ve learned about fashion, it’s that whatever we think is cool right now, Europe thought it was cool days, weeks, and months before us. Earlier this summer I was in Spain and I saw a lot of white dresses. Low and behold, girls are out in their virginal best, braving the dirt and sweat of Ottawa summer. And I too, proudly don my whites with the confidence of European reassurance and the satisfaction that, if I do get dirty, I only have to answer to myself.

With Labour Day fast approaching, you may think your days to get your whites their brightest are limited, but let’s just say f*ck it this year. Live dangerously. Let’s just all be brides whenever we want, k? Maybe just avoid the mud.

Feature image by James Devaney/WireImage.com

Pastry picking for healthy(ish) eaters

Some of us want to eat healthy. And some of us want to eat baked goods. Some of us want to do both. That means finding the best possible ways to work sugar in to your diet.

*Disclaimer! I am not a nutritionist, baker, or candle stick maker. But I do like to eat sweets and I do like to find ways to justify eating them. The things I say below have come from doing pretty in depth research just to keep those cannoli in my life.*

Your worst choices

Unfortunately, this is where one of my faves falls: donuts. The combination of fried simple carbs and sugar are the things your spare tire is made of. Along with chocolate chip cookies, croissants, and scones. When you’re looking at the makeup of that sweet treat behind the the counter, think about three things: protein, fibre, and fats (the good ones, obvs). Try and include at least one if you want to remotely be able to categorize your treat as semi-healthy. If it’s got none of them, then there’s always the emotional pleasure you’ll get.

pastries, healthy, pastry
Sorry Suzy Q

Protein (cheese, nuts)

When it comes to treats containing some protein, you’re at least going to feel fuller for longer.  So desserts like cannoli or peanut butter squares are going to give you more bang for their calorie buck. Meaning something that’s about 400 calories may actually almost keep you full for a full 400 calories worth of time.

pastries, pastry, healthy, speculose
Speculose and cream filled donut

With fibre (fruit, nuts, grains)

Like the Starbucks oat fudge bar or the Bridgehead quinoa chocolate cake (I’ve done done my leg work), there are pastries out there with fibre. Similar to protein, fibre will help keep you fuller longer, but it also helps breakdown and digest your food and sugars. I realize this is a bit of a stretch, but I’m looking for any silver lining on my oat fudge bar (for more on how fibre works, here’s a simple article).

With fats (nuts, coconut, peanut butter)

You’re likely to find a macaroon, something laced with peanut butter, or maybe even made with avocado in today’s (good) fat-filled world. Research also shows that the good fats may benefit insulin levels and help control blood sugar (which is nice for while you eat all the sugar). And, like protein and fibre, it will help keep you fuller longer.

Peanut butter square from Planet Coffee
Peanut butter square from Planet Coffee

The glutenfree, fatfree, vegan, paleo, and the rest

We see more of these things everyday as new diets are unearthed and popularized by bloggers and the like. Dessert is dessert in my eyes and while I try to eat a high protein, low gluten diet on the regs, I don’t really limit myself when it comes to dessert. If I really want a donut, I have a donut. Probably more often than I should.  But that’s life! And if you’re good 80% of the time, why not, right?

(more justifications from a serial sweets eater)

 

Monday motivation – when you need to workout at home

Especially in the summer, the weekends tend to become extra overindulge: drinks, food, sun – leaving us dehydrated, bloated, and burnt on Mondays.

If you’re like me, you’re desperately looking for a sweaty workout and anything and everything green to eat. But when your fave lunchtime workout is cancelled and you can’t make it to the evening class because you work, you will resort to working out at home.

Luckily, I have a go-to skip circuit that I can do from almost anywhere with minimal to no equipment required (you can download a free circuit timing app and buy a  good skipping rope for about $10). See below.

0:00 – 1:00 – Skip
1:00 – 2:00 – Squats with or without weight (basically whenever I can find something heavy)
2:00 – 3:00 – Skip
3:00 – 4:00 – Wide-arm push ups to focus on chest
4:00 – 5:00 – Skip
5:00 – 6:00 – Back – supermans (lie on your stomach and lift up your chest)
6:00 – 7:00 – Skip
7:00 – 8:00 – Tricep push ups
8:00 – 9:00 – Skip
9:00 – 10:00 – Biceps – curl something heacy
10:00 – 11:00 – Skip
11:00 – 12:00 – Lunges left side
12:00 – 13:00 – Skip
13:00 – 14:00 – Lunges right side
14:00 – 15:00 – Skip
15:00 – 16:00 – Shoulders – more push ups!
16:00 – 17:00 – Skip
17:00 – 18:00 – Side plank – each side 30 seconds
18:00 – 19:00 – Skip
19:00 – 20:00 – Plank

Happy sweating!

Photo from @VictoriaSport

Mornings in Sicily

Many mornings in a small town in Sicily called Santo Stefano di Camastra were just like this one here in Ottawa. The early hour betraying the heat that would meet you as you exited your home and stepped into the full sunlight, making you instantly regret choosing to wear pants.

You set out for your morning brew to your nearest cafe. Just as there are endless options here, there are even more so there. You probably have a favourite, as I do in Santo Stefano.

And just as you think you should have taken the few moments to change into a dress, you reach your destination. For me, it was Bar Vittoria.

Through the bead curtain you enter the shop and feel relief from the sun. The air smells strongly and oh-so-pleasantly of fresh coffee and pastries. There is a flurry of action from behind the counter where the bar owner, Frank, is greeting customers, pouring espresso, and serving up cornetto (croissants filled with cream or Nutella), the breakfast of choice for those in a hurry to work.

Nutella, cornetto, Italy, breakfast in Italy
Cornetto filled with Nutella

As soon as he has a moment, he comes to greet us personally with a kiss on each cheek. Moments later my espresso and cartoccio (a doughnut-like pastry filled with ricotta cream) would appear and I would spend the next hour savouring every bite while reading my book and taking in the surroundings.

Nutella, cartoccio, Italy, breakfast in Italy
Eating my last cartoccio on the car on the way to the airport last May.

Today, I eat a leftover half of a cannoli from Simply Biscotti. Not as good as yesterday, of course, but still delicious. Simply, in my opinion, has the best cannoli in Ottawa. They fill the shells with the cream only just as they are about to be placed out for sale. If the cream is in for too long, the shell gets soggy and that’s just not right.

cannoli, monday morning, coffee, reading
My morning ritual recreation

I have a stove top espresso maker and grounds from Gioiosa Marea (meaning joyful sea) – a town next to Santo Stefano – to complete my morning ritual recreation. As the pot begins to percolate, the smell of fresh espresso makes me smile.

Sitting outside, it feels just as hot as it did in Santo Stefano. And as it’s only 8 a.m., I will read for another hour before letting any of my daily responsibilities bring me back to reality.

Monday mornings, coffee, reading
Go away responsibilities.




Lush’s henna hair colour

I’d been wanting to go dark for the summer and heard about Lush’s all natural henna hair colour from my cousin. She warned that it was a lot of work and could be messy, but I ventured ahead.

At Lush, the sale’s girl was super helpful. The block of colour is in six sections, she suggested that I use all six as I have a lot of hair.

You have to chop up the colour and put it in a bowl that can hold boiling water. Then add boiling water slowly, alternating between pouring and stirring. When you have something that feels like a brownie batter consistency (but looks more like purred kale soup), you’re ready.

Lush cosmetics, henna hair colour
Chopping up the whole bar and mixing with boiling water.
lush cosmetics, henna hair colour
Mixed to a brownie batter-like consistency (but slightly less appealing).

I laid newspaper on the ground of the bathroom and covered the upper half of my body (I opted for topless), face, arms, and ears with coconut oil to make sure the henna wouldn’t dye my skin – highly recommended. I forgot to get latex gloves but luckily had a pair of those yellow rubber gloves that will be forever stained. I was this close to using a baggie on each hand.

lush cosmetics, henna hair colour
The aftermath – not as messy as I had thought.

After that, I did my hair in two sections – lower and upper. It’s suggested that you wrap your head in cling-wrap which I didn’t have so I wrapped a plastic bag around my head. When that whole bowl of paste was on my head, it was so heavy.

lush cosmetics, henna hair colour
The entire bowl is on my head and it is heavy AF.

The hardest part was keeping my heavy head up for four hours (it was suggested to leave it on for two to four hours and I wanted to make sure I had the full effect). I ended up laying out a beach towel and napping/watching movies for four hours.  In the last hour, the smell was really starting to get to me. Originally, I liked it. It reminded me of green tea.

Then it was time to rinse – it took about 10 minutes of rinsing with water, four shampoos, and a thorough condition. You can fully expect to need to scrub your shower afterwards.

Before & after
Before & after

Thoughts? Firstly, I should have taken a better before picture, but it’s too late now. Secondly, two thumbs up. The colour will deepen over the next couple days and lasts for three to four months (perf for summer) and, extra bonus, it’s all natural and the ingredients are great for your hair.




Brunch at Bazille

Atmosphere: We sat on the patio and it was lovely. It’s shaded and spacious and there are heat lamps for cooler days.

What’s on the menu: The typical traditional breakfast, an omelette, breakfast sandwich, fruit bowl, and a few other things. It’s not huge, but you can get breakfast there any time of day, you just have to ask for the menu. You even have to ask for the menu when you are there at 11 a.m. on a Saturday. They never hand it out.

Our experience: Excellent. They were cool about substitutions, refilled coffees and waters, and the peanut butter they use is the REAL STUFF. They don’t have a gluten-free toast option, but will offer you more fruit in exchange.

Cost: For the quality, fair. Regular breakfast with real peanut butter and coffee (not incl. in the regular breakfast) came to $12.38.

Perfect date: For anyone, really. I could have been sitting there with my parents, any friend, or a significant other.

breakfast, brunch, patio, ottawa, bazille

500-50 Rideau St., 613-788-6110, restaurants.nordstrom.com




Pyjamas in public

Lead image photography by Peter Stigter, from fashionmagazine.com

How to wear the pyjama trend,” read the title of the magazine article. I was intrigued – I am always looking for ways to avoid having to get dressed.

The gist of it seemed to be that you wear clothes resembling pyjamas – but are not your actual pyjamas – in public. In short: loose fits, colourful, and high-quality materials.

I decided to try this out on Sunday:

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Behind every woman dabbling in fashion is a man who just doesn’t get it.

The top is from Top Shop and generally fits the nice chiffon-y, satin-y material specifications. We’ll give the top a 7/10.

The bottoms are studded leggings from Victoria Secret that are probably made of cotton. They are also my legit pyjamas. 2/10.

The clutch was my grandmother’s, so vendor unknown, but likely somewhere in Italy. The necklace was from a department store in Ireland which name escapes me at the mo, but I remember it was nicely on sale. Uggs are hand-me-downs from my cousin, and the sunglasses were $2 at a consignment shop. Accessories overall, maybe a generous 6/10.

I asked my boyfriend what he thought. He said the top was too fancy for the bottoms. But what does he know? I was actually pretty obsessed with it.

I wore this out all of Sunday, but none of this really mattered in the end, because if it’s winter in Ottawa, everyone will just end up looking like this:

 

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Perhaps, this is a trend better saved for warmer weather. Maybe “National wear your pyjamas to work day” on April 16, even. Will report back with updates.

A see-through dress to show off my skivvies

I have found my alma mater of the writing world, but the central topic isn’t something that I am well-versed in: fashion.

So, it only makes sense to immerse myself in the style-savvy and start buying nicer clothes.

To buy nicer clothes, you need money. I have money. Some money. And some of that money goes to necessities like mortgage payments and Netflix, some goes to debt, and anything leftover seems to go to food.

The problem with this is two-fold – I have no money left to spend on clothes and all the money spent on food won’t help me fit well into said clothes that I don’t have any money for anyway. Maybe I should take heed of my good friend, Carrie Bradshaw’s, wise words…

I kid, I’m not that broke that I can’t buy food and clothes. But, funnily enough, the first place I went to buy new clothes was Joe Fresh in Loblaws.

I went with a specific purchase in mind – Super Bowl snacks, and this floral shirt dress in blush:

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Believe it or not, it looked better on me than this face-and-footless model. Problem though, it is COMPLETELY SEE-THROUGH.

I was so torn. It really did look good on me, and it was completely on-point with one of this year’s spring trends: bold, colourful prints. Ok, so it’s not really that bold or colourful, but it’s a start.

So I did what I normally do when I’m disappointed – I sent an e-mail. I sent two e-mails and Facebook message to Joe Fresh asking them how they expected customers to wear this dress that so well shows off your undergarments. They didn’t respond. So I commented on the Facebook page and they FINALLY got back to me.

The answer was not helpful: buy a slip or a camisole.

I bought the dress anyways. And I’ll probably spend more money on the slip. I love the dress despite the see-throughness, but I’m terribly peeved at the Joe Fresh people who seriously seemed to have f*cked up.

Or, maybe, I’ll go all risqué and wear my skivvies loud and proud. Only time will tell – and the melting of this 40-something cm of snow and an increase in weather by about 40 degrees.

Life plan – The Book

I’ve recently realized where I want to be in the next two years. It’s reassuring to have a goal to work towards, but I also worry that I am setting myself up for disappointment. But really, mostly reassuring.

A few weeks ago, while perusing New Year’s Resolution articles, as I so commonly do to spark any particle of motivation I have to be a better person, I connected to the writing style of one particular magazine (hereinafter referred to as “The Book”) in a way I never had before. It read like something I would write myself, purely, and not in a different “voice” as I do (or try to do) with Ottawa Magazine.

**Let me just say, for the record, I love Ottawa Magazine so, so much. It is near and dear to my heart and it is where I want to be right now.**

The Book is a part of the same publishing family as Ott Mag, which is a plus, and happens to be a fashion magazine, which could potentially be a negative. (If you’ve figured out which mag it is, A+, I just don’t want to jinx myself by saying it out loud. In the words of the great Michael Scott…

little stitious

I say that being a fashion mag could potentially be negative because:
– I’ve been wearing sweatpants in public for the last 10 years
– I have a relatively full closet, but will wear the same shirt + pants combo daily if I’m not seeing the same people
– I don’t own jeans
– I one time asked my boyfriend if I could wear my sweatpants to a bar and he had to tell me that wasn’t really appropriate and I should at least wear leggings (in my defence, it was a video game bar)

So, I’ve decided to try a few things:

– As I’ve said, I’ve whittled my closet down. Now I can refill it with nice things. Maybe some jeans even.
– Wear nice things set out above
– Buy and read every issue of said magazine until they hire me and I get it for free
– Attempt to blog more about style and maybe even do a couple pieces for Ott Mag
– Get in touch with The Book editors to put myself on their radar
– Join their “Fashion Panel” so I can be involved in the goings-on
– Think of unique ideas that will surely come once I’ve stopped wearing sweats in public and pitch them to The Book

Wish me luck! And feel free to pass on any advice. Actually, not any, only good advice, please.

 

Do you love that neon orange Aritzia corset top more than your boyfriend?

Making room for someone in your home, specifically in your closet, goes something like this:

When is the last time you wore this neon orange corset top from Aritzia? Two years? Three? Ok, that’s too long. Get rid of it.

But what if I go to another black and orange themed Halloween party?

Then: Do you love this top more than your boyfriend?

And in the box it goes.

taketoss

This back and forth continues for a while. I whittle and whittle until I clear almost half of my closet (one of those double sliding mirrored door-types). I have four boxes to go to consignment and a couple of bags for second-hand. I’m anxious to start on the kitchen.

No, he’s not moving in this month, not even next. Maybe spring, maybe summer – all we know is that it’s in our “ish” future (near-ish, soon-ish, close-ish). And every time he stays over we make a mess very quickly. Whether it’s kitchen clutter – the food processor, the popcorn maker, a myriad of dirty and clean dishes on the counter – clothes akimbo on the bed, and piles of stuff we bring in with us on the dining table. I realize I have too much stuff.

I realize I have to be able to absorb the things that come in to my place. The scarves that we take off, the papers we bring home, the food we eat, the extra dishes that we create. When I’m alone, these things have a place to go, a slot, a spot that they fit neatly and evenly into.

I’m not a hoarder, not anymore at least. My mom and friend, Karina, will remember another time when, perhaps, I was. It was February and I was moving out of a small bachelor apartment above a bathing suit store in Westboro and had waited  until the last minute to pack. The day I was moving out, Karina and I were desperately stuffing her Hyundai with garbage bags full of my things. Then my mom came to help. When she saw the mess still left, she was silent. I drove to my parents house (where I was staying for a month before moving into my new home) with Karina, my mom in her car ahead of us. We all got out of the cars and started unloading. And then my mom started unloading on me – to the dismay of poor Karina, and the probable joy of our nosy neighbour across the street who decided, at that moment, to shovel his driveway.

Since that fateful day, I’ve tried to keep it as minimal as possible. And yet, here I am. I realize that I am not purging solely for him, but for me, too. I don’t want to have so much stuff  that I can’t find places for a few more important things. Or feel cluttered and messy every time my boyfriend spends the weekend.

So, for now, I continue to whittle, placing value on my things. What brings me joy? What do I keep out of some sort of guilt? What do I use? And what is just taking up space?

I look forward to the day we are ready to live together, but for now I am looking forward to the day that I truly unclutter my home.

And, for the moment, the neon orange corset top remains in the “consignment” box.

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Musings of an almond butter addict & Sex and the City fan.