Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cat Crazy

Okay so sometimes a girl sees something (or in this case some things) and there is absolutely no doubt what she's thinking: I must have it. Case and point:

PARDON? Somebody fetch me smelling salts, Paul and Joe has induced a sickening amount of swooning yet again. Really, does it get any better than high quality cat themed cosmetics in pretty colours? I challenge you to find something I love more.  I might just name my first born Paul... and Joe for that matter.

Between Shoe and I

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Portland is the new Disneyland

I used to think Disneyland was truly the happiest place on earth. I was haunted with dreams of the sugary sweetness that hung in the air like morning dew, the hopeful music drifting through the crowds, and the pastel scenery. I was so completely infatuated with Disneyland as a child, I somehow convinced my parents to take me not once, but 13 times. I never thought I'd find another place that made me feel at home like Disneyland did.

And then I went to Portland. 

The streets were filled with bikes, the stores filled with tax-free finds like records, vintage clothing, and rare books. We stayed in the Ace Hotel, a pleasantly pretentious spot complete with Pendleton blankets on frame-less beds, record players in each room (accompanied by a well balanced vinyl collection) and murals by local artists everywhere and anywhere. It was a sort of hipster haven, and we made ourselves right at home among the mason-jarred cacti and vintage photobooth. The glory of Portland didn't really sink in however, until I asked the hotel concierge where to find tasty vegan food and was met with the reply, "Well in Portland almost every restaurant has vegan options." I had died and gone to heaven. It was just like my Portlandia-laced dreams; and it got better. 

The city itself is a labyrinth of galleries, independent shops, and tiny food carts peddling every international food imaginable. The main portion is split into two by a river flanked by parks, and joined by a number of bridges that each seem to have their own distinct personalities. We wandered from early morning to late night, determined to see everything this dreamy city had to offer. With a little help from Abi at Vanilla and Lace, we found great coffee at Stumptown, a vegan strip mall, and gorgeous little streets like Mississippi Avenue that would've otherwise gone unnoticed. Here's the best of what I saw:

An amazing stuffed mushroom loaf on fluffy mashed potato with greens and salted caramel ice cream from Portobello, a well-loved vegan Italian spot. We also tried walnut cheese stuffed sweet peppers. 

One of the four shops in the vegan strip mall, Sweet Pea Bakery offers $10 all you can eat Sunday Brunch. When I visited, the special was biscuits and gravy; it was probably the best breakfast I've ever had.

This may look like your average alfredo, but look a little closer and you may be able to see its brilliance. It's a vegan raw pasta dish with zucchini noodles, tomato, broccoli, greens, and cashew cream alfredo sauce. All for under $10 at Prasad, a tiny restaurant located inside a massive yoga studio. 

Probably the highlight of my visit: a plethora of vegan donuts from Vodoo Donuts, which is probably the busiest and most awesome donut place ever. They also offer vegan cream-filled "cock and balls" donuts... I'm sure you don't need a photo to get the picture. 

Overall, Portland was like visiting a grown up, vegan fairy tale. The people were as friendly as huge stuffed characters, and although there was no castle, I found the same giddy feeling in Portland that I had once felt walking into Disneyland as a child; I'm already dreaming of going back.

Between Shoe and I

Thursday, August 4, 2011

You Scream, I Scream... What? Vegan Ice Cream!

As we slide into the last month of summer, the joys of sun and heat have faded, and I think it's safe to say we're all looking forward to the first breeze of fall. One summer splendor I can never get enough of however is ice cream; there's something so lovely about a creamy, just-blended milkshake or a freshly scooped cone that I never cease to crave. Sadly, being vegan, the options for such luxuries are almost always limited to fruit gelato, and even then there's no guarantee it's actually dairy free. Every summer I get into the habit of sacrificing my veganism for a cone or two... but the sacrificing has come to an end!

The extremely delicious Sadie's Diner has opened a tiny new sister spot in Kensington market... and oh my, is it ever sweet!

With popsicles, every variation of ice cream bar, floats, milkshakes, smoothies, Tofutti ice cream cones, and home made ice cream on the way, Sadie's Ice Cream Bar is a little patch of heaven for the overheating vegan. Pop in and see for yourself at 146 Baldwin Avenue in Kensington Market.

I'm sure I'll see you there!
Between Shoe and I

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Can it

When the temperature rises in Toronto, fashion rules melt faster than ice cubes; now is the time when our least favorite pants loose half their length at the mercy of dull scissors, and bathing suit tops become a perfectly acceptable daily option, even in the heart of downtown. With all this heat, the cozy layers and thick knits of fall have been far from my mind. Instead, I've been focusing on something, well, a little more... what's the right word?

I'm somehow turning into a housewife.

The reality of this strange personality development became all too clear when I noticed the only things on my birthday list this year were wine glasses, a floral armchair, and a swiffer wet jet. I'm nesting. And so it only makes sense that a few weeks ago, on one of the hottest days of the year, my best friend and I chose not to go out to the beach or the park, but to stay inside slaving over multiple boiling, spewing pots.

That's right. We canned.

After eight hours of work, four trips to the store, and numerous excruciating burns, we had zesty salsa, sweet corn relish, and my personal favorite, strawberry jam.

In case you're feeling like you too need a little housewife time in your life, here's our foolproof recipe for a little bit of canned sweetness that will last right through the next three seasons, unlike your new Chanel sandals.

You'll Need:

4 cups of sugar (we used plain white sugar)
4 cups mashed strawberry (aka. 2 pounds)
1/4 cup of lemon juice

*This will make about two small jars of jam. If you want to make more (which, let's face it, you do) multiply the recipe accordingly, always keeping equal parts sugar and berries.

In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the three ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir constantly until the texture thickens and begins to resemble jelly (this can take a LONG time so be patient and wary of boiling blobs of strawberry landing on your feet). Transfer the jam to sterile jars (all pieces of the jar must be boiled for a minute immediately before) and leave about half an inch of space at the top. Put on the lid tightly and submerge your jars in a hot water bath for about 25 minutes to seal them, and tada! Instant housewife!

At some point the temperature will become reasonable and we can all start dreaming of our favorite scarves, but until then, happy canning!

Between Shoe and I

Friday, June 24, 2011

Crushing on Ohbijou for WORN Fashion Journal

The bar is packed from wall to wall despite the icy Toronto weather. A half-dozen eclectic-looking musicians walk onto a small stage carrying a variety of instruments. The crowd falls silent, folding to the ground kindergarten-style, and all eyes are drawn to two diminutive women standing at the edge of the group. One wears a sheer blouse and high-waisted shorts, the other jeans and a simple white hoodie covering most of her bespectacled face; one holds a violin and the other is empty handed. They couldn’t appear more different, but the audience is uniformly spellbound.

Casey and Jenny Mesija, the sisters behind Toronto’s haunting orchestral pop band Ohbijou, seem to have a lot in common. When they agreed to talk clothes with WORN, I assumed that, along with genes and music, they’d have coinciding views on style. What is it they say about making assumptions?

Do you two ever share your clothes, now or in the past? Was a hand-me-down system ever put into place?

C: Not really, we have very different body types. There are articles of clothing that we each own that make us envious of the other; I often buy shirts that end up looking better on Jenny.

J: I never got hand-me-downs from Casey. It was usually her that borrowed (or sneakily took) my clothing.

How would you compare and contrast your style to your sister’s?

C: I don't intend to be stylish. My sister on the other hand is incredibly fashionable. I'm lucky because I have a partner who knows how to dress so I get some help in that department, but my sister looks stylish in whatever she decides to wear.

J: Casey and I share a common attraction to all things neutral, and we’re not really attracted to patterns. We share similar tastes in cuts and fits of clothing, and seem to be most comfortable in loose fitting T-shirts.

Do you think that how you dress has any relation to the music you make? Is there a connection between music and fashion in general?

C: There’s definitely a connection. Every aspect of yourself is a part of your performance, from what you wear to the instruments you buy. When you feel the most comfortable, you’ll likely perform the best. If you feel good and confident with what you’re wearing then it will lend itself to a better performance. We try to dress in the same colour palette to keep a cohesive aesthetic on stage. We like to make every performance special and show our audience that we really care about what we're doing, so changing clothes is a small detail that helps elevate our performance.

J: Style of dress doesn’t really have any relation to the music that we make or our performance. We’re going to make more of an effort to have performance dress in order to get in the mindset of a performer and have a more cohesive stage presence. I think that many musicians share this same outlook with stage dress. Stage dress allows musicians to get into the mode of the character or how they want to perform on stage.

What was your most memorable show and what were you each wearing?

C: One of our first shows was at a tiny festival in Guelph called Track and Field. My sister and I decided to pin red feathers to our grey shirts for that show — something about it felt very special. We felt in flight, perhaps, at ease and so lucky to be performing outside while the sun was setting — it was a perfect summer evening.

J: Our CD release show for Beacons. We all made an effort to dress up and when we changed into our outfits before the show it made us even more excited to get on stage to play.

Notice a pattern? The Mecija’s never saw one another’s answers; in the name of convenience, we communicated via e-mail. It was interesting to discover that, perhaps by virtue of their responding independently, they have drastically different ways of thinking about their world. Although Casey and Jenny share a last name, a hometown, and a band, and though often their aesthetics collide, the ideological paths they take to get there are unique.

Fashion has a very particular way of fitting people into groups. We look around and make assumptions daily: hipster, conservative, wealthy, slob. But generalizations don’t really describe much more than the surface. In fashion as in everything else, our motives are our own. That is, until we find our common ground.

How much of your personality is attached to what you wear?

C: I like to think that my personality is in the clothes I choose each day. Perhaps subconsciously more than anything — if I’m having a bad day I'd probably reach for dark clothing without even fully realizing.

J: I definitely have personal preferences in terms of styles of clothing and shoes that I will wear, but my style is something I don’t think too much about; I know what I like, and picking the clothes I want to have in my closet comes naturally.

Interview by Alyssa Garrison

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Shoe Blues

I’m big on lists. I write them in my planner, on scraps of paper (when said planner is unavailable), and when things get really desperate, in smudgy scribbles on my hands. My favorite type is of the “to buy” assortment, although mine always seems to grow and can never be completed, creating one giant, ongoing list. Almost every time I head to a shop, be it alone or with friends, for large pieces of furniture or just groceries, I will secretly be clutching a list detailing exactly what I’d like to buy. There’s just one problem: no matter what I have on my list, I somehow always end up bringing home the same thing. Shoes.

Last weekend, I went out looking for a vintage trunk to use as a coffee table in my new place. What did I come home with? Vintage suede slippers with a delicately embroidered toe in a delicious olive green. A few weeks earlier, it was black patent vintage Ferragamos with a fabric bow and gold detailing, a pair so precious they managed to trump my basic food needs for the week. No matter how final my lists are on paper, my mind always seems to have a subconscious agenda that constantly pulls me to the footwear department, distracting me from the things I actually need.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Craving for Carven

I have a craving rivaling that of a pregnant woman in need of pickles. I've got one thing on my mind and I can't seem to shake it. My new obsession is simple, elegant, and cute as a button: the divinely crafted Carven. Apparently this wonderbrand has been kicking around since 1945, but I only discovered its awesomeness this Spring when it was re-launched at Paris fashion week. 

Founded by Madame Carven Mallet, a complete amateur in the delicate world of 1940's couture with a fresh idea about beautiful clothes, Carven is acclaimed as one of the first brands to execute a ready to wear collection. Madame Carven was also the first to design women's tennis and ski wear, providing a stylish yet sensible way for women to exercise. From its moment of inception, Carven was offering accessible luxury to women unshackled by convention, and this mission shines through in the desirable designs being created today.

Even after disappearing for many years, Spring 2011 was no exception from Carven's past glory. Now headed by Guillaume Henry, who took over as creative director in 2009, Carven still upholds the playful, wearable nature that Madame Carven worked so hard to produce, but with an added bonus that separates Carven from every other luxury brand today: Henry wants Carven to be beautiful and affordable. This line was Henry's first to show during Paris fashion week, and the attention to detail and obvious craftsmanship paired with the wallet-friendly price point put Carven back on the fashion industry's map. 

Cutouts, studs, bolo ties, landscape prints, and nostalgic backpacks are just a few of the swoon inducing elements in this perfectly pastel collection. The use of removable collars and cashmere bandeau bras increases the value of each garment, offering additional ways to play with Carven's unique without blowing your budget. The entire line is girlish yet classic, neutral but fun, sexy and sophisticated; the new Carven fits the modern woman like a dainty leather glove, bringing us the clothes we've been craving at prices we may actually be able to pay without taking out a loan or selling a kidney. 

By the time the Fall 2011 collections rolled around, I was bright eyed and bushy tailed, scanning the lists until Carven appeared. To say I was impressed would be a drastic understatement. 

With platform wedge loafers, exposed chunky zippers, leather, and tartan, Carven's Fall 2011 collection is everything I love about the autumn season. Preppy wool coats with toggle buttons complimented the odd splash of lace and delicate white collars. The colour palette was neutral and dark, with pops of cherry red, gold, tangerine and olive. Models were classic and minimal, sporting long, brushed out hairstyles and little makeup. The odd accessory was thrown into the mix in the form of a bright handbag or tiny round spectacles. Overall, the look was proper with an edge, bourgeois meets bad girl. The result was the democratic mix Madame Carven prized in her design days; millions of women can mix and match these pieces, determining their own unique style while still embodying a Carven woman. 

Photos via