Friday, August 29, 2008

Rainy Friday...

It's Friday, and it's raining. We just found out that the airline we booked our tickets with to go and visit Liam and Shannon in London in November went out of business and are scrambling to get refunds from Visa before we can buy new ones.

Someone brought donuts into the office and I ate a whole one. Right before I have to go for a physical and get on the scale.

Feeling generally uninspired today, I'm going back to the archives for this picture. It helps me to remember my goal to only keep things that I absolutely love and that make me happy when I wear them/see them.

organizing inspirations

I hope that you all have a lovely long weekend, filled with rest, relaxation, and a healthy dose of fun. Be back Tuesday with tons of fresh posts and great ideas to share!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I don't know this family, but I have been so touched reading about their lives through Stephanie's blog and was heartbroken for them to hear that they had been in a plane crash that left both Stephanie and Christian in serious condition, with burns covering most of their bodies. I can't paint or draw or have anything of great value to donate, but I would like to encourage you to visit the blogs hosting auctions to support the Nie Recorvery Fund today. Perennial favourites like Oh Happy Day and Design Mom have some great things on offer, as do many others. Design Mom also has a comprehensive list of auctions going on- so check it out!

{I lalalalove that dress!}

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Isn't it Good?

I recently acquired a fabulous vintage blouse from Norwegian Wood. This company finds vintage secretary blouses and reworks them to make them more stylish and modern. I love mine and have been getting compliments all morning!

The Secretary Blouse - Reworked - Size S

New Header!!!

I just wanted to thank my fabulous lil' bro, Liam, for all of his hard work in putting together this lovely new header for my blog. It makes me happy every time I look at it. He's an industrial designer who is also a talented amateur photographer and web jack of all trades. If you want to check out his photography, you can find him here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Notebooks are Bliss

I am a notebook gal. I always have a couple on the go. I keep track of everything and love to make lists of anything that I might ever need to do... Daphna introduced me to the lovely Jill Bliss collection a while ago, and these lovely notebooks really do it all. They have a mix of lined, unlined and graph paper for your different list and other needs, and are just real darned purdy too...

the native herbs journal

Dollars and Sense

I know that it's fall, and that I'm constantly posting drool-inducing images of lovely things that could break the bank, but I also try to be a budget-savvy gal who pays cash for things and doesn't rack up the credit card bills...This list of tips from Real Simple on fall budgeting seemed helpful, especially in a year of tightened purse strings everywhere.

Twelve Tips for Spending Less

1. Pay cash. Studies show that people find it much easier to spend money when they’re using a cash substitute (they also find it easier to cheat or pilfer!). Keep yourself in touch with cost, by using cold hard cash.
2. Focus on small items first. When you buy an expensive item, it’s easy to toss in unthinkingly a lot of smaller items alongside it – items that you might have otherwise have spent a lot of time considering, and which add up to a lot of $$$. So pick out smaller items first, then the larger item. Buy the software, the mouse, the mousepad, and the other bits and bobs, then choose the computer.
3. Don’t buy too much at one time. If you’re buying too many things, you stop paying attention to what you’re getting. Any one item seems insignificant. I call this “shop shock” or “drive-by shopping.”
4. Don’t buy anything at a bargain store that you haven’t bought before at full price.
5. Before paying, review each of your purchases with a skeptical eye. Don’t buy anything you’re not sure you want and can use – this is particularly important with clothes. I often ask myself, “Do I feel like wearing this tomorrow?” Sometimes, I realize I’ve picked something out because I can “use” it – but really, if I don’t love something, I almost never end up wearing it, no matter how useful it might be.
6. Don’t tell yourself, “I can always return it”; remind yourself, “I can come back if I decide I need it.”
7. Make a list and stick to it.
8. Don’t buy anything that needs to be a specific size unless you KNOW the measurements you need.
9. Don’t shop when you’re hungry. Even for non-food items.
10. Don’t shop as an activity with friends. It’s easy to spend more than you intend, or to buy something you don’t really need or want, when you’re distracted by conversation. Find something else to do with your friends. Have coffee, go for a walk, run errands together (in high school, my friends and I used to do errands together all the time, and it’s a great way to turn a nagging task into something fun).
11. Be very skeptical of anything that’s on sale.
12. If you don’t shop, you don’t buy. Stay out of stores.

Monday, August 25, 2008

LB's Music Pick of the Week: The Constantines

Apologies for being late on this one, but my better half did not get it to me until late Friday, so I'm going to pass the blame over his way...

It’s taken a few weeks to get to but I’ve decided it is time to recommend what stands as probably my favourite record of all time. It is certainly the one that I most return to from the band that I never grow weary of. Shine a Light, the Constantines second record, is an almost perfectly crafted twelve song collection that blends full scale rock n’ roll assaults with subtle touches and soulful infusions that never undermine the groove. It is a blend that they have struggled to recapture the balance on subsequent releases. We discovered the Constantines as a live band and it can sometimes be difficult for great live bands to capture the essence of what they do on stage in the studio. This record accomplishes that task with √©lan. Its opening five tracks could probably stand with any a-side in classic rock history. The open with the rambunctious and up tempo “National Hum,” a showcase of both their mastery of stop and start rhythms and obscure lyrics like “The mayor’s putting fences up to keep the bodies off the Don Valley Parkway.” They follow it up with possibly the two best songs they’ve ever written and certainly the two that most people think of when they describe the band as anthemic. Back to back, we are treated to the soaring anthem “Shine a Light” and the growling, strength of its partner “Nighttime, Anytime” with its grow call to “turn it up” that sounds almost as good on record as it does when a club full of people shout it out, half pleading but half commanding. The slow crawling “Insectivora” changes the pace without dulling the tone before “Young Lions” declares their love for old fashioned rock with a song that slowly builds and turns on a solid, traditional chorus.

The rest of the album is almost equally good. Individually the songs stand alone. Some are fast and driving, some wallow a little more and others just take their time. Each is enjoyable and engaging but the magic of the first five is not quite there. The seamlessness that allows five songs at a running time of almost twenty minutes to flow by is for some reason derailed. The record, however, continues to reveal itself in little keyboard flourishes and lyrical intricacies. Songs like “Tank Commander” and “On To You” demonstrate that they are a rock band who have learned from not only the punk rockers who were popular when they went to school but the independents who blazed the trail before. And then they finish on “Sub Domestic” with a little jangly flourish that reveals a hint of country that was definitely not there before. The beauty of this album is not only in its ability to shift directions and surprise but also its ability to make you familiar with those shifts until they feel like the obvious thing to do.

Weekend Post Mortem

For once, I actually had a weekend that kept a resonable pace - a gal could get used to this...

Friday night I was stuck late at work, and raced home to hang out with Laurin. I'm purging a bunch of things from the house {sale of some sort to follow!} and I needed some moral support and girly time...We capped off the evening with a trip to McD's for some much-needed ice cream.

Saturday morning was spent getting ready for LB's father's 60th birthday party, trying to sell our china cabinet, and then heading out for the day. We had a quick brunch and then spent the rest of the day hosting 40 people to a BBQ dinner at LB's parents' house. It was a lovely evening, but exhausting. And of course I forgot to take any pictures. Nice!

Sunday morning I stopped in at the folks' house, then spent an hour reading fall fashion magazines {so much more reading to do!} and then hopped on my bike to meet the lovely Gen for nachos - I've missed her so much, we're so glad to have you back in Ottawa m'dear! Home with LB, we crashed for the evening and watched nothing but Mad Men. Great way to end the night!

Inspiration: Mad Men

Lb and I succumbed to the brilliance that is Mad Men this weekend. Last night, we watched 6 episodes in a row...I know - but it's too good to stop! Today's outfit is entirely a sartorial tribute to the show. I'm wearing this dress from the Gap, black patent heels, a big black patent belt, and black fishnets. Fun! We've got five episodes left tonight, guess where I'll be parked tonight?

Mad Men Episode 4: Three Sundays

Friday, August 22, 2008

Smart Move

10 years ago today, I made the best decision of my life. I got drunk and kissed LB.
I couldn't imagine life any other way...

Danish style

The fabulous Shannon introduced me to By Malene Birger, a Danish designer who makes stylish clothes that are not overly trendy, and that have a bit of whimsy to them.

I love the Filomena dress, it's neutral enough that you could wear it all year, and could be dressed up or down, depending on the situation.

The Marjolaine dress is a beautiful update on a very classic design. With a pair of bright tights and some black patent leather booties, it would be a stunning outfit that would work from day to night.

dream kitchens

These kitchens are so incredible...Darn those Danes and all of their fabulous style and designs!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Simply Organized

I loved this article from the August 2008 issue of Real Simple. This mom has carved out a simple yet elegant home for her family, with stuff but not too much stuff, and it looks like the happiest place on earth.

I am also in lust with her dressing area - so simple, nothing ridiculously fancy, no California closets, and it looks divine. Plus, it would force you to really wear the clothes that you have and love the clothes that you keep.

The Low-Key, Stress-Free Organized HomeThe Low-Key, Stress-Free Organized Home

I'm a Weiner!

I never win anything, so imagine my excitement when I won four fabulous yards of this rad fabric from the hilariously stylish Leslie over at Reclaiming Miss Havisham. I'm thinking of using it for recovering a chair, depending on how thick it is...

I never win anything, so this was really exciting, plus it gave me the opportunity to geek out with my knowledge of literature - the question was about Agatha Christie's now de plume for romance novels, Mary Westmacott...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Retro bedding

I'm trying to finish our bedroom, there are a few loose ends that make me unable to call it a finished product. I bought this bedspread on etsy yesterday though, and it should help to pull the whole look together.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Club Monaco for Fall

Some really lovely transition pieces to bridge that gap between summer and fall from Club Monaco...

Shoe Envy and a Happy Ending

Yesterday I was feeling all blue, because I kept looking at all of these lovely shoes from Lori's Designer Shoes and lamenting the fact that I don't want to order because the duty can be quite steep, in particular these lovelies from Jeffrey Campbell.

Jeffrey Campbell Tomba- Ivory
On a whim, I went for a walk at lunch only to discover that Jeffrey Campbell is now designing the Browns ID label and they have some lovely options there too, though not the original shoe that started this whole rigamarole. So now I have some choices to ponder from across the street, not across the border...

These cuties in black are a lot of fun - they channel what I'm starting to call the updated grandma chic look...

These are fun and match almost everything...

And these channel a retro-chic vibe, like you should be doing the Charleston on your way to work in them...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kid-Friendly but NOT Precious

I am not a big fan of the Martha Stewart Living magazine. I often feel as though I'm just not there yet, in terms of content and tips, nor do I ever feel that I am the kind of person who will be so worried about cleaning my china that I will be compelled to write Martha a letter about it. However, September's decorating issue warmed me a bit more towards the publication, in particular this article about former Blueprint-er Rebecca Robertson's incredible loft. It's child-friendly without being precious, and even though it's a giant space, it's not overwhelming. I love the giant wallpaper with the teeny family silhouettes above them.

This kitchen is incredible - huge but not overstuffed with gadgets, and perfectly matched to its' owners needs.

I am in lust with these giant botanical prints - how high do you think their ceilings have to be in order to make the table seem so teeny?

{Photo gallery here}

Weekend Post Mortem

Well, I am simultaneously thrilled that it is summer and that means that I get to see all of the people that I miss when the snow is 10 feet deep and I need to hibernate and exhausted by everything and kinda dying for fall to happen.

Friday I actually left work early and went home and slept for what felt like a million years but in reality was only about 5. Then Lb and I got dolled up and went to the Wellington Gastropub for an incredible dinner to celebrate our 10th anniversary since we started dating. Relaxed atmosphere but incredible food and the homemade ice cream is out of this world - sour cherry banana, yum!

Saturday, we did our usual routine -out for breakfast at a diner in the hood, Parkdale market and all of the shops for groceries, and then home where our house got a much overdue deep clean. I cleaned my closet in preparation for fall, and hung up all of my bags on the wall so I could actually see what I own. We then hopped on our bikes and headed over to Martha and Jake's fabulous new home for a lovely summer BBQ.

Sunday was me time. Did a bunch of yardwork, cleaned, organised, even went through the chrismukkah bins and got rid of surplus decorations, planned my outfits for the week, caught up on some sewing, you get the idea... LB came home, we got not so dolled up, and we hopped on our bikes for the Stoneface Dolly's summer party. Good times were had by all, and I had the pleasure of watching my husband to a Jaegerbomb {sp?} for the first time. He was not impressed.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fall Fashion

While working on finalizing my fall wardrobe, I found this list of must haves from Wish magazine. While I do not wear cropped pants or vests of any kind, I do agree with the other 8:
  1. Sculpted jacket
  2. Little black dress
  3. Pointy stiletto
  4. Costume jewellery
  5. Cocoon coat
  6. Structured bag
  7. High-necked blouse
  8. Pencil skirt

{Bag from Banana Republic - yum! Their bags have gotten so much nicer in the past few seasons...}

Thursday, August 14, 2008

You're so vain...

I cannot believe that this vanity is from Pier 1 - Pier 1 people! I never go there, but I just might have to reconsider that position if they are making lovely pieces like this...


Throw pillow

I'm really liking this Hedda cushion cover from IKEA. An inexpensive way to add a graphic punch to a room, and to reuse some cushions that might no longer fit with your colour scheme...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I am currently obsessing over the Smythe fall collection. These two Canadian ladies sure know how to rock the jacket! Since we spend so much of our year bundled from head to toe, it's imperative to have a great jacket over it all. Check out their site - they have so many more lovely options...

This colourblock jacket would work well as a blazer or with a turtleneck in colder weather.

I am also oddly drawn to this coat dress with short sleeves. Could be very interesting with the right outfit.

Secret Superheroes

I love this as a child's gift idea - such a fun gift that they would have hours and months of fun with!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Canadiana Chic

Love these couches that designer Hilary Radley made from Hudson's Bay Point blankets. These blankets are the eptiome of chic Canadiana, and I aspire to have lots of them all over my home one day. For now I will focus on using mine to make my guest room into a Canadiana haven...

slideshow image

More Birds

The last thing that I need is more birds, but what's a girl to do? I snagged these from Retropolis Vintage, and I can't wait to set them out at home...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Scenes from my Life

Last week, a friend share this article "Batman, by nature a political being", so I decided to share it with my one and only, since he is both a comic book freak and a political theorist by training. I sent it with a one liner "This is a good article, I thought that you should read it". And THIS is what I got back. I adore being married to a man who can think this deeply about life in general, and comic books specifically.

"This is an interesting article. The author, however, also appears to have not read very deeply into his Aristotle. Man is classified as a political animal for his need to coalesce into societies (ranging in size from families to city-states). He would have had a very difficult time including the Joker in that classification. When the Joker makes his most political speech in the hospital room with Harvey Dent, he extols the virtues of chaos and essentially arguing against society when he condemns our ability to cope with even the most horrific circumstances so long as they are “part of the plan.” Leaving aside the argument of whether that is a strength or weakness of society, the Joker throughout the film establishes his anti-social credentials through the indiscriminate slaughter of not only enemies but allies and the attempt to subvert both official and unofficial authority. Aristotle differentiate between men, considering varying levels of morality and self-interest in his examination of types of political rule, ethics and his attempt to understand “The Good,” but the Joker more closely resembles the categories of life he places outside of mankind, those of beasts and gods. The better archetype to use in comparing the Joker and Batman is the somewhat tired comparison of the two views of man’s nature espoused by Hobbes and Rousseau. While both authors saw things with more complexity than the traditional views ascribed to them, Rousseau’s idea that man has an inherent ability to empathize with others is well embodied by Batman and the Joker is a reasonable approximation of fearful and violent state described in Hobbes’ most famously quoted passage. Even more astutely the hero and villain respond to the society from those perspectives. The Joker, using the same example as is in the article, clearly demonstrates his belief that when the authority on each boat is demonstrably unable to protect the citizens that self-interest and self-preservation will overwhelm morality and the sense of what is right. Batman’s position is not so clearly aligned with Rousseau’s, though both would admit their society was broken. Rousseau was distrustful of society. Batman is not, though he is distrustful of the ability of those in positions of authority to maintain a society that is good for its citizens. An interesting area to examine, however, would be the fact that the biggest problem Gotham has, the obstacle faced by Lt. Gordon and DA Dent, is corruption. Corruption is largely a question of wealth and wealth distribution. One factor that allows Bruce Wayne to become Batman is his wealth. So the source of the city's problems and its protector are largely the same.

Think about it.


{Image via}

Weekend Post Mortem

It felt like one of those weekends where you're hanging onto summer by a tenuous link, and it's slipping through your fingers and there's nothing you can do but eat outside even when it's not that nice, and drink lots of cold beer and icy white wine. While wearing jeans and a cardigan.

Friday night we went to our friends Jen and Shaun's for a BBQ on their incredibly giant urban terrace. They have the loveliest space, right in the heart of the city. The food and company was great, but home to bed early in order to get up early for the yard sale!

We had early birds at 7am, and they cleaned us out. We made a few hundred dollars, got rid of some stuff we didn't need, and had fun. The weather cooperated, and then we took the unsold {or unsellable in some cases} items to the appropriate donation and disposal locations. Then we got ready and met Laurin, Casey and Julie and all went to Andrew's surprise going away party. It was a lovely evening, filled with old friends and lots of laughs. From there we met up with Daphna and Adam and friends and watched some Ultimate Fighting. I'm not going to lie, I had fun.

Sunday morning was spent puttering around the house, doing things that have been left unattended for too long. Then I hit the market, bought a bunch of lovely fruit and veg, made a strawberry and peach trifle, and we went to mom and dad's for dinner. My cousin Tanya is in town, and she brought all 700 of her pictures from her recent trip to Africa. Needless to say, we're not done looking at them yet...

Organised Bliss

I saw this post on Unclutterer and loved it to bits. As regular readers will know, I plan all of my outfits for the week on Sundays, and get everything organised in order to make mornings a snap. This organiser gets even the little guys trained from a young age!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Small Spaces

One of my favourite small space makeovers ever, from an old issue of Wish Magazine. I love the exposed brick, the use of chartreuse and turquoise, the cozy and warm feeling of the basement space.

slideshow imageslideshow imageslideshow image

Great Boots

I am in love with these boots. Fortunately for me and my wallet, they'd never fit over my calves. They also come in black.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


LB and I are having a yard sale this Saturday morning. If you are in Ottawa, come by. If you are in Ottawa and don't know me in real life but would like to come, email me {alineskirtatgmaildotcom} and I'll give you the details.

Lots of good stuff for sale - furniture, kitchenware, sporting goods, a few handbags, etc...

See you there!

LB's Music Pick of the Week: The Black Keys

The Black Keys’ first two records established them as front runners in the Midwestern blues-rock scene spiritually led by the White Stripes. Their third record, Rubber Factory, announces them as true contenders. The record maintains the intensity and grittiness that made Thickfreakness and The Big Come Up so good but ups the ante with a new moodiness and incorporates a variety of approaches that never undermine the attack. The change is announced immediately. Instead of the slither or wail of electric guitar, the first sounds are the slow pounding of drums. Suspicion is confirmed that “When the Lights Go Out” is announcing a change, when the guitar and vocals join the dark and brooding tune of nocturnal activity. “10 AM Automatic” jumps in next to assuage any fear that the band has gone soft. It has all the combination of raucous blues groove and rock n' roll swagger that first made me love the band. Along with "Stack Shot Billy", it finds the Keys at the height of their powers and compels tow tapping and body shaking like a hypnotist robbed of any subtlety. The great strength of this record, however, is its ability to simultaneously play against type and meet expectations. Halfway through, the band slides from the languid, meandering of the slide guitar driven “The Lengths” into an all out, raging guitar cover version of the Captain Beefheart song “Grown So Ugly.”

The Akron duo maintains the blues tradition of interpretation but continues to add to the repertoire. They slip comfortably into a cover of the Kinks’ “Act Nice and Gentle” and transform it almost completely into their own song without running it as a straight blues number. The record demonstrates the band’s development as song writers and producers. The sound, the tone, and the mood of the record all announce a newly honed confidence. The songs are both lyrically and musically their strongest and most interesting set.

This is an album of rock n’ roll from two guys who know the history and understand how to make it sound fresh and interesting.

A Tisket, A Tasket

Daphna just sent me this KIOSK link and it's so great that I had to share. A net to keep everything in my basket would have saved me so many times over the past few years. I am always trying to cram too much in there, and this would keep everything snug as a bug in a rug. Bicycle Basket Net

Lists, lists, lists...

I make more lists in a day than most people do in a month! I love lists, they keep me focused and help me plan my days accordingly. I often find that I end up with too many lists, and am trying to centralize them. I love the pads of pre-printed lists from lobotoME - especially this packing one. It could be something that you keep in your luggage so that you're always organised for a last minute getaway!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Dream Come True

Anyone who knows me well knows my unabashed love for CBC Radio One and public radio in general. Well today's my day - I get to be interviewed about a subject that is near and dear to my heart - public service reform and renewal, and if you're in Ottawa you should check it out. It's on 91.5 FM at 5:44pm Ottawa time, and you can listen live online as well.

Stylish Laptop Bag

I know, that seems like an oxymoron, if you are a woman with a sense of style who also lugs around a laptop. It seems like a ridiculous challenge to find something cute that works for everyday life and laptop carrying. I think that these Lapsac bags from Nanda Home do a pretty great job of bridging that gap...

Bag of the Week: Jimmy Choo

This week we are going to my dear friend Jimmy Choo. I love this bag, it is a weird greyish-greeny colour, and looks vintage even though it's only three years old. The thing that I love most about the bag? The deal that I got when I bought it! Retailing for $1495 plus tax, my mom and I got it for $480, taxes included. I know that's still a lot of money for a purse, but think of the money that we saved!!!! The leather is lovely, the gold hardware is there but not overstated, and it matches with almost everything.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Well, it's official. I am festivalled-out. I don't know if I could go see one more group of bands play outside even if Beatles themselves got together for an outdoors show. However, I had purchased these tickets for LB for our anniversary, and this was his day. We took the bus to Montreal, way less hassle that way- no parking, nothing. I managed to squeeze in a little shopping along Ste Catherine, but didn't do any damage.

The Osheaga festival is poorly laid out, but in a lovely setting, Parc Jean Drapeau. Filled with lovely green spaces and public art, it's an urban paradise.This was LB's music day, and boy did everyone deliver!

The Kills:The Weakerthans {okay, that one was for me}

The Black Keys
We capped the evening off with Montreal hot dogs {steamers}, the gypsy-punk stylings of Gogol Bordello, the magical robot horses from the future of Rock Plaza Central, and then caught some of Broken Social Scene's set {identical to the one last week at Hillside}, and then made it home in one piece.