Saturday, October 24, 2009

Long overdue shoe talk


When it comes to shoes, I often put quality and style first. Don't get me wrong, I love bargain shopping just as much as the next person but sometimes you get what you pay for. When it comes to the comfort of my feet, I'm willing to fork over a bit more cash if it means no limping and no blisters.

The Josef Seibel "Nadine" bootie satisfied my needs and my wants recently. I bought these incredibly comfortable boots (pictured above) and have not looked back. They are worth ever penny I spent.

Here is an on-line source with plenty of shoe eye candy from the Josef Seibel collection. If you reside in Ontario, you can find Joseph Seibel shoes at Walking on a Cloud and at The Blue Shoebox.

I'm also looking at these cute winter boots called "Puffin Frost" from Canadian company Merrell for the snowy season...hmmm, I have a birthday coming up!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Retail Therapy

Okay, so now that we are all caught up I just wanted to emphasize how important retail therapy is when you need a pick-me-up!

Etsy, as we all know, is a GREAT place to shop and despite my current unemployment status, I can still find some wonderful and unique items that won't break the bank.

Pretty Raccoon, a Toronto-based, on-line store sells a vast assortment of woman's clothing in a variety of colours and styles. They also sell some funky vintage clothes, but what I had been ogling for quite some time was their line of screen printed tops and scarves. So pretty!

Another bonus is that the Canadian dollar is almost on par with the U.S. dollar, so I did what any savvy shopper would do, I seized this opportunity. I purchased a black boat neck top with a white chandelier print and a raspberry scarf with silver seagulls printed on it.


My order arrived 3 days after I made it...how's that for expedited service when you shop local. I just can't wait to try out my new purchases. I feel better already.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Expectatations

Hello?

Is anyone out there?

Anybody?

It's me...Bijoux.

Remember me?

Did you miss me? I missed you.

I know I've been gone for a while.

I have been really busy...working...two jobs.

I recently quit one of them. Now I have one part-time job which I love!

I also had a cold this past week. I tried all kinds of remedies (Cold FX, Vitamin C, Zinc, garlic pills) to keep the cold away but it just reared it's ugly head as soon as I thought I was in the clear.
I'm much better now and I have also rested a lot.

Let's see...what else have I been up to?

I started digging in my backyard garden a few days ago to try and get it ready for some plants. I want to plant some vegetables and also a raspberry bush. I'm not a natural gardener so it should be exciting to see what becomes of the seeds and seedlings I plant.


I'm getting rid of the grass in the front lawn because I dislike grassy lawns. I just don't think they serve a purpose so I will be replacing the grass with rocks, wood chips and some black-eyed Susan's, wild flowers and other perennials. Rock gardens rock!

Painting the kitchen is next on the agenda. I will be priming it this week. The previous owners used oil paint so I need to prime the walls first before I apply the latex green colour I've chosen. I haven't painted anything in over 5 years so it should be interesting to see the results.

I also picked up some great leather boots on sale - a cropped version of the boots in the photo. They have a leather sole and a tiny little rhinestone strategically placed under the sole...such attention to detail and made in Brazil by an Italian shoe company, Corso Como.

I also picked up a few items from Etsy recently like this great print from an Etsy seller called "Black-eyed Suzie." Isn't is pretty? I love Gothic artwork.


About two months ago, in the bleakness on winter and also from Etsy, I bought this hat, which I love! The colour, the style, the fit...it's all good! And just the other day I bought this t-shirt and this wrap skirt, in preparation for the warmer weather.

Oh, and I picked up a great, (inexpensive due to haggling) Schwinn exercise bike from CraigsList which I have been using to try get back into some sort of an exercise regime.

Well, that's my update. I'm looking forward to catching up with you all.

I will try to post on here more often but as the weather is getting warmer outside and we are expecting it to reach 22 degrees Celsius by this Friday, I am compelled to spend more time outdoors. But I will update you all on the kitchen painting results and the garden landscaping projects as they unfold.

Friday, March 13, 2009

They say it's spring...



Blossom Dearie is a jazz musician from the 1960s that I have been fond of for several years now. I first heard one of her songs from watching the movie, The Squid and the Whale and was enamoured with her child-like voice and lyrics.

Today, as I was walking around my neighbourhood and enjoying the spring-like weather, Blossom's song "They say it's Spring" unexpectedly popped into my head. When I got home, I went onto YouTube and tried to find that particular song so that I may listen to it. I stumbled on someone's tribute to Blossom Dearie and quickly came to the realization that she passed away recently.

I leave you with a random YouTube clip featuring Blossom Dearie's song: "They Say it's Spring."

R.I.P. Blossom Dearie (April 28, 1924 - February 7, 2009)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Kitchen update


I finally managed to add a little something to the kitchen wall in order to make my life easier and more organized when cooking. As you can see the walls are still that seafoam green shade that I wanted so desperately to change. We didn't get around to painting the kitchen walls before winter set in so we plan to definitely paint them this summer.

Ikea is so great for providing a wide selection of inexpensive, decorative accessories to jazz up your living space. And make it functional too! These kitchen wall organizers have been extremely helpful in freeing up some drawer space. The knife magnet is especially fun as it makes me feel one step closer to becoming a better chef. Yeah, wishful thinking! I think Jamie Oliver has one too in his kitchen.

On my next trip to Ikea I plan to pick up one of these shelves to store some often used cookbooks, hang some additional kitchen utensils, a cluster of dry chili peppers, a strand of garlic bulbs, and perhaps a pot of fresh herbs.

It's a painfully slow process of making a kitchen become functional when you can't afford to totally gut it and start from scratch. And don't get me started on the existing, unimpressive kitchen appliances that came with the house and the lack of modern ones like a microwave and a dishwasher.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Do we really require all this packaging?


What do you think about excessive packaging? I often shop at bulk stores just to avoid it.

I recently purchased a new cell phone and it came in this monstrous plastic spaceship. I am so annoyed by this unnecessary packaging, that I have been compelled to write to the CEO of Virgin Mobile and share my concerns with him.

What are your thoughts about too much packaging? Would you avoid purchasing this product because of the use of too much plastic?

I did see a recycling 'triangle' symbol on this package. Chances are I can probably throw it into the recycling bin and not have to worry about it any more, but I'm still bothered by it.

Below are the specs from an on-line source which lists the various commercial products that can be manufactured from recycling this particular plastic packaging:

recycling resin identification No.1, for polyethylene terephthalate ester plastic

Statistic:
In 1999 PET accounted for 48% of plastic bottle resin sales, making it the most widely used resin in plastic bottles.

Packaging applications:
Soft drink bottles, water bottles, beer bottles, mouthwash bottles, peanut butter containers, salad dressing containers, juice bottles, vegetable oil bottles.

Recycled products: Fiber, tote bags, new PETE containers for both food and non-food products, fabric for clothing, athletic shoes, luggage, upholstery, furniture, carpet, fiberfill for sleeping bags and winter coats, industrial strapping, sheet, and film, and automotive parts, such as luggage racks, headliners, fuse boxes, bumpers, grilles and door panels. (taken from http://www.earthodyssey.com/symbols.html)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Inspired

white mother of pearl beads and sterling silver

Lately, I've been feeling more inspired than I have in a LONG time . These designs are for a friend of mine. I hope she likes them.

I will also be working on a ring for another client. We picked out the bead on Friday. It's a large, round, pink, natural stone bead. I will be wire-wrapping it with square Argentium silver wire. It will be similar in style to this ring:

14K gold-filled wire and jade bead

I'm not sure that I will be opening up another Etsy shop, but if you happen to be interested in having something custom made for you for a special occasion or for a friend or family member, let me know and I'd be happy to create something for you.

You can still contact me by message on Etsy, as I have not closed down my account. Here is the link: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=9468

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

You Gotta Go to the AGO



Recently, I went to the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) with some friends and was pleasantly surprised.

As a designer and a graduate of OCAD, I had spent most of my student years visiting the AGO over and over again and ultimately, I grew tired of it. However, I was eager to see the new renovations and so when our friends suggested that we plan a visit to check out the AGO, we woke up early on Sunday morning and made it there for 10:30 am. For those of you that don't know me well, I am NOT an early riser on weekends!

Well, what can I say about the new AGO! What great changes have taken place! There is something there for everyone. It is not just the art work on display that is impressive. There are definitely some newer, post-modernist pieces of art on display, although a lot of the classical pieces are from their existing collection. But what REALLY amazed me was the architecture and the design (staircases and support beams) inside the building. Breathtaking! The things that the designers did with the wood, it just blew my mind!

The furniture throughout the AGO was very comfortable. I was pleasantly surprised. It's not very often that you find comfortable seating in public places. I took my time sitting on the various postmodern playful, foam chairs and cube stools, which were more mostly sized for children. Likewise the chunky leather and curved wood seating and tables (see below), which from a distance appeared rigid, were incredibly comfy and ergonomic beyond belief.


What also appealed to me was the lookout points with large glass windows which allow you to view the cityscape from an elevation. And the natural lighting streaming inside the AGO was so warm and wonderful (perfect for us sun-starved Torontonians) and very sleep-inducing. If I were a cat, I would curl up in the sun by the window and sleep for hours.



The gift shop had some interesting pottery, houseware decor and jewellery. (Can't forget the bling!) And there were plenty of items to appeal to the younger crowd as well...educational toys, children's books about artists, and fun stationary. The AGO also offers plenty of art classes for adults and children.

And being a foodie, I just have to mention the food at the basement cafe (one of many spots at the AGO to grab some food and drink). The orzo salad with grilled portobello mushroom that I had was tasty and plentiful. My husband's smoked turkey sandwich was warm and the bun was fresh. For dessert, the lemon macaron was tangy and gooey. It tasted good but - I have to say - it was a bit on the dry side. Not the best I've had - but I ate it anyway!

So, if you want something fun and different to do on a weekend with your family and have not yet seen the AGO renovations, I suggest you go. There is so much to see and do, two hours alone will not allow you enough time to cover everything.

I would also suggest a subsequent visit in a few months time with perhaps a sit down meal at the fancy pants "FRANK" restaurant (named after the architect Frank Gehry). I hear the food is very good but the minimalist decor is not very appreciated.

Go and see for yourself and then come back to my blog and let me know what you thought!


Monday, January 26, 2009

Form Follows Function

It's winter. It's very cold outside. I've been spending a lot of my time indoors. Examining the space with the eye of a designer and the budget of a pauper.

I have a tendency to try and solve problems in my head. All kinds of dilemmas from what to cook for dinner based on what I have in my fridge, to what kind of job to apply for based on my credentials. Yup, I'm at it again. Job-hunting. Anyway, I digress. But lately, since I've been spending a lot of time indoors, I have mainly found myself addressing decorating challenges afflicting the new house. I have a LOT of ideas swimming in my head. Too many to afford.

In November, when we moved into the new house, it was suggested by many that we take our time and gradually (over time) upgrade the house. No rush! However, when you see something on Craig's List, like this antique Chinese room divider, I just had to leap. It was definitely a need, not a want.


The dilemma: The house has a sunroom at the front - an enclosed porch area that acts as a storage space for coats, shoes, bags of salt and shovels (for the snow), empty boxes, etc. I once made the mistake of leaving my winter coat in that space and could not bring myself to wear the coat afterwards, as it was freezing. Brrr! The sunroom is not insulated and whatever temperature it is outdoors, can also be found inside that room.

Which got me thinking...Where on earth are we going to hang up our wet and snowy winter coats when coming indoors? (For the past three months we had been hanging up our coats on the backs of our kitchen chairs.) There is no closet or alcove to hang up coats in the main entrance to the house. And although there is a wall that I could install some wall hooks, I just thought that would obstruct the overall flow of the house and create clutter in the entrance way. I had to think fast and come up with a solution to this problem before Summer arrives.

I decided a folding Chinese screen would do the trick. Craigs List is great for finding inexpensive used items and I have seen many of these screens / room dividers over the past few months but nothing I was strongly compelled to purchase. Either I didn't like the style, or the colours, or the price, or the painting on the divider...for instance, Chinese warriors on horseback...um, no thanks!

When I mentioned my brilliant idea to J, being the analytical one, he hemmed and hawed over the idea, finding reasons that it might not work...functionally that is. Let's just say, I proved him wrong.

The room divider is situated to the side of our entrance way, between the living room and the entrance. This past weekend when the in-laws were over, the divider held up not one or two coats, but four winter coats in total. And it did not fall over or collapse under the weight. Hurray! It served it's intended function perfectly.

I also found out something else about this room divider. It blocks cold air from entering the living room when the front door is opened. So later today when I go out, not only will I have a warm coat to wear but when I open the front door to exit the house, the cold draught blowing into the house will be stopped by the room divider. Two problems solved with one product. Don't you just love dual purpose products? I do!

I plant to 'fix-up' the folding screen in the Summer by sanding and varnishing/painting it. For the time being, I will be fastening some 3M removable wall hooks on the side that faces the hallway.



Do you have a product you love that also serves two purposes? Leave a comment and tell me what makes this product so great and what two roles it serves.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My first selfish purchase of the year.

I have been hankering for a new purse for some time now but didn't feel that I should buy one considering I already have a small collection of (mostly black) purses to begin with and it's growing.

My current 'wintery' purse is in its third year and although it is still in great shape, I dislike it a great deal. Don't get me wrong, the colour is great! It isn't black, which is a change for me. But the functionality of it is awful. It is difficult to find things in there because of it's triangular shape. Small items get pushed to the corners which then requires a longer search period, and I can never fit a book in there or a lunch container, or both. It's a perfect time for a replacement.

As I was browsing through Etsy the other day and looking at some of the items that I had flagged as a favourite, I noticed that one of the sellers TT Peas and Carrots who makes purses was having a post-Christmas sale. Well, I dove right in a purchased this purse:


It's roomy and stylish and I really like the 'lollipop' design on the purse. The colours (navy blue and burgundy) are perfect for this time of year, don't you think?

The new purse is on it's way as I type this and I should have it by next week.

As for the current purse I'm toting (pictured below), it's either going into the Goodwill donation bag or I'll put it aside for a future clothing swap that I might host in the Spring.


If you are hankering for a new purse, you've got until January 18th to take advantage of TT Peas and Carrots purse sale.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

French cuisine pour deux? Oui.

My husband and I have decided to start the new year by doing something fun together. We have enrolled in a French cooking class.

The class is being held at the Calphalon Culinary Centre this coming Friday and I am so excited. I really enjoy cooking and also experimenting with new recipes. It surprises me that I have not yet started a cooking blog. Perhaps, that will be next on my agenda.

French cooking is quite foreign to me, so this is a perfect opportunity for me to learn something new and also spend quality time with my husband.


I know off the bat that I am going to take the lead and assign my husband as a sous chef. Truth is, I have a hard time sharing kitchen space at home. My husband will attest to that, i.e. "You're in my way, John." And oftentimes I can become a bit too critical, .i.e."This food you made is kind of bland." Yes, I confess, I'm no fun in the kitchen. I guess it's the perfectionist designer in me. Excuses aside, it's time to relax, decompress, learn something new and above all, have some fun!!


If you want to do something different and fun for a change, Calphalon offers many cooking classes for the beginner, as well as for the more seasoned chef-wannabe. There are also some fun couples classes offered for Valentine's Day for the person that would like to try something different with their amour.

Here's what's on the French menu for this Friday:

Mussels Proven├žal
Filet au Poivre
Haricot Vert
Apple Tarte Tatin

Hmmm...I wonder if there is wine available with our food?

I've never been to France so I guess this is as close as I get without the cost of a plane ticket and the pricey hotel accommodations. All I have to do is hop on the subway and head down to King Street and Spadina Avenue.


Speaking of cooking and food, if you have never watched the movie "Big Night" you are in for some side splitting laughter. I saw Big Night many years ago and absolutely loved it!! A highly entertaining movie about Italian food, running a restaurant and family loyalty.

Watch the trailer below. You won't be disappointed.