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Gray Gardens

March 16, 2016 — Leave a comment

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A few weeks ago, I finally made it to Florida.

I say finally because, growing up in cold cold Canada, Florida was like some mythical, magical utopia. The lucky kids in our class would take off a few days before March Break, and return with sunburns and t-shirts with neon boats on them. The really lucky ones would come back with burns, shirts, and stories about Disney World. Well, I never made it to Disney world. I didn’t even get close.

But on March 3, to Florida I went. And on March 9, I came home with a sunburn, a t-shirt, and something else: a whole bunch of gray hair.

That’s right: I went gray in Florida.

…DRAMATIC PAUSE…

Alright. That’s not technically true – but it makes for a good intro doesn’t it!

Now here’s the real deal: Of course I didn’t go gray in Florida. Old people aren’t contagious! Well, some of them are. But not like that. More accurately, a few weeks ago, under the blinding fluorescent lights in our Florida condo bathroom, I realized that I am no longer going gray: I’m gone gray.

It wasn’t really a surprise. The surprise came almost a year earlier, only a few weeks after Connor was born. There were only a few strands back then, but they were each of them undeniably silver. A quick trip to the Googleator revealed that sprouting a few gray hairs was a common occurrence after rough labour. A more involved Google search suggested a link between trauma and silvery streaks. Regular readers will recall I had both. Two points for Gryffindor!

rogueI developed a slight affection toward those colourless curls. I came to view them like the shock of gray Rogue gets at the end of the first X-Men movie: Hers, a result from being hooked up to a bunch of machines while some guy basically sucks years off her life. Mine, the same! Har har. But really, they were almost like visible representations of the battle my body fought to bring Connor into the world. And that’s kind of cool, right?

Anyways, despite the pride in my mutant locks, I eventually made my way to a drug store and picked up a box of the same colour dye I’d used for years: (Loreal Preference Medium Ash Blonde – 02!).

And that (as it was every year since my second year of university) was my routine. Every couple of months, right around the time my hair started to enter unruly-triangle-head phase, I bought a box of dye then went to get a cut, hoping my hairdresser wouldn’t scold me for being too cheap to dye it at the salon.

But this winter, for whatever reason, I got a little lazy. I let my very mousy roots crawl a little further down my head.

stormAnd that brings us right back to that fluorescent Florida bathroom. While the dull deceptive Ontario clouds let me believe my hair was still mostly just a dun-blonde, the bright beating lights of The Sunshine State allowed for no such denial about my roots: I’m not Rogue any more. I’m Storm. Well, I’m Storm on a cloudy day. But still.

The fact remains, my gray hairs are no longer a contained postpartum fluke. They’re the new normal. And you know what? I don’t care. Like, at all! I’m sure going gray before 30 would freak out a few of us. But I’m surprisingly chill about it – and I owe some of that to Florida.

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Here’s the thing about Florida: In Florida, everyone is gray. And yet, there is colour from corner to corner. There are blue skies and pink buildings, rainbow beach umbrellas and orange beach bods. There’s something kind of lovely about the idea of gray haired folk deciding that, while their hair is no longer polycromatic, there’s no reason their surroundings can’t be. They don’t need highlights in their hair anymore: the highlights that bounce off a shimmering ocean at sunset will do just fine.

Basically, looking over my photos from Florida: my conclusion is this: who the heck cares what colour is coming out of your head when you have a world that will always be bursting with rainbow brightness?

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Now, were I to give this post an equally …DRAMATIC… conclusion, I’d tell all of you that I’m fully embracing my lovely lacklustre locks, and will proudly hashtag all future selfies #grayhairdontcare! But that, too, wouldn’t be technically true. Technically, I’ve got gray hair. I know it, you know it. But as my Snapchat followers also know, (username is JulieVanCan. Follow me!) I’m still planning to ride the boxed blonde wave a little longer.

If, and when, I decide to go gray all the way, I’m sure I’ll have no problem finding colour somewhere else. Ideally, somewhere very near a heated pool.

Have a colourful day, friends!

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Classic tee and long shorts // We So Thrifty

Summer hat // We So Thrifty

Classic tee and long shorts // We So Thrifty

This post was supposed to be very short. It was supposed to be about my new summer uniform from Talize: A coca-cola shirt from the Boys’ section, cut-offs from this trip, and brand-new Birkenstocks. The perfect blend of summer time ease and nostalgia.

I was going say that my long shorts make me feel like the fifth crew member from Now and Then, and then I was going to share one carefully selected tidbit from my summers growing up. But as I started to jot down a few of these memories, 27 years of sweet summer moments came forward, making it down right impossible to choose just one thing to highlight. Summer is the best, and if you don’t agree, then you’re doing it wrong. What’s about to follow is some good ol’ fashion self-indulgent blogging that won’t mean much of anything to anyone outside my personal circle. I’m going to be real with you for a second, and admit I got just a little teary compiling this messy list. It’s a good exercise, and makes you realize that even if your childhood was simple and unremarkable, as mine was, summers are magical, and that’s worth remarking on. Here are just a few things about summers passed, in rough chronological order, that I’ll treasure long after the sun sets on summer once again:

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Days on days of playing in the park. Season’s passes to the Dick Lacata outdoor pool. Hanging out by the willow tree and thinking we discovered a new species after seeing a cicada lose its shell. Riding our bikes down Dayfoot. Walking to Choi’s Convenience for candy and freezies. Watching the train go under the bridge on the way back. Selling popsicles to the construction workers down the street. Playing soccer on the front lawn until it got dark. Hide and go seek in the yard.

Going to the cottage. Opa bringing us the most perfect scones and doughnuts at the Goderich beach. Opa’s tilly hat. Opa. Making drippy castles. Getting ice cream from the snack shack. Riding and rescuing our inflatable toys from the lake’s angry waves. Walking up the pier and jumping off it. Skinny dipping. Campfires. Feeding raccoons around the campfire. Creating a pathway of marsh mellows to our tent so the raccoons would come by again later. Realizing that was a totally insane idea. Drawing beauty queens in the big sunny front room. Checking for earwigs in the bathroom every night. Celebrating my birthday there every year. Playing badminton. Waiting for our parents to come back from Bayfield with new friendship bracelets. Going to the zoo. Concluding my sister was about to marry a pretty special guy because he had the patience to teach us all euchre.

Camping with the friends I grew up with at the Pinery. Realizing every one of us was wearing double-strapped Birkenstocks. Setting up my sleeping bag inside the tent. Breakfast at Best’s. Floating around the lake on a log. Having a shower after the beach, then waiting for dinner. Eating peanuts. Walking to the beach at night. Looking up at the stars. Naming constellations. Flip cup on a very uneven table. Flip cup victory cheer-offs. 90s sing-a-longs. Waking up to someone making breakfast. More euchre.

Going to Michigan. Getting a giant slap of apple cinnamon bread in Grand Haven. Coffee in the screened in porch.

The birth of my first niece on my birthday. Listening to Sam Cooke as I shuttled her parents back and forth from the hospital.

Camping for the first time with my husband. Camping with new friends and new family.

Realizing that no matter how old you are, vacationing with people you love is one of the best things for your soul.

I think I better stop this list now, because as I’m typing this, I’m thinking of the many other things that I could add. And so, in the interest of keeping this post under 1000 words, I’ll end it here. This summer, may your cokes be cold, your lakes warm (from natural causes, not pee), and your living be easy.

Shorts, tees, summer hat // We So Thrifty

Shorts: Talize / $7.99
Tee: Talize / $7.99
Belt: Talize / $2.99
Stetson Hat: VV / $4.99
Birkenstock: Miller Shoes / $129.95

Bonjour, mes fidèles lecteurs! See what I did there? I typed “hello, my loyal readers!” into my Google Translate app and voila: French! What’s the reason for my foray into the language of love? This past weekend, Matt and I traveled to la belle province of Quebec for a few days in Montréal. Neither of us had been to the city, and good friends living there coupled with a great deal on Princeline.com made it the ideal location for an extended anniversary weekend.

(Note that I’m going to skip over the apologies for letting this blog suffer in silence as I camped, worked, and ate my way through the rest of the summer, and instead make up for it by packing three entries into one super-sized-mega-entry. Beefy!)

Okay, here we go!

Matt and I arrived in Montréal around 11:00am on Saturday. We split up the drive over Friday and Saturday, so we were granted a long day, and a decent amount of sleep as well. Though we weren’t technically allowed to check in until 3:00pm, I tried my luck at the front desk, and they had a room ready for us. A brief word on our hotel: It was beautiful! Chateau Versailles is a lovely old boutique hotel located just outside the heart of Downtown Montréal, and walking distance to many of the sites on our list. It was so charming – a lovely old building, art all over the walls, and continental breakfast with brie cheese. Win!

Not long after settling into our digs for the weekend, I realized I packed like a bit of a doofus. Granted, I did pack a few easy, comfy dresses, but I also packed way too many complicated outfits: skirts that only work with the right shirt, shirts that only work with the right bra, yadda yadda yadda. I forgot that vacation is about comfort, and, frankly, trying to out-trend Montreal women is a losing battle: they wake up looking chic. Luckily, I rectified that misstep soon into my trip by putting my thrift powers to work. But more on that later!

For our first excursion, I pulled out one of the smarter pieces I packed: my stripey rainbow friend, and off we went. First we strolled through the McGill campus, then some of the residential neighbourhoods nearby: tree-lined streets, full of apartments humming with students moving in and out. I was left with two strong feelings: 1) Why didn’t I go to school in Quebec?! and 2) I want a stoop.

We then arrived on Saint-Laurent Boulevard, in the heart of Montréal’s Plateau district. Such an amazing street! So many unique shops and restaurants, and so much character. I didn’t even bother breaking out my camera, because I just wanted to enjoy the atmosphere. With grumbling tummies, we settled on a place for brunch, and Matt enjoyed the best omelet he had in his whole life: Apple curry, brie, pine nuts, ugh. I actually don’t like talking about it because while my meal was also delicious, I’m still a little jealous.

Not soon after the meal, I found a string of three vintage and thrift shops. Hurrah! They were all adorable, but I found the most luck at the ten-dollar rack. Thrifting: a universal language. I picked up a colourful, comfy cotton sun dress that would right my doofus packing job. You’ll see it a few pics down. We then walked a few streets down to Saint Denis – another lively, colourful street that I could quite happily live on forever and ever and ever.

Feeling quite accomplished, we decided it was time to head back to the hotel and coordinate our trip to see our friends Petra and George. Petra was my design professor back in university, and basically one of the coolest people ever. It also cooled down just enough from me to wear this 60s bell-sleeve dress I thrifted a few weeks ago.

Petra and George live in this fantastic apartment just outside Westmount, on a leafy, quiet street. They are also quite close to St. Joseph’s Oratory, so we spent the afternoon exploring it. What an incredible space! The oratory was constructed in the 1920s, and completed in the 60s, so while it doesn’t have the ornate detailing of, say, Notre Dame, it’s breathtaking in a whole different way. It uses heavier lines, and a bolder, more graphic style. Truly breathtaking!

After working up an appetite in the oratory gardens, we headed back to Petra and George’s, where they spoiled us rotten with olives, martinis, flaky appetizers, grilled salmon, wines both red and white, and the pièce de résistance: dessert pastries from a Parisian baker down the street. Magnifique!

The next morning, we prepped for day two with a continental breakfast of brie, berries, and croissants, and I slipped into my new thrift: this sundress. This dress was a great addition to my vacation wardrobe, namely because it’s slightly oversized, thus allowing me room to gain 25 pounds directly attributed to various kinds of cheese. So I, Matt, and my new sundress headed out to the Montreal Museum of Fine Art.

The main exhibit was a retrospective (the first of its kind!) on pop artist Tom Wesselmann. Readers of my blog will already know I’m a bit of a pop art nut, so this was the perfect addition to our trip. The exhibit spanned decades of Wesselmann’s career and life. I wasn’t nearly as familiar with his work as I am with some of the other artists in the pop art movement, so it was amazing to discover just how innovative he was – he was forever seeking beauty, and explored just about every medium in that pursuit. Wesselmann actually had an itchy relationship with the “pop art” movement. While his aesthetic may be similar to his contemporaries, his intentions were all his own.

For fear of being “that guy”, I kept my camera in its case for most of the exhibit, just breaking out the iPhone once and while.

Following our morning with Tom, we hopped a bus to the Old Port in Montreal. We’d been warned by some that this area is rather touristy, to which we always think “Well, good: we’re tourists.”

The Old Port is just lovely. It’s blocks of picturesque architecture, populated with buskers, merchants and street performers. Soon into our venture, I realized it had been nearly five hours since my last dose of cheese, so we rectified that with a meal at Jardin Nelson. My friend Marlene recommended this restaurant for one main reason: they serve WATERMELON SANGRIA. I was told it would be life-changing, and it was, as I can no longer enjoy regular sangria. Thanks a lot, Marlene. Matt and I both ordered The Nelson Crêpe, and, well, the tweet I wrote mid-meal will tell you I how I felt about it:

With our cheese-metres back up to acceptable levels, we spent a few more hours exploring the area, and decided our last stop would be the Atwater Market to pick up some economical dinner options for later. We landed on a big brick of olive harvarti (which should surprise no one at this point), a baguette, and a cheap bottle of vino from the dépanneur.

We then gave our legs a break for a few hours and watched some bad TV at the hotel (which is somehow always so much better than bad TV a home, am I right?). To cap off the trip, we headed out one more time and ended our evening with a few pints (and cheese sticks – is this becoming a problem?) at a local pub near the hotel. I made the point of changing my outfit once more to justify the extreme over-packing I did. Plus, Labour Day’s alternate title is also “Wear-those-maxi-dresses-you’ve-only-worn-once-this-summer-before-it-gets-too-cold Day.” What, you didn’t know that?

The next morning, we stopped by Petra and George’s once more for a hearty breakfast (and cheesy eggs, obvi), then hit the road. All in all, it was a marvelous weekend. I’d never been the Quebec at all, so at the very least I now feel like a slightly better Canadian. West Coast, you’re next! If you ever get the chance to visit the city, take it. The rich culture and lively energy truly made it feel like a getaway, and I can’t wait to go back.

Oh, one more miscellaneous item: The bathroom of our hotel had THREE mirrored walls. It was like a 90s music video in there (those of you on my Instagram heard that joke already, but too bad. I only have so much original material). Needles to say, gratuitous selfies abounded:

Wait, here’s an original joke: It was like a fun house from a creepy carnival movie montage! Anyway, I am now back to using one lousy mirror every morning, and eating stupid no-name cheddar, AND I can’t get wine from the corner store anymore. Geeez Ontario, what gives?

Thrifters, Assemble!

July 6, 2012 — 10 Comments

Hey Air Buddies! I just finished a late-night-frantic-packing-fest for a few days of roughing it the wilderness. Okay, by “roughing it” I mean setting up a brand new tent in a campground with running water and lots of junk food. But I have standards, okay?

Since I’ll be MIA for the next few days, I think this is the perfect occasion to share some more entries from my thrift contest a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed sifting though all the entries, and now you can enjoy a few of them in my stead. We’ve got cardigans, night shirts, Coach belts, leather minis, and more. Plus, a handful of these participants have blogs of their own that you should probably follow ASAP. And that’s all the homework I’m assigning today. Have a fantastic weekend!

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My absolute favorite thrifted find has to be the striped vintage sleep shirt I found almost two years ago at a local Salvation Army. I knew the sleep shirt was going to need some work, but for $4 I just couldn’t pass it up! This was actually the first dress I had ever attempted to make over, but I saw so much potential in the chambray stripe and the gorgeous paneling on the front that I knew I had to do my best. After completely removing the sleeves, dramatically taking in the sides, hemming a couple inches off the length and creating ties at the waist, I had the dress of my dreams! It wasn’t name brand, it was better, it was mine. I think that’s what makes this dress my favorite thrift store find: the fact that it isn’t like any other dress in any other thrift store. I had taken an old vintage night shirt that probably no one would have ever worn again and remade it into a custom fitting, totally updated and totally trendy dress. Now, I am definitely addicted to “re-fashioning” vintage and thrifted finds, but my favorite will always be the first one! I hope you like my dress as much as I do! I included a “before and after” picture so you have an idea of what the dress looked like… well, before and after, duh haha!

Kristi | Alligator Toe

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My favourite thrifted find is a red scarf with large white polka dots. It’s nothing large but I absolutely love it because it represents a few things for me. I moved to France last September and my boyfriend and I were out on one of my first night’s here and found this cute little thrift store/bar. My eyes immediately gravitated towards this scarf and it was only 5 Euro! I had to snatch it on my mission to start looking a little more French chic. Now I use that scarf around my neck, around my head and even for background on recipes for my blog!! So versatile!

-Laura | Yummy Laura

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As an avid thrifter it was hard to narrow it down! Here’s one of my best thrifted finds: A cream silk skirt ($3.49 plus 25% off) with a Chevron zig-zag type design on the front (it even has pockets!). The leather bag pictured is one of my favorite thrifted finds ever, it’s in great condition and so versatile ($5.99 plus 25% off). The belt I’m wearing is also a thrifted Coach belt that I found in the kids section. I found all of these items at a thrift store in the Bronx. It’s my favorite thrift store ever because the workers mark up the brands like Gap and Ann Taylor, but leave the (real) good stuff dirt cheap! I got a DVF shirt for $3 and an authentic Coach for $3.49 (it was all leather and had no “C’s” on the front, so no one knew it was a Coach).

-Lindsey | Girl From Scratch

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My best and favorite thrifted find is my pink dress. I found it at my favorite Goodwill in Gahanna, Ohio for $5.99. Before this year, I never thrifted clothing, only home goods and décor. I’m glad I finally got wise to the unique items you can find for amazing prices! Since I started thrifting clothing, I’ve added lots of skirts to my closet, but the pink dress is the first and only dress I’ve ever thrifted.

I love this dress because it’s fun! It feels so girly! I always have to fight the urge to twirl around in circles like a five year old. I also love it because its lack of a tag makes me think it’s homemade. I have no sewing machine and zero sewing skills, but hope to change all that in the near future. I can’t wait to create something as great as this dress! Maybe by then I’ll be ready to pass this one along for the next lucky lady to enjoy…

Jess | J’s Style

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So, here’s the story. I am totally a cardigan collector. I have every color of the rainbow and then some. I have stripes and polka dots. Leopard and long. Cropped and cashmere. This little cardigan was found at an estate sale in a heap of clothes in a closet. There were some small stains on it, but after a few rounds of soaking in oxyclean, she came out good as knew. I love the floral rose design on the front. My mother’s maiden name is Rose, so I am always attracted to items with roses (from dishes to dresses to needlepoints). This sweater pretty much will go with anything, and it’s my go-to sweater when I have a fancier dress on. It’s comfortable, it’s vintage, and I think it cost me $3. I wore it to a Mad-Men-Themed party last year along with a faux fur wrap. 🙂 I received a lot of compliments on both the wrap and the cardigan.

-Amanada | Salvaged Strawberry

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Today I am sharing with you one of my favorite thrifted outfits. I have so many loves, that it was hard to pick one. I picked my leather skirt (which I cut off) and a knitted tank. I love this look because it has different textures and lots of sex appeal 😉 If you want more information on the outfit, here is the link: http://www.mythriftychic.com/2012/05/little-leather-mini.html or you can ask me.

– Tori | My Thrifty Chic

Out of My Suitcase

March 26, 2012 — 17 Comments

Ola, my friends! I have returned from the coast of Cuba at last. What a wonderful, relaxing week. When I tell people about it, it’s a very short story: I sat by a pool and read. Then I ate. Then I slept. Then I repeated that for 6 more days. While my days were full of sloth, I did manage to rally for dinner on most nights. I loved getting out of the sun in the late afternoon, washing up, and taking my time getting dressed for the rest of the evening. Here’s a look at some of the items in action from my last post. (Note: I left the big camera at home, but my iphone stepped up as an understudy)

The first night, I celebrated my transition to vacation mode with my much-discussed Betsey Johnson dress. It felt so good to finally wear this baby! There’s such an ease with vacation style – I didn’t blowdry or flatiron my hair, or fuss around with heavy makeup. The only accessory this dress needed was mojito. Or four.

I also wore many-a-maxi during my time in Cuba. I love of the loosened rules of vacation style – it I were wearing the outfit below back home, I’d fuss over the straps of the dress showing under the tank-top, but here it works just fine.

The vintage scarves I told you about also added some flare (oh man, flare – that’s one lame word) to my basic black swimsuit. I paired another with my sailor shorts for a more casual evening outfit.

I found myself adopting a simpler approach to dressing all week. Up until recently, I found it difficult to decide what to wear with my snakeskin sandals. But with a limited closet, it made perfect sense to wear one animal print with another:

The same goes for the vintage crochet top my mom found found. I wasn’t sure how I’d wear this one – jean shorts? Bathing suit coverup? But when the time came to put it on, I decided the best compliment to crochet was…more crochet. Rocket science! And wouldn’t you know it, this became my favourite ensemble of the trip:

Last, but surely not least, one more loving shout-out to my faithful jean jacket. It was the perfect way to tone down this coral, embellished maxi dress:

So there you go! Seven different outfits from several different pieces, none of which cost more than seven dollars each to start. Now all I need it for that heat wave to return, a few more mojitos, and I’ll be wearing all of these again soon.