Family History into Art and Business: Jack & Marjorie Bags

il_170x135_825013083_hwzaI met Meghan, of Jack & Marjorie, at the One of A Kind Show in December.  I fell head over heels in love with her line of bags that are made from military surplus materials such as wool blankets, tents, rifle straps and duffle bags.  Looking at the bags made me think of a well-cropped photograph: each piece seemed to have captured perfectly the precise corner of blanket or length of waxed canvas that was used for the piece.

When I asked her about the history of her company, Meghan shared that it was named for her grandparents.  Her grandfather had been a soldier, so the military surplus materials was in honour of him.  She remembered the range of her grandmother’s handbags, so the femininity of the line honours her.  The perfect marriage of feminine and masculine, form and function.

I think what I most liked was seeing military surplus materials given a second life as not only an accessory but the end result of art and craft.  A beautiful beating of swords into ploughshares.  Check out her Etsy store here.

 

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DIY Gallery Wall and Jewelry Display

While I am not much of a DIYer, I am all about creating a living space that reflects my family and the people and things that we love. Have you heard of man-caves? Well, in this house of 5, I am the sole female. The lone wolf. A man-cave we don’t need but a mom-cave? Yes. That I do need!

My office is a small room in our basement that houses my favourite treasures, mostly books among a few knick-knacks and a beloved chandelier. I have slowly added to the room over the years, taking advice from Nate Berkus to only add things that I love and “tell my story”.

This one wall remained a blank space for years, but I finally decided to take wedding photos of my parents, in-laws, grandparents and grandparent in-laws (is that a term?) and create a gallery wall. The first step was deciding on frames that would fit nicely on the wall in a cluster of six. I am what some may call a traditionalist, and others may call boring, so black frames won out.

I then visited Blacks with the original photos, a few more than 60 years old, and spent some time with one of their photo technicians. They helped me to digitally restore and resize the photos. Their expertise proved invaluable and regardless of how tech savvy you may be, ask them for input. No need to DIY it all.

I would like to preface this by saying that a gallery wall is a lot harder to hang than it looks. First off, it involves math. A lot of it. And measuring. A lot of it. I can hold my own when it comes to math, but I wanted to limit the number of holes made in the wall. Needless to say the adage “measure twice, cut once” was running through my mind while I wielded my hammer.

My thorough research suggested that I tape off the gallery before actually hammering in the nails, and this worked out well for me. I was able to rearrange the photos and modify the spacing to my liking without puncturing the wall. Overall, I am happy with my handiwork (one is slightly off, but I can obsessed about that another day) but more so, this DIY project fills my space with people I love, and tells quite the story.

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Next up on my DIY project list was to arranging my collection of costume jewelry.

My pretty necklaces and chunky bracelets were stored away in boxes and drawers, not allowing for admiration or ready-to-wear. My favourite style blogger and interior designer, Erin Gates, provided inspiration with this picture from her recent best seller.

imgres-1Here’s my take. Thank you, Erin for showing us that it’s okay to have fun with our girly accessories!

I sourced a collection of inexpensive display vessels from Home Sense. The trays were less than $30, the cake stand was $6.99, the butter dish $6.99 and the small vase $3.99. The mug was from my kitchen.

I sourced a collection of inexpensive display vessels from Home Sense. The trays were less than $30, the cake stand was $6.99, the butter dish $6.99 and the small vase $3.99. The mug was from my kitchen.

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I have two of these guys flanking the display. My youngest calls them "the treasure men".  I like that.

I have two of these guys flanking the display. My youngest calls them “the treasure men”. I like that.

Second-Hand Fashion Gems in Toronto

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There was a time when second-hand shopping meant sifting through piles of worn and stained clothing, but these days are long gone. Clothes are no longer passed on primarily because they’re worn out, but for lots of other reasons:  frequently changing tastes, impulse buys that didn’t pan out, ill-fitting clothes (as mothers know very well, our bodies change), and unused gifts (lots of items still have tags on them).

The result is that there are heaps of high quality, lovely pieces that are being recirculated, and it is a lot of fun to get in on the game. With so many options are available for scoring unique, good-looking clothing, the fashionistas peruse the second-hand offerings right next to the bargain hunters and the eco-minded (buying second-hand leaves a smaller footprint than buying new) and on as regular a basis.

So what exactly are these options?  For those who want a gentle approach to second-hand and love high fashion and the brands that bring it, you can’t get much better than Thrill of the Find (1172 Queen Street East).  Clothing in perfect condition is neatly hung in this boutique shop, and the staff helps you get the perfect high fashion find at a fraction of the cost you’d normally pay.  There are a lot of beautiful dresses in the shop, along with a slightly imperfect rack for those among us who know our way around a needle and thread.

A little farther east is Gadabout (1300 Queen Street East), an overflowing vintage shop selling all kinds of old things, including some very interesting clothes.  Vintage clothing is an important part of Toronto’s fashion scene, and though I don’t belong to this world, I encountered it once at Gadabout when I was shopping for my wedding dress.  When trying on a beautiful vintage baby blue knee-length dress with an empire waist and cream trim, I caught the attention of two designers who were shopping there also; they promptly offered their advice for how the dress could be adjusted to be just right.  Like Thrill of the Find, Gadabout is not necessarily inexpensive because of how specialized it is (and the designers pointed this out), but it is a good shop carrying a wide range of things, and if you find something you love, you can be quite sure you’ll not find it elsewhere.  (And I probably would have gotten married in that baby blue dress (which cost about $200) had my husband not finally confessed that he really would prefer I wear a white one.)

Hands down, my favourite local second-hand haunt is my neighbourhood Value Village (924 Queen Street East).  This is your trusty department thrift store – the rectangular shop is stocked with utilitarian shelves and hangers, but there are some treasures among the more mundane offerings, and the prices are cheap (although they are not as cheap as they used to be, due to its increased popularity).  Clothing is organized by type (sweater, long-sleeved shirt, skirt) and size, but you are much better off going to browse than looking for anything in particular.  I have bought many things that I really like and use here, and my niece bought her prom dress here, confident that she wouldn’t encounter another girl in the same dress.

Do you have any favourite second-hand neighbourhood stores or experiences?

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Toronto Fashion Find: Coats by Mary Ellen for the Perfect Custom Coat

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Years ago Carol once said to me, “You vote with your dollars”. It’s something that stuck. I live in Toronto, a close walk to two major streets that are lined with shops, restaurants and general services. Even if it means … Continue reading

Local Treasure: Trove

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Matt & Nat Deeter in Citrus

I don’t really enjoy shopping, unless it’s in a bookstore.  Shopping for clothes leaves me cold, at best, and fills me with frustration, often.  Mostly, shopping for clothes is functional, and usually, I just want to get it over with.

That is, unless, I’m looking at one-of-a-kind, fun and funky things, and then, then, I get in the zone.  The One of A Kind Show always has me captivated, and as much as I want to see other’s creations on me, I revel in their very creativity.

What a delight, then, to have Trove in my neighbourhood.  It’s fun and funky, but not so out there that a forty-something like me can’t find something that fits her to a T.  They carry Matt & Nat’s vegan leather bags, a serious weakness for this shop-wary soul.  They have the best shoes, and I always struggle to limit myself to one pair, and this from a woman who prides herself on her very disdain for shoes and spends money on books while chanting, “At least it’s not shoes, at least it’s not shoes, at least it’s not shoes.”  They have unique jewellery whose relevance will last past the next issue of the fashion magazines.  They have statement pieces of clothing, shoes, bags and jewellery that make a statement other than, “I will expire by midnight.”

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Mimi & Marge Antler Ring

Somehow, the collections they carry manage to be up-to-the minute but not doomed to be immediately stale.   And the good news is, Trove is expanding and on-line, so now you, too, could be the proud owner of a pair of shoes that speak to your book-loving soul.  Behold!  The Poetic Licence Secret Admirer Boot:

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Chemical Peels: Myths Debunked!

imgresA flawless complexion has become somewhat of a life goal. Okay, so it’s not exactly world peace or feeding the hungry but I figure I should start out with baby steps.

Turns out that world peace might be easier to come by than a flawless complexion. I know that some of you, dear readers, think that I am being frivolous or hyperbolic and that’s because you were genetically blessed with a good complexion free from acne breakouts, discolouration, Melasma . . .I could go on.  And some of you, dear readers, know exactly the quest that I am on. Keep reading.

I first discovered Canadian made Miracle 10 when I was invited to an event they hosted for beauty bloggers.   Miracle 10 was developed by Ann Marie MacDonald and acclaimed plastic surgeon Dr. Frank Lista in 2005 after spending years learning about cutting- edge skincare advancements from the best medical doctors and researchers in the world. Together they identified a void in a crowded marketplace where many times promises fail to actualize. After extensive research and development they founded Miracle 10. MacDonald, with her background in dance and psychology, is passionate about providing women with products that allow them to articulate their beauty and develop confidence. Miracle 10 does that by offering just below clinical grade skincare that delivers noticeable results on both a superficial and cellular level at a competitive price.

The Lista-MacDonald team’s life goal doesn’t seem so far removed from my own.

A Chemical Peel Play-by-Play

Elevate_landingpage_v1Miracle 10 Spa offers a variety of medispa treatments including chemical peels – a procedure that had been on my skincare bucket list for some time. I arrived for my scheduled peel 15 minutes early to fill out a comprehensive skin history. After a lengthy discussion with the medical aesthetician, where I fired question upon question at her about side effects, redness, recovery and the epidermis and she patiently and thoroughly answered each one, I lay on the treatment table.

To start, my skin was cleansed to remove make-up using Miracle 10 cleanser. The next step involved dermaplaning, the process of using a surgical blade to gently scrape away two weeks worth of dead skin covering the upper epidermis. There is no blood, it doesn’t hurt and the immediate result is illuminated skin!

When it comes time to apply the peel, the medical aesthetician assured me that the best way for novices like me to begin is with the gentle lactic acid peel.   There are three different peels and each offer their own benefits.

  • Lactic Acid Peels are derived from sugar and are gentle. They are best for hydrating, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and can help improve acne.
  • Glycolic Peels feature glycolic acid and when applied remove the top layer of skin revealing brighter, healthier skin reducing the appearance of wrinkles and acne.
  • Salicylic Acid Peels are made up of salicylic acid, commonly found in over-the-counter acne medication but in a higher concentration and generally help improve the overall tone and look of the skin by targeting pores.

The peel was applied for two minutes, and a fan was made available to cool the skin, but I found that didn’t need this. The treatment felt no more intense than my nightly Alpha Hydroxy cream.

To conclude, the mask was washed off with a fruit enzyme scrub followed by a moisture-rich soothing mask.

It’s important to note that you should always wear sunscreen but it’s especially important following a peel. Also, even though peels are non-invasive and seem as simple as a manicure, it is important to remember that it is a procedure and it is best to have these applied by a trained professional in a doctor/plastic surgeon’s office because there can be side effects.

Admittedly, all I (thought I) knew about chemical peels I learned from Sex in the City. For those unfamiliar, sexy siren Samantha had a peel done and her skin was left a deep shade of crimson. I now know that this is a possibility but a thorough pre-analysis, a well-trained medical aesthetician and low-dosage peel will likely not garner that unfavourable result!

Initially following the treatment, my skin glowed and using the recommended follow-up products has improved the over-all look of my skin. At Miracle 10 they believe skin needs to be healthy, not just pretty but to achieve this standard educated, passionate technicians are a must. And at Miracle 10 you’re in good hands.

Intrigued? Still not sure a peel is for you? Take a look at this video or visit the Miracle 10 Spa in Toronto, or visit their website to order their products to your home!

Celebrity Hairstylist, Jason Lee’s Simple Tips for a Hair Refresh

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I met Jason Lee on a sweltering, humid July day.   My hair looked as though I had just injected my finger into an electrical outlet. In a bathtub. Not a good day to meet a superstar hairstylist.

Jason exudes cool.

Growing up the youngest of three boys, Jason’s love for art and creative expression were encouraged by his professional parents. At the age of seventeen while working as a choreographer and dancer renowned hair stylist, Sabino DiTacchio, discovered him. At the urging of DiTacchio, Jason studied the craft of hair design and with the pragmatic voice of his accountant father in his head, found a way to marry his passion and practicality with his salon, Salonière.

Jason Lee is no amateur stylist. He’s earned his stripes under the tutelage of masters like Marc Anthony, been decorated with awards from his peers in the industry and has built a loyal clientele of all ages, aptly dubbed “the cool kids”.

His clients rely not only on his skills but his eye for style, which he hones with frequent trips to New York City, his former stomping ground. He finds inspiration everywhere in the city from the architecture, to the fringe art community and the diverse neighbourhoods.

When I go to visit him at Salonière, he’s in his element talking with clients and mentoring younger stylists. The space is bright and quaint with nods to both NYC and Paris in the brick detail, the gilded mirror and the embellished fireplace. Even the name, Salonière is rooted in historical Paris where women would be invited to salons to discuss and exchange ideas about politics, literature or social events. This refuge is nothing like the McSalons that are known for pumping out the perfectly coiffed amid a cacophony of blow-dryers.

Despite, or maybe in spite, of his coolness Jason, Anthony and the entire team at Salonière are welcoming and professional.   Each member of the team conveyed genuine interest in me – what a typical day is like, what are my hobbies, what movies/celebs/books do I like.

It is having a real understanding of his client that sets Jason apart. He is firm in his belief that women can wear any style, any trend, but it is in the tailoring of the style that delivers confidence and is transformative.

I asked Jason to share with our readers looking to update their hairstyle for some dos and don’ts. His advice may surprise you.

Move On From:

  • Chunky highlights
  • Angled bobs
  • Unkempt or inexpensive hair extensions. Extensions require a considerable amount of time and money to keep looking fresh and natural.
  • “Housewives” hair – too long, overly stiff and perfectly curled.
  • Short layers
  • Not taking any time for yourself. Find 5 minutes in the morning to pull your look together. You will exude more confidence and feel better about yourself. Quick tip: Sleek ponytails and polished high-buns are a busy woman’s friend!
  • It’s okay to cheat on your stylist and have fresh eyes give your look the once over. Stylists differ in their technique and may suggest an update.

Do More Often:

  • Communicate with your stylist. Bring pictures of what inspires you – it doesn’t have to be photos of hair. Bring pictures of art, architecture, celebrity style, movies, clothing, and interior design. A hair cut should never be an exact replica of something from a magazine. A good style will reflect your personality.
  • Remember this: lifestyle trumps face shape! Almost every haircut can be tailored to suit your face.
  • Be honest about your lifestyle. You can only love a cut that reflects your personality and is manageable to maintain and style.

Upcoming Trends:

  • Shorter bobs with bangs and texture
  • Bleached out colour
  • Baby fine highlights
  • Anyone, regardless of age, can pull off any trend. It’s a matter of tailoring.

Jason has appeared on E!, Slice, CTV and Entertainment Tonight Canada. His work has also been featured in the Globe and Mail. Be sure to follow Jason on Instagram, stop by Salonière (2470 Yonge Street, Toronto, 416-480-0020)

Go-to Outfits for Moms-On-The-Go by guest blogger, Amy from Joey and the Owl

Please welcome our guest for the day, Amy from the Joey and the Owl.  A new mom to her son Joey, Amy finds herself living in one of the world’s most fashionable cities and yet she lives a real life.  Running around after a toddler in Louboutins isn’t practical!  Amy chronicles her fashionable and functional wardrobe with beautiful photos but it’s her honest and compelling essays on motherhood that resonates with her readers.

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So many times when women become mothers, their sense of style goes out the door. I have always loved fashion so after I had my son Joey two years ago, I was determined to find outfits that were effortless, comfortable and stylish. I always feel better about myself when I put in some effort in how I look and dress and I think that is so important for mothers. We give up so much of ourselves for our children and families so I think it is essential we take a little time out of our busy day to apply a little lip gloss, put some curl in our hair and throw on an outfit that makes up feel good about ourselves.

Since we live in NYC and we walk everywhere, comfortable shoes are a must! Joey and I are always running to playdates and classes so I am always buying things that I feel allows me to get down on the floor or chase after him. The first look is a  mid-waisted jean, which is a must when you’re on the ground with your child. The low waisted-jeans are definitely not practical when you are a mother and constantly bending down. I paired my jeans with a simple black turtleneck, flat over the knee boots and a poncho sweater. I threw on a hat with this look because I love hats and I think they make every outfit look more stylish.

Jeans: Madewell

Poncho: Topshop

Turtleneck: Splendid

Poncho: Topshop

Boots: Stuart Weitzman

Hat: Rag and Bone

Amy 3 Amy 1Amy 2The second outfit is a little bootie, with boyfriend jeans, tshirt and a plaid jacket. I am really into plaid this season and I love matching it with leopard so I threw on a leopard belt. I saw this Madre tshirt on a fellow blogger and I had to have it. I just thought it was so adorable! I also don’t carry a diaper bag, I substitute it with a simple tote because it is more stylish and you can throw everything in it.

Tshirt: Riley and Co
Jacket: Gap
Jeans: Madewell
Belt: Jcrew
Booties: Rag and Bone
Bag: Cuyana
Beanie: Gap

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Building a Maternity Wardrobe from Scratch by guest blogger, Aly Tsourounis

Our guest today is Aly Tsourounis of the blog The Newlywed Life, a lifestyle blog for the healthy living. Aly is a soon-to-be mom and she opens up about the surprises (shocks!?) of being pregnant, the information overload and the food cravings. Today Aly shares her favourite fashion finds for the expectant mom. Be sure to follow Aly on her blog as she chronicles life as a first-time mom.

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Building a maternity wardrobe from scratch:

When I first got pregnant I was thrilled with idea of getting bigger and I planned on always showing off my perfect basketball bump in designer denim and fitted shirts. Spoiler alert, bumps aren’t adorable until at least month five and pregnancy boobs need their own postal code, plus maternity clothes are darn expensive. After some trial and error, a few unfortunate outfits and some credit card “discussions” with my husband, I have created a focused yet cute maternity wardrobe (see selfie photo evidence below). Here are my steps on how to create a maternity wardrobe from scratch.  2Q==-4

Step one – Identify your maternity wardrobe needs: On a weekly basis, I need four different “outfit types” – work, weekend lounge wear, workout wear and date night / night out. There is certainly some cross over but highlighting the different occasions that I needed clothes for helped me focus and discouraged me from buying too many striped long sleeve t-shirts when I only need one.

Step two – Assess your current wardrobe: I spent a weekend afternoon going through my entire closet and determined what would last me through my pregnancy and what needed to be put into storage. Things that stayed: blazers, cardigans, long tank tops, a couple stretchy tops / dresses and most of my workout gear. Be harsh, now is not the time to keep your skinny jeans or fitted LBD.

Step three – Create a list and a budget: This step involves numbers and is a bit boring but it is key, especially since you will be wearing this clothing for such a short period of time. My biggest money-saving tip is to consider sizing up in certain items, especially basics. For example, I bought a number of plain black and white size large tank tops from Forever 21 for $5 / a piece and I wear them daily. Why spend $50 when the $5 one can do the trick? This also allowed me to splurge on a pair of dark denim designer jeans that I wear three times a week. Do your research and don’t get sucked into the everything must be maternity mindset.  2Q==-3

Step four – Go shopping!: The last step is obviously the most fun! There are tons of options out there when it comes to maternity clothes, from the traditional to the trendy so be sure to take your time shopping and don’t spend all your money in one place! I have found great pieces from a number of stores including Target (Liz Lange), H + M (regular), Motherhood Maternity, ASOS Maternity, Forever 21 and Ani & Wren.

Step five – Own it: Experiencing pregnancy is a beautiful thing but it can also be really hard to see your body go through so many changes. Having clothes that make you feel good can make a huge difference but remember, you wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear you. So to all the pregnant mamas out there, hold your head up high and push those bellies out!  2Q==-5