30 July 2014

Rainy Days

Can we talk about my love of rainy days? I've been told that it's a bit weird but nothing makes me more relaxed and content than a rainy day. The way they make you feel sleepy and cozy and somehow safe. Am I the only one who gets that feeling? Monday was one of those rainy days. Of course, rainy weather is the perfect opportunity to pull out your rain boots. These tattered old wellies have been around for a while. I got them before I went away to University in Lennoxville (5 years ago this fall) and let me tell you, they sure came in handy in the country! The proof is the tear through the side and the lining ripping at the seams.  Rest assured, I will be investing in a proper pair of rain boots come fall but I wanted to take this opportunity to document their existence before they get thrown away. And also document this terrific new t-shirt dress which was so perfect for this relaxed Monday in work.

Jacket: Reitmans / Dress: Joe Fresh / Belt: Jacob /
Rain boots: Joe Fresh / Handbag: Rebecca Minkoff

27 July 2014

Montreal Street Art

Pink Balls street installation by Claude Cormier + Associés.
I love how Montreal undergoes a kind of facelift in the summer that really highlights its beauty and diversity. Often times living in the city can be like living in a urban concrete jungle, but more and more interesting projects are scattered around the downtown core that beautifies concrete and glass buildings. I've visited three street art projects that take the street and turns it into art. What is great is that they are all free and within walking distance of each other so on a nice day it makes for a lovely stroll.

The Pink Balls project started in 2011 and has been present in Montreal since then. It spans 1 km on Saint-Catherine Street through the Village and features over 200,000 balls! It is pretty amazing to walk through and it's so pretty day and night.

Mirage, TOM III by Claude Cormier + Associés
Claude Cormier is also responsible for Tom III, the third edition of this street installation on Avenue du Musée in front of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. This year's work is called Mirage and is made up of 10,000 traffic overlay markers, or TOMs, in 8 colours. It's actually a two in one work since the colours and design changes depending if you're viewing it facing north or south. This video explains Cormier's creative process well and it's interesting hearing him explain the installation.

North view, looking up from the bottom of Avenue du Musée.
South view, looking down towards the Museum's main entrance.

The Urban Forest is a project led by the McCord Museum on Victoria Street, between Sherbrooke Street West and President-Kennedy. It features a full schedule of activities throughout the summer and is a great place to relax amid all the office buildings around. It is really amazing how the ribbons tied to the metal structure sounds just like leaves blowing in the wind. I didn't know what to expect but I walked away very impressed. 

There are rumours that The RedBall Project is heading to Montreal in August. It would make a great addition to this list of fun street art. If and when it comes to Montreal I'll be sure go out and see it.

24 July 2014

Meet my Rebecca Minkoff

You know a few weeks ago when I mentioned that I had gone to the hr2 sale, with no intention of buying anything and then walking out with a new handbag? Well, here it is! My first designer handbag! When I saw this Rebecca Minkoff number on the rack, I fell in love with it right away. I love the classic look of it with the gold chain that adds a slightly tougher edge. (And I love the sound it makes. Is that weird?) The fact that it's not black makes it different than all other dark handbags. I do love classic with a twist and this back exemplifies this for me. I know I'm going to get a lot of wear out of it through the years to come. And with a price like that - it was at more that 50% off the original price - how could I have possibly resisted not purchasing it?

20 July 2014

Hair Oils: The Good, The Bad and The Meh

I have been on a quest as of late to find a hair oil that I'm happy with, and by happy with, I mean that I love. I have naturally wavy hair that tends to frizz at the tiniest sign of humidity. My hair is also fine, which means that a lot of products sit heavy and will just flatten my hair to my face. I've tried a few products at different price points to finally settle on my favourite and it wasn't easy. So without further adieu, I introduce the good, the bad and the meh of hair oils.

The Good: Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil

I know this says The Good but it should really be called The Great. Ah, Josie Maran, you did not disappoint! I have heard such amazing things about her argan oil products and I was so excited try to this one. I love that it's 100% pure argan oil, nothing else added. It has loads of other cool properties, toxin free, paraben free, vegan, etc. and can be used for a bunch of things, bath oil, face oil, etc. It does exactly what the packaging says, doesn't smell like anything (love!) and works incredibly well to tame my frizz and control my waves. I also absolutely love it for dry elbow patches! I bought the mini because I didn't want to feel bad about having spent a bit of money on it. Now that I've tried and and fallen in love with it, I know it was well worth it and I will definitely be repurchasing it once I've finished the bottle.

The Bad: Organix Argan Oil of Morocco 

How disappointing! I had read such great reviews online so I had high expectations. I found that it left my hair feeling very heavy and didn't do a great job of reducing frizz when I applied it to towel dried hair. It was hard to coat my hair evenly with the product so it was concentrated in certain areas and made my hair look dirty most of the time. I like to use oils on dry hair as a finishing touch after blowdrying but this just didn't work well. The product is non-greasy but sticky. I started noticing that it left a film of sticky gel around the bottle, so you can only imagine what it leaves on the hair. My major problem with this product is that it's not an oil, it's more of a serum, with an bunch of ingredients in it that I'm not sure what they are and what they do. Given all of that, this was a miss for me.

The Meh: Aveda Dry Remedy

I really debated whether or not this product was The Bad or just The Meh, solely based on it's smell. The oil was recommended to me by my hair dresser so I had high hopes for it. In the salon, I didn't notice the smell, because everything there smells like the Aveda products, but when I got home and tried it a few times, the smell really got to me. It smells fine in the bottle but once on my hair I really don't like it. It's really disappointing because this product actually works. It works really well on dry hair, which I love and it does exactly what it says it will on the packaging: "A daily moisturizing oil [that] instantly moisturizes dry, brittle hair and ends." I'm planning on giving it to a friend who will absolutely love it and won't be bothered be the smell.

17 July 2014

The Easiest Plant Arrangement

Who doesn't love a bit of greenery in a home? I'm a big advocate of plants and flowers in any home. I was looking at my back garden this weekend and saw lots of greenery and wanted to bring some of that life inside. If you're wondering, "But, what if I don't have a green thumb?" No problem! This arrangement is so easy that anyone can recreate it at home - provided you have a hosta plant nearby. I cut the larger leaves of one of our hosta plants and simply placed them in a vase. That's it! Simple enough, right?

The advantage of having a plant arrangement over a flower arrangement is that they generally don't smell like anything - great for people who have allergies, like me - and they last for a long time. I change the water every couple of days, just to keep it fresh and that's all the care it needs. This arrangement is such an easy way to spruce up any room and best of all, it's virtually free! Just goes to show that plant arrangements don't have to be expensive to be pretty and make an impact!

Select your leaves.
Cut closes to the base of the plant. You can always cut the stems shorter later to fit in your vase.
Arrange your leaves together.
Place in vase with water. Voilà!

14 July 2014

The Weekend Edition #4

Sunglasses at Anthropologie I hesitated buying, but in the end left there.

This weekend was pretty relaxing. After the past few weekend getaways it's nice to be able to stay home. On Saturday I took advantage of the various sales and did a bit of shopping. The weather was nice so I headed to the Dix30 which is an outdoor shopping centre. Anthropologie recently opened a store at the Dix30 Square and I wasted no time going to the shop. If I could live in a store it definitely would be Anthropology. Their mix of candles, books, housewares and clothing is amazing and truly speaks to my personal style, not to mention their incredible visual presentation. Once again I was blown away. I then popped into HR2 with no intention of buying anything, but walked out with a handbag. Oops! By the time I made it home there was still plenty of the day left to enjoy the pool and sun. On Sunday, my sister and I went out for brunch, something we very rarely do. The rest of the day was spent doing laundry, cleaning and organizing for the week ahead. And, of course, watching the World Cup Final. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

The amazing Anthropologie store.
More Anthropologie.
Ah the dinnerware at Athro is always so cute!
My haul.

13 July 2014

Getting Fit

Sports Bra: Gap Fit / Running Tank: Gap Fit / Running capri: Gap Fit /
Hair ties: Gap Fit / Socks: Gap / Running shoes: Nike Free 4.0

Those who know me, and know me well, will know that I am not fit. I can't even remember the last time I did any intense physical activity. Sure, I do some yoga, about once a week, but real, cardio-type physical activity? It must be at least four years, since the mandatory phys ed classes in college. Which is funny because I was pretty athletic in high school. I played field hockey in the Summer and Fall, and skied from the moment the hills opened until they closed in the early Spring. These past four years however, I've become quite lazy. I still ski in the Winter, though not nearly as much as I used to, and as I mentioned, I do a bit of yoga. Four years without any cardio is pretty bad. I can hardly run to the bus stop near my house without being out of breath, let alone go up a couple flight of stairs! In the past, I've come up with every excuse possible for not running or doing cardio, but there's something different this time. I really just want to get in shape. (I don't know whether it has to do with the fact that I turned 25 years old in May and science tells me my metabolism will slow soon.) It's so easy to get fit nowadays with all the free apps available both for android phones and iPhones. I've downloaded RunKeeper and C25K by ZenLabs. I chose to start off easy by training for a 5 km race. I use the training program of C25K and RunKeeper to track my route, pace, time and everything else. I completed my first training yesterday and it went pretty well, much better than I thought! Of course, it helped that I looked the part with all my new gear I purchased during the Gap Sale. Plus those shoes, absolute comfort! If I'm going to do something, I'm going to look the part!

12 July 2014

Strawberry and Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

A couple of weeks ago, when strawberries and rhubarb across Quebec started ripening and showing up in our grocery stores and markets, I asked my Mum if she could bake her strawberry and rhubarb upside down cake. It is one of my favourite deserts for this time of year. The fresh fruit and vegetable (yes, rhubarb is a vegetable!) make all the difference in this desert and the light cake is the perfect balance to the sweet strawberries and slightly sour taste of the rhubarb that I love so much. The cake batter is easy to make, which is reassuring as I plan to bake this for myself in the future. I asked my mum if could walk me through the process so I could learn and share it with you.

Preparing the fruits

Cut up the rhubarb and strawberries in equal sized pieces so they will cook evenly. You want to have the same amount of rhubarb as strawberries. We made two cakes so we used just a little over 2 cups of both. Mix the strawberries and rhubarb together and sprinkle 3/4 cup of sugar over the fruit and vegetable.

Basic white cake

(Makes 2 cakes) 

425 mL    flour
  15 mL    baking powder
    2 mL    salt
125 mL    butter, at room temperature
250 mL    sugar
          2    eggs
    5 mL    vanilla extract
175 mL    milk

Preheat the oven at 350ºF (180ºC). In a small bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt). In another, larger bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract, adding each ingredient one at a time until the mixture is light a fluffy (approximately 6 minutes). When the mixture is ready, add the dry ingredients and the milk gradually by alternating between the two. It's important to start and end with the dry ingredients. This mixing stage is easier to do by hand rather than with the electric mixer. Once you have a homogenous mixture, spread it evenly across the strawberry and rhubarb. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Not sure if it's fully cooked? Take a toothpick and pop it in the middle of the cake, if it comes out with batter still on it, it's not ready; if it comes out dry, it's ready!

Serve warm, with or without vanilla ice cream. I like it best without the ice cream so I fully taste and appreciate how delicious this cake is. Enjoy!

8 July 2014

The Weekend Edition #3

View of the Promenade near the Château Frontenac.
This weekend I found myself in Quebec City visiting my grandmother. I love being able to spend time with her in the home my father and two uncles grew up in. We drove down on Friday evening and as it is customary, we spent Saturday walking around the old city. The old city is the oldest in North America and filled with historic buildings and streets reminiscent of Europe. The evening was spent sitting on the promenade of the Château Frontenac. Gelato and people watching were on the menu for the night. If you haven't been to Quebec City before, and live within driving distance, I really recommend that you go because it is so beautiful. Having been to Europe a few times, it really is the closest thing to the Old Continent. I woke up early Sunday morning to watch the Wimbledon Men's Championship and chatted with my grandmother until we left in the early afternoon. It was a delightful weekend spent with one of the most amazing woman I know.

My Grandfather's garden that my Grandmother continues to care for since his death a few years ago.
Narrowest house in Old Quebec City.
Interior court of the Petite Séminaire du Québec, c. 1668.
Place Royale, where the first settlements of Samuel de Champlain were between 1623 and 1626.
Looking back at Rue Notre Dame from the bottom of Côte de la Montagne.
Château Frontenac, c. 1892.
View of the Château from Côte de la Montagne.
Basilique Cathédrale Notre-Dame, c. 1647.
Ursulines Chapel, c.1726-1736, and Musée des Ursulines du Québec.
The promenade next to the Château.
The Château.