January 28, 2015

Window Shopping || 2

Knit Dress: Millaloop Vintage || Elephant Bag: Red Poppy Vintage || Hand Necklace: My Selvaged Life || Western Ankle Boot: Onefortynine

There's nothing quite like a dose of window shopping after a really long school week! Ok... I still have another class this week, but after all the work I've done already I feel like it's pretty much over!

I fell in love with this little bag when I found it (must be my South Asia Visual Culture class kicking in!) and thought the hand necklace was a subtle yet intricate detail to go along with it. I love accessory based outfits, especially when they're just quirky enough! So of course, the rest of the outfit is very minimal and nice, plain ol' black! I've been trying to get my hands on some cowboy boots for a while now, and I really dig this ankle-boot version. 

Sigh! If only budgets weren't a thing...

What have you been lusting over lately?


January 25, 2015

Weekly Photo Capsule .3

I'll admit! I'm cheating a bit here. The top left photo is from the cottage the other week, but I have been feeling ill and working non-stop on school work this weekend so it's nice to look back and swoon a little at this photo and remember the fun stuff.

Top right is my latest painting, the first of 2015!! I posted it on my art blog here.

And the rest: Weaving experiments to relieve myself of some school stress and dressing up nicely on days when I don't have studio classes and risk dirtying myself with paint or ink explosions!

Boy oh boy has it been a tedious, long weekend. Other than eating, showering and sleeping, I have worked on thesis work and been pleasantly focused! Though my body is craving some action - maybe it'll be time for a run or a walk tomorrow, before starting all over again to get it all done for Tuesday!

Wish me luck!


January 24, 2015

Thrifty Outfit .o1

Jacket: Thrifted / Sweater: Thrifted / Shirt: Thrifted / Purse: Michael Kors (gift!) / Jeans: 3x1 / Boots: Winners
Total Thrift Tally: 3/6!

Yay! An outfit post!

I stopped fashion blogging a few years ago because it felt purposeless, self-indulgent, and the way I went about it was a little bit vain. But now I have the facade of 'thrifted things!' & SUSTAINABILITY GUYS! to feel better about sharing outfits again! (Just kidding, it's not a facade. I'm genuinely obsessed with thrifting and sustainability, if it weren't obvious by the premise of this entire blog!)

These are just a few shots of a pretty day-to-day outfit for me. The only difference is that it was warm enough on this day to ditch my bulky parka and wear this beautiful Banana Republic jacket! I bought it at one of my more frequented 'designer' second hand shops called Second Nature Boutique. I was a bit worried buying a creamy, light jacket, but it has surprisingly held up quite well and hasn't gotten too dirty yet. Knock on wood! My sweater and top are both from Value Village.

I just looked up the company that made these jeans, and turns out they're actually pretty great! 3x1 is a smaller company run in New York city that seems to be totally engaged in the entire process of making their jeans. Read more about them here!

So, though all of these purchases were made pre-2015, I'd say it still fits within the realm of my Year of Thrift manifesto? Maybe the bag not so much, though that's something I'd consider adding to my 'exceptions'.

On a side note; I took these pictures RIGHT BEFORE getting a hair cut. I could have had a super fabulously glam hair-do for these. But nooope, I hadn't had the foresight so I took pictures while my hair was scraggly after 6 months without a trim. But hey, at least my coat collar mostly concealed my icky ends ;) !

Happy weekend everyone!

January 23, 2015

Natural Body Products: Green Beaver

Along with my general shift towards sustainable living, I have become hyper aware of my use of body products. It is so bizarre of a concept to me that, without thinking, we rub moisturizers and creams and other various products into our skin yet these products are comprised of icky chemicals and ingredients that are harmful to our bodies. We are quite simply, straight-up giving our body chemicals to absorb. There are also numerous horror stories floating around of people using acne products that make their skin worse, and products that your body learns to rely on so you spend more and more and more money on them and then you're stuck. It's scary how easily these things become nothing more than a money-making product as opposed to a functional one!

Without going into too much more of a rant (hehe), I just want to emphasize how important natural products have become to me, and how much I'd like to advocate them for others to use. Which brings me to this post! I'm going to start sharing the natural/ethical products I have found to hopefully help others find products that work for them, if you're inclined towards a more sustainable route in your body/beauty routine! I'm excited!

One of my first finds in my foray into natural products is Green Beaver products. This company is awesome on multiple levels: one of which being that they are a Canadian company, which is bonus points for me since I also happen to live here, ha! I also really like their 'philosophy' as stated on their website:

"We believe that each of us has the opportunity to create a positive impact in this world, and for us that means creating products that do not harm animals, do not harm the earth, and do not harm you. Our philosophy comes from years of research about the harmful effects that chemicals have on our bodies and on the environment, driving us to infuse all-natural goodness into everything we do."

Totally speaks to me, ahhh! But really.
So far I have tried two products by them: the Green Tea face moisturizer, and the Grapefruit Bamboo face scrub

The face moisturizer is great because it is light and doesn't make me feel like I'm greasing up my face even more. It is soothing and fresh and one tube has lasted me at least 5 months!

The facial scrub is super cool - I LOVE that it uses bamboo bits (the correct term is 'micro fibers') instead of plastic bits that then pollute the waters. This scrub is also suuuper gentle and I somehow trust it not to be tearing away at my skin. It leaves me feeling soft but not damaged.

These are two products I have now bought twice and will in all likelihood buy again and again! Also, I totally had way too much fun taking these photos. Is that normal for review posts? To take your own photos of the products? I don't know. I've never done this before. But I saw that little bamboo in my bathroom just as I was about to take these photos and thought it went perfectly well with the product, since it also includes bamboo, and decided to include it for prettiness. Thoughts?

What are your favourite all-natural, earth friendly brands? Any good ones I should try out?

Ps. I just realized all these photos show the french side of the packaging, I didn't realize, sorry! Go to the Green Beaver website for more if you want more info!

(Disclaimer: I am NOT being compensated for this post. Green Beaver doesn't even know I exist as I write this. I just really like them and want to share for anyone interested and looking for good alternatives to the usual handful of options for body products.)

January 20, 2015

A Year Ago: Moving to Paris

A year ago today I was packing my giant suitcase, headed to the airport, jumping onto a plane, and flying away to Paris for 5 months. It's so overwhelming to look back; part of me can't believe it was only a year ago, other parts of me can't believe it has already been a year! 

Moving to Paris was the first time I was truly away from my friends and family, since I study in the city I grew up in. I never really left. It was 5 hard but wonderful months of learning to live alone, but more importantly learning to BE alone and to be OK with it.

I remember the nerves; the good and bad kind. I remember the first time I stepped into my studio apartment I would be living in for the next 5 months, with the tiny kitchen and pink floral wall paper. I remember the novelty of being able to walk 15 minutes from my new home to Notre-Dame. I remember exploring the neighbourhoods and finding little gems; vintage shops, adorable caf├ęs, street art, little parks, museums, etc. etc. I remember the laughs with friends and Seine-side evenings.

Since coming back to Toronto, everything has been up up up. Paris gave me the confidence to know I can pull myself together and get things done, to get through whatever I want to get through. I am thankful for the friends, the memories, and just everything!

If you want to read more about my Paris experience, I blogged about it on my personal/art blog HERE throughout the trip and shared more photos!


January 18, 2015

Weekly Photo Capsule .2

This week was pretty busy with school work - mostly because I was getting it all done before going up north for a little cottage weekend!  It was special to be up north in winter, everything glistening and white. We got to walk out onto the lake in knee-deep snow, and it was really peaceful and beautiful.

I'm working on a painting involving outlets and other wall-things and I am particularly happy with how this one turned out. I love how outlets look like little shocked faces all the time hehe.

I also finally finished and hung up that little weaving in my studio! It was a fun one, I'm starting to experiment a bit and becoming more confident in how I work with it.

Lately I've been having the urge to dye my hair, or cut it, or change it somehow. But since I'm trying to save money and I don't want to have to maintain any colouring (I'm lazy when it comes to my big ol' mane) so I decided to throw in a hair-wrap like I used to do a few year ago. It's a really fun, small touch of interest, with barely any commitment ;)

Hope you all had lovely weekends! How was your week?


January 15, 2015

Window Shopping || 1

About halfway into my first month of my Year of Thrift challenge and well, it's actually been quite easy so far. One thing I've come across is how fruitless it is to 'window shop' online on big store sites like Urban Outfitters and Free people etc. It just feels icky to look at it and long for it when one, I know I can't have it, and two, I don't actually want it if it comes from there. And let's face it - window shopping can be reaaaaaally fun; day dreaming about brand new outfits and what you would pair with what and how much your significant other would like that cute dress/shirt/whatever on you...... you know. That kind of thing.

So I turned to Etsy's endless supply of pre-loved and handmade shops and went one step further: I put together a little outfit/wishlist to share with you guys!

Necklace: myLifebox || Duster Sweater: Allen Company Inc. || Shirt: Chic Vintage Hawaii || Earrings: Illusy

Ah! I'm in love with this plum + off-white + warm metallic combo! I would finish this outfit off with a nice pair of black jeans and little black booties, and of course - in this frigid Canadian weather - my biggest frumpiest winter jacket and bulky scarves mittens and a hat. Yes - sometimes multiple scarves. Canada's crazy cold guys.

Do you online-window shop? Which sites do you go to for a little bit of sartorial daydreaming?


January 12, 2015

A Case of the January Slumps & How to Beat it!

In winter I become a bear.

I bulk up, adding on layers. Some in the form of soft sweaters and knit scarves, others in the form of cookies and chocolate and creamy creamy lattes. Especially after Christmas. I slow down and everything feels a little bit heavier (another side effect of the cookies and chocolate and creamy creamy lattes). It's like I go into hibernation, as much as it is possible to hibernate as an engaged human being in today's hustle-bustle never-stop mode of living.

I watch TV for hours on end because it's too cold to go outside. I sleep because the sun goes down so early it tricks me into thinking it's night time. I choose a lazy night at home instead of trekking out into the snow and wind to meet friends at a bar downtown, an hour away. The problem is, these things end up making me feel more sluggish, less productive, and generally way way ickier.

January is also back-to-school, or back-to-work, and the unfortunate come down after the holiday season. I mean really, after New Years what is there to look forward to? Summer? Yea. Basically.

Ahhhh winter, my good ol' energy-sucking friend that just keeps coming back.

So, instead of moping about the inevitable downsides of an inevitable season, I'm making some conscious changes to my habits to try and break myself out of the January Slumps!

1. Feed Your Mind - You know how everyone says it's so important to eat all the right things to balance all the things in your body and feel awesome? I think the same goes for your mind, not just your body. I feel like crap after sitting and mindlessly marathoning a TV show alone in my basement. But I feel great and invigorated if I focus on a really great book for a few hours instead. Right now I'm reading Gone Girl! And maybe I don't want to wander around in the cold from bar to bar or to shop with friends, but the Art Gallery is warm and dry, and also totally full of inspiration that gets my wheels turning and makes me want to make something when I get home! Feeding my mind makes me feel a little more full and capable of things, instead of like a lazy potato that can't get anything done.

2. Make Something - It can be hard to force yourself out of an uninspired phase, but as soon as you do feel a jolt of energy, jump on it! Harness it! Make a thing, even if it's a dumb little thing. Or make that painting idea you've always had, try that weaving DIY you've seen all over the net lately. Not the creative type? Make a meal, a really nice new one instead of the easy go-to's you have every other night. Yesterday I tired my hand at making this shakshuka recipe for lunch. It's a North-African dish that I saw someone post on instagram, and decided it would be a fun thing to try out! Plus my family really appreciated me cooking for them - bonus points for me!!

3. Clean Something -  I can't be the only one whose room gets a little too messy whenever I'm stressed out by school or can't quite get off my butt to get things done! In the last little bit I have actually left some of my crap ON MY BED when I went to sleep. I didn't even bother taking it off the bed. Now that's just embarrassing. I always feel better when I do my laundry, fold and put away all my clothes, and clean up all my left over holiday crap that hasn't been put away yet. So clean your closet, your room, your dishes, your laundry, etc. and make some room for good feelings instead (Excuse the cheese.)

Do you have a case of the January slumps too? What typically works to help you beat it?

ps. what do you think of my little bear illustration? I'm playing around with doodling on my phone, I kinda like it!

January 10, 2015

Weekly Photo Capsule .1

It's been a good first week (and a bit!) of January. I spent NYE with my fella and his friends, saw my best friend Kami and her big fluffy kitty, Nemo, and then went back to school. Despite early mornings and long waits for subway trains, the semester is off to a good start with great teachers and beautiful views of sunrise and sunset (one plus side of winter's shortened days). I'll need to adjust to work and school again, but life is good and 2015 is starting off on a nice foot.

How has your first week of January been?

January 8, 2015

Creative Crush: Mathilde Aubier

Though this blog exists primarily to document my foray into a year of thrifting, I'm first and foremost a creative person and I don't want to remove that side of me from this space. So I figured I'd share my favourite creative finds now and then! Art, illustration, design, music, whatever it is, sharing my current creative crushes might be fun and a good way to spread some love for today's creatives.

I can't remember how I came across Mathilde Aubier's work, but I've had her site in my bookmarks for a while now! Aubier is based in France and does a whole array of design and illustration.

I really love her way of collaging - this really fun combination of images, textures, drawn elements, patterns, etc. and I totally dig it. There's something super whimsy about her works and her colours are really subtle and pleasing to the eye!

I've been pretty interested in collage lately, there's something really quirky and unexpected about it - both in looking at collage and in actually doing it!

Check out more of Aubier's work HERE!


January 5, 2015

Cleaning out your Closet: 5 Tips & Tricks

Spending time around the blogosphere this time of year is really funny to me. The endless lists of top 5 this-or-that to let go of in the new year, 10 bad habits to break this year, 7 green smoothies to add to your New Year cleanse! Etc. etc.

In some ways I love it - because I think it's always a good thing to aspire to improve. The reason I personally don't click on many of those posts? The un-realistic side of it all, knowing I have my own way of working towards my own goals. Yet here I am throwing another of these posts into the mix! I wanted to share this because I think that these ideas on how to clean out your sartorial excess are good for any time of year, and these tips and tricks are effective, quick, and easy to accomplish!

1. Invite a friend! My personal favourite way of going through my closet? Inviting a friend or family member to help out! Sure, doesn't sound like the most exciting thing to invite someone to ("Hey you, come help me clean my closet, it'll be a bonafide BLAST!!") but adding in the incentive of letting them have their pick from what you don't keep is definitely a bonus. Make it an opportunity to spend time together, and treat them to dinner or lunch afterwards too!

2. Use a pretty ribbon. The whole "how often do you actually wear this" technique has never worked for me, because I save certain pieces for special occasions, events, in case of interviews, etc. I also just don't keep track of what I do and don't wear very often. However, this idea shared on A Beautiful Mess of using a ribbon tied to where you hang your clothes to help you keep an eye on what you do wear makes total sense! I don't hang all my clothes, but it would totally work for my dresses and blouses that I do hang!

3. Get rid of what doesn't fit. It sounds simple, but it's not necessarily something we accept and I think it's my number one issue within my closet! I often tell myself 'I can wear this if I belt it', but I don't always feel like wearing a belt. Or the good ol' 'I'll alter it to make it fit!'. I don't really have time for that, and seeing as sewing isn't my top hobby, when I do have time I'll do something else. These clothes get forgotten in my 'sew later' pile and end up at the bottom of my closet in a bag, never used.

4. Capsule Wardrobe. Have you heard of this Capsule Wardrobe trend? If you think you're up for a more drastic and structured closet-cleanse, this might be for you! I really like the idea of it, but I don't know if I could peraonally follow such a structure for my clothing. But maybe I'm just being a big wimp!

5. Take it easy. No stress! Don't pressure yourself to get rid of your clothes if you don't feel you want to. If you're happy with the rainbow of patterns and array of accessories you have - keep them! Minimalism is 'in' right now, so it's easy to try and fit yourself into it. Maybe you'll become a less-is-more type in the future, maybe you won't! Some days I ravage through my closet and get rid of half of it, but the other 360 or so days of the year I can't be bothered. It's aaaaallll good!

Bonus trick: If you take a picture of your closet (like I did for this post) you will definitely feel like doin' some re-organizing and folding!

For further reading, I really liked these posts from some of my favourite bloggers about changing up their wardrobes:
- Bridget Anne from Deer Circus always writes beautifully, even about purging her closet!
- I've always admired Carly's style, and love her views on clothing which you can read HERE!

What are your favourite tricks for closet purges?!

January 3, 2015

2015 Year of Thrift Manifesto

I like challenges. I like reasonable resolutions that I define for myself and that give me the flexibility to figure them out as I go. I like to document my challenges (in 2011 I made a 'creation a day' and shared them on a blog!) I am also incredibly passionate about this year's endeavour, and I can't wait to see how it all pans out! I mentioned it here already, but in this year I am challenging myself to only purchase thrifted or handmade goods.

The idea of entirely and only thrifting for an entire year is, actually, not entirely realistic. And so I am giving myself some guidelines for things that I consider the 'official exceptions' outlined in the Year of Thrift Manifesto:

In the year 2015 I will think sustainably and purchase all my clothing, accessories, and any other goods through thrifted means. Shirts, sweaters, dresses, necklaces, belts, vests, skirts, room decor... all of these things can be found in great quality and in clean, good condition at both larger and smaller thrift shops. What can't be purchase through thrift I will find alternatives that are handmade, environmentally friendly, and small business; things like jewellery, beauty products, bath and body products, hair products, etc.

The exceptions to these rules are as follows: One perfect pair of nice jeans. And I mean the good kind that your mother tells you about that last you many years. I already have a solid pair or two and am fairly certain they will last me til 2016 and hopefully beyond (knock on wood!). Underwear. I might be able to find a handmade or small business alternative, which could be pretty fun! Socks. Again, possible to find an alternative. Functional Shoes. So that means winter boots that, living in Canada, need to be waterproof and warm. Running shoes. Good ones so I don't ruin my ankles and knees. etc. A pair of summer sandals that won't destroy my feet, so Birkenstocks, which I already invested in! I already have all the shoes that I think I need, so this is a just-in-case scenario. Beauty/Bath/Body Products. For these I will find all-natural and DIY alternatives to the chemical-filled, icky stuff we slop on our skin every day.

I'll probably modify this list as I go, figure things out as the need arises as the seasons change. But for now I think this is quite inclusive.

Do you have any suggestions as to what else can or can't realistically be thrifted?


January 1, 2015

Something New: House of Ell

Happy New Year everyone!
I am so very excited to launch this new space of the net and to share this mini-adventure with you guys!

If you've been following my blog progression over the years you'll remember that I started off fashion blogging, and my space was called 'Kitty Snooks". That was a lot of fun, but after a year or so I became increasingly frustrated with a lot of aspects of the fashion blogging world and the seemingly excessive nature of it; the constant need to buy more, to acquire something new for your pictures, to keep up and freshen up and have something exciting to share with readers! There's a thrill to all of this; even non-fashion bloggers - ladies who are just really into fashion - can understand the thrill of a new perfect top that goes great with those sexy new jeans you bought last week and maybe it'll even match with your favourite pair of boots. Right? It's awesome!

But, despite the instant gratification of shopping and my love for fashion and textiles, I had a lot of trouble wrapping my head around the amount of waste that goes on within the fashion industry, particularly with the trend of disposable fashion. I also generally get irked by big corporations and mass production and all of the crap that happens behind the shiny facades of all our favourite stores in the malls. Yet out of ease and in the interest of budgeting, I often give in and buy from them anyway.

I always feel a bit guilty though, and when someone asks me where I got my nice top I'm actually almost embarrassed to admit it came from Forever 21.  So I decided to do something about it! For 2015 I am going to rely on thrifting, handmade businesses, and small local businesses for all my purchases. And I'm planning on documenting my adventures in sustainable living on this brand new corner of the net - House of Ell! A place for my new discoveries, fun creations, and fresh ideas in the new year. Maybe I'll inspire others to give sustainable living a chance (because it doesn't necessarily mean living the hippie way, though that wouldn't be so bad either!) and I hope this will become a place to share thoughts, tips, and tricks for thrifting and sustainability etc. back and forth!

So I hope you'll join me along the way :)
Follow my blog with Bloglovin if you'd like!
Here's to a happy, healthy, sustainable 2015! Cheers!