June 30, 2015

Creative Crush: Kent Williams

Kent Williams is a contemporary painter in LA. I'm a big fan of his raw, colourful, collage-like paintings and the way he paints the human figure. Take a look at what I mean!

He has some beautiful drawings/mixed media work on his portfolio site, that I also really enjoy. The following are part of his Lord of The Flies series.

Williams' work really has me wanting to ditch all the work I have to do and PAINT! I won't, of course, but there's something inspiring about work like this. Maybe something to do with being able to see the strokes and see the honest pencil lines and wonder what kind of marks my hands could make.

Check out Kent Williams' portfolio site for more!

What creatives have you been crushing on lately?

June 24, 2015

Year of Thrift Start of Summer Update (Half a Year!)

It has officially been half a year of only thrift shopping! Time flies, even when you're not letting yourself shop at big stores! Ha!

This year of thrift challenge has become even easier now that it is summer and I have already gone to Europe - I was seriously budgeting to be able to go on that trip, and now, in some ways good in some ways bad, I am free to spend a little more. In terms of buying clothes - I have been able to grab a couple of fun summer items at nicer thrift shops - consignment shops, more curated ones, and have thus found some much nicer things than usual!

Thrifting while traveling was also, totally do-able. The ONLY time I bought a clothing item that wasn't handmade or second hand was upon arriving to Edinburgh and realizing I forgot to bring a scarf, and feeling VERY cold, so I bought a typical, wooly tartan scarf. I think this is a fair exception though - I was not in a position to buy a second hand scarf and wash it for immediate use! ;)

My neighbourhood also had a huge garage sale at the beginning of the month, so I snagged a couple of fantastic items there, including a really sweet black jacket that my neighbour brought out and asked me if I wanted before putting it out to sell. Garage sales have the best deals - ever! It's actually my favourite time of year, and I am eager to scout out more this summer!

I admit, it has been really difficult to resist all the summer patterns popping up in H&M and Forever 21 and the like. Im such a sucker for pattern. But I've done it! And to be honest, I think I will keep resisting, always. The more I discover how achievable this challenge is, the more I dislike the idea of going back to my old shopping habits.

Have you had any fun thrifty finds recently?


June 23, 2015

My Favourite Phone Apps for Sustainable Living!

Our mobile phones are a big part of our daily lives, whether we like to admit it or not. I personally could benefit from some phone rehab! But, we do use them habitually for so many useful things, and I doubt most of us would be willing to completely part with them anytime soon. As such, why not make the best use of them? Here are my favourite 3 mobile phone apps to help & encourage you in your pursuits towards healthy, eco-friendly, sustainable living!

Think Dirty App (for body products)
I discovered the Think Dirty App a few years ago and is one of the first things that encouraged me to begin the switch to all-natural products for my skin!

How it Works: Using this app, scan the barcode of any body/beauty product in the store and it'll pull up all sorts of information about it, including a "Dirty Score" from 1-10; one being good, ten being very very no good bad. It gives you a list of the ingredients, which are categorized based on how risky they are, and tells you what each of them does and how it affects you. I LOVE that I can get tons of information from this app and how it explains each ingredient to me. I don't have a science/chemistry background in any way shape or form, so it is nice to have a resource to get informed!

It's a handy app for sure, but I don't think it is available for android phones (yet!), so I have not been able to use it since I switched from my Iphone. It also doesn't have 100% of the products, and certainly wasn't helpful for some of the products I encountered outside of North America, but you can submit the ones that aren't in their databases yet!

Good Guide (for all products)
The Good Guide app is a more comprehensive Think Dirty App in that it covers more than just beauty/body products. Also, I was able to get it on my Android! So far it seems pretty handy, though I don't think it gives as much detailed information/specifics as the Think Dirty App.

How it Works: Just like the Think Dirty App, you scan the bar codes of your products to access specific information! You can also scroll through the categories, ranging from personal care to household cleaners to cellphones to food, to take a look at products you might not have right in front of you.

Joulebug (for eco-friendly habits!)
Need to change some of your habits, and do well with positive reinforcement? Joulebug is probably the cutest little app to help you do so! It gives you pins/badges and various little encouragements to keep up with your good eco-friendly habits.

How it Works: Record your actions by "buzzing" the actions on the list to achieve certain 'pins', kind of like achievements in a video game! There are things like "Flip Off" for turning off the lights whenever you leave a room, or "Bottle Rocket" for every time you re-fill a reusable waterbottle!

The graphics on this one are super fun and adorable. I feel like I am playing an old Nintendo DS game from when I was a kid - it's pretty addictive! Just, don't leave rooms 5 times in a minute ONLY so that you can turn off the lights and Buzz the action without lying; IT DOESN'T COUNT ;)

Do you use any apps on your phone to help you live more sustainably? PLEASE share! I would love to discover more :)


June 17, 2015

Window Shopping || 09

Lena Dunham Birthday Suit Shirt: Clashist // Grey Tweed Trouser: Trashy Vintage // Natural Cowhide Sandals: Golden Ponies // Protective Hand Ring: Datter Industries

So many cool things going on with this window shopping outfit!

First, let's talk about this Lena Dunham Birthday Suit shirt. Is this not the best pattern ever? I love the orange/red accent colour and all these fabulous Lena nudes. I'd be so happy to channel the ever-confident, fabulous Lena by wearing this shirt!

I'm also so glad to have found Datter Industries on etsy! They have little hand necklaces too... basically a must-have for me (can you tell I like hands?). I kind of want every single piece of jewellery they've got on there. Watch out, bank account...

Golden Ponies shoes are also pretty badass. Handmade, some natural leather, some vegan products. A nice mixture for everyone! Plus I love the way these sandals look - I'm still trying to force myself to break away from my all-black-everthing mode! Especially since it's finally warm and lovely here now, when it's not raining anyway.

What's on your wishlist right now?

Travel Photo Capsule: Copenhagen!

I've been to Copenhagen before this trip, but being there again gave me a whole new perspective on it! We actually took the time to really see things, go places, do things. Whatever little time we had, anyway.

Our first happy stumbled-upon discovery was the Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket, which I mentioned in my Thrifty Travel Tips post as it was free on the day we went (a Tuesday)! The Glyptoteket is a sculpture museum, with the biggest most beautiful collection of statues and forms. The building itself was also incredible - as seen on these two pictures on the right. Half the time I spent there was me looking up at the ornate ceilings and columns! I've never had an appreciation for ancient sculpture like I now have, thanks to this place! It also had tons of information about how various sculptures were made, which we really enjoyed learning about!

We stopped by Freetown Christiania for an afternoon and had yummy shawarma and a pleasant walk through the neighbourhood. The homes there are so fantastic - literally, as though out of a fairy tale.  Tiny little doorways and DIY construction. There is one home that is made entirely out of recycled windows! We finished our little self-directed tour of Christiania at the art gallery, Staden Museum for Kunst, where we had a lovely chat with the lady running it and enjoyed some fun art.

On our last day in Copenhagen we checked out the Botanical Gardens! We actually made a point of visiting the botanical gardens everywhere we went, if we could. The Copenhagen one was most definitely my favourite. You walk in and there's this magical little spiral staircase that takes you up to the top of the green-house dome where you can walk around a small platform that goes all the way around! It was so sweet to be able to look down upon the giant palm leaves and various other plants, then also see them back at ground level! Multiple perspectives, real cooool.

Our short little stay in Copenhagen was quite nice, if only we had had more time to explore...

Check out some photos from the first stop in my Europe trip, in Edinburgh!


June 8, 2015

11 Tips for Thrifty Traveling!

Traveling is expensive - there is no doubt about it. But, if you make it a priority to go and see the world and are smart with your money, it is more than do-able on a budget! Today I thought I would share the tricks I learned on my trip. Some were 'you live and you learn' type of lessons (oops) and others were accidental discoveries (yay)!

1. Make meals at home. Don't have a kitchen? Buying pre-made food at the local supermarket is still cheaper than going out to restaurants for every meal. We intentionally tried to get Airbnb's with functional kitchens so we could cook as often as possible! Extra tip: Buy snacks for the plane/train/bus at the supermarket too, much cheaper than buying at the airport or station!

2. Find free museum days! Or reduced price days. The best is when these fall on a rainy day and you can escape to a museum for the afternoon, for free!

(We stumbled upon the Ny Carlsberg Gylptoteket in Copenhagen on a rainy Tuesday. When we went to the ticket booth, we were told there was a 100% discount that day! Score! We spent the entire afternoon there checking out the vast sculpture collection & beautiful building!)

3. Bring a reusable water bottle! Fill it up, remember to bring it out with you. Water is not often free while traveling, even at restaurants. I used a Platypus 'hydration pack' which flattens nicely when it isn't full, and the plastic is all BPA free and good and stuff. This also cuts down on disposable water bottle waste, which is a bonus!

4. Take public transit (and walk!) everywhere that you can. Both are fantastic ways to see more of the city and discover things you might not have before! It's also kind of fun to check out another city's public transit system and compare with your own back home ;)
(Taking a double decker bus for the first time in Edinburgh!)

5. Give up your ideas of 'luxury', it's OK if the bed is squeeky and the jacuzzi is right next to the fridge. Sometimes the best deal is the best idea - so long as the place is clean, bug free, and functional, which, if you read reviews, is easy to figure out. Which brings me to the next point:

6. Always read the worst reviews. For restaurants, attractions, and places to stay! Usually they are more telling than the positive ones (and sometimes you just find something really outrageous and funny from a negative nancy). The negative reviews often tell you whether the prices were fair, too.

7. Don't go shopping. Straight up. There's no need for it if you're traveling on a budget and your hope is to see more of the world. I found most stores around the world are the same anyway. H&M in Europe won't be that different from H&M back home!

8. Get as much cash as you can back home, and pay with credit when you can. I was charged a 5$ fee every time I needed to take out cash. No fun!

9. Try to give up your daily habits (*cough* coffee *cough*). It'll be easier, as not every hostel or Airbnb has coffee. It's also cheaper and saves you time if you don't need to find a cafe for your coffee every morning (I only sort of managed to do this...).

10. Find free fun. Sometimes sitting in the park with an icecream and enjoying a sunny day, almost falling asleep in the grass, and people watching makes for a better memory than lining up for hours at the theme park or paying tons of money for an over-packed tourist attraction.
(Hanging out by the Seine in Paris on a sunny afternoon with a baguette to snack on! Ps. This outfit? Entirely second hand! Woo!)

11. Stand up for yourself. Do not let yourself be ripped off by people preying on tourists. Negotiate terms of payment with taxi drivers before you get in the car. Don't fall into tourist traps, speak up and walk away if you feel someone is trying to scam you.

These are my best 11 tips, tried and tested! I hope they are helpful for you if you are dreaming of traveling on a budget anytime in the future.

What are your best thrifty, budget-friendly travel tips?


June 7, 2015

Travel Photo Capsule: Edinburgh!

I'm back! It has been so hard to even know where to start every time someone asks me how my trip was. So many places and so many experiences, so quickly! So to make it easy, I've decided to start with the first stop - Edinburgh!

My good friend Meg lives in Edinburgh, so we got to visit her and some of my other friends that I met when I lived in Europe! This was one of the highlights of the entire trip - Meg and the gang are so fun, and we got an amazing tour of Edinburgh and a day trip to St. Andrews, home of golf.

I loved Edinburgh - what an amazing city! We saw the botanical gardens, Calton Hill, Dean Village, the National Museum of Modern Art, and many cute little cafes and restaurants. We went to a soul music night at a really great club, some funky bars. The landscapes in Scotland are beautiful, as are the old buildings and bridges and castles and all. A good long weekend in Scotland and an amazing jump start to our trip!

So now I am home back in Canada! Looking to work and figure things out now that I am also a graduate (ouu, ahhh.) and just getting settled back here. It's good to be home and comfortable, back with my family and all. Looking forward to getting back to blogging and catching up on all your blogs too!


ps. Meg: I miss you! You're the best hostess ever!