Category Archives: Things

#100happydays: Day 7 ‘Faces on Things’

I’ve been in salon limbo the past few months; I’d been wanting to try a new look and wanted to find a hairdresser who just gets me. Truth be told I’ve always been more adventurous with my colour than my cut, with the frazzled ends to prove it! I’ve always avoided chain salons because I have a not entirely unfounded fear of coming out looking like everyone else. The same bland highlights, the same boring layered bob.

I don’t know why, but the sight of this put me at ease as soon as I walked into Cheynes…

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Lighting: Curiousa and Curiousa hand blown beauties

This week I’ve been playing catch-up with work since my trip to Prague, and with my old Iphone finally dying on me I’ve been trying to get my photos and notes off it to post about my excellent 3 days there! I managed to fit in visiting some very old friends from school and eating at some outstanding restaurants whilst I was there, so watch this space!

Progress in the bedroom has been coming along nicely, and I’ve been designing a ‘man cave’ unit for the recess that’s going to be fabulous. We’ve decided the aesthetic we’re going for, as the room will be for a guy, will be a modern take on a gentlemens club. I’m very excited to watch things take shape, and the joiners doing the work are fantastic. I’ve been really enjoying working with them on this project.

One of the main aspects of the redesign is the lighting concept, and I’ve been like a kid in a candy shop looking at potential ideas. In the process I’ve found sine beauties which may not be perfect for this project but I’ve just got to share!

I first spied Curiousa and Curiousa’s ‘Twist’ chandelier at last year’s Tent (London Design Festival 2012) and fell in love with its sheer glam fabulousness; even for a strictly non-girly girl like me.

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Then I saw this beauty on their website, their ‘Dine ‘ pendant. Inspired by a Poul Henningsen classic PH pendant produced by Louis Poulsen. The PH was groundbreaking; lighting had always been from a direct source and Henningsen incorporated a diffusing anti-glare disc. Curiousa and Curiousa’s version uses 3 separately hand blown plates in glorious coloured glass.

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These lights are stunning, and I’d love to find just the perfect room for one of their pieces!

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Dhog and Beaver’s Day of fun

Today was my best friend Eliese (aka Beaver) and my one year anniversary – this time last year a friend introduced us and we discovered a mutual love of goofiness, ‘a little bit country’ music and men with good teeth!

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It’s been a year of ups and downs, so we decided to celebrate by taking a trip to Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair at the HMV Picture House followed by a face-stuffing session at Red Squirrel on Lothian Road.

Eliese made a new furry friend at the vintage fair, and dare I say there may have been a spark of romance?

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We found some insane retro fashions that we just had to snap pics of…

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I bought a funky new beret…

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…and of course no shopping trip would be complete without a comedy present for one of our friends; this time it was a super sexy baby tee for my new male flatmate. He’s a big AC/DC fan and we were sure he’d look rather fetching in this cropped number!

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Last year Eliese wore a fake tache every day for a month in aid of Movember, so of course when we saw this brown sauce bottle we realized it was just a match made in heaven…

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Charity shop find: retro cocktail trolley

I have an obsession with perfection.

I would love to be the kind of gal who makes her own washing powder, bakes homemade cookies at the weekends and whips up batches of fresh strawberry ice cream on hot summer days. Perfectly brewed coffee every morning, squeezed orange juice on the table with breakfast and cut flowers nonchalantly arranged in casual vases around the house…looking so effortless.

It’s laughable to anyone who’s ever seen my flat, but I always have the best of intentions…and I’m loath to show the world anything ‘unfinished’. Vain? Probably! But sometimes perfection doesn’t make for interesting blog posts, and I’ve come to realise maybe folk wouldn’t mind seeing the thought processes behind some of my random projects! And it would keep me on track as well hopefully, finishing one thing before eying up the next!

Sooo…today, during a ‘quick browse’ in the charity shops near mine, I found this wee gem. It doesn’t look like much now, a bit retro and…I’d like to think it’s got elements of the 70s but in reality it’s probably more likely a product of the 80s! The shelves are ridiculously thin glass, grubby, and I dread to think how it would stand up in my house with the boisterous pets and party-loving friends.

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But I can see potential.

Clean this wee guy up, definitely replace the glass (Note to self: make friends with a glazier) for the toughened variety…I had thought a beveled mirrored glass might be nice initially, but upon closer inspection the curved edges would be far to expensive to go down that route! If I keep the chrome finish I may go for a smoked glass, but that will depend on how it ‘scrubs up’. But I think this will make a fabulous wee cocktail trolley. I’ve been scouring antique shops for the perfect mid century hostess trolley for that fabulous glass skull ice bucket I bought in Toronto, my funky cocktail shaker and other such Bon vivant accoutrements!

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Happy Canada Day!!

I may be a little late on this (Blame a gruelling Barreworks workout followed by a dash from Spadina to Dovercourt by accident this afternoon to a yoga class…not to mention my very first spin class yesterday!) but
Happy Canada Day folks!!

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My I do love the red and white!!!

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House of Fraser Fabulousness: Shu Uemura

Remember a few weeks ago I posted about my great experience shopping in Glasgow’s House of Fraser store – and in particular the impeccable customer service at the Shu Uemura counter? Well I promised a separate post about it, so here it is!

This was my haul from that shopping trip…

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These were the items I actually purchased…(and a lip gloss)

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Let me just start by saying I’ve always had fabulous customer service from Shu Uemura, so I’m not sure if they maybe train their girls up to be super-nice! First of all, I was on the hunt for a mint eyeshadow and eyeliner; I’m in love with my Nars ‘Barrow Street’, described as a ‘seafoam’ shade, but sometimes a girl just needs a liquid or gel liner to get a proper cat’s eye flick! I knew Shu Uemura was likely to have a green shadow, but imagine my delight (and subsequent disappointment) when I discovered they carried a green potted liner…which was limited edition, and which they were out of stock of! The tester pot was still there, but unfortunately no Shu Uemura concession in Scotland had any left. I mean, check out the awesomeness of that colour! How could I walk away?!

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The salesgirl told me they couldn’t sell me the tester pot, for hygiene reasons…then she noticed it had barely been touched so said she could give me the semi-used pot (seeing as I looked so crestfallen at the news) if she scraped out the sampled area. Which, like I said , was hardly anything. So I got an almost full pot of eyeliner for free, which they couldn’t sell on anyways. But how many folk would think to do that for you?

I also fell in love with a set of gorgeous (and semi impractical) false lashes that were also limited edition and out of stock! Oh, the horror. When I went to pay for my purchases, which included one set of eyelashes, a red lip gloss and a trio of green shadows, she gave me the tester set of funky lashes as well! Which again she told me she couldn’t sell on, as they were marked ‘not for resale’, so she gave them to me for free!

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I want to clarify that my high opinion of the service I receive was not just because I came home laden with freebies…though I do love a good freebie and a bargain, what I was impressed with was the salesgirl’s willingness to act above and beyond the ‘call of duty’, I suppose. She knew these tester items would be binned at the end of the day, so there was no harm in giving them to someone who was obviously wanting them, and who was making a purchase anyways.

So I’d like to thank that lovely girl for putting a smile on my face, and for such a great experience at both House of Fraser and Shu Uemura.

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After-work wander: Glasgow’s Buchanan Street

I was working in Glasgow today, so of course I had a wander before I caught my train home. I love The Weej for its friendliness; much as I adore Edinburgh and call it home, it can be a bit contrived at times. Though you’re as likely to see a man fashioning balloon animals on the street in The Burgh, it feels put on for the tourists.
How fun is this guy though?!

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I stopped at Rogano’s pop up ‘champagne garden’ on Buchanan Street for a lunch of oysters and creamy Caesar salad with king prawns. And a pot of peppermint tea to keep me warm!

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I stopped in Frasers to look for a smaller wallet to fit into my clutch bag (so tired of schlepping my massive Prada number around everywhere) so of course stopped off at Shu Uemura…such a fabulous experience from a customer care perspective, the sales girl was so lovely so wait for a separate post about it! It’s so rare, especially in a busy department store, for sales staff to pay such attention and care to customer service. Oh and I spied these amazing Chanel sunglasses that have gone right to the top of my summer wish list!

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Inspiration: Mid century gentlemen’s club based around the iconic Eames Lounge chair

Mid century gentlemen's club based around the iconic Eames Lounge chair

I’ve been in love with the iconic Eames lounge chair since I first laid eyes on it in a design magazine as a teenager, so when the opportunity arose for me to buy one of my very own at half the price – a genuine Vitra issued article – I jumped at the chance.

My dream sitting room wouldn’t look to far off an old school gentlemen’s club; all luxe leather, sexy dark wood bookshelves, tufted button detailing and the unmistakeable scent of a country estate. Wood wax, tree sap and casually worn leather upholstery. Throw in my love of mid-century to 1970s design (i actually own that G-plan coffee table) with a dose of quirkiness from Moooi and you’d have my ideal space.

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#BEDM Day 12: Collecting

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I am a hoarder. And a shopaholic. I love the finer things in life, pretty things, things that make me smile. My house is full of these things…it is actually an ongoing struggle to keep it reasonably ordered and even then, I often fail miserably! I’d love to have a beautifully minimalistic, modern Scandinavian aesthetic but I love pretty objects too much!

1. Books
I have 4 big bookshelves filled to the brim (plus another smaller one in my bedroom and a makeshift number housing my collection of cookbooks). I’ll read anything, as long as it catches my interest in some way – biographies of Marilyn Monroe, modern and post-cultural-revolution Chinese fiction, Scandinavian thrillers, horror, noir, retro cookbooks, novels set in pre-Haussmann Paris, the life and times of such historic figures as Josephine Bonaparte and Madame Tussaud…anything goes! If I had my way, I would have a home library complete with reading ‘nook’, where I imagine my prized Eames lounge chair would sit.

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2. Tea pots

Now this is a strange one for me, as I so rarely drink tea! I do adore a well turned out teapot though, anything from a traditional Japanese number worthy of a tea ceremony, quirky Alice in Wonderland inspired pots to minimalist Scandinavian curvaceous styles. Maybe it’s my Alice in Wonderland obsession but I love the look and feel of a beautiful tea pot…though seldom for holding tea!

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Note: these are not tea pots I own, but just beautiful tea pots I like the look of!

3. Design ‘porn’ books
I am a total design geek, anyone I meet gets this within moments of meeting me. I walk into the Conran Shop, Heals, Skandium, Republic of Fritz Hansen and the first thing I do is make a beeline for the design books. Not only do I love to see beautiful examples of lighting, furniture and product design ‘in the flesh’, but I’m also fascinated by the processes the designer went through to achieve the finished piece. I have an entire bookshelf devoted to design books, which can get a bit…pricy! I do console myself with the knowledge I’m building up a gorgeous library that I’ll love for years to come.

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4. Art
If I were rich and famous, my house would resemble an art gallery. Seriously, if I could afford it I’d have a home full of beautiful paintings and stunning sculptures! I wouldn’t say there’s a particular style I’m fixated on, though I’ve always been impressed by the symbolism behind Dutch realism and the freedom and open composition of impressionistic works. My favourite artists are Wilhelm Hammershoi (a Danish realist), Berthe Morisot (a rare female impressioniste), and the sculptress Camille Claudel (whose poignant bronze cast, L’Age mûr , is one of my favourite works of sculpture to this day). As far as more modern works go, I’m a huge fan of the use of light…not surprising from an aspiring lighting designer! I am lucky enough to own paintings by the super talented Canadian artist Emma Hesse (the one I have isn’t the one shown, but in the same series entitled ‘Slipstream’

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…and this one by the absolutely wonderful glaswegian artist Jackie Anderson, who uses a delicate transparent wash technique giving an ethereal quality to her work. I bought this painting, entitled ‘Ruth, waiting’ (detail only shown) when I first moved to Edinburgh. I hadn’t bought my flat yet at this point, lived in a tiny shared rental apartment with nowhere to hang it…but I loved it so much I kept it wrapped in storage until I had somewhere to display it! Isn’t it beautiful?!

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Her other works also show this stunning, almost other-worldly, ghostly quality to her figures which I’ve not seen in any other artist’s work! The subject matter may be ‘ordinary’ but few execution certainly is not.

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A few years ago I was fortunate enough to meet a very young but incredibly talented ceramic artist named Lauren Blakey at the One of a Kind Show at Exhibition Place in Toronto. Her work wasn’t the only art I picked up at the show, but I was so impressed (and disappointed I wasn’t able to bring more of her ‘cubes’ home in my already overflowing suitcase) that I emailed her the very next day to tell her how much I loved her work. She is inspired by nature, organic shapes, and the beauty in the unexpected (I believe one thing she’s referenced is the form and structure of seaweed). One day I will have a whole wall devoted to Lauren’s ‘cubes’!

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This next artist is one I’ve admired for years but have yet to own one of her works. I actually Claire Duguid
her in a local cocktail bar by chance, got to chatting to her before realising who she was! So talented, and a local Edinburgh lass. Her self portraits are to die for and her use of various lighting effects is unbelievable!

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I believe what you are drawn to collect shows so much about your personality. My ‘collections’ tell so much about me… 🙂

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#BEDM Day 11: Book Love

Sometimes there is nothing better than curling up on the sofa with a good book and a dog at your feet. Even with my house in chaos with the renovations, I know I can always find a nice spot, tucked away, to get lost in a book.

I was asked by a friend the other day, ‘How many of your books have you actually read?’ He was referring to my 3 massive library-style bookshelves that are crammed full of every type of reading material, and my honest reply was ‘about 70-80%’. I have a massive TO READ pile as well, which I’ve been working through…but then I see another must read, and the pile grows again!

My favourites have changed as I’ve changed and grown as a person; my current faves may be ‘replaced’ by new ones in a couple months time, so instead I’m going to tell you about 5 books that have changed my life.

‘Girl’ by Blake Nelson

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This book epitomises my high school years, I read it for the first time when I was 15, getting into ‘alternative’ music and gigging (for me it was industrial rock; NIN and The Tea Party were my favourite bands), boys, and partying. I didn’t dress like everyone else, I rocked a mini kilt years before ‘Clueless’ came out and I had a pair of industrial Doc Marten boots when they were still banned from school. The life and times of Andrea Marr read like my diary; a sheltered suburban teen discovering a whole new world and lifestyle, making mistakes along the way but taking every opportunity as it comes – whether on purpose or by bumbling, awkward, unsure accident. I’ve re-read this so many times and it always reminds me of being 15 again.

‘Fruits’ photographed by Shoichi Aoki

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Japanese street fashion at its best! I was gifted the first compilation of photographs from the cult magazine of the same name, and was struck by how confident and strong the sense of individual style was in kids so young – in most cases under the age of 18. I’ve always dressed a bit differently; even as a pre teen I was tearing out pages from European issues if Vogue, wearing my interpretation of high fashion and making bondage style dresses for my Barbies from balloons. Canadian kids weren’t into that style back then. When I got to high school it was a mishmash of grunge-inspired flannel shirts and hyper-sexy bondage gear…I was sent home from school a few times when I appeared in ‘inappropriate’ outfits on non-uniform days. I loved the gothic Lolita aesthetic long before I knew what it was, before street fashion began to dictate high fashion. I now have most of the Fruits books and still enjoy the diversity of fashion and individuality portrayed.

‘Boy’ by Roald Dahl

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Grade 9 English class, this book was my introduction to the ‘other’ world of Roald Dahl and established a lifetime of admiration for his work. I’d obviously read his works aimed towards a younger audience before this, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, but this book showed a different side to his writing. ‘Boy’ is an ‘autobiography’ of the author, but really that term is interpreted loosely – not a dry account of events but an intriguing insight into the imagination of Boy. I’d say it was a ‘gateway’ book, and led me to read some of my favourite Dahl short stories and novels…most notably ‘Skin’, which is rather dark but one of my favourite stories to this day.

‘The Endless Steppe’ by Esther Hautzig

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The primary school I went to was predominantly second generation Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, and second or third generation Asian kids…with a few Canucks thrown into the mix. Our reading lists (which were handed out before the summer holidays) reflected that, with a lot of material covering the Holocaust. This was an autobiographical account of the exile of Esther Hauzig née Rudomin to Siberia during WWII. Arrested in Poland in 1941, she and her parents were branded capitalists and sent to work in an internment camp in Siberia. Though not as widely read as ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’, and though Esther survived whilst Anne did not, both were not only stories of these young girls but the brave people who tried to help them at great cost to themselves.

‘Wild Swans’ by Jung Chang

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As a second generation Chinese immigrant, born in mainland China but without any real experiences from living there (we left when I was a toddler) I’ve never really identified with Chinese culture. I consider myself to be Canadian and even find it a bit offensive when strangers ask me ‘where I’m from’ but don’t accept Canada as my answer. ‘But where are you REALLY from?’ they always ask. Sure I’ve heard horrible stories about the cultural revolution from my mum, but it all seemed so foreign and unfamiliar she might as well have been talking about a galaxy far, far away.. A friend of my dad’s gifted me a signed copy of Wild Swans when I was a teenager because my parents are Shanghainese, and Jung Chan and her family’s story is from that city – and the effects of the cultural revolution on a family very similar to my mum’s. This book is what sparked my interest in Chinese culture, and has led me to some of my favourite books such as ‘Shanghai Baby’ (Zhou Weihu), the works of Amy Tan, Xinran and Lisa See’s ‘Shanghai Girls’ ‘ and its sequel, ‘Dreams of Joy’ to name but a few!

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