ainslie wood co. giveaway

Today I am happy to host a giveaway courtesy of Ainslie Wood Co., a vintage shop on Etsy. I wrote about them here when they first opened the shop. Lately I have been turning down proposals to host giveaways, because I prefer to host giveaways of something I have purchased myself as a treat for one of you, as a thank you. I have never hosted a thrifted clothing one, though, and so I made an exception. Besides, their shop is filled with beautiful, spring-appropriate clothing! Also, I love Jane and Hollie's blog, Love It A Lot. I hope to meet them at the next Hamilton art crawl.

I picked three items from their shop; the winner will be able to choose one of the following: floral cotton shorts, floral wallet/clutch, or a floral sun dress.

To enter, please visit the shop, and leave a comment here with your favourite item from Ainslie Wood Co. I will choose a winner at random on Sunday evening. Good luck!


Since I was turning my personal Tumblr account into a girls & cats Tumblr anyhow, I created dreamcats, a repository of pictures of cats on film, soft focus cats, girls with cats, etc. I'm sure something like this already exists, but something like this as "curated" by me did not exist until now. Feel free to send along your favourite dreamcats, catfriends! And if you have cat allergies but love cats, you can follow dreamcats and not have to reach for tissues.

(it's her birthday today!) and Kater and I have started a cat club. We have secret rings and everything. Yeah, that's right. And this post of Carly's made my day. Man, I love cats!

(For the record, I do like dawgs, too. I just prefer cats right now.)

(Oh, and I've ransacked a few people's Flickr favourites -- thanks for doing the work, Kater, Caitlin Shearer, and Sarah McNeil! I knew you'd have some good ones in there.)


cats & gentlewomen

I love cats (obviously) and I love cat people. I love cat prints too, and was so excited when I first saw the Miu Miu interpretation. I think it was so well done: moderately twee, but not overly "whimsical" and saccharine (my second favourite is the reclining naked lady print). One of these days I hope to make use of Elizabeth Spiridakis' tutorial to make myself a cat print collar.

This weekend I went to Zara, which happens to be my favourite place to indulge in some fast fashion. I'm not sure why I give it a pass, but I do. Maybe because it's Spanish and I love Spain. While I was there, I spotted this.

Oh! A cat print dress in a viscose/rayon blend, for $40. I had to buy it, even though I'm always hurtin' the weekend before pay day. Please notice the bowties on the cats. Irresistible. It's the perfect cut for a summer dress, and a good length. It has an elastic waist, and the top part can be worn in a blousy sort of way, which feels easy breezy. I have my moments where I feel as though I should go buy another one. You know, for backup.

I did wring my hands about it a little bit: is 31 too old for cats & bowties? A brief text message correspondence with Erin confirmed that no, it's not. It depends on the 31 year old, I suppose. I can always wear it with a blazer for a bit of a "young professional" vibe.

Look at that! I could pretty much talk to you about offshore funds and currency futures now.

After I had purchased & thrown the dress in my tote bag I headed to the Drake General Store where I found a copy of The Gentlewoman, a new magazine from the creators of Fantastic Man magazine. I am trying to savour it, and so far, I am incredibly impressed. The editorial alone is a very positive celebration of modern women, and the content is beautifully presented. So many women's magazines are oppressive and passive aggressive and I am always so happy to find the rare one that isn't. I have also become mildly obsessed with a leather-trimmed Céline skirt that appears twice in the magazine, once in an ad and once in a feature.

If you're interested in a copy for yourself, you can find it at American Apparel (online and instore), but any finer bookstore or newsstand should have it. Please note that American Apparel lists it for $18 on their Canadian online store, but the marked price is $10.95.

the hoof cafe

On Friday Geoff and I had lunch at The Hoof Cafe. There has been quite a lot of hype (as well as the usual negativity) about this place, and I wouldn't dare go on a weekend. I have to admit that it was one of the best restaurant meals I have had in a long time, with attentive, excellent service. It was quite an indulgence; I had the suckling pig benny, and Geoff had a risotto with ramps and the most finely-sliced pancetta I have ever seen, all for the price of a mediocre brunch from other restaurants. Afterwards we bumped into Carly and were so enthusiastic in our praise that she went there for lunch with a friend.

I grew up in a home where my former farmer parents made their own chorizo and cured their own prosciutto. I was a vegetarian for a few years, and there was nothing I missed more than charcuterie. Next time I think I will try the ploughman's plate.


sweet pink

Stamps from Sweden, tulips from Geoff, homemade rose marshmallows from Melinda.


coffee to go

This is Sam James Coffee Bar, located at Harbord and Manning. It's a tiny little place, and it is beloved. This place makes really, really good coffee, which comes in nice cups. I ride past it nearly every day and I usually sniff the air and wish I had time to stop in and sit in the window. Unfortunately, I am perpetually running late.

Last week Geoff bought me this as a present: a ring cupholder from Electra (purchased at Sweet Pete's bike shop), perfect for holding a tapered cup of coffee. I tested it yesterday and it worked pretty well! I did ride my bike over a bump which caused the coffee to splash out, but I'd still consider it a success.

And yes, that is a tomato (or strawberry) bell on my of a bike, and a Permanent Vacation tote bag inside the basket.


disposables 2

A few months ago I found a couple of disposable cameras in a thrift shop; they had expired in 2001. The first camera produced a set of duds, but I had a few pleasant surprises with the second.

This grainy, gloomy picture was not one of the pleasant surprises, but I wanted to mention an event that my friend Carole graciously invited me to last week. The Society & Balenciaga brought Ivan Rodic, the Facehunter, to Toronto. I thought I "Why not?" because after all, he is a blogger, like I am, sort of, and even Geoff had found some inspiration in his photographs. The event was held at The Room at The Bay; we had ribbons scented with the new Balenciaga fragrance tied in bows around our wrists. I saw so many fancy cameras and fancy flash units and fancy lenses in use, but I whipped out my expired disposable and took this picture. Whatever.

It's not the sort of event I go to regularly, of course, and it was quite fascinating from a people-watching perspective. As to the Facehunter himself, he seems all right, and I bought his book. It's always amusing to me when someone like him becomes the toast of the fashion crowd. I don't think he cares too much about it. Anyhow. Let's get confessional here. I felt incredibly unattractive all evening and proceeded to drink quite a few glasses of sparkling rosé. If you have image issues and break up with your therapist in the same week that you attend an event filled with incredibly beautiful & possibly wealthy people, you end up standing quite close to the bar (n.b. voice of experience).

We were given small bottles of the perfume in a gift bag. I love this perfume. I can't quite identify it, but there is a note in it (possibly the violet) that reminds me of something I've smelled before. The exact memory hasn't yet been triggered. After the event I met up with some other friends at the Bad Day magazine launch, where I took this gem.

I know. Amazing.

The next day Geoff and I went to High Park to see the cherry blossoms. Despite the fact that the sky was overcast and the fact that they weren't quite in their fullest bloom, it was incredible to see the tufts of blushy-pink-white peeking through the other trees. The disposable camera produced these rose-tinted pictures that are so beautiful to me.


cherry blossoms

(In the rain, days before full bloom)

When I was growing up we had a cherry fruit tree in the backyard. It was easy to climb and in the summer I would spend hours up there, eating as many cherries as I could. I invented realms within the tree; when the petals started to fly off the blossoms I would gather them up and pour them over my head. That tree was a little kid's dream. I rarely buy cherries now because they never compare to the ones I ate up there.

The flowering cherry trees below are a different species of tree, but cherry nonetheless, and are so heart-achingly beautiful. There are about 70 of these trees planted in rows outside of Robarts Library, a gift from the Sakura Project.

I have worked at Robarts for quite a long time, since before these trees were planted. The building is a concrete, Brutalist monstrosity shaped like an abstract peacock (and allegedly the inspiration for the library in Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose because, yes, it is a bit labyrinthine) but for the short time that these trees are in full bloom, the view is softened a little.

The High Park Nature Centre is predicting full bloom of their cherry blossoms this weekend.


a greenhouse wedding

I recently sent one of my ties off to Portland for a greenhouse-themed wedding editorial for Project Wedding by Chelsea Fuss. The photography is by Lisa Warninger. They made my tie look so good! I love that he's wearing it loosely knotted, and I love her gingham pinafore (by Elizabeth Dye).

Thank you, Chelsea -- it was an honour.

I have taken a break from making ties for a little while, but I have made the last few May 4 ties available on Etsy, if anyone is interested.


happy birthday, robber

One year ago Robber opened at 863 Queen Street West. I had known it was going to open for a few months, and I was excited that I could actually buy some of the brands they would carry without a trip to New York. It took me over a month to finally visit, though, because I was intimidated. You know how it is. Little did I know that the Robber girls were the nicest, most down-to-earth people ever, and that the "-er" part of Robber, Erin, would become one of my best friends (the "Rob-" part, Robin, lives in Vancouver, but we'd hang out all the time if she lived here, too). I am so happy they are here, and I do everything I can to support their shop, such as writing about them here, making potato print banners, and hanging feathers in the windows. We need our independent businesses, especially when they carry Lover and Permanent Vacation and Built By Wendy and Sunshine & Shadow, etc.

This weekend they are celebrating their birthday by offering 20% off everything in the store. It's a sunny and beautiful day in Toronto today; perfect! I heard they hung some festooning from Balloon King! I can't wait to see.

I really do spend quite a lot of time in the store. It's a 10 minute bike ride from where I live, and it's such a pretty, airy shop that I've amassed a small collection of pictures taken there. These were taken with my LC-A+. Some are blurry, one is accidentally double exposed, but I like them anyhow.


basket girl

It's official: I am basket girl. Around the time that I posted about baskets for the first time, I absently mentioned them to my parents. They have a little apartment in a villa in the south of Portugal, where Jane Birkin's basket was made. I didn't ask them to look for one, because I knew that Alice was sending me one. Yesterday I went to pick them up from the airport after their latest trip, and I burst out laughing: my dad was coming out of the arrivals gate with this in his hand.

Now I have two baskets!

It made me sad to hear the story of this one, considering I am so obsessed with these regional baskets right now. They found it at a kiosk in the airport that sold local crafts, and the seller had two. He said they were the last two he would get because no one wants them anymore, and no one is interested in learning how to make them. Of course, these were meant to be used for practical purposes and not quite made to be used as a purse -- but that's how I will use it. You press down on the handle to loosen the lid, which swings away. It cost 25€, about 1000 times less than the Hermès Birkin.

These images of Jane are so wonderful. It appears that she lost her basket's lid at some point (she still had it at when this picture was taken). It's amazing that she just didn't care what anyone thought about her using an octopus basket as a purse through the streets or Paris or Cannes. I know that I have written quite a bit about baskets and about Jane's approach to life and to fashion, but it inspires me like nothing else and I hope it inspires you, too.