reading heavily

Books +

Cats +

Cookies +

Naps +

Coffee +

Family +

Comfort Food +

Conversation =

Christmas was lovely.

Indulgent, remote, much needed winding down time. I got some books for Christmas. This year there was no fashion books, only some truly excellent non-fiction stuff to get me thinking.

The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell. My Mom got this one for me – I don’t know how she knows what I’m into. It’s about how viruses, trends, and ideas get disseminated, and how sometimes that happens with a suddenly with mass momentum. Gladwell presents scenarios of disease, crime waves, and fashion trends and what is similar about these phenomenon. By trying to understand the pattern Gladwell shows examples of how the phenomenon can be encouraged for positive things like spreading ideas. Written in engaging, journalistic style it is a quick, fun read. I will read it again soon I am sure.

The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock, the scientist and writer who came up with the Gaia Hypothesis. My Dad lent me this book. The title is pretty wacked – and a big hint to why this book is fascinating. Lovelock is not afraid to take a controversial stance and push a scientific idea outside of scientific language to get his point across. Gaia describes how life on earth (the biosphere) is a complex yet self-regulating, interconnected system. Lovelock shows how the heavy pressure our population is exerting on those systems. With a candid serious tone, Lovelock chooses his solutions to the situation with the needs of Gaia uppermost, and the necessity of maintaining a populations of 6-8 billion people second. With these priorities his recommendations are at odds with a lot of modern environmentalists as well as scientists and politicians. Lovelock has a compelling argument for nuclear power, doesn’t think much of organic farming, and deplores initiatives for wind, solar, and biofuels as misguided.

Whether you agree with Lovelock or not I think the Gaia idea is one of the most important ones I’ve read in my short life. Lovelock is a thinking man akin to famous big-thinkers like Galileo and Newton. Few modern scientists take such a broad view of such a vast subject. Trying to explain these ideas to an unready and resistant population is challenging, Lovelock also writes about that. There is a level of the Hypothesis which is very conducive to the imagination. Whether it’s the overtones of religion, or the dramatics of science fiction, it turns on the mind like no other scientific argument I’ve ever read.

A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright. I listened to this when it was on the radio in 2004. Now it’s out in book form. Either way it is an amazing story. Wright, like Lovelock, tackles a broad subject (the development and life cycles of civilization) as a compelling narrative. Not to be missed is the best take on the Easter Island history I have ever read.

Wright traces the origins of civilization from its most ancient advances, through the rise and fall of empires, all in a small volume of lectures. The lectures consider what circumstances are favourable for civilizations; and what contributes to a civilizations decline. The symptoms of the end are chilling; a spike in population and prosperity followed by a shortage of resources. Leaders and populations cling to ideology and avoid facing the inevitable. Energies are directed towards war and faith. At first the poor suffer while the elite build monuments to glory. Then everyone suffers, scatters or dies, leaving behind salty deserts where there was once verdant farmland.

All of these books encourage looking at a larger picture and put me in a thoughtful mode as the year turns over. One thing I have always enjoyed about fashion is trying to identify patterns – looking at the history and trying to guess what will tip next. Now I am no longer just interested in patterns of dress – the broader picture is beginning to fascinate me just as much as my own small specialty. Looking at the past and the future has never been so intriguing.

What’s going to happen next?

final 2006

Today I joined Wardrobe Remix, the group that one of my favourite style bloggers, Tricia Royal, started. Mostly I just want to lurk and comment, because my outfits don’t really change enough from day to day to warrant much posting. Browsing through everyone’s outfits as the year goes by is quite addictive.

I liked the idea of taking a snapshot of what I am wearing this winter, and taking a closer look at what my style has become. I don’t remix my wardrobe in the DJ sense, rather I am like an acoustic musician who practices and repeats a small repetoire of favourite songs.

jump 2006
I used to be embarassed by my ignorance about music and the pathetic hodgepodge of not-quite-right clothing I owned. Now I’m finally comfortable with asserting the things that I like, just because I like them. It helps that I now own many of the just-right basic necessities I have always craved. Long time readers will remember my anxieties over my clothing from fashion school and job interview days. Now I am lucky enough to wear many items that make me feel comfortable and confident.

What a year it has been. I finished the last collection and graduated. I took my first ever solo trip ever… to New York where I met beloved bloggers Almost Girl and Verbal Croquis in person. I did a gamut of job interviews with results ranging from gut-wrenching self-sabotage to empty success.

I got some cool freelance opportunities. Getting paid to draw pictures is the bomb. I got a job. An unusual opportunity which I will write more about next year.

After all the giddy highs and dank lows I’ve experienced this year, I now am feeling like I am settling in. The high anxiety/ambition has finally subsided. I feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to go to university for fashion design. I am thrilled to be working in Toronto and doing something that is challenging and positive. I have nice things and good food and wonderful people in my life. Every year gets a little bit better. Next year will too.

It has been a great privilige to share it all with you. The readers of this blog have become great friends and have generously passed along many amazing opportunities. I really appreciate everyone who comes by, links, sends emails and comments. The way virtual connections become real community make blogging very rewarding. Thank you for taking the time to make contact.

Have a terrific Christmas, spend lots of time with the people you love, eat way too much yummy food. I’ll be back next year, and I hope to meet you there.

highly recommended

Hamish Macbeth, a BBC show that ran three seasons from 1995-1997, starring Robert Carlyle at peak hotness…

Image via bbc

This show is even better now than it was back when I watched it on TVO in the nineties. Now I get all the adult bits.

Hamish Macbeth is my favourite kind of male lead, complicated, charismatic, capable and flawed. (Daniel Craig as James Bond hit all those criteria as well – I am a big fan.) The supporting cast is full of fabulously developed characters whose stories interweave intriguingly. There’s a heart-breaking love triangle, comic relief, and the occasional bit of action.

It is well written and tremendously well acted. The scenery is fabulous and the production value is high. I had a huge crush on Hamish Macbeth as a young teenager and I still do. Hamish Macbeth is my all-time favourite television series.


Lately I’ve been away from the blog too much. Preoccupied with working, eating, and sleeping, I don’t seem to have the same kind of energy to post… so things have slowed down a bit. The Technorati link ranking has dropped. It seems a bit quieter around as of late.

I really miss participating though. I am still lurking and watching whenever I have a moment, and bookmarking things that pique my interest.

Some hot and sweet things in internet land at the moment…

Speaking of Technorati, I like looking at the graphs that they post every once in a while.

Alex at Extra Tasty does some fashion [business] forecasting…

I recently discovered one of my reader’s lovely blogs – Wendy at Of(f) the Deep End and I connected over boots and Canadiana… two of my very favourite things.

Food for thought at Crossroads Dispatches, where I click from time to time and sometimes admit it.

Sew Mad links me under “constant inspiration”… gosh. Love the tutorials on quick last-minute gifts and fun with felt that she posted! That inspires me =)

Johanna Ost does lovely, unique illustration which I like browsing through.

This picture is pure hotness… love it. Thank you Fashion Addict Diary.



Finally, it’s official… moving to wordpress is the new black.

archived =>

Recently I was reflecting on how much Blogger sucks… when I couldn’t link to a specific post in the archives of my old blog, the last collection.

Geek marketer Tara Hunt finally made the leap and it obviously felt so good. So I threw down the hammer too. Now everyone can freely navigate and link to whatever they want on this marvellous soapbox generously provided by wordpress.

Someday I’d like to clean up my categories as well.

If you’ve recently started reading, why not check out the archives (Sept 2005 to April 2006) and take a look at my final year at fashion school, the ups and downs of the last collection. It was a very utopian year in my life, where I did nothing but work on my own projects.

I’m a bit distanced from it now so it is becoming a fascinating bit of history to me.

extending my denim

I love my Earnest Sewn Decca jeans, selected with denim-expert assistance from Phil of Coutorture. The only thing that I didn’t like was the artificial fade on them. After a few months of heavy, loving wear, I could see stray bits of warp threads beginning to give. These were baby holes about to turn into giant gashes. Now, I don’t like jeans as much when they have holes. I will patch, if I have to, but ideally I want my denim to stay hole-less and patch-less for as long as possible.

My temporary fix – glue or seam sealer on the baby-holes…


From the back, I steam on some weft-insertion fusible to stabilize the area.


It’s not a final solution. Eventually, I will have to resort to some type of patching, either from the back or if the hole is too big I’ll have to bite the bullet and do an obvious patching job.

It always seems like jeans reach that state of perfection when they’re on the verge of falling apart. I like to prolong that ideal moment as long as possible.

cdn spirit

I am so happy! I have found my parka.
cdn spirit

It’s a CDN Spirit, a Canadian made, down filled parka. It has the perfect side-entry pockets, nice plaid flannel lined hood, inside pocket, long sleeves with snug, soft cuffs. It’s long enough to cover the kidneys but short enough I can get into my pants pockets. I plan on wearing this almost every day in winter. This is the most perfect winter coat I have ever owned.

A good parka is a critical element for a Canadian girl’s wardrobe.

Thus, my urban uniform for winter 2006 – Fluevog Bond-Girl boots, Earnest Sewn jeans, Panasonic headphones, Fossil messenger bag.


Today I made a free range roast chicken, on my own, for the first time. I found a recipe on a friendly local food blog called Once Upon A Feast. My version doesn’t look as nice as the picture but was very tasty.

Fat is really one of my favourite things in a food. I like the skin. I make my butternut squash with lots of butter. I like my %mf high.

I was observing that throughout history there is a varying tolerance for oiliness in fashion. Some periods of history are matte: starched or powdered, structured and formal. Others are shinier; more sensual, more body-conscious… oilier.

I just saw Marie Antoinette which was definitely a matte moment in fashion – powdered faces and powdered hair. (Loved the costumes, the directing, had issues with the acting and portrayal of the queen which may or may not make a boring post).


Then there was the ancient Egyptians – who favoured wearing cakes of scented butter on their hairdos, which would melt, perfumed oil making linen clothing to cling transparently to the body.

As far as the twentieth century goes generally, seventies were oily, eighties and nineties were matte, and I believe now we are at a stage where we are re-embracing oil.

Now, I am by no means a girl who “does my hair” in any sophisticated way, but I was amazed to see a product post where I had actually used the product in question on Almost Girl. It’s basically perfumed linseed oil (comes from flax… the linen plant… I think) which you rub into the ends of your hair to condition them after you wash your hair… replacing some of the oil you just stripped from your hair. It works too, in very small amounts.


The days of “wash rinse repeat” are a thing of the past.

I found this awesome thread on the Fashion Spot about using oil to cleanse the skin. I just tried it and it is very nice. The oil rinsed off remarkably well with the hot water and my face feels smooth and not greasy. It’s nice to try this out on a weekend. I like how simple and contrary it is. Let’s give this internet wisdom a shot – why not?

Peek: oil. What do you think this says about the zeitgeist these days?