Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue

Vintage touches // We So Thrifty // photo © Jenna Bos

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

Without realizing it, my sister Adele‘s wedding perfectly executed this age-mantra. Navy bridesmaid dresses took care of the “blue,” and her perfect wedding dress was all “new”. But in keeping with the second-hand theme that gives this blog it’s bearings, I thought it might be fun to share the “borrowed” and “old” details from her big day. Consigned capes, thrifted shoes, vintage bags – all of them came together to create a mood that was timeless and festive.

Vintage stole // We So Thrifty // photo © Jenna Bos

-15 weather meant vintage furs all around. Adele found this beauty of a stole from The Way We Were, and wore a bracelet passed down from my Mom’s side of the family.

Vintage beaded bridal bag // We So Thrifty // photo © Jenna Bos

I scored this beaded handbag  Out of the Past in Hamilton for, like, $10 or something crazy like that.

Thrifted bridal flats // We So Thrifty // photo © Jenna Bos

I also thrifted the bridal shoes from Talize. Yes, I can be hired out as a personal wedding thrifter.

Lacy winter wedding // We So Thrifty // photo © Jenna Bos

Adele’s earrings are from Etsy, mine are from Valu Village – thrifted in haste the day before the wedding!

Vintage furs, bridal party // We So Thrifty // photo © Jenna Bos

OK, it was too cold to actually wear any of the vintage furs we sourced outside, but hotdamn, we worked them inside. From left to right: borrowed from Yen; bought from Valu Village; bought from The Way We Were; rented from Revolving Closet in Hamilton; borrowed from Terri.

Wedding chalkboard // We So Thrifty // photo © Jenna Bos

My Mom-in-law let us borrow this beautiful repurposed chalkboard frame for the guestbook table. She sells all sorts of refinished vintage over over at About Time Vintage.

View More: http://jennabos.pass.us/gallogly2013

While scouring the region for product for their used book store (White Rabbit Books), my parents came across piles of the cheesiest, prettiest retro romance novels you’ve ever seen. Guests got the couple to kiss by finding a steamy passage, and replacing the characters’ names with the bride and groom. Hilarity ensued!

_

Want more of this wedding? I also blogged about it (with even more photos) on my design blog. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: It’s a good thing I wasn’t a blogger when I got married, because I would have driven you all crazy.  One more very important factoid: All these photos are by the fabulous Jenna Bos! Who should really just add an extra “s” to her name, because she’s a total boss.

Rainy Day Women

Maxi dress + denim jacket // We So Thrifty

Maxi dress + denim jacket // We So Thrifty

Maxi dress + denim jacket // We So Thrifty

Antique jewellery + denim jacket // We So Thrifty

I haven’t blogged in a while, but that’s a good thing. If I had kept up with a 1-2 entries per week schedule, this would be the third entry that features this maxi.  I scored this Rachel Pally dress at the Salvation Army 4/$15 sale a few weeks ago, and I’ve worn it preeeeeetty much everyday. I wear it on the weekends, I wear it on the weeknights, I’ve worn it to church, I’ve worn it to the grocery store. It is, apparently, the one item my closet was missing, and now my closet is still technically missing it because it’s on my body all the time.

This dress is just another reason why I love thrift shopping. Had I ever heard of Rachel Pally before? No. Would I have? Not likely. But am I grateful to know there exists a woman who has devoted her life to making comfort stylish? Yes, yes I am. Now that I  have a chic maxi dress supplier, all I need is for someone to make cheese sticks healthy and I will no longer want in life.

My enthusiasm over this dress is obvious. So why did I take so long to put it on the blog? Eh, mostly because wearing a tent of jersey makes me want to eat those unhealthy cheese sticks and watch TV. But also because every time I’ve worn it out of the house, it’s rained. Not just piddly-widdly rain: pouring, constant, ain’t-no-outfit-photos-happening-today, rain. Now that this entry has finally come together, though, I hope you’ll agree it was worth the wait.

The first time I attempted outfit photos in this maxi was a few weeks ago at a massive antique fair with Yen. It rained so hard, though, all I got was a lousy selfie. HOWEVER, that rainy-day excursion resulted in the two lovely necklaces you see me wearing today, bought from a soaked antique vendor for $5 each. So, it’s a good thing I waited.

The second time I wore this dress out with the intention of an outfit post was, again, with Yen for a little vintage shopping in Hamilton’s International Village. I wore my two new necklaces from our previous outing, and brought an umbrella. The rain came, and didn’t leave, but we were able to take shelter long enough to get some photos.

…And we had company.

Right before we started snapping, Yen noticed a poor little squirrel who had also decided to take refuge under the bus terminal, but had grossly overestimated his tight-rope abilities. Friends, I have taken a lot of photos in my day, but I don’t think I’m over-stating it when I say this is one of my best.

jessesquirrel2

jessesquirrel

LOOK AT HIM! HE’S SOOOO CUTE! AND HE LOOKS SO SILLY!

Real talk: all the junk I wrote in this post previously was just to get to this point. This baby squirrel is adorable. I don’t know what his name is but I hope he’s ok. You see, just as Yen heroically grabbed the bag that housed her new (and poofy) vintage purchase to soften his inevitable fall, his little hands (claws?) slipped off the wire and he took a tumble. He missed Yen’s makeshift landing pad by a couple of feet, and scampered off to a corner where he basically just hyperventilated to himself until the weird blonde ladies left him alone. Before we headed back out into the rain, he was feeling good enough to growl at us, which we took as a good sign. I promised Yen he would be OK, and she claims she hasn’t gone back to look for him yet, but I have my doubts.

Funny, huh? When I started this post it was all “quality comfort maxi dresses hooray!” and then it took a crazy twist and now you’re reading about a tight-rope walking squirrel. Who saw that coming? This entry has more twist and turns than next week’s Breaking Bad finale. And now I’m talking about Breaking Bad! Man. Who knows what’s next? Open forum.

Before things get further out of hand (claw?), let’s recap this route of the crazy train and call it a day. Maxi dresses, especially when thrifted, are nice. Rain is not so nice, but rain might lead you to antique necklaces and adorable squirrel photos, and that adorable squirrel might go through some tough times but we all hope he’ll be OK in the end, just like…JESSE PINKMAN.

…I think my squirrel friend has a name now.

Maxi dress + denim jacket // We So Thrifty

Antique jewellery + denim jacket // We So Thrifty

Dress: Salvation Army | $3.75
Necklaces: Christie’s Antique Fair, $5 each
Purse: Talize | $7
Jacket: Talize | $12.99
Shoes: Talize | I forget.

Into the Woods

 

woods

Friends, a few weeks ago, Yen and I had some fun in the woods, and I like the pictures too much to confine them to the 580 pixel limit of this blog. So, I posted a full spread over on my design blog (in all their 710-pixel-glory!), as well as a few thoughts on work, play and striking that delicate balance. Have a look, and have yourself a splendid weekend.

 

What We Created Today

Last week, I announced my participation in a contest called “What Will You Create Today?”. I partnered with the lovely and industrious Jentine for a week of shopping, painting, pinning and picture-taking. Today, we’re done creating and ready to show off the fruits of our labour (and maybe, if you’re feeling generous, pander for some votes?).

For our project, we wanted to touch on all the things we love about Ottawa Street in one sophisticated ensemble. We created alook that’s a combination of new, old, and hand-made – which is Ottawa Street in a nutshell. Our search began with a blank canvas: white cotton, ready to be pinned, sewed, and painted. We purchased the fabric from Discount Fabric, and then purchased our fastenings and fabric dye from Fabricland. Next up, we searched through the racks at Revolving Closet, and sourced a vintage black dress, that we would eventually modify into a blouse.

We returned home with our materials, and spent the next few days collecting ideas, assembling pin-boards of our vision, and creating our garments. First, Jentine sewed the skirt, and then we hand-painted it with our fabric dye. This may sound all kinds of cheesy, but this contest sort of re-awakened me to the social benefits of being creative. More often then not, I gather with my friends to eat, drink, and watch The Bachelor. But this time around, we met to sew and paint. There was something so pleasant about sitting Jen’s table, surrounding by fabric, little bowls of dye, paint brushes, and cats, just chatting the hours away.

For the pattern on the skirt, we were inspired by this image: a Hamilton skyline tattoo! We decided that abstractly referencing that skyline on our skirt would be the perfect way to pay homage to our great city. We also used that skyline as the backdrop for photographing our ensemble. The photo shoot in itself was way too fun. I channeled my inner art-director (sporting my Dior blazer), and insisted Jen spin until she puke (“SPIN FASTER!”). And she delivered! (On the spinning, not the puke). Look at that skirt move. Even if she had puked, it’d be worth it.

The look was finished with a vintage necklace and ring from Antique Avenue for some added sparkle, and a simple clutch from the not-yet opened Orange Tree Boutique (which will be a beautiful space!).

We’re thrilled with the end result, but even beyond the finished product, we loved the opportunity to visit so many of Ottawa Street’s retailers. They were helpful, encouraging, and always friendly. If you feel so inclined, head over here to cast your vote for your favourite blonde-haired duo at entry #4. Obviously, we’d like to be the victors, but we’d love to donate $1000 to the Alzheimer’s Society. You can help us do both. Happy voting!

UPDATE: WE DID IT! Actually, YOU DID IT! All you votes made us the winners of the WWYCT Challenge. THANK YOU!!!

What Will You Create Today?

There are many advantages to the glorious thing that is daylight savings time. For one, on Sunday morning, I read a whole magazine, leisurely sipped my coffee, cleaned my entire washroom, and (most miraculously) made it to church on time. That extra hour is a wonderful, fleeting gift. However, it also means that by the time I depart for home at the end of the day now, it’s dark. So, no more after-work outfit photos for me or you. Instead, the dark and dreary nights of November are ideally suited for evenings indoors, in front of the TV and behind a bowl of soup. Or, even better than an intense Fringe marathon, a project. The birds aren’t tempting us with their pretty chirps, the sun doesn’t beg us to sit under it’s rays. The world is saying get inside, and get creative.


Headshots. We mean business.

And so, this new schedule perfectly coincides with a new after-work project this week. My gal-pal Jentine and I were asked to participate in a contest, put on by the Ottawa Street BIA, entitled “What Will You Create Today?“. The premise is simple: provide a bunch of Hamilton enthusiasts some funds to spend any which way on Ottawa Street; Rack up some votes; Give some money to charity! Awesome, right?

This contest is partly to celebrate the Ottawa Street BIA’s brand new fancy website, and partly to remind the good people of #HamOnt of Ottawa Street’s many charms. For those of you not versed in Hamilton geography, Ottawa Street has long held a reputation as the textile district of the city, and its appeal has only widened in the past decade: It’s now the go-to place for antiquing, and new cafes and restaurants are popping up all the time. It’s a street in the midst of a revival, and I could sing it’s praises all day.

However, talk is cheap. So rather than tell you how great it is, we’re going to show you. Jentine and I spent Saturday morning exploring Ottawa Street. We started with breakfast, we ended with totes full of supplies and heads full ideas. I’ve posted a few sneak peaks below, and you can always follow our progress on twitter with the hash tag #WWYCT, which stands for “What Will You Create Today?” I have to give a shout-out to an instagram follower that speculated it might also stand for “What Would Your Cat Thrift?”, which is absolutely a contest we would enter, and win.

A breakfast of champions at The Cannon.

Our Ottawa Street Muse.

Real-life Pinterest-ing ideas.

Jentine, armed with her “You Can Do Anything in Hamilton” tote, scopes out our fabric options. Appropriate, no?

So, follow along as we aim to create something worthy of our muse. We could alternatively crash and burn in a spectacular fashion as well, which will still make for great viewing. I’ll be sure to update ya’ll when our project is complete, and the polls open. Wish us luck!

Thrift or Treat

Ugh. That was a bad pun, wasn’t it? But sometimes I just can’t help myself. I can’t resist a bad pun, and I can’t resist the opportunity to dress like a maniac and eat tiny chocolate bars. And in this post, you’re going to get a big dose of all those things.

(Note: In this picture I am both eating mini chocolate bars and I look like a maniac)

One of the first posts on this blog featured my 100% thrifted Halloween costumes from 2011. In Halloween season, people who ordinarily resist thrift stores flock to them in droves, like a hoard of decaying zombies to an unsuspecting group around a campfire (sorry, I can’t resist The Walking Dead, either).

I’ll admit, it’s nice to see my thrift stores so full of hustle and bustle, but I also get a little possessive. That said, I fear neither zombie nor man, so I faced down the hoards with a willing determination to thrift a costume worthy of another post. It took a little more time than my average thrift trip, and the end result is a combination of elements from Talize, Valu Village, and the Salvation Army. Since we all know zombies are best taken on with some back up, my sisters Adele and Laura accompanied me in this task. And we all ended up with some pre-tty fantastic Halloween finds.

Last year I went as Cruella de Vil, and had way too much fun making crazy faces and threatening to turn people’s pets into coats. This year, I stayed on theme and selected Medusa, so I could continue to make crazy faces, and threaten to turn people’s pets into stone.

My costume started with this sparkly, cheap little tube dress from Valu Village. I thought the pattern was reminiscent of a snake, plus: SPARKLES. I then found a lovely little snake in the toy section of Talize to use as a necklace, except he was bright orange so I painted him with some more menacing colours. The last addition was this fun vintage bolero from the Salvation Army. It has these great “evil queen” shoulders, and tassels that make noise when I shimmy (and I tend to shimmy a lot on Halloween). I pulled it all together with some green make-up on my face, Dollar Store snakes in my hair, and more bobby pins than I can count, and behold: the wrath of the great and terrible Medusa!

(Also, sorry for the blurry pictures – my Medusa stare must have damaged the lens)

Anyways, onto a different fantastical character. My sister Adele went all Babara Eden and put together a pretty grand genie costume for herself. It started with this hat from Valu Village, which she then ingeniously cut a hole in, so her I Dream of Jeannie ponytail could come straight out the top. She also found herself a cute little lamp from the VV housewares section. I was hoping Robin Williams might pop out and crash our party with song and dance, but alas, he did not. I have to take some credit for this costume too, as I did find her genie pants (which are awesome and billowy and sheer and amazing) and sparkly top!

Haha! She does the Medusa stare better than I do, actually.

Next up, Laura looked adorable as a retro stewardess. She thrifted this cap, painted it blue, attached a wee-little airplane to it, then thrifted the gloves and scarf, and borrowed my navy blazer to pull it all together. I sort of hate her because she looks pretty and I look ridiculous. But I made my choice.

A shout-out to my friend Amie, as well, for her incredible Corpse Bride costume. Tim Burton would be proud! She found this wedding dress at the Salvation Army for $25, and hand-dyed the whole thing her self. Best dressed!

I’m also throwing in a few other instagrams into this post, because A) I used thrifted vases for much of my decor; B) I made lots of food for this party and that almost never happens, so I want proof of this rare occurrence; and C) My pumpkin!

Oh! And I can hardly do a thrifty Halloween post without one more snap shot of my lady friend and thrifter extraordinaire Jentine. Is she not the chicest viking you ever did see?

And that’s all she (or I) wrote for Halloween 2012! I suppose it’s time to start thinking about evil lady costumes for next year: Maleficent? Bellatrix LeStange? Ann Coulter? Shudder. Now that would be scary.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless

I’d like to paint a scene for you: It’s 5:45 pm. Matt is home from work, and so am I. We’re both lazy as all get out, and both have meetings to get to within the hour. What we need is a blissful half-hour of TV-induced relaxation before we are required to turn our brains on again. Our varying tastes leave us with only a handful of mutually-agreeable options. Chief among them? A little show on A&E called Storage Wars.

Storage Wars doesn’t really fit within my carefully curated TV schedule. I can be a little picky (re: pretentious) when it comes to the shows I watch, so I haven’t openly divulged my affinity for this show before. But I think its high-time to put away the pretense, and come clean: I LOVE STORAGE WARS. A&E has somehow managed to craft an entertaining half-hour of television out of a very simple concept: Obnoxious people bidding on stuff. Though it’s a seemingly banal premise, I’ve become attached to this cast of characters. I love Barry; I hate Dave; I want to hand Daryl a towel and a cold glass of water because he always looks so inexplicably sweaty. Basically, I’m a super fan, OK? And I am not ashamed!

So, when a contest showed up on my Facebook minifeed from Tourism Hamilton offering the chance to meet Jarrod and Brandi (of Storage Wars fame) and win a free meal at the Keg, I entered. Truthfully, I’d meet anyone if it was followed by a free meal at the Keg. All I had to do was provide the name of Jarrod and Brandi’s thrift store. I didn’t expect to win, because I never win, but the very next day, I was contacted with some hilariously unexpected information: I WON. What the heck?!

I have to admit that winning the contest was almost more fun than claiming the prize. The Facebook post in which I announced my victory was my most-liked status ever, and confirmed what I already suspected: EVERYBODY WATCHES THIS SHOW. So, let’s all stop pretending we’re better than reality TV, and admit our shameless love for this moderately-entertaining slice of television programming. While we’re at it, let’s also admit our love for Pawn Stars and The Bachelor. Say it with me now: “I love Harrisons both Rick and Chris!” Ahhh, that feels good, doesn’t it?

Not long after the Facebook notifications died down, I got myself to the nearest thrift store. I needed an outfit worthy of dining with some mid-range-reality stars. Obviously, I’ll use any excuse to thrift a new dress, but I also needed something that would kick-start the imaginary conversation Brandi were destined to have. It would go like this:

“Hi Brandi, we’re big fans. You’re pretty.” (And Matt loves you but I wouldn’t say that)
“Aww, thank you! You’re so sweet. I love your dress.”
“Oh thank you! I got it from a thrift store. I knew you of all people would appreciate that.”
“Oh really? Tell me more!” (What? This is a totally realistic conversation)
“Well, I actually have a blog about thrifting. I only wear thrifted clothing, and maybe someday I’ll have my own thrift store.”
“That sounds fascinating. Here is my producer from A&E. He would like to give you your own reality show and follow you around as you thrift and make you a really big star.” (Okay, maybe a little less realistic now….)
“I accept! Will I get a trailer? And will Chumlee be there? What? Wrong network? Oh. No problem. I will get a chubby side kick though, right?”

So there you go. I needed a supreme thrift score because my future as a reality TV star depended on it. Luckily, I found something up to the task at Salvation Army. This Lupis dress is fun, flirty, and more importantly: it fits. Another $7 well spent.

With my big-break dress ready to go, we headed to the Keg for our brush with fame. Brandi and Jarrod arrived 20 minutes later, at which point I was killing myself with laughter. I don’t know why. The whole thing was just totally bizarre. They sat down at a table right behind us, so I was in very close proximately to Jarrod’s big head and Brandi’s big…stilettos (get your mind outta the gutter! Sheesh!). I kept asking Matt to take dorky photos of me à la Tina Fey in Date Night. It was hilarious.

They then called the winners up, two by two, to have our mats (that would eventually hold our photos) signed by the duo. I think this was the “Meet and Greet” portion of the evening, but that’s a bit of a misnomer, as we just said our names to their assistant, who then wrote them down on a sheet of paper, from which Brandi copied onto the mat. Fun fact: Brandi used little hearts instead of dots. Isn’t that the least surprising thing ever?

After that, they called up the winners for photos. I knew this was likely the only interaction we’d have with the couple, so I had to make some sort of moment out of it. We introduced ourselves, and I jokingly apologized to Jarrod for making him feel short. Brandi said he’s used to it. As we readied for the flash, and I asked Jarrod if he’d like to stand on the step behind me. Everybody laughed. Brandi clapped. Jarrod said something like “Awww c’mon!” and good times were had by all. Granted, it didn’t result in any offers for TV shows, but I’m holding out for TLC anyways.

As soon as the photos wrapped, Brandi and Jarrod headed out the door for some other promotional event in Toronto. I then enjoyed one of the more delicious meals I’ve had in some time by shamelessly selecting the most expensive steak on our limited menu. We ended the evening with a fancy coffee and a framed photo our new BFFs.

All in all, it was a brief, odd, and delicious evening, heightened by a cute dress and the generous amounts of bacon bits and blue cheese on my iceberg wedge. I think, though, my favourite tidbit came from our waitress: The first thing Jarrod did upon arrival at the restaurant? Take a big handful of the host desk candies and put them in the pocket of his pants.

Totally shameless.

Back to School

September. Weather cooler, pants longer, days shorter and TV better. There is a shift in the air, and perhaps no more pronounced than in the grand lecture halls and dingy dorm rooms on college campuses all across the globe. Earlier this month, millions of students returned to the college life, trading their crappy summer jobs for crappy 8:00am classes. Some ready to learn, some ready to party, and some ready for both. While everyone feels this shift, I’m observing it at close distance. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a graphic designer at a university, and so I can’t help but relive my own college memories at times like this. Sure, I’ve wandered into the realm of academic nostalgia before on the blog, but September also brings the pangs for the social joys of college life. You know: cheap Corona nights, dorm pranks, crushes that last for approximately one psychology class.

Since most of you don’t find yourselves surrounded by memories off ye ol’ college days, I thought I’d pillage Julie’s College of Pop-Cultural Knowledge once more and let TV do some reminiscing for us. And let’s be honest: TV life is always way more fun than real life.

Always one to dress for the occasion, I’ve prepared for this lecture with some recently thrifted college fashion: this studious vintage mini, a collared shirt, and a chunky belt. I’ve put them with my not-thrifted Oxfords and a bag big enough to hold all the books I read spark notes for. Even if you’re years and miles away from your college days, these shows are bound to make you long for the college experiences you actually had, and the ones you wish you had. Some of them are shows, some just episodes, all fantastically fun portrayals of life within the the post-secondary universe.

Community
Oh gosh, I’ve professed my love for this show on more than one occasion. But any self-respecting list maker (that’s a thing, right?) couldn’t start a college list without it. While this show has veered into broader territory in its later seasons, season 1 is the most delightful look at community college cliches ever. The joys of running the school newspaper, core classes that make your brain cry, electives that no school actually offers, but should. It’s all gold. Plus, I think we can all agree that paintball wars should indeed be mandatory at every university.

Felicity
This show could quite actually be called the opposite of Community. It takes college so seriously. But still, it’s full of glorious young-intellectual angst. It could also be credited with cementing a classic TV rule: that all dorms are SO MUCH NICER than any actual dorm in real life. Extra credit: they taught me how to say “hey“.

The Simpsons: Homer Goes to College
If I need to explain why this episode is classic, I don’t think you should be reading my blog. But in case I do, here you go: Here and here.

Undeclared
Undeclared is to college what Freaks and Geeks is to high school: An awesome, Judd Aptow creation that was tragically cancelled before it’s time. My brief affair with this show began out of the same motivation that got dudes watching 24 – “It’s that kid from Popular Mechanics for Kids!“.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This isn’t a show about college, of course, but two fantastic college episodes are enough to get it on the list. Buffy and the gang would eventually do what most teen shows do: stop going to college after a few months because it’s just too hard to keep it interesting. But two episodes in Buffy Season 4 are some of my favourite bits of college-themed TV. Firstly, episode 4.1 has Buffy completely intimated and lost in her new university surroundings. She even does the classic walk into the wrong classroom and don’t realize it until it’s too late. This wins because I TOTALLY DID THAT. The second must-watch episode is the one with Buffy’s roommate. She labels her food, listens to Cher on repeat, and irons her jeans. Therefore, she’s an evil demon. We’ve all been there in some fashion, right?

I could expand this list to movie territory, but then I’d have to reveal to all of you I haven’t seen Animal House, and I just haven’t worked up a decent enough excuse for that yet. I have seen Old School though, so that’s got to count for something.

If I do ever get around to a Top 5 College Movies list, I have an anecdote ready to go for The Social Network. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the movie, but I did have the privilege of being in college when Facebook launched as a a new, exclusive college thing. At one point, I made the mistake of inviting everyone in my “network” to our Halloween party, and all four of my housemates did the same. The next thing you know, our house is so packed I thought it might explode, our lawn is torn up with tire tracks, a ninja turtle is puking in the hallway, and my housemate and I are outside dealing with a spontaneous visit from the landlord. We did our best to convince him of our upstanding citizenship, while dressed as a vampire and a cheerleader, respectively. Nothing says “responsible” like pom poms and a cape.

And as hard as I’m trying for a college look today, that one will always take the cake. A TV moment if ever I’ve lived one. Give me an “A!”

You say cheese, I say fromage.

Bonjour, mes fidèles lecteurs! See what I did there? I typed “hello, my loyal readers!” into my Google Translate app and voila: French! What’s the reason for my foray into the language of love? This past weekend, Matt and I traveled to la belle province of Quebec for a few days in Montréal. Neither of us had been to the city, and good friends living there coupled with a great deal on Princeline.com made it the ideal location for an extended anniversary weekend.

(Note that I’m going to skip over the apologies for letting this blog suffer in silence as I camped, worked, and ate my way through the rest of the summer, and instead make up for it by packing three entries into one super-sized-mega-entry. Beefy!)

Okay, here we go!

Matt and I arrived in Montréal around 11:00am on Saturday. We split up the drive over Friday and Saturday, so we were granted a long day, and a decent amount of sleep as well. Though we weren’t technically allowed to check in until 3:00pm, I tried my luck at the front desk, and they had a room ready for us. A brief word on our hotel: It was beautiful! Chateau Versailles is a lovely old boutique hotel located just outside the heart of Downtown Montréal, and walking distance to many of the sites on our list. It was so charming – a lovely old building, art all over the walls, and continental breakfast with brie cheese. Win!

Not long after settling into our digs for the weekend, I realized I packed like a bit of a doofus. Granted, I did pack a few easy, comfy dresses, but I also packed way too many complicated outfits: skirts that only work with the right shirt, shirts that only work with the right bra, yadda yadda yadda. I forgot that vacation is about comfort, and, frankly, trying to out-trend Montreal women is a losing battle: they wake up looking chic. Luckily, I rectified that misstep soon into my trip by putting my thrift powers to work. But more on that later!

For our first excursion, I pulled out one of the smarter pieces I packed: my stripey rainbow friend, and off we went. First we strolled through the McGill campus, then some of the residential neighbourhoods nearby: tree-lined streets, full of apartments humming with students moving in and out. I was left with two strong feelings: 1) Why didn’t I go to school in Quebec?! and 2) I want a stoop.

We then arrived on Saint-Laurent Boulevard, in the heart of Montréal’s Plateau district. Such an amazing street! So many unique shops and restaurants, and so much character. I didn’t even bother breaking out my camera, because I just wanted to enjoy the atmosphere. With grumbling tummies, we settled on a place for brunch, and Matt enjoyed the best omelet he had in his whole life: Apple curry, brie, pine nuts, ugh. I actually don’t like talking about it because while my meal was also delicious, I’m still a little jealous.

Not soon after the meal, I found a string of three vintage and thrift shops. Hurrah! They were all adorable, but I found the most luck at the ten-dollar rack. Thrifting: a universal language. I picked up a colourful, comfy cotton sun dress that would right my doofus packing job. You’ll see it a few pics down. We then walked a few streets down to Saint Denis – another lively, colourful street that I could quite happily live on forever and ever and ever.

Feeling quite accomplished, we decided it was time to head back to the hotel and coordinate our trip to see our friends Petra and George. Petra was my design professor back in university, and basically one of the coolest people ever. It also cooled down just enough from me to wear this 60s bell-sleeve dress I thrifted a few weeks ago.

Petra and George live in this fantastic apartment just outside Westmount, on a leafy, quiet street. They are also quite close to St. Joseph’s Oratory, so we spent the afternoon exploring it. What an incredible space! The oratory was constructed in the 1920s, and completed in the 60s, so while it doesn’t have the ornate detailing of, say, Notre Dame, it’s breathtaking in a whole different way. It uses heavier lines, and a bolder, more graphic style. Truly breathtaking!

After working up an appetite in the oratory gardens, we headed back to Petra and George’s, where they spoiled us rotten with olives, martinis, flaky appetizers, grilled salmon, wines both red and white, and the pièce de résistance: dessert pastries from a Parisian baker down the street. Magnifique!

The next morning, we prepped for day two with a continental breakfast of brie, berries, and croissants, and I slipped into my new thrift: this sundress. This dress was a great addition to my vacation wardrobe, namely because it’s slightly oversized, thus allowing me room to gain 25 pounds directly attributed to various kinds of cheese. So I, Matt, and my new sundress headed out to the Montreal Museum of Fine Art.

The main exhibit was a retrospective (the first of its kind!) on pop artist Tom Wesselmann. Readers of my blog will already know I’m a bit of a pop art nut, so this was the perfect addition to our trip. The exhibit spanned decades of Wesselmann’s career and life. I wasn’t nearly as familiar with his work as I am with some of the other artists in the pop art movement, so it was amazing to discover just how innovative he was – he was forever seeking beauty, and explored just about every medium in that pursuit. Wesselmann actually had an itchy relationship with the “pop art” movement. While his aesthetic may be similar to his contemporaries, his intentions were all his own.

For fear of being “that guy”, I kept my camera in its case for most of the exhibit, just breaking out the iPhone once and while.

Following our morning with Tom, we hopped a bus to the Old Port in Montreal. We’d been warned by some that this area is rather touristy, to which we always think “Well, good: we’re tourists.”

The Old Port is just lovely. It’s blocks of picturesque architecture, populated with buskers, merchants and street performers. Soon into our venture, I realized it had been nearly five hours since my last dose of cheese, so we rectified that with a meal at Jardin Nelson. My friend Marlene recommended this restaurant for one main reason: they serve WATERMELON SANGRIA. I was told it would be life-changing, and it was, as I can no longer enjoy regular sangria. Thanks a lot, Marlene. Matt and I both ordered The Nelson Crêpe, and, well, the tweet I wrote mid-meal will tell you I how I felt about it:

With our cheese-metres back up to acceptable levels, we spent a few more hours exploring the area, and decided our last stop would be the Atwater Market to pick up some economical dinner options for later. We landed on a big brick of olive harvarti (which should surprise no one at this point), a baguette, and a cheap bottle of vino from the dépanneur.

We then gave our legs a break for a few hours and watched some bad TV at the hotel (which is somehow always so much better than bad TV a home, am I right?). To cap off the trip, we headed out one more time and ended our evening with a few pints (and cheese sticks – is this becoming a problem?) at a local pub near the hotel. I made the point of changing my outfit once more to justify the extreme over-packing I did. Plus, Labour Day’s alternate title is also “Wear-those-maxi-dresses-you’ve-only-worn-once-this-summer-before-it-gets-too-cold Day.” What, you didn’t know that?

The next morning, we stopped by Petra and George’s once more for a hearty breakfast (and cheesy eggs, obvi), then hit the road. All in all, it was a marvelous weekend. I’d never been the Quebec at all, so at the very least I now feel like a slightly better Canadian. West Coast, you’re next! If you ever get the chance to visit the city, take it. The rich culture and lively energy truly made it feel like a getaway, and I can’t wait to go back.

Oh, one more miscellaneous item: The bathroom of our hotel had THREE mirrored walls. It was like a 90s music video in there (those of you on my Instagram heard that joke already, but too bad. I only have so much original material). Needles to say, gratuitous selfies abounded:

Wait, here’s an original joke: It was like a fun house from a creepy carnival movie montage! Anyway, I am now back to using one lousy mirror every morning, and eating stupid no-name cheddar, AND I can’t get wine from the corner store anymore. Geeez Ontario, what gives?

Confessions in the Chain Store

When I started writing WST back in October, I certainly didn’t think this blog would turn into my own personal (and public) confessional, but wouldn’t you know it – it has. For some reason, I find it very easy to own up to my many sins by confessing them to hundreds of strangers (that means I have something else in common with Usher, in addition to our killer dance moves, of course). So far on WST, I’ve confessed to both cheating on my memory work and cheating in a colouring contest. But both of those crimes were easy to share, as they were committed by a younger Julie. This time, I’m taking it one step further, and confessing a very recent transgression. It starts with this outfit:

 

You’ll see I added a palette to this post. That’s because I originally intended to spit out some nonsense about how I pulled all colours for this outfit from that thrifted necklace I’m wearing, and blah-blah-blah I’m making it work with my new thrifted skirt, and blah-blah-blah lime green is a hard colour. Honestly, I intended to distract you with circles and bright colours so you wouldn’t notice I said nothing about that blue tee I’m wearing.

“Why’s that?” you say. “Why, Julie, wouldn’t you say anything about that blue tee? Surely it’s just another basic find from the t-shirt rack at The Salvation Army? Right? RIGHT?”

Wrong. This tee came from – *dramatic pause* –  Zellers, which is Canada’s version of WalMart, and recently bought out by Target. It’s not thrifted. It’s brand-spankin’ new. And therefore, it broke all the rules I set out here. I’m so ashamed!

For those of you new to the blog, I swore off shopping at malls and big chain stores for a whole year. I skipped right past the half-year mark a few months ago, and on all accounts, the transition has been easy. I don’t miss the mall at all. I’m more satisfied with my closet than I’ve ever been, and I’m saving more moola too. So what gives? Why did I let some boring ol’ blue t-shirt tarnish my perfect record?

No good reason, really. Zellers is on its way to being shuttered for good, and it’s a depressing barrage of clearance signs and flickering neon lights. I had some time to kill before a meeting nearby, so I lingered amongst the poorly organized “everything must go” merchandise. I found nothing, but before I could turn and go, I remembered that I still needed something to wear for a Blue Jays game the next day. So, I shut off my internal monologue, grabbed this four dollar tee, and checked out. And the guilt has plagued me ever since. I’ve even taken to wearing this tee every other day in vain attempts to justify my moment of weakness.

Instagrammed proof of my transgression. You could follow these moments as they happen, you know. Username: julievanhuizen)

The tee, at least, served its function. I wore it (with a thrifted red bandana – does that help?) as the Toronto Blue Jays handily defeated the Tigers (fun fact: baseball is awesome. You just get to drink beer and eat hot dogs and everyone cheers and it’s so exciting!). But back to the confession: Friends: I cheated. I’m sorry about it. I know I may have let you down, but I do think we can work past this, and begin to trust each other again. I’ve come clean, and I’m ready to move on. There are thrift store to pillage and treasure to unearth. So, let’s get to it.

Phew! A weight has been lifted. That feels good! Now it’s time to open up the floor: anything you want to confess, dear readers? Any mild mistakes gnawing away at your guilty conscience? Tell Aunty Julie all about it. I promise I won’t judge, but I might turn your stories into a platinum R&B record. Just bein’ honest.