Barbie Girl

80s Barbie Dress // We So Thrifty

80s Barbie Dress // We So Thrifty

80s Barbie Dress // We So Thrifty

80s Barbie Dress // We So Thrifty

When I shared this dress straight from the thrift store change room on Instagram, I said it made me feel like I “walked out of the Barbie colouring book I had when I was eight.” I’m happy to report that, upon wearing this dress in the wild, that is still 100% true. In fact, I’m now beginning to suspect this dress has magical Take On Me properties, and when I wear it, the world itself becomes a Barbie colouring book.

I wore this dress to a birthday dinner out on the Hamilton waterfront. While the food was only OK, the atmosphere was incredible—the sun setting on the choppy water, the boats bobbing like birds off in the distance, the warm summer breeze that we all dream about for 9 months out of the year—just the best. After dinner, we took a stroll along the bay, and with each step, a new page of Barbie’s California Dream Colouring Book came to life. There was a roller rink, an ice cream shop, an assortment of adorable dogs, an old-timey trolley giving tours, and if that’s not enough, seniors and hipsters alike chillin’ on the hillside, taking in a free jazz performance (I’d also wager that AT LEAST one of the dudes on the water from the nearby Hamilton Yacht Club is named Ken).

barbiecoloringbook02And because the internet is a blessed-wonderful-nostalgia-giving machine, YOU TOO can relive the joy of a Barbie Colouring Book. Just click on that happy quartet of waspy teens to the left to make all your California dreams come true. (h/t to this blog for the scan!)

Since I can’t wear this dress every day, I think I’ll dust off the ol’ Laurentian pencil crayons and give this page a whirl. Just hoping I’ve still got the crazy skills on display in this photo:

L to R: Adele, Me, Robyn, and Laura, who is too cool to colour, and would rather play with an actual Barbie.

Dress: Salvation Army | $6
Shoes: Payless | $25
Sunglasses: The Edit | $15

The Dog Days are Over

Vintage gingham + seafoam // We So Thrifty

Summer's end // We So Thrifty

Vintage gingham + seafoam // We So Thrifty

Picnic wear // We So Thrifty

Picnic basket // We So Thrifty

Oh, nuts.

I’ve been trying very, very hard to deny the arrival of fall. Usually I’m all “BRING ON THE PUMPKIN FLAVOURED SCARECROW LEAVES!” or something, but for some reason, I can’t muster up the usual cinnamon spiced-enthusiasm. But I think I’m going to have to board the hay ride sooner rather than later, because as I view the photos posted above, I can’t deny the “final days of summer” vibe they’re giving me.

The context largely contributes to that . Yen snapped these photos at a picnic in the park two weeks back. She prepared some Korean sushi, and we brought along our Matts for the final Seven Sundays concert in Gage Park. She knew this was the last chance we’d have to sit in front of that gorgeous seafoam band shell (colour-coordination accidental!), and I now have to admit that it was probably my last picnic of the year. The roses will keep wilting, the sun will set earlier and earlier, and the nights will soon call for sweaters instead of vintage gingham.  Don’t get me wrong: if we do encounter a mid-October heat wave, I’ll break out the cut-offs and margarita mix like it’s July 31, but warm nights like the one in these photos will soon be a rarity rather than the norm.

Since I’ve come to terms with summer’s inevitable demise, I’m glad that I big adieu to it in the right way: I can hardly think of a more “YAY PICNIC! YAY SUMMER!” outfit than the one I’m wearing. I picked up this (reversible) gingham top from New Olds on James Street for $10, this skirt is the summeriest of colours, and I finally got to use this way-too-cute picnic basket my Mom thrifted years ago. It’s like I conducted a mini-purge of my most-summeriest items.

So long, sweet summer. I totally get why Dashboard Confessional got all emo about you. Sing us out, boys.

Vintage gingham // We So Thrifty

Roses are pink // We So Thrifty

Top: New Olds | $10
Skirt: Salvation Army | $5.99
Shoes: Salvation Army | $3.99
Basket: Mom

Coming Soon To A Blog Near You

Sunny & Sheer // We So Thrifty

If you follow me on any other medium (Twitter, Facebook, traditional stalking), you’ll know that last Saturday, the ever-wonderful Jentine and I spent the day with several other pretty ladies: these UHMAZING vintage beauties from the loveliest shop in Hamilton, White Elephant. The girls over at White Elephant are gearing up for one of my favourite events of the year, the “To the Nines” vintage dress sale. In order to spread the word, and get all of you a little more aquatinted with the incredible selection that will be on display (and for sale!) next weekend, Yen and I got to live the dream in these dresses for a few short hours, and fall in love with vintage all over again. We’ll both be posting full spreads tomorrow, but in here’s a little sneak peak while you wait!

Small Stores, Big Scarves



I’m coming very close to the end of my year-long Mall fast, and I’ve already talked, at length, about the continued appreciation it’s given me for thrift stores. In addition to fostering my love for all things second-hand, it’s also increased my appreciation for local and independent retail vendors. You’d think, given the fact that both my parents are small-business owners, this appreciation wouldn’t need any fostering. After all, those very parents run a second-hand bookstore (White Rabbit Books), and Mom also co-manages a family flower/gift shop that my Opa and Oma started years ago (Vanderburgh Flowers and Gifts). But when your parents do something, it can sometimes stop seeming important or cool, because they’re your parents, and they’ve done it all their lives. But this Christmas brought it all back home again.

While this outfit is comprised almost entirely of thrifted items ($5.99 skirt, $4.99 shirt from Salvation Army, $0.75 Ralph Lauren belt from Bibles for Missions), the real star in this ensemble is my technicolour dream scarf. This scarf was a gifted to me by Mom, and available from Vanderburgh’s.




This scarf, combined with my own experience in shopping for Christmas gifts, is a shout-out for shopping local and independent. As I set out to do some gift shopping for the recipients on my list, I was prepared to suspend my Mall-ban. If any of my Secret-Santa draws wanted something that could only be found the Mall, I would have fought the crowds and made the trip. Lucky for me, no one placed any such item on their wish list. Thus, my 6’8 Dad received a new sweater from Gilbert’s, a Hamilton retail landmark; my friend’s new babe is now decked out in an adorable ensemble from Mon Petite Chou down the road; my Mom-in-law received some goodies from Ten Thousand Villages, and other aromatic soaps and such from Vanderburgh’s.

While I did pick up a few items from large chains like Best Buy and Marshall’s, those trips highlighted how much more enjoyable my small-shopping was by comparison. When you shop at smaller, independent stores, you’ll often meet the owner of the business, which means they’re excited about what they’re selling you. They have a personal, vested interest in your satisfaction, because that’s what keeps their business afloat. They’re people like my Mom and Dad, who are basically the best ever. I realize this is starting to veer into Preach-ville, so I’ll wrap it up with this: you get nicer stuff and meet nicer people. If that’s not enough to entice you, take a good long look at my scarf: it has reindeer on it, you guys.


On Christmas, I discovered that my secret Santas followed a similar shopping pattern. I came home with a beautiful throw, new reads, and the cutest salt n’ pepper shaker of all time, all from independent retailers (Oh! I also finally got some Tom’s, and they feel like slippers you can wear in public, which is what I’ve always wanted in shoes).

That overly-jubilant expression in the last photo is largely attributed to the post-holiday sugar high from too many treats. But when the snacks run out, and I inevitably crash, I’ll have my rainbow scarf to get me back out in the snow, like an excited golden retriever. Or reindeer.

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!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Alright, before you can say it: I know I jumped the gun a little on this outfit. It’s too early for sailor shorts and sleeveless tops.This is an outfit better suited for a July long weekend with a humidex of 41 degrees celcius (sorry American friends, I keep my temperatures Canadian). But when I saw the 26 degree forecast for Thursday, there was no stopping me. Plus, my recently thrifted blouse ($4.99) and Guess flats ($7.99) went so well with my not-so-recently thrifted shorts ($11.99) it would be a crime not put them all together ASAP.

Anyways, this is the kind of outfit that makes me want to get involved in some rollicking 1960s summer adventure. Maybe with a bike, some soda from a glass bottle, and at least three other quirky companions (and yes, I am describing Now & Then). While I’m too old for seances in the graveyard and stuffing my bra with pudding (the bras do that for you now!) that doesn’t mean I can’t get up to a few little adventures of my own.

Not long after we took these photos, I stuffed that leather backpack full of wine and tostitos, and took a walk down the street to my friend Sandra’s for an impromptu potluck. It was lovely. Spring and Summer not only bring back sailor shorts and tank tops, but patios and evening walks as well. It brings the city of Hamilton back to life. While Hamilton possesses a different sort of beauty in the winter,  the warmer months are so much more conducive to urban living. I feel as though I can finally take full advantage of this little city once again!

My friends and and family will tell you I’m quite the advocate for Steel City. Since committing to Hamilton a few years ago, it gives me new reasons to sing it’s praises every day. It’s a welcoming and inspiring community to be a part of. Since you can’t all partake in my tostito and merlot adventures, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favourite Hamilton-based blogs to paint a picture of why I can’t wait to get outside again. Together, they perfectly illustrate the diverse and creative people that make Hamilton a city worth exploring.

Love it a lot: If you google “Hamilton” after reading this post, you’ll undoubtedly come across articles on the transformation of James Street North. To make a long story offensively short, in the early 2000s, artists from all over the map flocked to James Street North due to an abundance of cheap studio space. That influx was the catalyst for a district renewal. James Street is now the home of Hamilton’s monthly Art Crawl, the yearly Super Crawl festival, and many unique and creative independent businesses. White Elephant, for example, is a “delicately curated handmade and vintage shop”, and the ladies behind this store are the bloggers behind  Love it a lot. This blog not only gives you a sneak peak into the store, but provides glimpses into the lives of these ladies, and the beauty they encounter in this city. Plus, they are hosting a vintage dress sale next week. Weee!

Beaux Mondes: Hamilton rarely looks more stylish than when it’s behind the lens of these two. Seriously. They paint an incredible picture of the city. They’re very selective in their focus, writing only about the things that truly inspire them. Their elegant photography and diverse mix of people, products, and places create a sophisticated magazine of Hamilton life.

Crackers: Whenever I get all high-and-mighty about giving up the mall, I head over toCrackers, and it totally cuts me back down to size. This blog tells the tale of a Hamilton-area family who broke up with the Super Market, which is way more work. It reminds me that the walk to Hamilton’s Farmers’ Market is one I need to make more often.

My Edit: I’m sure all my readers have heard of Jentine before. She’s the thrift-champion of the world! She also happens to live not ten minutes away from me. Jen not only proves that you can dress fabulously without leaving the city, but if you look past her stylish ways, you’ll noticed the diversity and beauty in her outfit photo locations. Her blog is a a portfolio of stylish looks and Hamilton locales. Plus, I’ve met her in person – and she’s all kinds of awesome. She’s also a landscaper, so she’s paid to make this city more beautiful.

Love Elycia: If people Like Elycia call Hamilton home, how can it not be amazing? Elycia is crafty and quirky, and her blog is a testament to her creative and colourful outlook on life. It’s a journal of all the little adventures she has every day. She’s artistic, industrious, and incredibly funny. And she loves cats as much as I do. Hamilton is lucky to have her.

While this isn’t a comprehensive list, I hope it’s given you a small taste of the city I love. This is a city worth exploring, with or without a bike and some soda pop. I’ve already far exceeded my self-imposed word count on this bog, so here are a few more #HamOnt blogs to check out:

Happening Hamilton: A blog about culture and community in Hamilton | Spotted Gazette: A Hamilton Photo and DIY Blog  | Needlework: The blog of a boutique fabric shop on James North | The Beehhive: An urban craft collective out of Hamilton | This Must Be the Place: A blog from a girl who fell in love with Hamilton

If you’re in Hamilton, I look forward to more adventures with you this summer. If you’re not, I hope you take the chance to look around your city or town, and learn to love your home as much as I do mine. Happy travels!


Nautical | Everybody, Everywear