Holiday magic c/o Rain Hair Salon

Besides the obvious great things about holidays, such as presents, family time and delicious food, one of my favourite things about the holidays are fancy holiday parties.  I rarely get the chance to get dolled up for anything, which is why I loved clubbing when I was younger.  Now that I'm er, getting up in age, I don't find myself squishing into a tight dress and heels as often, so I have even less chances to pull out the makeup and glitter.  That's why I love glitzy Christmas parties as they're great opportunities to dress up and eat free food!

This year, I got to attend 3 Christmas parties: my offices', Mr. Artist's and my good friend Sheila's work event.  While I've definitely got the clothes and makeup part down, one part of glamming up I'm a total dunce with is hair.  My hair is super slippery and resists any sort of tie, curling, or pin without my bombing it with heat, or chemicals, or both. Usually I resort  to doing nothing with my hair, or curling it with my flat iron, but up-dos? Definitely a very rare thing, which is why I was delighted when I got the offer by Vancouver salon, Rain Hair Salon to rescue me from my holiday hair doldrums for Sheila's party.

Located near the famous Granville Island, Rain Hair Salon offers professional styling for affordable prices. Besides getting your hair did, Rain also offers clothing and accessories by Gentle Fawn, Matt & Nat, and Alternative Apparel, and an extensive selection of Bumble & Bumble hair products, which they use exclusively.

For this party, I knew the setting was "dress formal,"  so I wanted to opt for something elegant and pretty.  I took to Pinterest for inspiration and decided to try out a messy French twist as pictured below (top half):

I arrived at Rain on a particularly rainy Vancouver afternoon where the salon was positively buzzing with activity and was whisked away by my stylist Crystal.  I highly recommend booking with Crystal as she was super friendly and helpful, chatting with me about each step of the process, so that I felt like I got an education as well as a hair-do!  Plus, this girl has got some seriously gorgeous red hair.  So jealous.

In order to force my hair into submission, Crystal had to add some serious texture.  Firstly, she curled my hair all over and then rubbed in some texturizing Bumble & Bumble Surf spray and some Bumble & Bumble brown hair powder (dry shampoo) before back-combing the hell out of it all, resulting in this:

Then, she magically whipped it all into a sleek twist, pinning it from top to bottom, resulting in this:

Unbelievably, this only took her 45 minutes.  45 MINUTES.  Crystal assures me that it's possible for me to do this on my own, but I think we all know that after 45 minutes I'd probably just end up surrounded by bent bobby pins, frizzy hair and sobbing on my bathroom floor.

Anyhoo, after throwing on a dress, some jewelry and agonizing over shoes, the end result was this:

Thank you to Crystal, Donovan and Rain Hair Salon for the unforgettable perfect up-do! 

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Aritzia dreaming

Hallo, I'm back from the holidays! My Christmas this year was filled with lots of family time and food as always.  I was only visiting at my parent's house for a couple days, so I mostly spent it at home helping my mom cook and reading through her extensive recipe collection while eating copious amounts of shortbread.  A New Years diet is definitely on my horizon! Unfortunately, I'm not off to a good start as my days since coming back home have been spent with Mr. Artist eating way too much pasta and Japanese BBQ.  And copious amounts of shortbread.

Assuming that I manage to stay the same clothing size, I should hopefully be able to find something to purchase with the nifty Aritzia gift card I received this Christmas.  Aritzia is one of my favourite stores that I rarely purchase from, seeing as how I can never get over how their $100+ average pricing is supposed to be "affordable."  Get over yourself Aritzia.  Charging me $55 for a scrap of fabric that you call a "bra-lette," but which is made to support the boobs of an 11 year old?  Plus, your consistent "sale section" consisting of items that are *gasp* $5 off?!  However do I resist thee. 

Anyways, despite my crone-ish complaining about Aritzia, I always shamelessly drag Mr. Artist inside and love every Aritzia item I own.  Yep, I'm a shameless hypocrite, so help me figure out what I should buy with my gift card!

Lately, I've been mulling over the idea of buying pants that are not denim, nor leggings.  What can I say, I guess I'm growing up!  These Wilfred Casbah pants have that stylish sweatpant look that favour it for anything from tanks and cardys on weekends, to patterned blouses for evenings and the price isn't bad either for $54.99!  Alternately though, the T. Babaton Callum pants have a similar silhouette, but are made of a chicer silk crepe material for $80.

The second possibility is this comfy Wilfred Bistro Cardigan.  Although I already own a long heather gray boyfriend cardigan, a pink/black cardigan, a black cardigan, a grey sweater cardigan, a navy cardigan and a purple cardigan, I don't have a dark grey cardigan, so this is a perfectly legit option.  Right???

Finally, the third option I'm pondering is another blouse.  I've been obsessed with sheer and silky blouses this year as they're great work and play options that always make you look put together.  Plus, they look great under CARDIGANS (yes, I'm obsessed).  This T. Babaton Bergen blouse is made of silk georgette that has that perfect drapey fit I'm in love with and comes in a variety of colors.  I'm pondering either the black, or lake (emerald green) shades, but neither photograph very well, so I posted up this lovely creamy nude option.

Which do you think I should go for?

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Livin in a hamster paradise...

This compilation article of the 25 funniest auto-correct fails of 2012 is so funny that you should not read this at work unless you are either alone, or your coworkers already think you're sane.  Since I think mine probably already think I'm a little "different" I had to refrain from continuing to read after almost snorting coffee through my noise reading the above.

And I'm quite sad that nobody has posted a parody video of Coolio's Gangster Paradise featuring hamsters. If anyone creates, or finds one, hook a girl up!

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What's for dinner: Miso garlic chicken pasta

I think it's actually been a month since I made this recipe! See blog, this is how much I've neglected you *hug* but I think it's finally time to post this one.  I'm stupidly quite proud of this recipe because it's not just my usual tweaking of real recipes, but an honest-to-god made up one I just threw together one night!

Ad-libbing is the best part of cooking imo and probably why I haven't been super into baking yet - that, and I don't own a mixer (product review people???).  Also, baking doesn't entirely scream healthy living to me, although I wholeheartedly believe that baked goods are an essential part of life and happiness.

Anyways, you are probably wondering what I'm babbling on about.  Below is the finished product of my experimentation:

So how did I make this?

It all started with miso.  I had made miso dressings, but I wanted to know - could I make a miso pasta sauce??  Yes, yes you can.

To do this, you'll need:

  • 4 medium sized tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1.5 large chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1/2 packet of whole wheat spaghetti (bonus HP!)
  • parmesan, to taste
  • 2 tbsp miso
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tsp mirin, or you could use sugar, to taste
  • lemon juice

Cook the pasta to desired texture in a pot of boiling, generously salted water.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the miso, S&P, olive oil, and mirin.  Stir vigoursly.  A fork or whisk would be ideal here, but I used a spoon just fine.  Stir till you get the consistency above and taste.  Add more miso if you want it saltier; more sugar or mirin if you want it more sweet.  You could even add some dashes of lemon juice for extra zing!  The mixture is entirely up to you.

In a saucepan, cook the chicken until it's a nice golden color, usually around 5-7 minutes. Put aside.

When the pasta is done, drain and set aside.  Then throw the garlic and onions into the pot along with a teeny bit of oil (make sure your pot is dry inside first, or else you will send off a storm of oil spitting up at you!).  Once the onions are browned, throw in the tomatoes and cook until their juices are just beginning to ooze out.  Now comes the fun part.  Turn off your stove and throw in your pasta, chicken and the sauce and toss it all together.  Sprinkle with as much parmesan as necessary and then add a bunch more.  Eat.

Serves: well, I was eating this for lunch and dinner over a week, so I would say at least a couple dinners for 2, it really depends on how much pasta you like

Time: 45 mins

Happy eating!

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Blanche Macdonald Grad Fashion Show 2012

A few weeks ago, I was invited to check out this year's grad fashion show for the design graduates from local fashion and beauty school, Blanche Macdonald.  I was excited to accept the invitation as it's great chance to check out the new talent coming out of this great city.  

The event was hosted at the Atelier campus downtown and featured a full-length runway and a very stylish audience.  Most of the designs were quite wearable and featured some interesting shapes.  Although the materials used weren't exactly the best quality, Sheila, who attended with me, said that she had heard that the designers were given a budget, so that was understandable.  I thought overall that the graduates did a nice job and I enjoyed it much more than the last Vancouver Fashion Week I attended.

Here are the highlights below:

Designer: Sandy Shen 

Designer: Paula Dee Janes 

Designer: Leah Evans 

Designer: Josephine Li 

Designer: Michelle Hardy 

Designer: Colleen Shneebeli 

Designer: Tammy Lim 

 Designer: Katy Baldock

Designer: Jena Lewis 

Designer: Ann Der

All photos taken by me

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#365outfit Challenge Weeks 42-44

Leather shorts: Bedo | Sweatshirt: c/o Uranium | Bag: Kate Spade | Booties: Kenneth Cole Reaction 

Sweater: Calvin Klein | Pants: McQ | Shoes: American Apparel 

Flats: Steve Madden | Cardigan: boyfriend's | Dress: H&M 

Blouse: TopShop | Pants: H&M 

Sweater: H&M | Jeans: William Rast | Booties: Urban Outfitters | Pearls: gifted | Necklace: c/o Uranium 

Sweater: Aritzia | Skirt: Zara | Bracelet: Pandora 

 Silk blouse: Club Monaco | Pants: TopShop

Sweatshirt, skirt: Aritzia 

Leopard cardigan: Macy's | Sapphire bracelet: c/o 

Sweater coat: gifted | Boots: Hugh Puppies | Bracelets: gifted | Sweater: TopShop

... and I'm back and it feels so good!  Thank you everyone for your comments on my blog dilemma.  I think the little 2 week break was good for me to rethink stuff and figure out my blog issues.  I think I still am learning that it's ok to take blog breaks and not be obsessed with growing my blog.  My blog is not my job.  My blog is supposed to be an outlet for me, to enjoy my creative side and to meet like-minded people.  I love sharing my thoughts and love for fashion, but that doesn't mean I have to be tied to my computer all day!  I think this will have to be my mantra going forward.

Anyways, I ended up deleting my old blog.  I wasn't willing to pay for storage, but I couldn't figure out how to migrate my posts AND its images to another online location.  I did however find a nifty solution!  Blogbooker is a free site that lets you convert your blog (text + images) into a pdf FOR FREE!  It was like Christmas come early for me, as nerdy as that sounds.  Simply export your blog, then upload the resulting XML and your blog url to the site and in a few minutes, voila! Instant blog book with table of contents and all images ready for printing or just electronic viewing.  3+ years of my life, condensed into a 2200+ page pdf.  It almost feels cleansing to have it all condensed and archived now.  Maybe one day if I'm REALLY REALLY bored, I'll even read through it :)

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End of the road?

If you've noticed a lack of posts from me the last week, it's because I've been pondering a little problem I've been having.  I've hit my limit - my google photo limit that is.  You see, this blog and my previous blog are on the same account and that account only gets 1GB of free storage.  Since I rarely use Picasa to upload photos, I can safely assume that all of that 1GB is going toward blog photos.  Hard to believe, right?!  Well, until I figure out what to do, I can't post any more images and therefore my blog posts will be rather more text filled than usual.

To resolve my uploading issues I have a few possible options:

  1. Buy storage.  Although it's only $2.50/month for the smallest storage package and arguably more worth it than my yearly $20-something fee that I pay for unlimited Flickr storage, I somehow feel like this is the least desirable option. 
  2. Migrate Just J to a new blog platform.  This has some major disadvantages, namely setting up an entirely new blog, which takes a lot of time and probable frustration.  
  3. Delete my old blog.  My old blog is where the majority of my photos come from, so deleting that should presumably free me back up for new posts.  Minimal effort, but probably maximum emotional pain.
Option 3 seems like the logical and easiest solution, but I find myself hesitating a lot.  How can I kill off something that I worked on for 3 years?  Sure, the images that I took personally I'll always have, but it's more about the post writing that I'm loathe to let go of.  I exported my blog, but the export format only seems to export the text into an XML format which doesn't leave it in a very readable state.  Also, without the accompanying images, the posts are missing its heart.  

Moving from that old blog to this one was like a fresh start, similar to getting a new haircut.  Deleting my old blog feels more like deciding to take a photo of that designer purse you saved up months for and then selling it for $5 to the next person you pass on the street.  Sure, you'll have that photo, but we know that's not the same.

I went through so much while on that blog: changing cities, travelling countries, changing jobs, careers, relationships, friends.  That blog is probably how many of you found me now.  Perhaps I'm being overly sentimental and it really is time to just rip off that bandaid.  Who knows.  I've been searching for a sign to kick me into some decision on what I want to do with blogging and writing in general.  Maybe this is it? 

I'll keep you posted readers.  In the meantime, I'd love to hear your take, so leave me a comment!

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#365outfit Challenge Week 41

Sweater: H&M | Leggings: Costco | Converse: gifted | Faux leather jacket: Le Chateau | Purse: Michael Kors 

Top: Zara | Shirt: Forever 21 | Leather shorts: Bedo 

Sweater: Winners | Skirt: vintage | Cardigan: Zara

Pardon the lack of any mentally stimulating week analysis.  I just spent the day madly working on a school assignment due tonight and am feeling rather frustrated about how it turned out.  Vague instructions are maddening as is the inability of having anyone available to ask for clarification.  How were your weekends

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Which dress is best?

Readers, I'm in a bit of a pickle.  My office has announced that our Christmas party will be Mad Men themed and while part of me is jumping with glee to dress up for such a glamorous party theme, another part of me is mentally flipping through my closet exclaiming "What to wear?!"

If you're like me and have never watched the show, you may be rather mystified on what Mad Men style is.  Apparently it's all about 60s glamour, but more of the glam Old Hollywood and boy's club kind, not the hippie-dippie kind that came to dominance as the decade wore on.  After some casual research, I've concluded that Mad Men style is amazing.  It's all about A-line dresses, bright, bold patterns, kitten heels (comfortable heels!), pearls, red lipstick and hourglass figures.  I've been a life-long fan of Mad Men style and didn't even know it!  I've always had a thing for vintage fashion, but had never really incorporated many retro items into my closet, so I'm eager for this excuse to expand my closet.  

Unfortunately it can be hard to find the right style of dress in stores, so I turned to the internet where many of my vintage finds have come from.  I knew that Modcloth had to hold the answer to my prayers and I wasn't wrong.  Easily enough, I found numerous adorable 60s style finds.  Somehow, I narrowed the results down to these two:

Option 1: The Last Slow Dance Dress, $54.99
Pros: gorgeous green color, beautifully pleated A-line skirt and cute cut-outs on the chest and back.  This dress has a versatile style that could easily be layered over and worn during the day.
Cons: the cut-outs mean no necklaces to accessorize with.

Option 2: The Plein Air Painting dress, $52.99
Pros: beautiful floral print, a sleek silky material, and a figure-flattering silhouette. The skirt is narrower than option 1, making it a bit easier to wear beyond the party and it is also a bit fancier.
Cons: not retro looking enough?

I still am going to try hitting up a couple shops this week check out my other options, but if nothing local shows up, which one of these retro beauties do you think I should wear?

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#365outfit Challenge Week 40

Dress: Topshop | Brogues: American Apparel | Cardigan: The Gap | Purse: Michael Kor 

Tee: Felix Berytus | Pants: McQ by Alexander McQueen  

Cardigan: stolen from bf | Scarf: gifted, handmade by Angela | Denim: William Rast | Necklace: Front & Co.

Something fantastic happened this weekend - the clocks turned back an hour!  That meant an extra hour of much needed sleep!  It's a good thing too as I fight off the first signs of a cold.  I cannot believe it's November already and 2012 is almost over.  The end of the year is a great time to reflect and reevaluate.   Unfortunately it's also one of the busiest times of the year!  Lately I've been thinking about what defines me.  That sounds really deep, but really it's quite a simple question: when someone asks you to tell them about yourself, what do you say?  How would you describe yourself?  In the past, I definitely knew what I could say and described myself in terms of the things I enjoy and am passionate about: yoga, writing, self-professed social media addict, etc.  However, are these things still what I feel passionate about?  I suppose I feel that I've been doing the same things for awhile now and for whatever reason that kinda bothers me.  Change is in the air I think for 2013.  I just haven't decided what that means yet.

Anyone else having these thoughts?

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Needing some lunch inspiration? Try bento!

The weather lately has been pretty depressing, and with all the dark days and nights, it can just lead you towards a rapid slide into fatty, uninspired eating.  I'm definitely guilty of this already as I've been slacking off on my workout routine and opting for convenient foods, rather than healthy foods.

To get myself inspired to put more thought into my meals, I've been checking out some bento food blogs.  You may be familiar with bento boxes at Japanese restaurants with their neat compartmentalized meals, but in bento food blogs, it involves the artful presentation of food into small, transportable containers.  What's so interesting about bento is just how a little thought when piling in something as humble as leftovers, can really elevate a humble tupperware meal into something more.  Packing your lunch this way might take more time, for sure, but it also is a healthy, more economical option for lunch.

Many bentos you'll see online, and on Instagram, feature cookie-cutter vegetables and rice balls made to resemble Sanrio characters, but today I want to focus on bentos that are more realistic for the "lazy" cooks.  Here are a few inspirations I found online for simple looking bento arrangements:

Elevate a simple sandwich by taking advantage of its colorful layers of meat, cheese and veggie by slicking in half and exposing its side.  Throw in some color contrasting vegetables and you'll have a nice snack as well!

Color and texture seem to be big factors in creating great bento.  Varied colors of vegetables look great, while also providing the best variety of nutrients too!  Cutting everything into interesting shapes and angles also helps increase the visual appeal while helping to pack in more food.

Most people won't want to have to go buy special lacquer boxes with individual compartments for their bentos, but you really don't need to.  Simple arrange your food into sections and ensure contrasting colors are adjacent.  Another tip, pickled items like radishes, carrots, and pickles add a tasty crunch and fun color, as seen in the example above.

I haven't tried doing any of these myself, but they seem rather simple and just require you to remember to arrange your food items in a more thoughtful manner, rather than just slapping it all in like I know I usually do!

Are you intrigued to try bento?

All images courtesy of Adventures in Bento making

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Felix Berytus - Reppin' Vancouver style

 Awhile back, I was introduced to Vancouver t-shirt line, Felix Berytus.  Owner and designer Abdallah El Chami produces the limited run shirts and in-between his day job and studies, he tirelessly works on his line. A die-hard Vancouverite, Chami's vision for his brand is to be "the brand that represents creative wear in Vancouver, BC." It's a tall order in a crowded market, but I think Chami has a couple advantages over his competition.

For one thing, this guy's been designing since he was 19! His first run of shirts sold out and each additional line has been super popular. Secondly, his shirts are high quality and straddle the line of appealing to both men and women. Case in point, the shirt that Chami gifted to me!

This super-cute teddy bear shirt comes in a wide range of sizes. Here I'm wearing the S which fits both me and my boyfriend. On me, the shirt is about pyjama shirt length, but on him it fits just right, falling at the hips.

The cotton is comfortably soft and all Felix Berytus shirts are pretty affordable, costing you only $25-35 a pop. While I could see myself wearing this shirt occasionally and definitely as lounge-wear, I have to admit it's not really something I would normally pick out for myself.  If I were still super into my graphic tee phase, then yes I'd be all over it, but at this point in my life, I feel a little sartorially beyond it as a normal thing in my wardrobe rotation.  Mr. Artist however is a big fan, so who knows, it could grow on me and I just may steal it back!

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#365outfit Challenge Week 39

Top: Zara | Pants: H&M | Boots: Aldo | Bag: Michael Kors | Vest: Gap 

Sweater: BDG | Pants: McQ by Alexander McQueen | Watch: Invicta 

Cardigan: Calvin Klein | necklace: gifted | Belt: H&M | Dress: Gap

Some past outfits from when the weather was more decent. I've definitely decided that cold, but sunny is much preferable to the current rain.  Today I watched the craziness that was Sandy on the news.  It's devastating to see the extent of the damage, even in the heart of New York City.  I'm not religious so I can't really say I send prayers to all those affected, but I definitely hope that power is restored soon and people make it through intact.

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#365outfit Challenge Week 38

Chambray: Forever 21 | Leggings: Costco | Espadrilles: Aldo | Sweater jacket: Urban Outfitters

 Tee: Club Monaco | Skirt: Aritzia | Cardigan: Urban Outfitters

Scarf: c/o Plenty | Cardigan: gifted, Front & Co. | Jeans: William Rast | TOMS | Bag: Kate Spade 

Dress: Macy's | Boots: Kenneth Cole Reaction | Purse: Aldo

Sorry for the super dark photo in the last shot.  What with the sun setting earlier and earlier, I'm finding it harder to take outfit photos!  This past week I was out of town for a work conference, which made it really hard to take outfit photos, but luckily I've been really lazy and can post up these previous weeks photos.  FYI, Travelodges have TERRIBLE lighting.  It's really too bad because I was actually wearing nice business casual outfits those days, but somehow I doubt either my fellow conference attendees or my coworkers would have found it very cool to take an outfit photo.  Narcissistic much?  Once again, I wish I could pack a photographer boyfriend into my suitcase for travel ;)

In other news, if you're looking for a super last minute halloween costume, I highly recommend checking out  Not only do they have a humongous collection ranging from cute to skanky (including these adorable fairy costumes) for men and women, they are also offering express FREE shipping and 10% off right now!  I got mine off the site and it arrived very promptly and fit perfectly.  Be sure to carefully read the costume reviews on fit and length as it definitely helped me choose an appropriate fit.  What are you hoping to dress up as for Halloween?

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