Friday, 30 March 2012

how Bold are you?

Colour. It is so powerful. Colour can re-energize you when you feel worn out. It can make you feel beautiful & confident when you are feeling low.  In fashion and interior design, it is a wonderful tool for self expression.

Think about the colours that make YOU happy.  If you are more on the feminine side, you may be drawn to soft pastels like rose and mint. Or, if you are spirited and daring, you might like vibrant pinks and bold reds. If you are a more grounded person, you might find yourself drawn to chocolate browns and deeper shades of green.  No matter what you are attracted to, try surrounding yourself with the colours that reflect who you are.  Go on and give it a try!

Here are some fun colour combinations that may inspire you.

SJP in pink and red
mint & peach
Rachel Roy
electric blue & yellow
blue & green
bold bathroom
Wishing you a colourful weekend!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

French Onion Soup

I just loved the weather we had last week. High temperatures, warm winds, beautiful sunny days. However, I am not surprised or upset with the fact that we are now experiencing the typical seasonal chill.
This just means that I can still whip up some body-warming soup. Yay!

There are many reasons why I love to make french onion soup. It's fairly simple, inexpensive to make and who doesn't love a soup that has wine or port (or both!) in it.  Top it off with bread and cheese and it really is drool worthy.

Now everyone has their own version of french onion soup. I have been making this one for several years with slight variations each time, and it is always a hit.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

French Onion Soup Recipe

6 cups of beef stock
3tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1tbsp of unsalted butter
6 onions, thinly sliced
1/2 bulb of garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
4tbsp basil
1tbsp pepper
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1tbsp brown sugar
1tsp chipotle hot sauce
1.5oz port
2oz white wine
2tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1- Heat stock and keep warm on the back burner.  
Heat olive oil and butter in a soup pot and stir in onions and salt. Saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and lightly golden. Ad minced garlic, basil, chill flakes, pepper, & chipotle sauce. Continue to sauté until the onions are broken down completely and are a deep golden brown.  Deglaze the the pan with the port - let the alcohol burn off - then add the white wine. Finally add the Worcestershire sauce. Reduce until it's syrupy.

2- Add stock to soup. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Taste and season with more salt or pepper.

ready for the port & wine


Monday, 26 March 2012

Break the Cycle

Most of the time when we shop for clothing, we are instantly drawn to certain items, colours and styles. Unfortunately, most women don't choose the right ones. Which may leave you with some great pieces, but these pieces probably just hang in your closet.  They are constantly tried on. Manipulated. But no matter what, they just don't seem to work.

Here are the reasons:
1) It's too big or too small
2) It's the wrong colour for your skin tone
2) It doesn't work for your body type

Let's break the cycle!

1)  Ok ladies. My number one rule (and I am a women with very few rules) is you have to try it on before you buy it! I know that for some of you this is a no-brainer. But believe me, I hear a lot of "oh, I didn't have time to try it on".  These items then are still hanging in closets with tags on. With many thoughts of being returned, but ultimately these pieces accept their fate as closet fillers - and this, whether you are aware of it or not, becomes a closet burden. Bottom line: it's a waste of money and energy. So please, try before you buy!

My second rule is buy items that fit your body NOW. Not "when I lose weight", or "in case I put the weight back on". Again, this is just a waste of time, money and energy.

2)  As for colour, when I work with clients, I know just by looking at them and by a series of questions, what colours suit them best.  If you really look at yourself in the mirror when getting dressed or trying things on, you can see what colours work and which ones don't.

Here's an exercise for you to do at home. Go to your closet and pick out something that you really love and that fits you well, but for some reason, it just doesn't 'feel' right. And then pick out something that you know looks great and it's a colour you always feel good in.  I bet that the reason the first item doesn't work has to do with it's colour. Really take a look at the difference between the two. When wearing a colour that suits your skin tone, you will look fresh and vibrant. The colours that don't compliment your skin tone will make your skin look dull and yellow.    
For more info on colours, click here. 

3) Not sure what your body type is? You are not alone. There are different categories with varying names: pear or bell shape and inverted triangle or martini glass shape. It sounds pretty complicated and to make things worse, you can be a mix of two of them!  When choosing clothing, dress your body by accentuating the areas that you LOVE, and camouflage areas that you would like to minimize.

See if you know the answers to the following questions. If you are not sure, send me an email and I'd be happy to tell you.

Question #1: I have heavier arms. Which sleeves are my best option?

banana republic

Question #2: I have heavier thighs, which jean would suit me best?

Question #3: I have a boyish shape. Which dress will give me the illusion of curves?


Question #4: I want to create the illusion of a fuller bust. Which blouse is best?


Question #5: I want to minimize my bust and make my torso look longer. Which blazer is better for me?



Question #6: I want to hide the extra weight around my tummy. Which shirt is my best option?


Next time you go shopping or you are sorting through your wardrobe, keep these tips in mind. When you open your closet to get dressed, you should be faced with items that you love, that fit, that work with your lifestyle and your body type.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Welcoming Spring

The beautiful weather has once again lured us outside and of course, led us on another family adventure.  We spent time by the water, had fun with friends and toured the Toronto Zoo.

Even though the water was pretty cold - the girls still wanted to go in.
Colleen with baby Hannah

I'm never one to show up empty handed, so I whipped up some yummy guacamole. Here is the recipe. Enjoy!

2 ripe avocados
1/4 finely chopped Spanish onion
1/2 jalapeño pepper
1 tbsp cilantro
lemon juice
lime juice
salt & pepper
1/2 chopped tomato (remove seeds)

Cut avocados in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avocado from the peel, put in a mixing bowl.
Using a fork, mash the avocado. Add the chopped onion, cilantro, lime & lemon, salt and pepper and mash some more. (season to taste)
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready.
Just before serving, add the chopped tomato.

Friday, 16 March 2012

spring trends

The arrival of the new season means the arrival of new trends. It's hard to escape since every store stocks  up on their interpretation of what was found on the runways.  Never fear, I am here to let you know how to navigate the latest trends.

 This post is meant to help out with trying to tie in what's in the stores to what you currently have in your wardrobe.  If you always struggle with trying to keep up with the trends you may be left with a wardrobe that is a mish-mash of styles, left with items that you don't love, and left with items that you have no idea how to wear, or what to wear them with.  The following are the most wearable trends of the season.

The bright bold colours that are everywhere right now -  as we transition from winter to spring - can be down right scary. Especially to those who find comfort in wearing black. Spring is the perfect time to wake up your wardrobe with eye-catching hues.  If you really want to break out and make a statement, then have fun mixing bold colours together.  If you want to be a bit more low-key, try introducing one or two bold items in the form of accessories (scarf, belt, purse, shoes, bangles). Easy enough, right?

Sports inspired separates are also key players this season.  This is great news for us comfort queens, however, this doesn't mean that you should ditch your jeans for your oversized sweatpants.  The look is still tailored and fitted with touches of mesh, stripes and zippers. Drawstring pants (yay! comfort), anorak jackets and gym-bag sized totes are all winners this spring. If you don't want to be last at the finish line, try something as simple as wearing a striped sweater over a blouse, with shorts and stylish runners. For those who want to be first off the blocks (sorry had to do it!) try paring drawstring pants with a structured blazer.

Pulling off prints can be tricky so remember first to keep the shape simple. When wearing prints scale is important - you don’t want to look insignificant or overpowered. Ground the print by choosing one colour from within the print as an accent. To make this trend your own, try incorporating it into one piece of clothing at a time. This will ensure your personal style remains the primary focus and not the bold print. If prints still freak you out a little, simply try a floral skirt with a plain tank or go for a blouse with a monochromatic print.

Black and white is and always will be, a classic and sophisticated a colour combo, and most of us will have no problem finding items in our closet already. To keep it new add a fresh accent colour, like aqua or fuchsia. Experiment with fun prints, proportions or textures to keep your look interesting and unpredictable. Crisp black and white is a trend that is easy to incorporate into your daily life. Consider a two-toned dress, a black and white skirt or a simply a black & white striped scarf.

Something to remember: colour is a powerful tool in the development of a strong sense of personal style. It gets you noticed, it refreshes, highlights, stimulates and re-vamps a tired wardrobe. This season, let your favourite shade(s) really stand out by combining it with neutrals. And when in doubt, start small with one colourful item – and build from there.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

leaving footprints

Signs of spring are everywhere. It's hard not to get excited when the sun is shining and the breeze blows warmer winds. It's a wonderful time to get outside, welcome the sun, and reconnect. Reconnect with nature, reconnect with one another. That's what we did over the weekend.

We packed our blankets, packed a picnic lunch and set out to explore. We decided to try a conservation park that we had not been to before. Something new for us to discover - together.  We could tell that the girls we really looking forward to it. And they even packed their own backpacks to take along.

The drive was longer than we all expected or really wanted. But I think the fact that the sun was shining so brightly keeping Gertrude (our car, named by Ryan) a perfect temperature, that we were all just enjoying the ride.

Once we arrived at #2 Depot lake, we found a table by the water and right in the sun.  The girls sat happily, enjoying the snacks. We sat happily, enjoying the moment.  Our walk, although short, was perfect. The cool breeze was rejuvenating. The sound of the flowing water was restorative.  Our time together was invaluable.  Sometimes we leave footprints of where we have been. And sometimes, these memories leave footprints on us.

a Mink ran by right after I snapped this picture

Although the footprints we left in the snow won't last, they will however, be remembered.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Spiral into Control

Having a functional wardrobe means more than just having items in your closet that you love, that fit your lifestyle, and that suit your body type.  It is also crucial to have a system. An organizational system.  Some of my clients like to colour coordinate, some separate into tops/skirts/pants, while others keep their work clothes and casual clothes separated. Which ever method you choose, being able to see what you have and knowing what you have is key.

If you don't have the time or the know-how, Karyn can help.  Karyn Beacock is a trained professional organizer and owner of Spiral into Control.  The following are tips she has shared in order to help you take control of your closet.

Did you know that we only wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time?

Spring is just around the corner and the perfect time to tackle organization of your closet. But before you can organize you must PURGE! But you say to yourself, “there are so many clothes-how do I know what to get rid of?”

To start, clear your schedule for the day, and set a goal to work through your closet until your spring purge is complete.
STEP 1- Clear out your entire closet, find a good space to work in. Look at each piece individually. Really look at it. Try it on if you need to. And then answer these questions. If the answer if yes, it is time for the piece to go!

· Is it ripped, torn or stained?
· Does it the not fit the way that you want it to right NOW?
· Do you feel less that fantastic in it?
· Have you been holding on to it since 1989?

STEP 2- Sort into categories. Be ruthless as you go through your clothes and in what you decide to do with them. It is important at this point to think about what your image is, what image do you want to project? Now is the time to make choices on your clothes which enforce this.

· Keep- These are the pieces that you feel amazing in, they are the classic pieces. These are the clothes that flatter & complement your figure and that you LOVE!
· Mend- These are the pieces that, if they were not ripped, you would be worn rather than sitting in a pile at the bottom of your closet. If they make the cut bring them in to be repaired. Every girl needs a good seamstress.
Donate/Give Away -Do you have a favourite charity. Do you have a cause close to your heart. There are not for profit organizations throughout Cananda who would be very greatful for the clothes you no longer wear (from 1989 or otherwise).Checkout for a charity near you. Alternatively, do you have a sibling, a younger cousin who would benefit from your hand me downs?
· Sell It- For those who have the patience and talent, Ebay and Kijiji are great places to make money for quality pieces. Also, consignment stores are another great alternative, and they do the work for you.
· Throw Away-These are the pieces that are non salvageable. These are the pieces that are too far gone that it would be tacky to send them to donations. Make them into rags, if you are handy make a quilt but put them out of their misery now and do not pass them onto someone to have to deal with.

**Anything that you love and meets the “keep” criteria but it is out of season put away in storage for the appropriate season**

Once you have sorted through your closet there is one more trick to help with the closet purge. It is called the “Reverse Hanger Trick”

· As you place your clothes turn all hangers in the closet backwards
· When you wear something, wash it and then put the hanger forward
· After 6 months, anything left reversed is donated!

Spiral into Control - Professional Organizing Services focuses on Home, Office & Lifestyle organizing. Spiral into Control works with clients to provide and implement solutions for organized living. Working together to create order from chaos gives my clients more time to do the things they want to do!
Spiral Into Control is a member of the Professional Organizers in Canada. For more information or to get in touch with Karyn, check out

Sorting through and organizing your wardrobe shouldn't be stressful or time consuming.  It is a process that will leave your closet looking clean and fresh, not to mention your clothes will hang properly, look great and will be ready to wear.

Thanks for the tips Karyn!

Please leave your comments or share any other tips or tricks that you might have.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Felt mask

There are lots of really cool and creative mask inspirations posted all over the internet.  Unfortunately for me I have neither the time or the patience let alone the skill level to make most of them.  But since I still like to think that I'm crafty, I decided to try my hand at a very simple felt mask.  I am not going to offer any kind of tutorial on this but I will supply a list of the materials that I used to create them.  All the uber creative moms out there will let out a 'gaffaw' when/if they see this. And that's fine with me. My limited crafting skills are meant to inspire the not-so-crafty moms who want to make things but are intimidated by all the super experts.  So here we go! Mediocre crafters unite.

2 different coloured felt sheets
2 pipe cleaners
Fabric glue (or thread to sew)
Hole punch

That's it.

can double as an oversized 'stach!

the masked crusader