A Toronto Transformation

Little Luxuries

Little Luxuries – A Cute Raincoat

Cute black raincoat with hood from Montreal-based company Soia and Kyo

One of the frustrating things about being Canadian (and I expect more and more this is true wherever you live – thanks climate change!) is the amount of weather-based clothing you must own to avoid misery.

Obviously a super-toasty down coat with a hood you can cover everything but your eyeballs in is top of the list of basics.

Then you need boots for trudging through deep snow, and if those aren’t waterproof enough, you’ll need another pair that’s waterproof AND still warm enough to slog through slush. Then you’ll need some kind of spring/summer footwear that won’t make you sweat to death but can also carry you through summer storm puddles without disintegrating or dying your feet a different colour.

Last, but not least, you need a raincoat you can wear when it’s warm enough to go without outerwear, but not so warm that you’d be perfectly happy to remain soaked for the rest of the day in your air-conditioned office.

I went without a proper raincoat for years because I was looking for something very specific: a cute raincoat WITH a hood (SO many rainproof trenchcoats don’t have hoods! Useless!), light enough that I could throw it on for a summer storm, and with enough room to throw a sweater underneath in spring or fall.

And I finally found it! I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me earlier to check out Soia and Kyo, the Montreal-based company that made my beloved winter coat, and they did not disappoint. This little beauty is light and comfortable and has snaps to keep the sleeves rolled up. Most importantly it keeps me from looking like I just washed up from a shipwreck. So while it’s not the most glamorous item of clothing I own (see previous post for example ;)), it certainly feels like a little luxury.

Umbrella, your services are no longer  needed.

Black soia and kyo raincoat with hood

How much of your fashion is weather-determined? Does coveting proper weather-protection clothing mean I am 1000 years old? Let me know in the comments!

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Last-Minute Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Bare English & Co lip balms make a perfectly sweet stocking stuffer

While 2014 has been a year of getting my budget on track and lassoing my idle consumerism (my clothing spending has been limited to a couple of pairs of underwear and socks and a Halloween costume I put together for $20 since I wrote this, btw!), I do love finding little treats for my loved ones this time of year.

As always, my family will probably do some charitable giving in each other’s names. The Stephen Lewis Foundation, the David Suzuki Foundation and of course, my near, dear, Mother Nature Partnership are all worthwhile organizations (that do not discriminate against the LGBT community like the Salvation Army and their ubiquitous bell-ringers), if you’re looking for a way to give back this holiday season, but it’s still fun to have some things to unwrap under the tree on Christmas morning.

Here are a few ideas for those of you who are stumped for stocking stuffers:

Help your pals stay mistletoe-ready year-round with Toronto company Bare English & Co’s Tea-infused vegan lip balms (pictured above). I love their Vanilla Coconut flavour and am obsessed with the way it smells like popcorn jelly bellys (another excellent stocking stuffer)!

David’s Tea has pretty little gift boxes this time of year along with the regular one-off bags of the stuff in case you’re not sure what insanely tasty flavour to choose! I’m partial to the red velvet cake tea myself.

Bananagrams – I remain obsessed with this game. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s like scrabble without all the waiting around. If this doesn’t help me stave off Alzheimer’s, well, I mean, I’ll just continue playing it, because I am bananas about it. Yeah, I said it. Bananas.

In case you need to spike the aforementioned tea with something sweet (say, for example if you needed a little extra courage to attempt to best me at Bananagrams), Quebec’s way-too delicious Sortilège Whiskey Liquer has you covered.

Give the gift of Canadiana with this adorable mounties toque from the Drake General Store

Help your loved one organize the change having a party in the bottom of her purse with a beautiful changepurse from Scout & Catalogue. If you feel the need to also buy her a full-sized clutch in that gorgeous marbled leather, I’m sure she’d stop drooling at least long enough to thank you profusely!

Have a pal who’s trying to lighten their environmental footprint? Lush solid shampoos are a great way to cut down on the amount of plastic packaging in their shower! Oh, and the Godiva one will make them smell scrumptious!

For more last-minute gift ideas check out my 2014 Holiday Gift Guide board on Pinterest, or last year’s Toronto Christmas Gift Guide.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever found in your stocking (or stashed in someone else’s)?


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Little Luxuries – Bite Beauty Matte Creme Lip Crayon

bite beauty matte crème lip crayon cognacCognac, anyone? (Guys, I can’t explain to you how challenging it is for me to hide my toothy grin in photos.)

While I am not generally a full face of makeup kind of woman, I’ve always loved painting my face, and a trick I learned early on, is that even if you have no other makeup on, throwing on a little lipstick can go a long way towards making it look like you’ve put some effort in to your appearance. This is great news for me, because while I choose extra sleep over getting  up early for makeup application every single morning, occasionally a surprise midday meeting makes me wish I had taken a moment to make myself just a smidge spiffier instead of rolling directly out the door from my unmade bed.

bite beauty matte crème lip crayon brandy

Or perhaps a little Brandy? (seriously, trying to smile with no teeth is the most unnatural thing!)

For this reason I like to keep a lipstick or two in my purse at all times. And recently I’ve become obsessed with Toronto company Bite Beauty‘s matte crème lip crayon. Not only does it come in some seriously gorgeous high pigment fall colours, it’s made with edible ingredients, so I don’t have to worry that I’m slowly poisoning myself every time I forget I’m wearing it and devour a falafel.

So far I’ve collected Brandy, Aubergine and Fraise (it’s like My Little Pony all over again!). I’ve also been hoarding samples of Cognac and Truffle while I not-so-patiently wait for my local Sephora to restock them.bite beauty matte crème lip crayon cognac

Portraits: Emma Davidson

“Free at last!!!” – my teeth

Do you guys have any tricks for looking more put together in a pinch? What products are you obsessing over  lately? Tell me all your beauty secrets in the comments!

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Five Shows to Curl Up With This Fall

Shows to Curl Up With This Fall via metamorphocity.com

As much as I love all of my autumn activities, sometimes there’s nothing better on a chilly fall day than curling up on the couch with my latest crochet project and some really good tv.

Borgen – A seriously fantastic Danish series about the complexities of government and the choices politicians face. It manages to be both real and really fascinating. As an added bonus, I expect to start understanding Danish any day now.

The Mindy Project – it never ceases to crack me up. Mindy is hilarious and I really dig Danny Castellano. I’m a sucker for a curmudgeon with a heart of gold.

Orphan Black – This show about human clones is so clever, suspenseful and well-written. It also features my lovely, talented pal Kristian Bruun and the phenomenally gifted Tatiana Maslany, who should win all the awards for her flawless portrayal of multiple characters. Plus it features my lover Toronto, as itself no less!

Utopia – If you’ve ever worked in an office where you dealt with the red tape and stunning inefficiencies of buerocracy or preposterous projects that landed in your lap on the whim of a clueless higher up, this Australian series will have you in stitches.

Top of the Lake – I watched this right after finishing True Detective, and actually liked this mystery/thriller set in New Zealand more. Elizabeth Moss is fantastic and New Zealand makes a gorgeous, fascinating backdrop for the show.

I’m still hanging in there with Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones despite the constant killing off of my favourite characters and I’ve put off starting the new Outlander series, because I really love the books and I REALLY love the books’ male protagonist and I’m worried the series won’t measure up to my own imagining of the stories, but I’ve heard it’s quite good too.

What are you guys watching this fall? Do you have an all-time favourite series?

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What Are You Reading?

Love these "little library" neighbourhood book-sharing arrangements.

Love these little neighbourhood book-sharing arrangements.

When I was little my mom took me to the public library at least twice a month. I brought home stacks upon stacks of books and devoured them like I was absolutely starving for words.

My reading habit exercised my brain and stretched my imagination, it made me more educated and curious and it taught me about grammar and spelling and communication. The books I read taught me how to express myself and most importantly I think they helped to teach me empathy, immersing me in worlds and perspectives I wasn’t likely to encounter in my day-to-day life.

It was no accident that I developed an adoration for books. As well as organizing bi-weekly library trips, my parents read me wonderful books when I was small, and some of my happiest memories are of reciting “If I Ran the Zoo” along with my dad or taking turns reading chapters of Anne of Green Gables out loud with my mom, bribing her to read me just a little bit more by promising to give her a scalp massage.

I’ve always gravitated towards fiction. I love curling up in a comfy nook and jumping into epic adventure, being gripped by the emotion  of a beautifully-written tale.

With so much of my focus being locked on to my health of late, and a bad habit of watching Orphan Black or Game of Thrones or Golden Girls while I do my evening chores (and then getting so engrossed that I burn through multiple episodes before bed, of course), I’d all but forgotten that feeling.

It took implementing a laptop-free long weekend at home with my family and diving into a copy of The Gargoyle, a gorgeous, adventurous story  about enduring love and just plain enduring, by Andrew Davidson to remind me just how great it feels to get totally swept up in a novel and now I can’t get enough.

I’ve got a couple more novels lined up but I need more! I’ve got the GoodReads app, but I’d love some more personal recommendations.

Are you guys reading anything good right now? Or do you have a favourite that you would happily read over and over again to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

Little Luxuries: The Best Top Coat

Seche Vite - The best topcoat I've ever used

Ever since someone gave me a bottle of Little Mermaid peel-off nail polish when I was five years old, I’ve loved painting my nails.

It’s admittedly kind of a silly habit, and I’m not thrilled about the environmentally unfriendly aspect of nail colour, but I have always had a tough time resisting pretty polish.

Unfortunately, while I’m not a bad hand with a nail brush, my home manicures only ever look good for a day or two, maximum, regardless of the quality of the polish I use.

Or at least that was the case before I finally picked up a bottle of Seche Vite top coat last week on a friend’s recommendation.

Whatever mad French scientists came up with this stuff are geniuses! It is, without a doubt, the best top coat I’ve ever used. Not only does it dry quickly, as the name implies, it has actually kept my polish from chipping for a week! Unheard of!

My only complaint is that it doesn’t seem to be carried in my usual beauty supply haunts (Shoppers, Sephora) here in Toronto. It wasn’t until I wandered into a beauty supply outlet that I actually stumbled across it.

Have you guys tried Seche Vite, or do you have another standby top coat in your nail arsenal?

Little Luxuries: Pretty Post-Its

Pretty Post-Its

I may or may not be known around my office for hoarding all of the pink, purple and blue folders and pens from the supply cabinet. There is nary a harsh yellow or traffic-cone-orange highlighter to be seen on my desk.

It may be silly and shallow, but having pretty, co-ordinated colours to keep my files and notes organized somehow perks me up and makes me more excited to do otherwise fairly dull parts of my job, similarly to how buying myself flowers often motivates me to clean my apartment.

This week I motivated myself with the little luxury of these sweet, springy floral sticky notes from Peter Pauper Press, Inc.

They’re almost too pretty to use!

Do you guys gussy up your work spaces or do you like to keep it simple and professional?

Little Luxuries – Phone Finery


So guys, I recently discovered this thing called an “iPhone.”

I’d been clinging to my blackberry for dear life for YEARS, in part from a sense of loyalty to a local company and in part because I really liked the buttons. Oh, and also in part because I just couldn’t quite justify spending the money on a new phone when I had a functioning (well, for the most part. The trackpad stopped working about two years ago, but I worked around it) one already.

Even when my brother told me his pal was getting rid of one and didn’t even want any money for it, I didn’t immediately jump at the chance to upgrade. I was suspicious about its origins, and you know what they say about things that seem too good to be true.

But when everything checked out with the ie number, I decided to give it a shot (while holding on to my treasured BlackBerry, and its sweet little buttons just in case.

I am SO glad I did. I can’t remember being this excited about a toy since I was five and Santa brought me PJ Sparkles for Christmas (her hairbow and all her jewellery lit up!). It’s just so much faster and smarter and guys, the apps! Did you know about the apps?


And, since I don’t trust myself to not drop this new-found gem of mine in a show of epic clumsiness one of these days (neither does my brother, he threatened to take it back if I didn’t have a case for it by the next time he came to the city), I decided to treat it to the little luxury of a cute spring jacket, courtesy of Rifle Paper Co.

I already loved their distinct floral designs that I’d seen on stationery, cards, and calendars, so I was thrilled to learn that they made oh-so-pretty iPhone cases as well.

Before I settled on this one, I also had a grand old time scouring the internet for the prettiest cases in the land. You can check them out on Pinterest, here.

What do you guys use to help protect your phones from smashing to smithereens? Do you care about wrapping them in something pretty, or are you more about the function? Let me know in the comments!

Little Luxuries – A Garden

forget me nots

I grew up in a house with a slightly wild, definitely beautiful garden. Some of the first words I spoke as a baby were the names of plants and flowers (and animal sounds). I used to love make believing I was living off the land. Munching on fresh rhubarb and blackerries, currents and chives, as I tromped around the backyard looking for fairies.

I have yet to finagle myself into an apartment with access to a proper garden, but am lucky enough to have the luxury of a sunny balcony I can grow a few things on in the summer months (ah summer months, remember those? I’m not totally sure I do. I’m starting to feel like Jon Snow on that damned wall of his lately).

I’m not the greatest green thumb. In fact I own possibly the saddest looking ficus anyone has ever seen, BUT I absolutely love growing fresh herbs and lettuces (I tried tomatoes but the squirrels and raccoons stole every single one) and cannot wait to get my hands back into some sun-warmed soil to plant delicious and fragrant basil and rosemary and dill this spring!

Do you guys grow anything? And do any of you know how to keep a ficus from looking like it has mange? Let me know in the comments!



Little Luxuries – Sustainable Suds

Hand in Hand soaps - for every bar purchased, a bar and one month of clean water is donated to an orphan in Haiti.

Hand in Hand is an expensive brand as far as bars of soap go.

But these beautiful, fragrant bars do a lot more than just froth up into a luxurious lather in your at-home spa (cough- bathtub-cough).

For every fair trade bar purchased, Hand in Hand soap donates a bar and one month of clean water to an orphan in Haiti.

I mean, come on.

And as if that weren’t enough, their soaps are cruelty-free and environmentally friendly, with ingredients ethically harvested from sustainable resources.

They first caught my eye because of their oh-so-pretty packaging, and I thought they’d make lovely little host/hostess gifts the next time I go and stay with someone, but I couldn’t resist opening one up to try it myself, and I loved it! It lathered up so nicely I could use it to shave my legs, and it didn’t dry out my skin, which is always a challenge with solid soaps for me.

So I’d definitely call this little luxury a win-win.

And speaking of winning, today is the final day to get your comments and tweets in to win a pair of last week’s little luxuries feature: beautiful studs from Moonlight for Violet!

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