Going green

As you may know, I am a smoothie lover. Berries, bananas, coconut and all that good stuff. But I have recently decided that green smoothies just might be the way to go. Especially after a long weekend indulging in chocolate and other goodies.

I decided to tread lightly at first, fearing the worst when it came to taste but craving that extra boost of energy. I’m always up for trying something new, but a liquid salad didn’t exactly seem all that appealing.

The first step towards getting to know your green smoothie is by adding spinach to your regular smoothie. I usually add about half a cup, and due to it’s light flavour, you can barely taste the difference. I was perfectly okay with this and have been doing it for a few months now.

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Then I decided it was time to take the plunge. I would go full green for my post work out snack.

Surprisingly enough, it didn’t taste too bad at all. I actually enjoyed it. There are a few tricks to making it a little less bitter and a little more sweet. Here’s what I did.

1. Started with about 1 cup of water in the blender and some fresh lemon juice.

2. Throw in some greens! I used cucumber, red leaf lettuce, spinach, celery, and bok choy. Then blended.

3. After blending this through, I added an apple, some blueberries, 2 cubes of ice, and some chia seeds.

The final step is to enjoy! Of course you can add in a lot more or switch things up.

Other things to try in your green smoothie are bananas, carrots, parsley, cilantro, and kale.

Enjoy!

The plain white tee

I appreciate simplicity, especially when it comes to fashion. I love when I see someone in a great outfit that probably didn’t require a lot of effort. I guess some might just have a natural flair for this, but I think anyone can rock a plain white tee and make it look awesome. I was reminded of this just yesterday while flipping through racks of clothing at The Gap. I stumbled upon a white tee and then my head became filled with ideas.

I would definitely have to say that owning a plain white tee is essential. I really can’t live without it, so I have several, including a long sleeve, a scoop neck, a v-neck, the list goes on. My favourite place to purchase my white tees, if you haven’t already guessed, is The Gap. They are soft, cozy and of great quality. American Apparel comes at a close second, but the fabric just doesn’t quite compare.

So, once you have the plain white tee, you can do a lot with it. However, I am warning you: be careful with that red wine, pasta sauce, etc. If spillage does occur, soak immediately!

So, getting to the good stuff, how does one become simply stylish instead of simply boring in their white tee?

Here are a few suggestions.

1. Mix with a pattern

There is something I love about floral pants and printed skirts/shorts with a plain white tee. It’s cute and easy to put together when in a hurry. I also recently found myself trying on some light patterned pants, and yes, I did in fact purchase them. I was hesitant, as I had been avoiding this trend, but it felt right. Especially if you find a way to wear them that you think suits your style. I would suggest buying a cheaper pair at a store like Forever 21 before splurging on better quality, just in case you change your mind.

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Forever 21

2. Layer it

You were waiting for this moment. I can’t help it, throwing a denim piece over a plain white tee is a favourite option of mine.  This is also a great add on to your patterned lower half, because lets face it, denim only ever enhances. So long as it’s the right wash for your outfit.

I am also a huge fan of vests, especially in the summer time. When it’s just too hot to throw on a cardigan but you want to add something extra, a vest is perfect. Striped, printed, denim, I love them all. So long as they aren’t too boxy. A great place to find vests is at vintage and thrift shops. I have found some of my greatest vests hidden in forgotten corners too many times. For example, I found this gem at Value Village a few years back.

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The layering option also coincides with adding some patterns. I love a white tee with some denim shorts and a plaid button up. You can also dress it up with a blazer.

3. Accessorize 

The best way to make your look a little more girlish, especially when you are dabbling in flannel territory.

Whether its a necklace or some arm candy, it’s a sure way to dress up your outfit. I love longer necklaces and chunky bracelets.

I’m also a big fan of scarves layered over the white tee. If you have ever bought a crazy patterned scarf like I have and then struggled to figure out what to pair it with, this is your solution!

These are just a few ideas that I usually stick to. What are some of your favourite ways to dress up your plain white tee?

M

Easy eats

I love cooking, I really do, but sometimes I just lack the time to put a lot of effort into my meals. Any time I find a way to make something delicious in less time, I get pretty excited.

My latest food obsession combines tuna and avocado, two favourites of mine.

Being pesco-vegetarian, I tend to get most of my protein from legumes. Although I do eat fish, it’s on rare occasion. I could never give up sushi, to be perfectly honest, though.

The other day I had a craving for tuna but wasn’t really feeling the classic tuna and mayo combo. So I switched it up. Instead of mayo, I mashed up my tuna with and avocado, lemon, and some pepper and basil.

Once it’s combined, you can spread onto crackers or make a sandwich. I opted for the sandwich route.

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TRUST

I had the fortune of seeing TRUST last night, a Canadian band from Toronto.  My sister introduced me this past fall and we have both since fallen in love.

Yes, you might notice the music makes you want to brood and probably drink hard liquor, but that’s exactly why I dig it. Something about it reminds me of the 80s, and  if you know me you will know that I happen to love the 80s.  It’s probably something to do with the poppy nature of the beats and the synthesizers. I find myself bobbing around melodically, but there is a serious darkness about the music. I’m sure you have heard of the term “chillwave”, with bands like Toro Y Moi and Washed Out being labeled as such. Well this is considered “Darkwave”, so make of that what you will.

The show was not as packed as I had imagined it would be, but this actually made me feel happy more than anything. I have grown tired of being shoulder to shoulder, so this was a nice break. I actually found I was cold  – this almost never happens, especially at Ritual, where most kids can be found dancing and sweating profusely on a Friday night.

I just caught the tail end of Death Ledger‘s set, which seemed to combine hip hop with heavy bass, hard hitting drums, and a darker demeanor. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The faces of the musicians were shrouded in darkness, the only light coming from the back by the bar and some deep red lighting on stage. This was a theme for the night though.

I really enjoyed ERAAS, a band from New York. The singer’s voice really made me think of Health and Placebo, but he was using his pipes in a different way. Definitely experimental, the songs had great flow and I was mostly mesmerized by the way they would switch up instruments and continue into a new song so gracefully. It wasn’t conventional, but then again I think that’s what makes them so talented. It was raw and not perfected, it made me feel happy.

When TRUST finally appeared on stage, that’s when people finally had the courage to step a little closer to the stage. Before this most were keeping a distance of at least five feet. Of course, the crowd was still small, it was personal, like a house party. Smiling at strangers who felt the same way about being here. It was dark, and Robert Alfons stood above us like a tall shadow. His voice is amazing, I found it strange that it was actually real, but I guess men sometimes have that lucky fortune of having such a huge range of notes they can hit.

There were a lot of colours happening, and the strobe lights came on every so often making us feel like we were living in slow motion. The more they played the more everyone grew more comfortable, swaying turned into full on dancing at long last. Of course, upon hearing the opening of “Heaven” people started to go a little crazier.

The show ended five minutes before midnight. I sensed disappointment it was over but I’m sure their lack of albums might have had to do with this. They did play one new song, though, so this could only be a sign of more good things to come.

Refreshed.

Yes, we did just get a huge snow fall here in Ottawa, but I am still awaiting spring’s arrival and preparing myself in the mean time. I don’t know about you, but all of those gloomy months are hard to get through for me. I need some beauty routines to keep me feeling soft and fresh. There is nothing worse than dry, dull skin in the winter. Yes, most of the time you are covered up, but I still like to pamper myself. It’s refreshing and gives you a little mood boost. Also, it saves you the trouble of sloughing off all misery come April.

Here are a few things I like to keep in my cabinet:

A facial scrub. I’ve been using Clinique exfoliating scrub. This one is different than the seven day scrub because unlike that one, you cannot use this one daily. I only use it about once a week since I have rather sensitive skin.

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I also have been trying out different masks here and there. I am a huge fan of Lush products, and their masks are always fresh. They need to be kept in your fridge, so when you slather it on it’s cold and refreshing. But beware – share with friends or use it up in a few weeks – they expire eventually. But for the price – around $7 for a small pot – it’s totally worth it. My ultimate favourite has been the BB seaweed mask. I have combination skin so it smoothed out my rough patches but didn’t leave my skin feeling too tight and dry.

BB SEAWEED

Cosmetic Warrior was my second favourite. The smell might put you off because it’s packed with garlic, but it’s great for oilier skin or on weeks when you find yourself with a few spots.

As for moisturizing, I’m a Clinique three step system kind of gal. I use their moisturizing gel at night and in the morning. When my face is feeling a tad bit more thirsty I will occasionally use St. Ives Timeless Skin, but only at night.

Moving along to the torso…we so often forget about our legs in the winter. They are still there! Dying to be loved and begging for moisture! I usually use Vitabath moisturizing shower gel. My mother got me hooked on it a couple of years ago. It smells like the ocean, so you almost feel like you’re somewhere that doesn’t involve you stepping out into subzero temperatures. There are other scents you can try, but this one is my tried and true.

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As for post shower moisturizing – my skin has never been too dry, but I usually buy those huge pump bottles of vaseline’s cocoa butter or aloe moisturizer. My feet are another story. I usually end up scraping at them a couple of times a week. I know, gross. But my foot savior has been Burt’s Bees coconut foot creme. This stuff is heavy duty, as in, slather it on, put on thick socks and wait until the sun rises. The results are amazing though.

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And last but certainly not least we will move onto our mane. The wind and the cold love to torture our delicate tresses. I am in a constant battle of not allowing my hair to get too dry. The secret is letting yourself have second day hair, you might be surprised. Of course my thick hair makes this easier, finer hair might be a different story. On days when I’m feeling a little dried out I use a deep conditioner by Joico.

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What are some of your beauty secrets to keeping yourself glowing through the winter months?

M

Fabulous finds: thrifting in Ottawa

One of my favourite things to do when I have a little spare time is to check out the local thrift shops. There’s something magical about the hunt, and it only gets better if you manage to find a great vintage piece. I have learned that in Ottawa, certain shops are better than others. I usually skip on the VV located in St. Laurent and take the long trek south. I am rarely disappointed, so of course the trip is always worth it.

On one of my latest trips, I stumbled upon a few things that I just couldn’t resist. One of my first discoveries was this cute little box. I wasn’t sure what I would use it for, but come on, it’s adorable. I love the colour and all of the little details, especially on the handle.

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Of course my favourite section to browse would have to be sweaters. There’s something about finding a cozy and unique knit that makes me feel less terrible about living in such a cold climate. On this particular day, I must have been having some serious thrifting luck. As I flipped casually through the sweaters looking for one that might suit my fancy, I struck gold. Well, I struck Dior. I actually had to look around and check if anyone else was seeing this. Anyone’s first reaction would be to snap it up, which I did rather quickly.

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I also found a great purse with a little bit of Scottish flair. The accessories area is always full of surprises, ones that may have been hiding in someone’s grandmother’s closet until not too long ago – but we all know that those places are gold mines for awesome vintage finds. So many great scarves to find! That’s one thing I probably don’t need more of, but I just can’t seem to stop.

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Now I am suddenly feeling as though a shopping trip is needed, stat.

There’s also some great vintage shops downtown and in Centretown. My personal favourite is Young Janes, a cute local place you can find on Dalhousie. I wrote an article about this shop last year, actually. It’s definitely one of those places I will think about and dearly miss when I am no longer living in Ottawa. But hey, I’m looking forward to some great finds while abroad! There’s a lot of great hidden gems out there, what are some of your favourite places to thrift?

M