Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Blue Ice

Note to self: Don't allow photography "from below" ever again. Pls. disregard the chins.

This dress doesn't photograph as well as it hangs. Trust me, the adorable mini bubble skirt and exaggerated cowl exact mucho attention from elderly, retired European men and their disapproving wives.

I got it last weekend when camp shopping for M at Dufferin Mall. It was $39.00 at H&M. Seriously, with its beautiful drape, sheeny fabric and rich slate blue colour, it looks like it cost a fortune.

Wait till you see the shoes I wore it with...

Monday, June 29, 2009

White Painters

Photo courtesy of FaceHunter (I love that guy.)

Just so we're clear, if I woke up looking like this one day, I wouldn't exactly complain.

Here's what I love about this outfit:
  • Monochrome is so chic - so elongating!
  • White is so chic - so elongating!
  • Those purple heels are so chic - I think you see where this sentence is going...
You could actually recreate it very easily. Of course, you'd have to walk in those shoes so I suggest you recreate it for an elegant lunch at some be-seen restaurant (the kind with really great food and impeccable service). Doncha know one of our young 'un fashion bloggers is going to write a post on those shoes describing them as "comfortable"! (Ah, youth...)

Oh, I know, someone's going to suggest that wearing all white is hideously impractical and tends to make one seem a bit wan a la "veal sausage link". I really never got the appeal of white jeans (despite years of Liz Hurley being photographed in that garment exclusively) until I tried them for myself.

They truly are FLATTERING (not to be confused with flattening). And I am the palest - though hardly flattest :-) - woman you will ever hope to meet.

My husband took a photo of me in Mtl. wearing my own version of this look - it's not monochrome so it's really only half the look. Whatever. As soon as I can convince him to download the picture, I will post it for y'all.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


It's a hideous day here - damp, cool, raining like a banshee. One of the fringe benefits of recording my every thought in this blog for the last couple of years is that I've come to understand how fully my mood depends on sunshine. This is more than slightly unfortunate given my geographic location.

At any rate, we've just returned from dropping M off at the school bus. She's on her way to camp!

I've spent much of the last decade acting as educator (along with nurturer, protector, disciplinarian, conscience, nag), so it's a table turner what M has taught me today. This little 9 year old just got on a bus with a whole bunch of kids she's never met to go an hour and a half away from home (and keep in mind she gets so carsick that Gravol and bags play a part in every road trip) to see a new location she can barely imagine with no hope of return for 2 weeks. She's never been away from us before (save sleep overs). She's never been to camp. She's such an urban kid that cows and silos are the stuff of movies where spiders talk to pigs and eventually come to an untimely demise.

Talk about defining the spirit of adventure. Every person who's ever undertaken a great risk for a great gain learned that skill through early experience. I'm so hopeful that my baby will be rewarded by some fabulous memories for her courageous leap.

(Now on with the debauchery and dining out!)

Little Buddha

M applies the art of serenity in the garden while her mother freaks about the likelihood of rain

Adorable, if I do say so myself...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Potion Alert

The part of me that believes how one ages is in direct relation to a) genes (first and foremost), b) staying out of the sun and c) spending buckets of money on product is at odds with my underlying suspicion that I'm frittering away disposable income on snake oil plus chemicals to absolutely no effect.

Nonetheless, I am a newly 39-year old woman who wants to retain her sexy, youthful pout for at least as long as Angelina. Enter: NeoStrata Anti-Wrinkle Lip Enhancer. At $36.00, it's only slightly less than a dollar per year of pursing. C'mon, a veritable deal, no?

There are all kinds of rules for wearing it: must apply 3x per day (morning, noon, night), it contains niacin so tingling may occur (though it's a very small amount). (As a daily niacin-taker, I can assure you this has nothing on the real vitamin.) You have to use it up within 60 days or it starts to lose efficacy. Genius on that marketing. It has a fancy, spongy applicator - to make you feel like they've done lots of R&D and you will most certainly get your scientific money's worth.

Has anyone else tried this beauty product? Thoughts or feelings? I'm going to give it 60 days and then I'll report back.

Succulently yours, Kxo

Update: I've been using this for a week now and I LOVE it. I don't know if I'm any poutier or more youthful but it feels great and I sense that I'm poutier and more youthful!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Contingency Plans

AKA isn't it great that I have a nice dining room.

Because Scottie's birthday was the most horrendously wet, miserable, cold late June day in memory. And we've had some doozies the last couple of years.

The downpour abated briefly, at about 6 pm, when (according to every freaking forecast in the land) good weather was supposed to appear. Clinging to the vain hope, I set the table with my new "china" and Scott hung the lanterns with hooks and chain like beautiful chandeliers. Look, I knew it was a long shot. And yet I was beyond pissed when it started pissing with rain again 40 minutes later and I had to reset everything in the house.

That lasted till well after midnight, though I did force everyone to go outside for drinks at about 11 - in the mist - under the guise of fully experiencing the party theme "dining in Algonquin Park". What? The candles weren't snuffed by the damp though everybody's ass got kind of soggy.

Here are a couple of photos of the outdoor tableau:

I promise, we have had some nice natural light back there. Maybe someday I'll capture that on camera...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

(Not So) Clean and Sober - Updated

We're crossing a new frontier at the K.Line household: My baby (aka the 9-year old) will leave for sleep away camp at the end of this week. She'll be away for 13 glorious days and nights, the first 8 of which I'll spend at home on "staycation" (don't you loathe how overused this word is??).

This has been a long time in coming, arguably - um - 9 years, but I've worked particularly proactively over the last year to encourage M, for her sake and mine, to branch out and live freely at art camp. At first, she wasn't so sure. The idea of being in the beauty of nature surrounded by a zillion kids of her own age with swimming was appealing. But the thought of going to a new place without parents made her nervous. The deal breaker (assisted by burgeoning maturity over the last year of school) was learning that, for 2 weeks, she'd have a good shot at scoring more than one dessert after dinner and avoiding showers - plus no parental nagging! That, I'm happy to say, cinched it entirely.

Many parent bloggers (the mommy bloggers and the rest of us who just happen to blog and have kids) have posted recently about their melancholy feelings re: the encroaching maturity of their tiny tots. This, my friends, is not the tale you'll hear from me. I could not be more thrilled about M's independence, about her urge to find freedom in new experience, about the freakin' time away from parenting that I will enjoy while she's away enjoying camp.

This is the longest in a decade (let's include the joy of pregnancy for the purposes of this post) that I'll have gone without being responsible for the care and feeding and watering and nagging of my precious child. I don't have parents close by who can help me on a regular (or even semi-regular) basis. My in laws are of no assistance whatsoever. I have no siblings close by - no family of any sort. All of my parent help, such as it is, comes from friends who are already overscheduled by their own parenting or busy careers or general life responsibilities. Oh, and that for which I pay: daycare and (now) camp.

It ain't cheap - let me tell you - but what price freedom?

Here's the kicker. I've been dreaming and planning and bitching and preparing and renovating for months now to position myself to enjoy this staycation in my beautiful garden with fine food and great booze in style. I went to critical lengths to get the garden reno done. I've spent money I should save (arguably) to make the back yard fab-u-lous. Lord knows, between the steep costs of camp and the garden there is no money to go on hols elsewhere. The weather, heretofore hideous, seems to be cooperating now.

But freakin' bloody hell, the city has chosen this week to start a garbage strike (the last one - deeply etched into my memory - lasted 16 hideous days) as has the union that runs the LCBO (the main licensing body for alcohol in this province). You got it peeps - my brief reprieve is threatened by stench (you know I live downtown) and sobriety. Ah, that's a one-two punch.

Let's look at the bright side: I've stocked up on some wine and a couple of LCBO outlets will be run by management till the strike resolves (you can bet they'll be defiant picket crossing there!). I'm going to assume that my lovely neighbours and those who live across the alley behind my backyard - plus all the random people in the neighbourhood who have access to that alley - will opt not to garbage dump anywhere near my beautiful urban oasis. I am optimistic. After all that's what the city streets and parks are for. (Sorry, brief relapse of cynicism.)

I'm going to imagine that LCBO management will keep restaurants stocked and/or they don't go dry in the first week of the strike (how could they) which means, at least, that I'll still enjoy some lovely lunches and dinners out - if not on patios next to heaps of garbage.

I'm going to have a good opportunity to confront my dependencies and cultivate bramacharya.

I am grateful for all the things I do have and the time off. I'm going to learn just how much freedom is a matter of attitude.

Wish me luck. Okay?

Update: The LCBO strike was resolved at the 11th hour! Seriously. And, according to the news reports, there is practically no wine on the shelves anywhere today. Well, not so clean and not so sober...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Greased Lightning

My new Guido & Mary jeans ($110.00)

Someday soon, when I manage to figure out how to make high-res photos smaller (my husband is on strike, you understand), you will no doubt see my legs in these jeans. Till then, the model above does a nice enough job with the Guido & Mary Brigitte skinnies. :-)

To call them skinny is to call the ocean blue, for example. They are shockingly, unstintingly t-i-g-h-t and I like 'em! The pockets are fake (to retain the slim). And, to increase their perfection, they have ankle zippers to facilitate pulling them on. Despite the narrow dimensions, these are exceedingly comfortable (a la leggings) because of the 4% lycra factor.

I feel like a chic Montrealer each time I wear them. (One who can eat chocolate without having to undo the top button.) And they are Made In Canada! So go out there and support your economy, my fellow canucks.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Six Scents

While in Mtl, we made a special trip to Reborn, bastien of all things indie-chic, including my new favourie fragrance ever, by Six Scents. The perfume is the result of a collaboration between Symrise, Metaproject and Seven New York, wherein six, specifically chosen design houses (for example Gareth Pugh, Cosmic Wonder) worked with artisanal perfumers to create scents reminiscent of the designers' creative process. Just to make it all more intense and fancy, only 2000 of each bottle was created.

Sounds soooo flaky and elitist, I know, but the results were magical!

I bought bottle 473 of scent #3: cosmic wonder / philippe paparella-paris: the spirit of the wood (photo above). When I say it positively screams sensuous forest, you must believe me. Cypress, vetiver, fig and hinoki (among other ingredients) meld beautifully in this perfume. It is not easy. It is not sweet. No, my friends, it is deep and woody and dusky like sex. It is adult. And I adore it.

I realize that the appreciation of scent is extremely individual, but if you can possibly get your hands on this, do not pass up the opportunity. It wasn't cheap ($125.00), but nor was it expensive given its pedigree. And you will be transported with every wearing.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bon Chic Bongenre

Would you believe that these lovely plates, by Bongenre, are made of melamine??! Me neither. Which is why I snapped up 8 dinners and 8 sides stat. The company founder used to deal in antique porcelain so she knows from dinnerware and how it's supposed to look. Honestly, when my husband pointed them out to me at Ziggy's (that place I go that has precisely everything on the planet of all descriptions), initially I scoffed at him for picking out breakable china. This stuff is a thing of beauty.

Perhaps you know it's Scott's birthday today. We're having a little dinner party (outdoors, weather permitting) and I'm all ready for the BBQ! Well, I have the table organized. Don't worry, I'm going to photo shoot it up the yin yang.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mood Lighting

When first we planned the pergola, the idea was to light it with sconces using, you know, electricity. But the more I've had time to think - and trust me, I've had time to think - the more I wonder if I don't want to get modern lighting the hell out of the picture. Which is why I'm deferring the electrical indefinitely.

Seriously, I'm deferring everything at this point. If only because I cannot bear to watch, wait and pay any longer. The only thing I'm not deferring is relaxing with friends and great food and good booze in copious quantities. And in setting a mood-filled atmosphere as the sun slips behind the houses and the summer night wafts in. (Note to Canadian readers: I realize this is largely a pipe dream given our weather over the last 3 years. Work with me. Let's will it to occur.)

So, back to lighting. I have some lovely candle holders for tea lights and tapers but I felt the need for lanterns. Lanterns just say "backyard party" to me (aka garden-having newbie), yes?

I looked around online and in shops. Of course, I could have bought some very passable and affordable ones at IKEA but that meant I would have had to get my ass there twice in one month. Eeek. Then it hit me: there's a Pottery Barn not 10 minutes from my office.

Disclaimer: I'm not a PB kind of gal. Till this week, I had never actually bought a single item there. Don't misunderstand, I have nothing against the place. Some of my most stylish friends keep the store on speed dial. Well, I do think it's insanely expensive for merch that's extremely available (and hence liable to be seen everywhere). And I do think it tends towards beige in a crazy way. But there's lots of well-appointed stuff. It's like the J Crew of home things. It does American contemporary with exceptional skill.

Anyway, enough of the design treatise. I found these lanterns and bought them (the chrome, not the red)...

I thought they were gracefully ironic - and well made. Not a crazy price, either. And when I showed them to Scott he spit with laughter and squawked: Arrrr matey, them's some fine lights for the prow.

Like they aren't totally germane and adorable or something.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Genie in a Bottle

One of my fave stops in Montreal is Simons which I always called "Seemon" - like some frenchie wannabe - until, a few visits ago, when an actual French SA advised (snootily, in truth) that it's Simons with a long "i", as in the guy who started it was Scottish. Whatever. I still love the place for its occasional fashion forwardness and its truly excellent deals.

Which brings me to the hammer - I mean harem - pants. Look, this is not a trend on which I'm sold. I find it rather absurd. This is why (I suppose) I just had to try these pantaloons on for kicks. And then I thought they were sort of fun. And man, it's sure as hell like wearing nothing. So cool and breezy. I figure, if I never get the nerve to wear them out (and I already have, silly me), I can still do yoga channeling I Dream of Jeannie. Check out my cool new sandals while you're at it.

OK, you asked for it...

Yes, the glasses are goofy but I was on my way outside.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

All The Better To See Me With...

My new Karim Rashid designed compact (this looks like a drawing of it somehow...)

Here's a fun story:

A couple of Fridays ago (my birthday), I decided to hit the AGO on my way to a fab celebration dinner, in order to purchase the beautiful, Karim Rashid-designed double-mirror compact shown above. I'd seen it a couple of weeks prior to that, having drinks with Steen and Nicole, and I showed it to each of them as a prelude to buying it for myself. (Note: About 15 years ago, Hilary gave me a great mirror compact one Xmas. I didn't properly appreciate it at the time, though I ended up using it till it was well and truly trashed, and then some. I've been searching for a replacement for a while. But nothing was quite right. Till this one.)

So, I went to the AGO shop and walked to the chic cabinet where the chic things are stored and - egad! - it was gone. There was not another under the chic cabinet in the chic-teak storage drawer. I was shocked. What business do others have buying the cool things out from under me on my birthday! I sullenly departed and was miserable till I found a new pair of hot sandals (post to follow) to distract me. But not before calling Nicole in a huff to advise about the unfairness of the universe and the misery of loss.

She uttered some platitudinous statement such as: It was just not meant to be and said she'd see me at Terroni at 5:30.

Cut to 7:00 pm after a few prosecco cocktails and the arrival of Steen with - can you get over it?!? - the compact in question! Turns out my thoughtful friends, aware of my love for it, went out to get it for me for my birthday.

Isn't that a beautiful story?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

And Then I Bought Some Hot Shoes...

...which somehow manage to be even more comfortable than the "comfortable" ones.

Behold: They're this chic metallic colour (thanks Mardel for corrupting me!). They're the perfect height for walking up and down and up and down etc. Mont Royal. No "back" of the shoe means no achilles blisters. But they stay on because of the velcro ankle strap. Also, they allow my foot to be as wide and stretched as it wants to be. Good sandals. PS They were on sale at B2 for $120.00 plus tax.

PPS: According to my phone-cum-camera-cum-pedometer, I walked 23000 steps on Saturday (egad!) and at least 10000 happened in this sandal - 2nd wearing. It's outrageous, I know.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Both Sides Now

I cannot say how itchy I have been to tell you about every minuscule thought and occurrence of the last week and a half. Now, so much has happened that there's no way I'll remember it all. But I'll try...

Let's start with the broad strokes...
  • I'm writing this on the new computer which my husband thoughtfully researched, purchased and is in the process of setting up. I'm going all "cloud". Yes, my puppies, unless the entire universe crashes, I'm not going to lose my stuff again. (Not that I'm issuing some kind of cosmic throwdown here, you understand.) The mouse doesn't appear to be working - every 3 words the cursor moves back randomly and I finish typing the current word in another sentence. And no, I'm not putting my wrist on the tracker! It's doing some other whack shit too, but I'm confident I'm going to work it all out soon. Or have a small breakdown.

  • Thank you everyone for continuing to comment while I was away - and especially for your loving birthday wishes. I am so overwhelmed by comments, posts and new computer set up details that it could be a while before I am in the groove of reading, commenting, writing etc. But I'm going to get started now!

  • I went on a short trip to Mtl. en famille. Of course, you will be hearing about this at length, specifically about my unbelievable purchases (and those of my friend i.e. M's other mum, Nicole).

  • Of course I can't keep it all inside: Awesome skinny jeans (like leggings I tell you - but not) with zippers at ankles. Oh, how I've searched for these. The most sublime perfume ever - I mean ever. And, ahem times 12, harem pants. Look, they were on sale.

  • The garden is more or less complete for this summer. This is to say that it's a work in process, perhaps till the end of time, but in a manageable way. That's its own 53 posts with photos but first I have to figure out how to download the photos and where to put them. Give me a day or 2... I believe you will not be disappointed.

  • I've been taking a zillion photos of beautiful things and moments and purchases and fashions and, as soon as I have some way of curating them all, they will be up for all to see. I will leave you with this lovely montage (which I can't figure out how to downsample so it may take 5 minutes to load, sorry) that my husband took after spending 3 hours putting together garden furniture and styling shots. It's contains some unlikely pics because he wanted to show me places that were a tip which are now clean, thanks to him. Can you get over how thoughtful that was??

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Grass is Greener

Perhaps you've heard of Kensington Market, a grimy Toronto institution rife with thrift stores, yummy empanadas and Roach-0-Rama (conservative TO's surprisingly liberal head shop-cum-toking venue) - amongst other things.

Below, please observe how this crunchy granola in extremis, vegan cafe sports an awning grow-op - of the legal variety!

Cool, huh?

PS 1.: Did I mention (at least 20 times) that it's my birthday today? This is the first day of the last year of my thirties. I say that calls for some good times...

PS 2: Between the hard drive debacle (which has become the hunt for a new computer that, alas, I'm coming to terms with), a little jaunt to Mtl. for a few days, and the need to recharge my batteries, I'm going to take about a week away from blogging. I just need a break and some time to sort out administrivia. No doubt, I'll be back before you miss me! :-) Kxo

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Meet My (Insanely) Flowering Almond

Yes, it's still small, but it's mighty!

Chaz, my landscaper extraordinaire, has advised that this is a very unusual flowering almond - in that it's flowers are in puffy clusters, rather than evenly spread along each branch. Apparently, it's either a miraculous, one-off / this year only phenomenon I should take photos of (check), or I got a super special tree that will bloom like fireworks every spring!

Ed. Update: These photos were snapped at the beginning of May. Alas, the blooms are now finished for the season - but what a glorious treat!

New Update: My tree is fighting for its life because the blooms may have choked the leaves leading to a weakness that allowed a worm to get at it. We're working on resolving the problem. I am optimistic but give a good tree vibe if you've got a moment...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On A Clear Day...

You can see my honey locust coming to life!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

This Could Be Yours

(Natch, it's DesiretoInspire upping my blood pressure again):

What I love about this place is how it looks vaguely like a real person (as opposed to a socialite or successful designer) could construct this with some love, design sensibility and shopping savvy. And, lucky for y'all, it's for sale.

Jo, the post's author, gives us the recipe for scandi real estate marketability:

"Take a large Swedish apartment. Paint white, strip coverings from the floor, make sure the light is good, fill with fabulous furniture including an obligatory iconic chair or two, design a sexy kitchen, style with accessories from your own homewares store where everything is so covetable that it hurts, make sure your clothing props are hip, employ a talented photographer and sell sell sell."

The full post is here.

Just look at it and tell me what you think.