December 2013: What I bought, watched and read
FAVOURITE BLOG OF THE MONTH
She is simply my kind of person.
Engaging writer, articulate, witty, ruthlessly honest, self-deprecating…… need you ask for more in a blogger? I hope not.
Start with this snowflake button story.
The scary part is it could have been me, if I even owned a car to begin with (I never figured out what all the buttons were for when I did own a car for a brief period of time).
Men, you could also mosey down and fill out an application to date her (she’s a single parent blogger).
Bonus aside from a brilliant brain? She’s smokin’ hot.
WHAT I WATCHED
I liked the movie a LOT, but it didn’t quite grip me the way I thought it would. It was missing a little something. The whole film was beautifully executed, directed, full of colour and captured the essence of all you could imagine from a film like Hugo, but… there was something lacking in it for me.
Maybe a connected storyline with the father or something. It didn’t have a good flow for me.
I guess even if you’re the daughter of a famous film maker it doesn’t mean you know jack squat about filming.
Can you tell I hated the movie?
It was boring and there was nothing to it in terms of character development. Just a lot of music (good music), gratuitous shots of “celebrity homes” and closets, and me going: WOW! SHOES!!! CLOTHES!!!
That’s about it.
WHAT I READ
[ FRAUD / CON MAN / HOW TO PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY – NON FICTION]
If you only read one non-fiction book in your life, make it this one.
I was HOOKED from page one. I couldn’t put it down.
He goes into how he used to float cheques at the age of 16, how easy it is to fool others into giving up valuable information about themselves, how peoples’ identities get stolen…
This book will make you paranoid at the end but I am happy to say that I passed his test at the end and only scored 5 points out of a possible 100.
I am paranoid enough for him, apparently.
REALLY. REALLY. GOOOOOOOD BOOK.
[ MEMOIR OF AN 3-TIME ADULTERESS & THE REVIEW OF WHAT MARRIAGE MEANS…would have been a better title ]
I do not know what drew me to this book on the Toronto Public Library e-book system (Overdrive), but I am fascinated with all things psychology / sociology, and it seemed like an interesting book.
..and it was.
I know it doesn’t have fab ratings on Amazon but I found it thoroughly engaging, hard to put down, and Wendy Plump (the author and adulteress) brought me through all of her stages of emotion, justification and infidelity very easily.
It’s kind of scary reading it, to learn and understand how many people cheat on their significant others or spouses, and it makes you reflect on your own relationship (of which I am very happily ensconced in).
[ NON FICTION / BUSINESS / PSYCHOLOGY / SOCIOLOGY ]
Malcolm Gladwell can do no wrong as a writer. He can pick any topic and make it sound interesting, I am sure.
Another gem. A good one to read too, about how you can’t always assume the stronger one wins, sometimes it’s the underdog because they had to be creative to battle their way out of unusual or dire circumstances.
REALLY. ENGAGING. Do not start this book if you cannot finish most of it in a day or two.
[ ENTREPRENEUR / HOW TO DO BUSINESS – MINI BIOGRAPHY ]
Very anecdotal and I couldn’t put it down.
(Note: I think this book might only be sold on Amazon.ca and available only to Canadians for now. It’s a VERY new release.)
I love reading about how other people start businesses, and Arlene goes into a few examples of how entrepreneurs think, what they felt, what they failed at, and what they consider to be THE MOST important things to take away if you want to start your own business.
If you are thinking of becoming a business owner, this is a great book to read. Very engaging, easy, clear and helpful.
I found myself nodding along with a lot of what these entrepreneurs were saying. Granted, I did not make millions or billions from what I started as a kid, but I do see a lot of what they’re saying to be true to what I experienced when I ran my various businesses when I was younger.
I should write a post on what businesses I started.
My GOODNESS she is an amazing writer. THANK YOU for recommending this book to me! I loved it. LOVED IT.
It’s about Louis Zamperini that lived through unimaginable circumstances and survived during the World War II, first by being shot down and then captured by the Japanese in a concentration camp.
Couldn’t put it down.
A lot of sections in it made me cringe, want to gag (especially while pregnant), and cry. Yes, cry. I don’t blame the baby hormones on my waterworks because you’d cry too if you weren’t pregnant.
Very well written (I’m stalking her books now, just as I stalked Tess Gerritsens’), and it was just so.. beautifully put together, choreographed in a symphony of words, and detailed. SO detailed.
If you don’t come out of that reading experience thanking the world that you did not have to go through that and feeling grateful for your life, no matter how low you feel right now, there is something wrong with you.
[ HISTORY – HAIRDRESSING / BIOGRAPHY / MEMOIR ]
Quite an interesting read. I wouldn’t say run out and get it immediately, but give it a read if you like history, Marie Antoinette-anything, hairdressing and just learning about how things were done back then.
It’s interesting how a hairdresser kind of had such a role to play in history and helping out Marie Antoinette before the French Revolution, and I rather felt bad for him at the end.
[ HOTEL / SERVICE – MEMOIR / FAQ ]
Excellent book. Quite engaging, easy to read, hard to put down. It’s basically a guy that used to work as a clerk at a hotel and he tells you what hotels do and don’t do behind the scenes, along with some entertaining customer stories.
The language is a little bit too strong for me at times, but it was still an enjoyable read.
[ STYLE – HOW TO DIY HELP ]
I wouldn’t call this “reading” as “following along how to tie a scarf”. It’s pretty good at showing how to get the result of each (named) scarf knot, and I found myself referencing the book throughout the week to try out new scarf styles.
Ultimately, I settled on memorizing about 5 of them and discarding the rest (one of them makes me feel like a stewardess or flight attendant or something).
A nice scarf-reference style book for when you want to do something different with what you have on hand.
[ FOOD – BIOGRAPHY ]
I love Bourdain’s writing and memories, even if they’re disjointed little essays. That is all.
I devour everything he writes, because it’s just so darn engaging…
[ FASHION BIOGRAPHY ]
I wouldn’t say this is the best book I’ve ever read on fashion or the best book EVER as fashion biographies go, but it is a biography of a former Vogue Australia editor.
It was nonetheless interesting enough to read, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and came out feeling like I understood Australians and Clements a bit more.
A fun way to pass the time, but not a must-read-this-minute.
[ BIOGRAPHY ROYALTY / ICON ]
I didn’t know much about Wallis Simpson until I watched the movie W.E. directed by Madonna (also not a bad film to pass the time).
She made me so curious as an icon that I read her biography and thoroughly enjoyed it. She was interesting, and it was really .. dare I say, sweet and enchanting to read about how one can be captivated by another for the whole of their lives to the point where they couldn’t live without each other.
[ HUMOUR – BIOGRAPHY – COMEDIAN ]
I LOVE Mindy Kaling. I’ve stopped watching her TV series The Mindy Factor, but I still like her very much as an actress and even as a person.
Through this book, I feel like she could have been a good friend or a best friend to hang out with. She’s fun, honest, refreshing.. all the qualities I admire in another and try to cultivate for myself.
A very funny book, right up there with Tina Fey’s Bossypants.
[ MYSTERY FICTION ]
An awful writer.
I am no longer taking book recommendations from Toronto (TTC) subway posters and advertisements.
The writing for me was passable.. at least it was better than Twilight, but it was a bit disjointed, the storyline was crap, it kept changing without having a real suspense or purpose.
It really felt like a 10th grader wrote it.
I finished it anyway because I like to know how things end.
WHAT I BOUGHT
DYSON HOT + COOL HEATER – $350 ($100 off plus a $50 reduction off the first one we bought)
I bought another one for the baby’s room. It gets cold here for us, so the baby will need one too.
We also managed to get a $50 reduction off the one we purchased originally at $400.
MACLAREN TRIUMPH STROLLER – $150 (ON SALE! $50 off on Boxing Day)
Another future Baby Bun purchase — this MacLaren Triumph Stroller.
In between now and the time the baby can use the stroller, I will be carrying the bundle.
We bought it the minute we saw it was on sale, even though it is quite a few months away before we’ll be buckling a baby in there.
KAMIK BOYS’S HUNTING BOOTS IN BLACK (FOR WINTER) – $40
Have you ever tried to find women’s, knee-high, waterproof (that is, rubber) winter boots that are insulated and not made in China?
Then you should know the kind of pain I was feeling, searching all winter for these mythical boots.
I spent 4 months doing this and they simply do not exist.
My best option for this winter were these $40 Canadian Tire, made in Canada Kamik Boots (oddly enough only the hunting boots are made in Canada, the other Kamik boots were made in China for women).
They’re kind of ugly and utilitarian, and not SUPER comfortable (the height of the boot hits mid-calf in an awkward spot. I’d prefer it to be up to my knee, and femininely-curved to my calf, but for $40 you cannot ask for the moon.)
I find my Aigle Miss Juliette rainboots a LOT more comfortable to walk in and wear, but they are not insulated.
I wore them for a bit in Autumn with wool socks and they did just fine during the rain, but when winter hits, these things are FRUH-EEZING my toes off.
(Note to all manufacturers out there especially Aigle — you could make a killing on me and many others if you’d make some bloody rainboots with thicker tread, and an insulated sheepskin liner or something NOT made in China.)
They are gonna do the job, and that’s all I care about.
I’ve noticed a lot of people wearing rainboots in the winter as well, mostly Hunters and other galoshes, but it’s apparently an untapped market.
Update from a rep from Aigle:
I need to reassure you: fur lined boots, Neoprene lined boots and fleece lined boots From Aigle do exist and are handmade in France.
To name a few:
– Aiglentine fur
– Parcours ISO
– Carelie Fur
– Chanteblle ICE
And I believe the Miss Juliette A will also be available with fur lining starting this fall.
WHY I WANTED INSULATED RUBBER BOOTS FOR WINTER:
Glad you asked!
- Leather boots, no matter how cute the marketing is, are not really waterproof. The water/salt/slush will EVENTUALLY soak into the boot.
- Insulation is a must. My toes are always cold, even with thick wool socks on.
- Easy to clean — just hose down the outside; salt stains begone!
These reasons are why I did not want to look at anything that was NOT a rubber boot, or at least, had a full rubberized bottom half so that they can walk in slush, snow, and on ice.
Water resistant is not the same as waterproof. I do not buy that UGGs from Emu Australia (also made in China) are truly waterproof, nor do I buy that lace-up boots (*cough*UGG I am looking at you *cough*), and leather uppers can be waterproof without a rubber outer.
Sorry. Can’t convince me.
Science and common sense tell me otherwise.
8 sets of cutlery of the brand Degrennes in the “Beau Manoir” style, and they’re made in France.
We got these on sale at Williams-Sonoma for about 25% off during the sales before Christmas.
FINALLY! Grown up cutlery to use for the rest of our lives.
ETSY GOLDENFLEECE SHEEPSKIN EARMUFFS – $22 USD
The. Best. Earmuffs. EVER.
I have purchased cheap earmuffs, moderate earmuffs ($50) and anything in between, but to find these little soft balls of goodness that are made by hand in the U.S. from sheepskin sourced from Texas?
My ears are SO warm. I can’t recommend them enough. I will warn you that their Etsy page is in dire need of a major overhaul because .. frankly, the pictures suck and don’t do justice, they don’t give enough information (clear information), the colours are not properly displayed with names, and … you know typical Mom & Pop Shop stuff.
I’m still recommending them because these earmuffs are THE BOMB.
For $22 USD, they are a steal.
A must have for anyone who lives in cold weather, likes having warm ears, but avoids wearing hats like me unless it’s snowing and you don’t want your hair to get wet from melting snow.
KATE SPADE GIRL ABOUT TOWN SCARF
$111 with 25% off and it ended up being $158 after shipping & duties
So it was originally $148, but with a 25% off coupon, I got it for $111.. but with shipping and taxes to Canada, it came to $158.
This is STILL a deal because in-stores in Canada, it would have worked out to $168 (if they even sold it which they don’t because they don’t carry the Kate Spade range).
Still saved $10!
I have wanted this scarf for such a long time… Since February actually!!
OHKUOL FLOWER STALACTITE PENDANT NECKLACE – $55.25 (ON SALE)
It’s basically a stone flower. STONE. FLOWER.
Very cool. And pretty.
NATURAL AMETHYST DRUSY PENDANT – $20
It is easier and cheaper to buy the pendant than the necklace. Then you just add a chain and bada-boom, you saved about $30 – $35.
SWISS ARMY KNIFE CLIMBER – $36
I bought a Swiss Army Knife because it’s practical and handy to have.
[RECYCLED] RUEDEPAPIER (ETSY) GLADSTONE DOCTOR’S BAG – $290
I bought this while on vacation actually and finally received it (I know, who the hell shops online.. WHILE ON VACATION?!?!)…but I couldn’t help it when I saw it.
I love the idea of doctor’s bags, and this one is an unusual one, repurposed from old U.S. mail bags and old European doctors’ bags, this is the ultimate in recycling chic.
I really like how it looks.
And the reviews are outstanding at 5 stars.
I also like that it isn’t all leather (all the bags I buy these days are leather, but it sucks when it rains and I need a big bag to go out with).
When I got it in the mail, I was thrilled, but it is NOT a duffel-sized bag at all. It’s definitely the size of a medium-sized purse which is not what I expected (duh I should have measured it out like I always did).
Still, it is perfectly made, it is interesting, unique and definitely up my alley. The handles were a bit small but you can adjust them with the notches. I had them made in a longer strap ($50 addition) so that I could sling it over my shoulder instead of having to carry it by hand (very annoying).
[THRIFTED] ROBERT NOBLE (FROM J. CREW CIRCA 2009) HERRINGBONE BLAZER – SIZE 0 – $200
I really needed a Size 2 if I would be honest, because my shoulders are wider than normal (am an inverted triangle), but this jacket still fit well.
It was less than $200 but with taxes, shipping and duties, it came out to about $200.
It’s simple, and elegant.
I normally take a 00 in everything for my bottoms and one size up for my tops (due to my broader shoulders).
You just can’t find this kind of quality any more in a blazer, especially at J. Crew these days, so hunting down vintage blazers that are WELL MADE has become a mini obsession of mine.
Just look at the popped collar! That’s actual silk underneath. What a nice detail.
I don’t have a grey blazer, and have been looking for one for quite some time now.. but could never find the quality I wanted until now.
I also liked the lapels are thinner (doesn’t emphasize the width of my shoulders), and it comes with waist cinchers on the side which can give a different shape to the jacket.
Love the Robert Noble logo.
And here’s the patch on the other side, along with the wonderful lavender lining (the workmanship is impeccable).
[THRIFTED] MANOLO BLAHNIK BLACK NEWCIO HEELS – $200 (including shipping, duties and taxes)
These are basically like my dark brown heels but in black.
Now I have the perfect shoe / heel wardrobe — brown and black.
They were actually customer returns, which means they aren’t broken in (boo!) but they are extremely new.
So new, you can feel how stiff the leather is.
[THRIFTED] MANOLO BLAHNIK ANKLE BOOTS – $240 (including shipping, duties and taxes)
I have been looking for a long time for mid-calf boots in a classic style, but it turns out what I want doesn’t really seem to exist on the market as:
- Not made in China
- High quality
- Reasonably priced (no more than $300)
… until I saw these thrifted Manolo Blahnik ankle boots.
They’re used (I think of them as already broken in), but compared to what they cost before? A deal.
I like them because they’re pull-on, but also because they don’t have a strange seam line running down the front of the toe.
I want a smooth, uninterrupted line, NO SEAMING!
They’re not exactly mid-calf which is a bit of a minor point.
See, I wanted them a bit higher than actual booties so that my pants would just cover the boot and they won’t get caught in my heel when I go up stairs.
I think these are sufficiently high enough that they don’t look strange if I were to sit down in pants, and they would ride up a bit to show the top of the boot (I just find it to be a strange look, when you wear trousers).
Hence why I wanted mid-calf, but this I think is high enough to appease me. They aren’t really ankle booties.
The original retail price is $695 although I found a very similar Manolo Blahnik Side-Elastic Ankle Bootie one here for more than that, around $1100.
They already had Vibram soles on them (yay! $40 saved), but the heel and the toe do look a little scuffed, but I am not concerned with that, mostly because Manolo Blahniks are SUPER COMFORTABLE.
I can always get the heel repaired and have the toes buffed in black for maybe $20.
I can’t seem to wear any other brand now, and I am not willing to shell out $700 – $1200 for a pair of shoes so I will take what I can find if they’re used.
Also, they say Manolo Blahniks tend to run a bit smaller but that has not been the case for me.
I am a US 7 and I buy US 7 in Heels in Blahniks and they fit perfectly.
However, I tried on a US 7.5 in the Blahniks and they were just a bit too big and kept slipping off my feet when I walked, even with Dr. Scholl’s padding at the heel.
Therefore, go for your actual size — US 7 in heels, would be my recommendation.
I did however, buy these at a US 8.5 and not a US 7 but this is less of a concern for me because it’s a boot which means I can wear a thicker sock with it, maybe add in a Birkenstock sole if I wanted.
With boots it is a lot easier to buy a size or a size and a half larger because you can add thick socks, or put in an insole. In heels, this is not an option.
Therefore I’ve determined I’m a US 7 in general, and a US 7 in Manolo Blahnik Heels, but I should go anywhere from US 7.5 – 8.5 for boots (US 7 in boots would be too tight, as I would definitely be wearing socks with them).
I don’t like wearing thin socks in boots, in Autumn I prefer a thick wool sock, and if the shoe is not big enough to accomodate it gets pretty tight after a few hours of walking.
They’re also broken in, which I like, and the heel is fairly short, which makes for a comfortable boot.
I tend to prefer a slightly looser boot, but a very tight-fitting heel (so my foot doesn’t slide out).
I tend to always buy my boots at least half a size, if not a full size bigger for comfort.
I can also wear them with pants tucked INTO them which will give it another look.
I will need to spend about $10 to get the heel tips replaced and maybe another $20 to get the toes buffed and the heels redone, but overall, I am quite happy.
It would have been very difficult otherwise to find exactly what I want for under $300 at retail, considering that my feet have a penchant for higher end shoes.
If you are interested in buying a pair of Manolo Blahnik heels in a 37.5 I am selling a pair here:
VERBATIM SD CARD READER – $12.50 (ORIGINALLY $30)
My stupid Optex SD Card reader I bought in June for $3, has already died, 6 months later.
I bit the bullet and bought a new SD Card reader, for $12.50, but it was originally $30.