Monday, June 28, 2010

from trashy to classy

This weekend I'll admit I spent far too much time in the Gastown district.  I've clocked nearly 20 hours of volunteering for the Coastal Jazz Festival, working on the "Environment Crew".  First, let's clarify that the Enviro Crew is really just a euphemism for the garbage collection crew.  It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it!

One thing I've learned (aside from some pretty handy trash compacting skills) was an awareness of how disconnected we become to our garbage once it hits the trash can.  I chastised myself for how little I pay attention to the amount of trash I throw out.  And it took two full days of cleaning up other people's garbage to give me that kind of perspective.

All things aside, though my weekend started out trashy (literally), it ended on a classy note. I had a chance to check out some great international talent at the jazz festival, followed by dinner at an intensely cool place called Salt.  The restaurant is tucked away in a seedy looking alley, though its interior is anything but.  The concept is to mix and match their fantastic selection of cheeses, cured meats and wines for the perfect platter.

[Blood Alley Square, home of Salt Tasting Room.  I see no blood, but I do see a salt shaker flag!]

[selected flights of wine, with condiments and cheeses - my mother would be so disappointed that I'm not eating vegetables]

[generous slices of camembert, salmon chevre and pancetta] 

[my obligatory chocolate fix - a dark chocolate terrine with rhubarb compote]

Friday, June 25, 2010

clothing optional?

One thing I miss most about home is my sewing machine. As much as I would have loved to bring it with me from Ontario... something about carrying hulking 10 lb object on the plane with me just didn't seem practical.

It comes as no surprise then that my DIY projects have taken a seat on the back burner. That is, until last week when a friend of mine invited me to an "Anything But Clothes" themed party.   The idea was to create an outfit using some bizarre non-clothing object - post its, bubble wrap, shower curtains... I raided the dollar store in search of inspiration and cleaned out the racks of purple streamers (my apologies to anyone in desperate need of purple party decorations!)

A bit of ingenuity, some black thread and few hours of patient hand-stitching later, and I present to you the Waterfall Dress...

[the base ingredients]

[streamers arranged in tiers]

 [a sampling of our lovely outfits]

The Waterfall Dress - I am a walking pouf ball of party decorations.
*Psst.  Doesn't the purse look rather familiar?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

the little things

Little things this morning that made my day...

1.  Waking up remembering that you made brownies the night before.  And they are sitting on your night table, eager to be eaten.
2. Brightly coloured tissue paper poufs swirling above your head.
3. Sunny days! And no clouds! In Vancouver!
4. Finding a comic that reaffirms my status as a total bio nerd.  Dear Georgia Straight, you are my new favourite news source.
5. Nutella and freshly whipped cream.
6. Having enough time to make a decent breakfast.  Finally, a welcome change from corn flakes and toast.

What are some little things that brighten your day?

Friday, June 4, 2010

some food for thought (& also for your tummy)

Last weekend was the EAT Vancouver! Food Festival at the downtown convention centre. The rain was coming down outside (something we've seen a lot of lately...), so a few friends and I spent the afternoon indoors noshing on delicious cheeses, artisan breads and sampling yummy olive oils and vinegars. I honestly couldn't think of a better way to spend a dreary Saturday afternoon.

But less pondering, and more pictures!

I was so disappointed when all these creations made their way into the trash at the end of the day - how wasteful.  And how condescending to the chefs who poured their blood, sweat and proverbial tears into making these dishes.  Just some food for thought...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

ruffle some feathers

{1} Cappuccino Frill One Shoulder Dress
{2} Organza Circle Petal Dress
{3} Sequin Cluster Bandeau Dress
{4} Gathered Waist Culottes (not yet available)
{5} Statement Crochet And Lace Bib With Chain and Sequin Detail
{6} Egg Tassel Hardcase Bag
{7} BRODERIE Laser Cut Shoeboot
{8} Suede Multistrap Wedges (not yet available)
{9} BELLA Suede Peep Toe Shoe Boot

ASOS Black launched their newest collection earlier this week.  Sure, it's frilly, feathery and maybe downright fussy.  But there's something so fresh and ethereal that makes it perfect for summer.  (Sometimes I daydream about running slow-motion in a wheat field in one of these confections.)  You can see the rest of the collection here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

diy tutorial: feathered clutch

I didn't forget about the tutorial, I promise! It's just taken me a ridiculously long time to post it up. So here it is, in all its glory:

The Black Feathered Clutch (inspired by this beautiful ASOS bag)

What you'll need:

  • sacrificial clutch - ideally, it should have a seamed opening (you'll see why in a minute)
  • feathers
  • thread (should match the shade of your feathers)
  • sewing needle
  • optional: beads, sequins, other decorations

Step One:

Pick out feathers of similar lengths; the ones with a thicker shaft and a 'downy hair' appearance work the best (left)

Step Two:

Find an opening on the seamed portion of the clutch, and slip the shaft of the feather inside (don't force it, otherwise you'll ruin your feathers!)

Step Three:

Stitch feather shaft to clutch; reinforce by wrapping the thread around the shaft a few times.

And now you have the basics!  From here on, it just takes a little patience, good tunes to pass the time, and a tolerance for little feather bits floating around a one metre radius of your DIY project.  Best of luck! 

Let's fast-forward to the finished product...

Et voila!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

new city, new finds

Another long hiatus, I'm terribly sorry.  Between the new job and my night classes, I've barely had time for anything else =(

I've begun to explore Vancouver bit by bit, starting with the bakeries and beaches (as you can probably tell by these photos)...  I'm quickly falling in love with this city: the weather, the people, the laid-back style, and most importantly, the baked goods!  There seem to be bakeries popping up at a Starbucks-like speed.  Will cupcakes soon take over the city?! 

Spanish Banks is absolutely gorgeous this time of year...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

...and we're back

I'm back from a long hiatus!  And I have lots to share.  Since most of my life revolves around making and completing lists (OCD much?!), I decided to share my news in list form:

1. I'm officially finished my third year of university!  Or as you Americans like to say, "junior year of college".  Only one more year to go!

2. I'm going about 3000 km west this summer - to beautiful British Columbia! I'll be working hard in Vancouver and hopefully getting a chance to take in all the gorgeous scenery.  I'm absolutely ecstatic to be spending the next four months there.  Does anyone know of any must-see places in Vancity?

3. I realized that we haven't yet had a formal introduction.  Hello, my name's Marie.  Nice to meet you!

  Yummy dessert for my lovely blog readers.  

4. Some baking adventures of late...

My Italian friend introduced me to Pizzelle cookies, and we spent all afternoon yesterday making these delicious wafers.  They're incredibly addictive.

Chocolate banana ice cream, anyone?

My fail-safe banana bread (actually, it's Food Network's fail-safe banana bread).  Love that you can have the batter mixed and ready in less than 20 minutes.  Then just pop it in the oven... and wait for the intoxicating aromas of cinnamon and banana to fill your home.  Far more efficient than any air freshener or candle. True story. 

All packed up and ready to go!

5. The feather clutch tutorial will be posted very soon, I promise.  And the Burberry-esque skirt is coming along... rather slowly, but it's coming!

Monday, April 12, 2010

sleep deprivation

I've been MIA!  I'm sorry.  And I'm sorry for the absolute laze (is that a word, laze?) of this post.

Life has been put on hold because of exams.  I promise to return with baked goods and DIYs (Burberry skirt, anyone?!) very very soon.  And I have news!  Exciting news!  Oh, the suspense!

(Though not quite as exciting as this teaser from Glee!  Who's ready for cheesy mashups and more Mark Salling?)

Monday, April 5, 2010

forty days

Forty days without shopping!  Whew.  No trips to the new H&M.  No trips to the new American Apparel.  And worst of all... no trips to my favourite store, the F21 online shop.  Now that Easter's past and Lent is over, I think it's time for a little retail therapy!

Speaking of Easter, what were you guys up to?  We took advantage of the beautiful weather that we've been getting these past few days.  I organized an Easter egg hunt, had a small-ish picnic brunch with some friends (featuring crepes, red velvet and vanilla cupcakes, and some of the best homemade Skor bars I've ever tasted!) and enjoyed a delicious duck dinner with my family.  Overall, a lovely way to usher in the spring.

Fresh berries & crepes ♥
Caught red handed - our guest of honour was the lovely Mr. Squirrel, who made off with an Easter egg! 
Mmm.  Must. Have. Desserts.
Banana Mousse Cake with White Chocolate Genoise.  I don't understand the cake decorator's obsession with gooseberries?  They don't taste very good...
Ahhhh!  The strawberries are leaking!

Happy Easter - I hope each and everyone one of you had a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

vanilla cupcakes with raspberry cream filling

I'm just a tad embarrassed that since starting this blog, I have literally not lived up to my name.  "Cupcakes and Catwalks" was meant to showcase two of my passions - baking and fashion. And while I think I've been keeping up with both topics, there are no posts of any sort to do with cupcakes or catwalks!

As they say, it's better late than never. So with that I present to you my inaugural cupcake venture:

What you can't see in this picture is the yummy layer of raspberry cream tucked in underneath layers of cupcake.  Mmm.

Plump, juicy raspberries are just starting to hit the grocery stores again, and work perfectly in Giada's delicious cupcake recipe. The fresh raspberry cream is delectable - so light and refreshing!  I made my vanilla cupcakes from scratch, but any recipe will do.  (Yes, even a Duncan Hines 'recipe' - don't worry, your secret's safe with me!)

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I have an entire folder on my desktop labelled "fashion ideas". It's essentially my inspiration board for future DIYs. There are almost 200 pictures in the folder, but here are some that I may attempt in the near future...

The Fringe skirt from Vena Cava F/W '09

An interesting two-toned ruched skirt I bumped into while browsing on facehunter

Alas, everyone's favourite Burberry Prorsum S/S '10 draped silk skirt

My DIYs so far have been rather simple. But a skirt, now that can be a daunting task. Which one shall I start with? Any suggestions?

Monday, March 22, 2010

birds of a feather flock together

DIYs always make for good study breaks. My studding (as witnessed here) has been put on hold until I can thrift a leather barrel bag and get my hands on a super-sized bag of rounded studs (I've got A. Wang's Rocco in mind). Right now, my DIYs have taken a detour into the land of our fair-feathered friends.

The ingredients? A package of feathers from the local Michaels and an old clutch in desperate need of a makeover. I'll put up a tutorial later in the week. But for now, I've got to clean up all the little feathery bits stuck in my bedroom carpet.

Who would have thought that this...

...could come from this?