Sunday, June 28, 2009

Love Letter to Life

Dear life,
I never quite get used to how quickly and entirely things can change in this life. One day can seem so quiet, mundane, same and others are so full with every bit of joy and light. I guess life is really like the tide, in and out it goes while we have no true control over it. I think as I get older I'm starting to love that. I'm starting to love the unexpected, the unknown and the tomorrows that stretch ahead of me. I always used to be in such a rush to get to.... wherever. Now I don't mind the meandering pace. Slow is good, slow is steady. There is no race so why run when I can stroll and enjoy each day for whatever it brings. 

There are still awful days, I don't deny that, but it's an awful that ebbs away as soon as I see a friend's beautiful face or hear my mom's voice or feel sun on my back. There is beauty in every day. Waking up at dawn to the excited shriek of raccoons in my neighbourhood, then drifting back to sleep. The flip flop in my stomach of butterflies when I make eye contact with someone lovely. The bliss of walking next to the ocean. Lulu head-butting me at 4 am to play. The pure joy of knowing my best friend is here to stay. 

I think as I near thirty I'm finally falling in love with life. Mm hmm, I get it, corny! I hear it too, and yet it's genuinely true. Growing up is teaching me to accept life as it is, in the here and now, instead of feeling like I always have to chase those things I don't have. I am not one to give advice about life~ some days I want to bury my head under the covers and let it get on without me! However, if you take one thing from this I'd like for you to try and enjoy each day. As my friend Sarah once said to me in a tough time, "Get off the rollercoaster. Take time to yourself. Nurture your soul." I did and it was the most valuable of lessons. Embrace the little things. Love your life. It is yours after all. 

Love, Ally xo

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Welcome Home to my BFF!

My BFF Leah is moving back to Vancouver today after nearly a year away. She is on the road right now, somewhere in a car on the highway outside of Calgary, drawing closer to home by the minute. I have missed her so much since she's been gone, like there has been a hole in my life that couldn't be filled because of her absence. I am so happy to have her back so we can resume doing what we do best together~ everything and nothing. 

I love you, Leah! Welcome home! 
(P.S. Don't ever leave me again!)

This photo isn't of us but it reminds me of how we are when we are together~ giggly and happy!
(Photo courtesy of Paper Tissue)

Quote of the Day

"There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness."
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Friday, June 26, 2009

Style Inspiration: Blair Waldorf

Television's favourite vicious brunette, Blair Waldorf, has incited many a preppy fashion trend in the last two years of Gossip Girl's prime time reign, but none are as identifiable to her uptown character as the inimitable headband. Usually reserved for schoolgirls in braids and braces, the costume designers of Gossip Girl instead found only the most glamourous and chic headbands to parade Blair around in and soon the ever present hair accessory was as famously associated with the sophisticated teen as her conniving personality. Headbands have come a long way since the faux tortoise shell, plastic variety at the drug store. Instead they have become a fashion choice in their own right, as able to pull together a glamourous ensemble as the perfect jewelry or the prettiest handbag. For all out elegance choose a headband made with lustrous feathers such as these~ you will feel like a 1920's flapper goddess for the evening, guaranteed! 

The Etsy shop Feather by Feather has dozens of beautiful headbands in an array of colours and textures at an amazing price~ only $20US plus $4 shipping to Canada. I can just picture the Luce, the pale gray one below, with my hair curled and a little black dress! Ooh la la, tres Parisian, I think!

Being a Mom

Lulu is ill again and, like any mom, I am heartsick. I hate seeing her so uncomfortable when I can't do anything to help her (except love her and kiss her to pieces). I've just brought her home from the vet (she was wonderfully good) and I think we're going to take a late afternoon nap, as both she and I are tuckered out from the drama (especially me!). My ode to Lulu in pictures, these are some of my favourites in the 6 months I've had her. 

Lulu in Rob's guitar case! She looooves the soft felt lining! 

Lulu on the kitchen table~ she thinks she's in the jungle with my decorative grass! 

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I'm not sure of much in life but one thing I do know is that I want, nay need, to see the world. We live on such a big, beautiful planet and I hate to think of being trapped in one (albeit pretty) corner of it, never seeing the places I wonder about, never absorbing other cultures and never fulfilling the wild and adventurous dreams I have. It's been a few years now since I was last bit on the booty by the traveling bug, when I packed my backpack and took off for Paris and London for 7 weeks, all by my lonesome. I think that's why I can't get this blog post off my mind. Written by my blog "guru" (the one who inspired me to start this in the first place), Joanna Goddard of A Cup of Jo posted on dream vacations a few days ago and I find myself looking at these photographs again and again, drawn back like a moth to the proverbial flame (or myself to a shoe store~yes, I like that analogy better!). The photos are breathtaking, stirring in me the desire to throw some summer dresses into a bag, grab my iPod, kiss Lulu and go. A heavenly vacation in Tuscany or South Africa may not be in the cards right now....but, hey, I think I'll go get my passport renewed. Just in case. 

In the meantime, check out A Cup of Jo for this and other inspiring and lovely posts. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Love List

My beautiful friend Nicole recently gave me a rather brilliant idea. During downtime while traveling in Europe she made a list of every quality she ever dreamed of in her ideal mate, both deal breakers and ultimate wish list items. I have one certain conversation constantly with my girlfriends and it goes a little like this~ "She is so pretty and smart and cool, why is she settling with that hoser?" 

Why do women settle? Is it because when we're in love we really don't see our partner the way other people outside the relationship do (a.k.a ~ we're skewed by lust and hormones)? Is it fright to be alone or the belief that no one better will come along? Do we just ignore all the little bad habits men have and the truly lousy way they treat us sometimes in exchange for someone in our lives? I wish I knew. All I do know is that some girls out there definitely settle for far less than they deserve and I have been one of them, on occasion. 

So now to Nicole's list. I think it's a brilliant idea. Why not list everything you've ever dreamed about in a boyfriend? To see it there on paper, in bold black and white, will be a frank reality check every time a man walks into our lives that perhaps we'd pass on if we just really listened to our heads and hearts. No strong girl needs a man. Instead it is about inviting someone into our lives who truly values us and treats us like the foxes we are! I started my own "Wish List" last night and it was shockingly harder than I thought it would be. There were far more qualities I didn't want rather than things I could actually pinpoint desiring in a guy. I intend to persevere if only to enjoy the exercise for what it is, and the next time I meet a man who makes my heart skip I'll consult the list (or my girlfriends) first! 

My Boy Better:
1. Be a non smoker (my number one deal breaker)
2. Be sweet and humble (I can't stand cocky, know it all men)
3. Want to travel the world with me (one day)
4. Have nice manners and treat women respectfully (chivalry isn't dead)
5. Be a romantic at heart (I need a softie)
6. Be a creative soul (a reader is attractive, must like good music and films)

That's my start! What are your deal breakers in love? 

(Photo courtesy of Paper Tissue)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Life in Technicolor~ Coldplay Rock Vancouver Yet Again

Nine years ago I fell hopelessly in love with four boys at the same time. They were a little bit older than me, English, talented and had great taste in music~ and I was smitten. It all started with one little single called Yellow, which I heard for the first time on Much Music in my parents' basement. A boy strolled down a beach in darkness singing about a girl he loved (look at the stars, look how they shine for you) and, in turn, I fell. Hard. For the last nine years Coldplay has been my go-to band, the one I turn to when I need inspiration, a good cry or to dance around my apartment. 

On Sunday I was lucky enough to see them for the sixth time in concert and it was an amazing night. To be fair the first five times were all phenomenal. First~ only a few hundred people at the Commodore, a time when people had barely heard of the band and Yellow had only just hit the airwaves. The small venue was incredible. Second~ six months later, still touring forParachutes, fourth row at the Orpheum. Theatre seating made them nervous and Chris Martin kept encouraging everyone to rush the stage. We complied! Third~ August 2005, White River Amphitheatre outside of Seattle for X&Y. Outdoor venue, third row, bodies smushed together = unbelievable evening. The four hour drive home in pouring rain, not so much. Fourth~ GM Place for X&Y the following January. These boys can certainly rock a stadium. Fifth~ Last July, the Pemberton Festival outside Whistler, B.C. The headlining act of the three day festival. My good friend Chloe and I shoved our way to about the fourth row (rather painfully) and were rewarded with being able to admire the boys' cute (and sweaty) faces up close! 

This past Sunday I was offered a last minute ticket by my cousin Kate and I was overjoyed, as I hadn't planned on going and was heartbroken about it. GM Place was packed and our seats were directly beside the stage, so our view was perfect. Snow Patrol opened the show and their set was fantastic~ energetic, fun and peppered with the lead singer's witty dialogue. When it was time for their set, Coldplay burst onto the stage with sparklers, waving them madly and running around in darkness before bursting into Life in Technicolor, followed by Violet Hill, Clocks, YellowIn My Place and Glass of Water. The set list covered the band's four albums and their latest EP, Prospekt's March, across the board and the variety was well balanced to perfection. Other songs played include Fix You (tears!), Politik, Green Eyes and a lovely piano version of The Hardest Part, plus almost all of their latest album, Viva La Vida (the only exception being Yes). Fun elements of the evening included the band moving to a tiny stage in the middle of the stadium to play a few songs (including I'm a Believer by The Monkees and Will Champion performing Death Will Never Conquer) and inciting the audience to do the "wave" with their lit up cell phones. My favourite part? The millions of butterflies showering the crowd during Lovers in Japan. It was incredibly beautiful! The best part of the entire evening was knowing that the concert was being filmed for the band's Live DVD, so in a few short months I will be able to buy a hard copy of a show I attended! Chris Martin said that out of 90 countries they performed in they chose Vancouver to film the DVD. I can't wait to see it! 

The only thing lacking during the evening? No Gwyneth, Apple or Moses to be seen. Sigh....

(P.S. Most of these photos were taken last year in Pemberton)

If I Were Going on a Date This Week....

...then I would wear this dress by Rachel Pally, found on one of my absolute favourite fashion websites, I'm passionate about white~ it is always my first inclination, whether I'm shopping or in my own closet. My favourite pieces in my wardrobe are incomparably my white dresses and I am literally awaiting the day when I can throw a white party (my 30th perhaps?). I adore this dress because of its overall Grecian Goddess effect~ the empire waistline, pleated bodice and gathered straps are hopelessly romantic and feminine. The strappy, flat sandals are the perfect compliment to the Goddess effect, though I would probably add swingy gold earrings as well. Many girls are scared to wear white, most likely because it's not as "slimming" as black and yet this silhouette would be flattering on anyone. Plus, white is far prettier on the skin because it reflects light, unlike black which absorbs light and can make you look drained. I would throw this little number on for a third date, but not before, and only if he really earned it! Anything this adorable needs to be pulled out only if he's a catch! 

I'm sincerely considering this dress for my 30th birthday.  What do you think? Is a White Party in order?

Visit here. I also LOVE this website because three of their gorgeous models are redheads so I can already see what the clothes look like with my colouring! Bonus!  

The Color Purple

I'm normally not really a purple girl~ it's a little too reminiscent of Barney the dinosaur or Ronald McDonald's partner in crime Grimace to suit my taste very often. However, lately purple has been subtly sneaking into my subconscious and I'm finding myself inexplicably drawn to what I normally avoided. Purple in home decor can be tricky as it can come off too girly and sickeningly sweet rather than sophisticated. This room is the exception rather than the rule. This is how purple can be done right. The amethyst pillows are strong and vibrant rather than too pastel and a deeper violet is perfectly and breathtakingly highlighted in the silk Fortuny pendant lamp floating in the middle of the room. Design tip: I love the oversized mirror behind the sofa~ a lovely and more cost effective way to fill a wall instead of art. I'm also completely obsessed with this area rug. I've been searching high and low for a pretty rug for my living room, something with pattern and character without being too overly feminine. I would happily put this in my home today. My advice? Take a risk and introduce a little purple into your room (or wardrobe!) and you may find yourself loving its subtle glamour. Amethysts aren't just for jewelry anymore! 

(Photo courtesy of Canadian House & Home)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Favourite Lyric of the Day

"Are you lost or incomplete? Do you feel like a puzzle, you can't find your missing piece?"
-Talk, X&Y, Coldplay

Happy First Day of Summer!

Today is officially the longest day of the year and I intend to enjoy the light late into the evening celebrating Father's Day with my family. Summer is officially here and this time of year always stirs in me the lust to have an escape from the city, a secluded cabin or lakefront cottage to head to on the weekends, where one can ignore the bustle of normal, weekday life. I've been fortunate enough to have friends with this kind of retreat, where I am occasionally invited to relax, swim, eat and drink weekends away during the blissful summer months, but it is a dream to one day have an escape of my own. Cottage life is the antithesis to city life. 

Cabin rules: Leave the heels at home and live in your flip flops and bikini, hair wet and tangled (I can practically feel the sunburn on my shoulders and see the freckles on my nose). Abandon work and lose yourself in a good book, mojito in hand. Dinner should be a lazy barbeque, stretching late into the evening with wine and friends and (of course!) yummy dessert. Go to bed late and sleep in late. The most strenuous thing you should do all weekend is go for a walk. Get off the rollercoaster, breathe and enjoy life. 

The above summer homes represent the very best of life away from the city~ casual, relaxed, beachy, serene, quiet, soothing. If your family happens  to own a cabin, let me tell you~ enjoy it! And if like most of us you don't you can still bring a little summer into your own home. Pale blue pillows, a sisal area rug, candles and seashells scattered about are good ways to introduce the cottage feel into your city dwelling. No matter what, summer is here so get outside and enjoy the sunshine! 

(Photos courtesy of Canadian House & Home)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Paris in Pictures

I miss Paris so much right now looking at these images that it makes me physically long to be there. I miss walking the streets, simply taking in the beautiful architecture, chic Parisians, crepe stands, tiny dogs, fresh baguettes and lust worthy boutiques. Irene Suchocki's Etsy shop is full of breathtaking photography yet I keep coming back to these stunning pictures again and again, as they capture what is very best about Paris~ its very day to day beauty. People come home to these apartment buildings and walk over one of the almost thirty city bridges daily, just living their lives in one of the most inspiring cities in the world. I long to be there right now but since I can't I think it is time to put a slice of Irene's Paris on my bedroom walls. 

Visit Irene Suchocki's Etsy shop to see these and many more beautiful photographs here

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quote of the Day

"A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world."
-Oscar Wilde

(Photo courtesy of Paper Tissue)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Always a Bridesmaid...

This August I'm incredibly excited and truly touched to be a bridesmaid in the wedding of one of my very best friends, Erika, to her fiance David. I genuinely felt from the beginning that these two would be married and two years later we are counting down to their happy day! Erika is the very best kind of wife-to-be~ relaxed, enthusiastic and generous with not a touch of "bridezilla". Erika has enlisted seven women to stand up for her on her wedding day yet the hunt for bridesmaid dresses can frequently equal a headache for any bride. What colour, shape, length to choose for seven women of different heights, body types and hair colour? How much money can any bride expect her bridesmaid to spend on a dress typically worn once (hello, green satin)? The selection of the bridesmaid dress can become a very contentious experience for an occasion that is meant to be an honour. 

Did I mention that Erika is the best kind of bride? She has let us run wild, so to speak. We are going to wear black cocktail dresses of our own choice, whether new or something we already have in the closet. For me, new it is! I've been scouring the city and the internet for the perfect LBD, something classic and elegant but special. I want something pretty and eye catching without being too sexy (not that I could ever upstage such a beautiful bride, but I don't want people to think I'm trying to do so). I often avoid black because I find it can be boring and predictable but these above dresses from BCBG are anything but snooze worthy. I think any of them would be a phenomenal choice. Isn't the one with the frothy flower hem simply amazing? I have a hunch my final selection will be one of these three. I can't wait for August! 

Visit BCBG here for these and more heavenly dresses. 

Cutest Car in the World

Fiat's 500C is easily, in my humble opinion, the cutest car in the world! "Cute" cars have risen in popularity over the years~ think VW's revamped Bug, the Mini Cooper, the Smart Car. My heart is set on this to be my next car! Is there anything more adorable than a spiffy little convertible? As of right now Fiat isn't sold in North America, but hopefully that may change soon as the company just bought out Chrysler. With this merge perhaps Fiat will start to bring this cuteness to Canada! My fingers are crossed because I'm already picking out my colour and features! 

Visit Fiat to see the roof slide back! 

Strawberry Shortcake~ Yum!

My name is Ally and I'm a dessert-aholic. Oh, how I love dessert in any way, shape or form. If it is sugary goodness I'll eat it and love it. Yesterday I had mini cupcakes and ice cream~ an ideal day for me! However, if I had to choose one dessert as my favourite there are no questions~ it would have to be Strawberry Shortcake. The combination of cake, fruit and whipped cream is like three desserts in one! Embrace strawberry season right now and serve this when you entertain next (or even just for you tonight!). Do yourself a favour, skip baking and buy individual mini angel food cakes at the grocery store (easy and delicious). Whip your cream with a little icing sugar in it to sweeten. If you would like take direction from The Barefoot Contessa herself and add a little liquer to your cream~ amaretto or Grand Marnier would work nicely and add depth of flavour. Assemble each cake at the last second and inhale! The perfect light and summery treat! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Room Inspiration

I love everything about this living room! Isn't it just girly heaven? Featured last year in Canadian House & Home magazine, the apartment itself is a rental belonging to a fellow Vancouverite. Although it's a fairly small space I love that she chose the oversized bevel glass leaning mirror~ mirrors always make rooms look bigger because of the reflection. It's no wonder I love everything about this room so much, as much of it was bought at my absolute favourite store, The Cross. I'm completely inspired by the flokati rug (so soft!), carved armchairs and pretty painted blue side table. I could move into this exact room and not want to change a thing. I think it's time to visit The Cross again! 

Preview The Cross here

(Photo courtesy of Canadian House & Home)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Time to Show Some Skin, Girls

My stomach clenches. I suddenly feel nauseous and break into a cold sweat. My heart is pounding with nervous dread. Every summer this happens at least once. One hot and glorious day when I decide to be brave (ha) and go in search of a new bikini for the season. Swimsuit season. Can there be two more dreaded words for a large amount of the female population? I thought not. Every girl I know has some issue once bikini season rolls around~ I am very pale 365 days of the year and would strikingly resemble Caspar (the ghost, thank you very much) if I were to ever hit the beach (which I don't). Still, it doesn't have to be such an ordeal. Find what works for your body, embrace what you have, be brave and let go. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is perfect. A few years ago I stumbled upon J.Crew bikinis while on a trip in the States. I am now a faithful devotee and have bought several others since. Their fabrics are beautiful and come in a truly beautiful array of colours and patterns. They have a wealth of options so you can choose a top you like and a completely different bottom style to suit your own personality and in your appropriate size. Best of all, they are chic and fashionable without being too skimpy or trendy, so you don't have to feel like Gisele Bundchen to pull them off. 

Jersey Lemollina Kauai Halter Top ($58US) and Foldover Bottom ($56US) in Soft Pine (my personal fave!)

Regal Paisley Twist Bandeau Top ($46US) and Paisley Bottom ($44US)

Solid Twist-Front Bandeau Top ($44US) and Twist Bottom ($40US) in Bistro Orange

Visit J.Crew here. Happy shopping! 

Smile of the Day~ Puppy Love

This achingly sweet face made my weekend! Erika and I were wandering through her neighbourhood on the way to caffeinate ourselves when we met 8 week old Golden Doodle, Lily. Apparently her owner cannot walk her half a block without being stopped and his puppy ogled! No sooner did we continue on our way up the block when (sure enough) Lily's next admirer stopped to pet her. How can you not... look at that face? Ohhhhhh, I want a puppy! 

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife~ Movie Trailer

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger was an impulse purchase for me last fall, shortly after my birthday for which I was given a gift card to Chapters. I had been given this book before and had passed it over as my grandmother (first mistake) deemed it "weird". Well, come this past winter I read it, absorbed it, relished it until I finished every page. Perhaps my grandmother was right~ it is weird, but wonderfully so. It became easily one of my favourite books of all time, and that's saying something, because as an English Lit major I have read a lot of books in my time. The story itself is creative, romantic and heartbreaking at the same time, combining everything I look for in any novel I choose. The moment I put it down I was anxious to see how soon the film was released. The movie itself, starring the flawless Rachel McAdams (of The Notebook fame) and deliciously sexy Eric Bana (Munich, The Other Boleyn Girl) debuts in August 2009 but the official trailer was released today (after many many You Tube searches by yours truly I am thrilled) and even its two and a half minutes gave me goose bumps in the best possible way. How can a trailer make you cry? Watch this and you'll find out. 

(Photo courtesy of IMDb)

Thursday, June 11, 2009


On another design note from Sarah's beautiful house, isn't this wallpaper breathtaking? Wallpaper is back in a big way, covering the pages of every design magazine out there with an endless offering of colour, texture and pattern. Use it on one wall (as Sarah did) to bring visual interest into a room or be bold and go for an all over effect (usually better in a small space, like a powder room). I dream of putting up a gorgeous paper like this to make my bedroom cozy and romantic, but in a rental apartment it's hard to commit. Still, I love it and urge others to try out a wallpaper that may be right for you. 

Genius Display Idea

To fill up a small, bare wall in her kitchen my friend Sarah installed floating shelves and filled them with her favourite cookbooks! How adorable is this idea? So many cookbooks have such pretty covers they are perfect to showcase and this display means the ones you need most are always close at hand. Sarah bought her shelves at Ikea but you can also find similar ones at Pottery Barn. I have a big bare wall in my kitchen and I'm considering this as a way to fill it! Now, if only a cute boy would come over and install everything for me.... then we're talking! 

(That's the adorable David Payne in the bottom right of the top photo. Hi, David!!!)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Date Night in the Summer

Summer is almost here... when the sunshine stretches late into the evening and the best dates are the laziest, most relaxed ones. I've been on some lovely dates in my time, in and around Vancouver, and my favourite ones of memory are always during the sultry summer months. My advice? Grab your guy and head out for one of these outings. None of them will break the bank and perhaps they will be as magical for you as they were for me.

1. Choose a clear summer Saturday. Have a late dinner in Kits (perhaps Hapa Izakaya at Cornwall and Yew or Watermark overlooking the beach). Following dinner head towards the Planetarium and instead of visiting the bigger attraction opt for the smaller Observatory, where a trained professional will direct a massive telescope to the night sky and show you any number of incredible visions. When I was there I got to see Saturn, a collapsed star and a meteorite, among other amazing things. Admission is by donation (open only Saturdays) and the experience (in the dark, tiny room) is both romantic and entertaining. Afterwards, hold your honey's hand while strolling around Vanier Park and smooch along the shore. 

2. Pick any warm evening, pack a blanket into your car and put your bathing suits on under your clothes. Make sure to grab your passports or birth certificates. Head to Highway 99 and then divert towards the Ferry terminals. Bypass the boats and instead cross the border into Point Roberts, Washington (the border line up shouldn't take more than a few minutes). Once you're in the great, excited States make a pit stop at the Market Place to stock up on everything you need for a yummy picnic~ the deli has yummy and greasy fried chicken, spicy wedge potatoes and (best of all) corndogs (there is also healthier fare, if you insist) and a shockingly decent wine selection. Don't forget to bring me back Red Vines, I beg you! Take your picnic down to the beach, spread out your blanket, eat and splash in the cool ocean. If you're lucky (I was, once or twice) you may see whales going by. The beach is normally fairly deserted and private so you may not see anyone else around. Completely magical, inexpensive and romantic. 

3. Splurge on tickets to Bard on the Beach (this year's offerings include Othello and The Comedy of Errors). Watch the magnificent theatre, perhaps munching on the sweet and salty mixture popcorn (yum, best snack ever). Afterwards (if you passed on the popcorn or even if you're just still hungry) head over the bridge to downtown and indulge in a sweet treat at Marble Slab Creamery on Denman at Davie. You will fall in love with this gourmet ice cream, guaranteed. Quote lovey Shakespeare lines to each other as you get your sugar high. 

More fun summer dates to come! Enjoy, lovebirds! 
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