Monday, May 14, 2012

The Saguaro Hotel - Palm Springs

I've been visiting Palm Springs every other year since 2008 for Coachella.  Each trip has been unique and amazing.  While driving to finally visit Moorten Botanical Garden, I spotted the most eye catching site in the middle of a dry desert.  Was it a mirage?  I'd never seen this before, and being someone who loves vivid and bright colours, surely this would have been a place that would have been on my must see list.  All I could think about was "What the hell was that!!!  Do my eyes deceive me?"

Photo Courtesy of Apartment Therapy
I was so excited to see this array of colours.  It was like light had hit a crystal and all the rays had splashed in every direction.  The colours just make me smile.  I was filled with wonder and I made sure to jot down a note in my iPhone to follow up on this sight.

Turning the Corner, I caught the name of the hotel:
Photo Courtesy of Artisan Events
So, I did a google search to learn more about this mirage like paradise.  It turns out, I've been hiding under a rock because everyone has been talking about this development.  The Sydell Group celebrated the grand opening just in March of 2012, a month before the annual music festival, Coachella, was underway.  Architects Peter Stamberg and Paul Aferiat set out to pay hommage to the bright tones and hues of the desert flowers that somehow, in their own miraculous way, survive under the most extreme conditions.

I can barely contain myself when I looked at the different rooms on their website.

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Photos Courtesy of
Oh, and those are just the bedrooms.  You want more - don't worry, I gotcha.  Ladies and Gents, please look to your left and you will see the lobby:
Photos Courtesy of
Please follow me as I take you to take in the wonderful design of the El Jefe dining room, run by Iron Chef Garces.

Photos Courtesy of

And the folks from Artisan Events gave us a grand tour of the Tinto Restaurant.  Check out their amazing pictures:

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All Photos Courtesy of Artisan Events

Please be patient, there is much to see, I don't like to be trampled on.  Finally, ladies and gentlemen, we have the pool:

That concludes the end of this tour.  In lieu of monetary rewards for my terrific service, I do ask that you consider treating me to a one week stay in this cheerful oasis.  Thank you and please come again.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rize in Mount Pleasant

Over the years there have been a great deal of conversation (and debate) regarding the now approved multi-story condominium in Mount Pleasant that will be developed by Rize Alliance.  After withdrawing their initial plan to build a 26 story building due to negative feedback from the public, Rize Alliance received approval from the city to build a 19 story building on April of 2012.  They have gone back to the drawing board to put something together that will make everyone happy, which will not be an easy feat.

Mount Pleasant is hands down my favourite neighborhood in Vancouver.  Sure I love Commercial Drive, Downtown, and Gastown but Main Street has my heart.

I've done a couple of interviews with two of my favourite consignment stores, Front and Co. and C'est La Vie and these blog posts are filled with testaments of people who have a passion for what they do and they are among the many unique individuals who contribute to Mount Pleasant's character.

While other developments have gone up in this area such as 3333 Main, The Stella and the Sophia, I was either not fully impressed with the design of the building or was turned off by their location.  When it comes to Main Street, I want to see the developer bring in social housing (both for families and single residents), green space for community gardens, space that will house a daycare, and perhaps a grocery store Co-Op.  I'd also love to see space for a Farmer Market.
The development that will be built by Rize Alliance has been met with opposition from many groups, including the Residents Association of Mount Pleasant (RAMP).  Members are concerns about the ill effects that gentrification will have on their beloved neighborhood. 

But Rize Alliance have been involved in some projects that show some promise that they understand part of what makes Mount Pleasant so special.  Since April 2011, The Rize Pop-Up Shop has housed local artists and designers to showcase and sell their work to the public. 

Notable occupants include Ion Magazine and their network of artists and Sandra Todd of Velveteen Vintage, who gave a handful of youths (age 14-18) the opportunity to flex their creative muscles and gain some valuable business acumen through their exposure to the retail world.

Admittedly, I have my eyes on this development and have been for quite some time because, ultimately, I would love to live here.  I'm a condo person and I'm excited to see if Rize Alliance will be able to strike that balance between urban living and Mount Pleasant charm in the design of this new project.  Mount Pleasant isn't just made of art and artists, it's a community of individuals who care deeply about the social, economic, and environmental impact that such a large scale development will have on their land.

What are your thoughts?

You may also be interested in:
News Flash - C'est La Vie Consignment Boutique
News Flash - Front & Company

Blame it on the Rain

"Blame it on the Rain" - Millie Vanilli (1989)

Yeah, the title is cheesy.  I loved this damn song back in the day.  I think I was 9 or 10 - it was an age where one would be impressionable, foolish, and misguided.  I don't feel ashamed as we were all duped.  Rab and Fab wore a lot of spandex and that creeped me out a bit.

WHOA, I TOTALLY DIGRESSED - GET A GRIP, PAM!!!!!!  Okay, so April was just a messy, rainy affair.  I thought we'd never see some sun.  But now the clouds have parted and we're full of cheer.  I'll certainly need to spend the next couple weeks updating my blog because I've seen and experienced some pretty cool things here and there.

This is the first thing I saw when I woke up to this morning.  Yep, that's worth posting on Instagram!
I'm excited to say that I'll be taking on a new challenge which will take me to British Columbia's wine capital, Kelowna, to live and work for 15 months.  While I do try to keep my work and blogging life separate I can say that I'll be working for one of the places I visited with the Girls Who Wine, back in September of last year. 

I'll be close enough to Vancouver that I can drive or fly back in the blink of an eye.  It will be the first time I've lived or worked anywhere outside of Vancouver and this is a pretty big step for me both personally and professionally.  But I'm ready for the challenge and the adventure and all my loved ones are supportive of this move. 

There will be host of new things to write about, a slew of sites to capture on camera, and rants and raves regarding the special places that I find in Kelowna.

As my move inches closer, I am increasingly aware of how happy am to appreciate my environment and those in it and see the value in all that is around me. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

News Flash: Front and Company

Front and Company was the first place that I came to consign my clothing, even though I had been shopping at thrift stores for quite some time.  What drew me in was the window displays and how innovated they were in creating a story.  Each year, the story becomes more elaborate and this is extended into the shop, itself.  It's like a emporium of creativity.

Photos Courtesy of Front and Company

I've always been curious about the thought process behind the window displays and the store interior.  Each season, there's a different theme that's just fantastical.  I had an opportunity to sit down with Sonia and Allie in their new studio to chat about what inspires them and how they work as a team.

1.  Tell me about your background and how you've been able to bring creativity to the store fronts and interior of Front and Company?
Sonia - I started at Front and Company 6 years ago.  I have a theater background but joined Front and Company because it looked like a great place to work so I started on the retail floor and then started assisting Diana, one of the owners, with merchandising.  Now I'm the lead in designing the window displays and coming up with the themes.  My first project was the Winter 2009 Christmas theme.

Photos Courtesy of Front and Company
2.  What is your process to create the whole look of the store?
Sonia - It's a team effort.  We're a group of creative people.  Two-thirds of us are either art school students/grads or musicians.  Each person has their own specialty.  Katrina is great at building things and Karen does great miniatures, which you'll see in the next store theme.  It's a lot of hard work but it's also a team building experience.  We're all committed to making the store look great and we all feel so proud when it's all done.

We get a lot of support from the owners.  They gave us a great budget so we don't scrimp on the materials.

3.  The Christmas 2011 theme was amazing.  How did you source all the materials?
Sonia - We have quite a few of the old items from other themes in the back of the shop and we use them if we can.  The large plastic clear globes are from a plastic company and it took a while to find them.  They were quite pricey.

The larger plastic fixtures are from a company in Gastown.  We often use clothing from Diana's collections as she has amazing pieces that you couldn't find anywhere.

4.  What's your favourite theme?
Sonia - The up and coming theme is my favourite but it's top secret.  It's one that I've been obsessed with for a while and I can't wait to complete it.

5.  How do the fashion trends influence the themes?
Allie - We consult together on what the trends are and I keep an eye on what's coming in.  We've got some people who are great at sewing and can put together some terrific things.

Sonia - Allie is meticulous when she sews - she can replicate something down to the littlest detail.

6.   How do you decide what items you will accept?
Allie - it really depends on the season and the trends.  We have three pickers and each of us have  different styles and we choose different things.  Sometimes we try something out to see if it will sell.  You just never know.  The three of us stay in touch with each other on what trends we're noticing and what people are bringing in.

Sonia - I find that there are so many opportunities to have interesting conversations with our consignors.  When someone brings items that are unsuitable for our store, it's a chance for us to educate them on what might work better.  Conservative wear doesn't sell well at Front and Company but we try to steer consignors in the right direction to the other places where they might take it.

7.  What do you think makes Front and Company unique?
Allie - We have amazing clothing and stock and that is in part of our great consignors who bring in a great mix of styles.  Our items are also reasonably priced.  I feel like our store is part of this special community and it's in the center of it.

Front and Company is very eclectic, both with the way the store looks, to the styles that we carry, the people who shop here, and the staff.  The trends that we carry lean towards girlie and contemporary.  We have a great mix of vintage and modern items.  There are some brands that are really popular, like Aritzia's brand, Wilfred.  But we have a mix of everything here and that's what people love about the store, that you can put together different items to create a unique look.

Our rummage sales, which take place four times a year, just keep getting bigger.  The items are discounted and dead stock of samples that we need to clear out and consignment items that didn't sell.  All the proceeds go to a charity that we've chosen.  We chose Doctor Without Borders as the charity to receive the proceeds from the last sale.

Sonia - The sales just keep getting bigger because the store has gotten busier.  We start out with this huge mountain of clothing.  I can tell how well we did because I always jump into the pile after we're done. 

I really encourage you to pop into Front and Company.  It's a unique experience and their innovative ideas keep the store looking fresh and fun.  Keep your eyes peeled for the newest happenings at Front and Company by checking out their website, their blog, which is run by Dan, and their Facebook page.

The next rummage sale is coming up on the Eastern Long Weekend.  I have to warn you, I'm the girl who is throwing elbows to get into that pile.  I get pretty ugly.

Front and Company
3772 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
V5V 3N7

You may also be interested in:
News Flash - C'est La Vie Consignment Boutique
News Flash - Laura aka Off The Racks

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend

Okay, I'm a simple girl. Sure, I like me some pretty and sparkly jewels but I'm not Elizabeth Taylor. Geometric shapes and outlines are seen in decor and fashion for a couple seasons now. I'm the type of person who teeters between styles and find myself loving the urban and edgy look but going back to vintage girly girl with a modern twist styles. But what I love about this trend is that it's taking something that usually looks extravagant and makes it modern and simple.

I stumbled across a couple of items that caught my eye that fall within the lines of the geometric outline trend. This a great cushion by graphic designer, Leonora, of Yellow Heart Art. I'm a big fan of her stuff, so check her out! The diamond cushions are terrific.
I'd love to have a large one and several mini ones sitting in a little corner of my home, scattered and spilled out on the floor.

I'm really liking these charms by Geometric Land.  Even though it's an outline of a diamond, the brass takes the preciousness and prissiness away from it.

Diamond Charms - by Geometric Land

The settee and console table designed by American Designer, Darrell Landrum, in the late 40's to 50's has lines that remind me of the geometric setting of a diamond. 

Check out the fun and whimsical store decor of Hansel, a Singaporean womens wear label and their usuage of paper art:

Of course, if someone were to give me the real thing, I wouldn't reject it.  Even it it's the dreaded Marquis/ Pear shaped diamond:

Monday, March 12, 2012

DIY - Space Invader Pillow

It's been a while since I've posted a DIY. Here's something I did back in October. I made this duvet cover and pillow set for a video game enthusiast as a birthday present.
Here's a simple way* to create the a space invader decal but you can use this method to add any simple silhouette. 

What you'll need:
  1. Find a picture of the character that you would like to put on your cushion.
  2. Take a look at the interfacing.  One side will have the "wax" the other side will have the "glue".  Put the paper print out on top of the wax side of the interfacing and put the fabric underneath the interfacing so it touches the glue.
  3. Carefully pin the three pieces together but make sure the pins are neat and straight - no puckering.
  4. With a sharp pair of scissors, carefully cut the pattern out.  If there is a hole in the pattern (i.e. an eye) cutting an "X" makes it easier to cut it out neatly.
  5. So now you have the design in front of you - keep those pins in there.  Get that iron ready.
  6. Flip the pieces over so the fabric is facing you.  Iron just at the top so that the interfacing is stuck to the fabric.  Now that everything is secure, take out the pins.
  7. Straighten everything out and continue to iron.
  8. Wait about 10 - 30 seconds, or until the fabric and interfacing is cool.  
  9. Now flip it over to the paper side - peel off the paper
  10. Now if you already have a cushion cover or if you are making your cushion from scratch, you can now take the decal and pin it on the cushion.
  11. Make sure you're happy where you've pinned it because once you activate that iron, it's set.
  12. Run the iron over the decal and the cushion - and you're done.
  13. I put the decal under the sewing machine using the zig-zag setting and secured the design against the cushion.
  14. Repeat the same instructions using the opposite color if you want to have two different sides for your pillow. 
*If you only want a black silhouette, you can just get black interfacing with the adhesive on one side, cut out the pattern and "viola", you're done!  Even easier!

Here's a couple other pillows I've made using this same technique:

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DIY - Headboard
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