Tea in da peg

It’s perhaps the biggest stereotype of hipster culture in Winnipeg, but it’s also one of the nicest ways to inject a little reflection and “me time” into your day. I’m talking, of course, about the surge of artisanal coffee shops that have popped up all over town.

What makes places like Thom Bargen, Parlour, Little Sister Coffee Maker, and Café Postal so lovely is that you can sit in anyone of them and feel relaxed and energized at the same time—a perfect blend for the caffeine addicts and the decaf dorks.

I visit these trendy, overly priced hot spots when I have an essay to write but don’t want to sit at home and feel like I’m missing out on the action. Coffee shops— especially those that are local, and serve up the high-quality fair trade stuff—are the hub of happy banter about the latest Winnipeg events. It’s nice to know that I can do my work and still pick up on what’s happening in life outside of school.

But I’m also pretty broke these days—partly because I spend so much money looking “cool” in coffee shops. My initial solution to the problem: order green tea instead of cappuccinos for a savings of 50c, while enjoying the health benefits in the process.

Unfortunately, my decision to switch to the green didn’t get me into the black. I decided to take a break from looking cool in coffee shops—as detrimental as it may be to my social life.

I now purchase loose tea in bulk amounts to avoid coffee shops and caffeine drinks altogether.

I still visit local coffee shops, just not as frequently. It’s nice to be able to drink and socialize in the morning every once and awhile.

Check out the Vine I created to display the way that I like to enjoy my loose tea:

 

Feelin’ Forksy?

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For the past six years, I’ve worked at the Smoothie Bar @ the Forks. You may think to yourself “Level entry employment at a juice shack for that long? How pathetic.”

Well, I’ve also been in school, and I’ve had other jobs during this time frame.

But I don’t really feel the need to defend my employment history. Working at the Smoothie Bar, and more importantly, being a part of the Forks Market family has been one of the most significant learning experiences of my life.

I used to think of this popular Winnipeg tourist destination as that place Mom forces me to go when Baba needs her fix of chocolate pancakes on senior-discount Sundays.

I’ve learned to understand the Forks, and its importance to the City of Winnipeg, as more than just the provider of my paycheck and my Baba’s pancake problem.

People don’t just come here for the big stuff like celebrating Canada’s birthday, kicking off the New Year, or listening to live music during APTN’s Aboriginal Day Celebration.

The Forks caters to the everyday stuff too: taking our kids to dance or theatre lessons, checking out the different cultural and family events in the Market, and picking up a snack of our favorite chocolate banana bread pudding from the bakery.

Sometimes, on a slow winter’s day, when the river trail is too cold to skate for even the bravest of Peggers, and there are no concerts, kid’s camps, or craft sales taking place in Centre Court, I dream up sitcom scripts about the Forks Market and all of its tenants.

There are never any shortages of real life characters to draw inspiration from: The busker that plays only Bob Marley tunes; the maintenance guys who perpetually get in trouble from their bosses for leaning up against tenants counters to discuss the latest Forks Market gossip; and the girls at the coffee shop who wear baggy, pants, knitted hats, and know all the details about Winnipeg’s underground music scene.

Beyond the employees that I get the pleasure of seeing on a regular basis (and who are often the subjects of my twisted plots involving elicit Market romances), the best part about working at the Forks is the new people that I get to meet.

Some of my favourite chance encounter have happened while I’ve been sitting behind the Smoothie Bar counter, working away on a Women and Genders Studies essay, or watching an episode of HBO’s Girls.

One time, some man stopped by my work for a power-packed protein smoothie with his running group. He ended up staying for an hour to discuss the spiritual healing powers of jazzercise. His well-researched points were convincing. To this day, the weird combination of free-form dance and intense aerobic instruction is one of my favourite extra-curricular activities.

There’s this other woman who visits the Smoothie Bar every Sunday morning and orders a green tea shake. She always asks me how I am, and how my programs going, and if I broke up with that loser who was treating me poorly the week before. I think of her as my Sunday psychologist, and weekends wouldn’t really be the same without her.

I’ve also had my fair share of celebrity encounters while working at the Forks. Most recently, Tegan and Sara, Andrew Ladd, and a whole gang of UFC fighters on a mission to find gluten-free protein.

Jake Shields (right) and other UFC fighters stocking up on protein before their big fight

Jake Shields (right) and other UFC fighters stocking up on protein before their big fight

Tegan for Tegan and Sara stopping by the Forks before a big Juno event

Tegan for Tegan and Sara stopping by the Forks before a big Juno event

While I don’t plan on making a career out of blending-up fruit beverages for Forks Market patrons, I know that this cultural hub will play an important role in my life long after I’ve progressed beyond level-entry employment.

Even though the Forks is Winnipeg’s most popular tourist destination, us locals should make an effort to stay in touch with such an important part of our city’s culture.

Net time you’re looking for a fun weekend activity, don’t overlook the Forks. At the very least, they’ve got really good chocolate pancakes and amazing service at their smoothie shack.

Check out there easy-to-navigate website for event details:

http://www.theforks.com/

 

 

Magazine Trade Fair/free lunch

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Sometimes students do some pretty cool stuff that’s worth checking out. This Friday at noon, I hope all of you are able to attend the 2014 Magazine Trade Fair that us Creative Communications students have worked so hard at putting together.

Here’s a little bit of background for you: 

Every year, as part of the Creative Communications program, students in groups of 4 or 5 create magazines from scratch. This means coming up with the concept, writing the content, taking the photos, designing the layout, and of course, planning and promoting a magazine launch for everyone to enjoy.

My fabulous group created a décor magazine aimed at demonstrating that beautiful interior spaces don’t need to cost a lot of money.

What we’ve got planned for the launch: 

Well I’m not going to give it all away but lets just say we’ve got prizes, tea parties, and décor-themed guessing games for any patrons who visit our trade fair booth/quaint living room set.

And remember, there’s 14 other magazine booths at the trade fair, all with their own interactive stations and decadent giveaways.

Volunteer and eat your cake too

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 Border Crossings volunteers at the magazine’s Feral Glamour art-auction

Every other year, Border Crossings—a local cultural magazine that documents Winnipeg’s elite and underground art scenes—hosts a suave art auction at the Fort Garry Hotel.

My parents always go. They like to think of themselves as art connoisseurs even though my mom’s high school students created most of the paintings and sketches on the walls of our home.

This year, I wanted to attend the event and network with the impressive list of artists that contribute their work: Jordan Van Sewell, Guy Maiden, and Wanda Koop—to name a few.

Unfortunately, I’m a poor student with little means to spend on lavish affairs. So I decided to email the event coordinator, and co-editor of Border Crossings magazine, Robert Enright with the hopes that he could use an eager volunteer.

I didn’t expect Mr. Enright to reply, I was sure that he already had tons of helping hands, but to my excitement, he needed more. And to my even more excitement (#yolosentence), he wanted me to gather up a few friends.

We all had a wonderful time at the Border Crossings event: the art was beautiful, everyone was dressed fabulously, and my favourite 6-inch heels didn’t give out on me.

And the best part was that we were given access to the extraordinary desert hallway once we completed the enjoyable task of handing off the art to all of the evening’s winners. There was a slight downside to this bonus: I did spend the entire second half of the evening with whip cream on my face, but everyone seemed too consumed with art and wine to notice.

In a city like Winnipeg, where there are all kinds of cultural events happening every week, volunteering can be a great way to experience opportunities that we may never have been able to enjoy.

I definitely plan on weaseling my way into a lot more events this upcoming spring and summer. The Winnipeg Fringe Festival, TD International Jazz festival, and Pride Winnipeg are all good examples.

 

wheat is wonderful — my protest against the anti-gluten movement

I’ve tried the whole anti-gluten thing and it sucks. Yes, I did feel less bloated and I did find that I had more energy, but these small health benefits didn’t outweigh the constant sensation of deprivation.

Literally everything that tastes good has wheat in it: Cake, bread, cinnamon buns, beer, and pasta — lots and lots of pasta.

So I gave the anti-gluten diet up — threw in the quinoa, if you will. I don’t like to think of myself as someone who doesn’t follow through with their commitments, but when it comes to food, it’s hard to force yourself to stay away from everything that tastes good in this world.

It has also been exceptionally cold in Winnipeg over the last few months. Consuming food made from gluten is one way that I managed to stay warm.

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My next-door neighbor, Tom Sherwin is a chef. He bakes and cooks dishes that are more concerned with pleasing taste buds than conforming to the latest health-craze.

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I went over to his house yesterday to get my fix of gluten-goodness. Luckily for me, Tom was cookin’ up some homemade pasta.

Tom has pretty deep beliefs about pasta and its ability to sooth the soul. He wants to open up a gourmet pasta restaurant in Winnipeg — a city that he feels will be very responsive to his feel-good creations.

“I think Winnipeggers really care about quality dinning, and I think pasta recipes are a good way to showcase a variety of fresh flavours,” Tom told me.

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Tom was making canneroni, thick circle-shapped pasta, with tomato sauce, basil and fresh sardines. He won’t give me the recipe for the homemade noodles because it’s apparently top-secret.

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I devoured the dish, and ignored my angry tummy for the rest of the evening. I’m a big proponent of healthy eating but I think that part of healthy eating means eating foods that make you happy and warm you from the inside out.

My advice to Winnipeggers desperately trying to get through this last burst of cold: eat a big hearty, gluten-rich meal. And if that doesn’t work to lift your spirits up, do what Tom and I did and get a tattoo.

Tatty

If you could only have one article of clothing…

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Flannels are the most useful clothing item I have in my wardrobe. They’re great because they can be worn all year round and for almost any occasion. I got my friends, Alice and Emily, to model some of their favourite flannels and to demonstrate all the ways that these stylish throw-ons can be worn.

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Emily is wearing her favourite flannel from Made Well Clothing under a Gap jean vest that I found at Value Village last year. Flannels are sometimes a more practical choice than sweaters because they are much easier to layer with other sweaters, vests, shirts, and dresses.

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Alice is wearing a men’s flannel from H&M with a pair of tights. This is a great outfit to wear on those days when you wake up late for school or work and need to throw on something casual that still looks put-together.

Emily found this TNA flannel at the Salvation Army. She likes to wear it tied around her waist with a basic tank or t-shirt. On a hot fall or summer evening, this look is a great if your headed to the bar or an outdoor concert.

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Throwing a sweater over a flannel is a nice way to add some structure to your outfit. Alice is wearing a pair of shiny American Apparel pants, but jeans would work even better!

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This oversized men’s flannel from Value Village looks great with Alice’s blue, corduroy miniskirt.

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And of course, flannels are great on warm winter days under puffy vests.

These are some of the best spots in town to pick up affordable flannels:

  • Value Village/Salvation Army (always check out the mens section too).
  • American Apparel (it’s always a little more but their flannels are extra soft and fit very nicely).
  • Aritzia (Their TNA flannels come in a variety of colours and are reasonably priced).

Investing in the future of fashion

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Some girls can’t wait get to that age where they are big enough to fit into their mother’s clothing. For me, an exciting point in my life came when I could finally steal pieces from my dad’s wardrobe.

My dad is the original fashionista. I like to think that style is embedded into our DNA and that he passed down this life-long passion of his to me.

Unlike me however, he isn’t really into vintage shopping. He prefers to scope out the best deals on designer brands in the discount racks of his favourite local boutiques. He is also a big online shoe fanatic, and on more than one occasion I have seen him giddily answer our front door in anticipation of a package from Fed Ex containing a new pair of Oxfords.

But just because my dad is a bit prissy when it comes to wearing clothes that have been worn by other people, doesn’t mean that his clothes can’t be passed down to his budget-conscious children.

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My dad has some pretty sweet winter vests that I like to steal. I wear them over sweaters (also belonging to my dad) with a pair of heeled boots and a slouchy toque.

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I like this look because I can pretty much go anywhere in it: to school, out for drinks with friends, or an afternoon of shopping. On really cold Winnipeg days, I like these oversized vests because they keep me extra warm.

Here’s where my dad says he gets his vests from:

– H&M: (We don’t have one in Winnipeg yet but they have really great shipping policies to Canada, check out both the men and women’s section of the website). http://www.hm.com/ca/

– The North Face: My dad says the he gets a lot of his North Face gear from Prairie Summit at 1887 Grant Ave. http://www.prairiesummitshop.com/main.php

– Mountain Equipment Co-op: This store is great for offering a bunch of different styles. Check out their Winnipeg location at 303 Portage Ave. http://www.mec.ca/Main/home.jsp

Knits on knits on knits

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I alway have good luck finding sweaters at second-hand shops. This probably has to do with the fact that women are not confined to their designated section of the clothing store when in search for a sweet sweater; some of my favourite pull-overs have come from the men and boys sections of Value Village and other larger second-hand clothing stores. Another factor that makes vintage sweater hunting so easy and rewarding is that there are a lot of crazy people out there who are willing to throw away the beautiful knitted clothing that grandma made for them. This is good for you and me because the homemade stuff often tends to be really great quality.
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This blue-green, 100% wool sweater that I found in the boy’s section of the Salvation Army is one of my favourite pull-overs. The fact that it has a high collar and boxy shoulders make it fun to pair with feminine pieces like heels and skirts.
Here are some other things I look for when I go sweater shopping:
– Good quality fabrics like wool, cashmere and softer cottons (it’s very easy to find well-made sweaters at second-hand stores you just need to look).
– Interesting textures and patters that aren’t too bold and that can be paired with a stand-out necklace, coloured pants or a patterned blouse (your sweater can be bright but if it has a loud pattern it can end up looking like an ugly Christmas sweater).
– High collars are nice and so are collars that show off a fun-patterened blouse
– Look for both form-fitting and oversized sweaters. I like to wear my tighter sweaters with long or circle skits and my baggier sweaters with the sleeves rolled up and a pair of leggings or tight jeans.
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Both this sweater and this blouse are from Value Village. The blouse is silk and has a polka-dot patter that looks cool against the rough texture of the sweater. Again, as long as your sweater doesn’t have an obscene design then you can get pretty crazy with the blouse underneath.
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This week is a great time to find yourself a cozy vintage sweater. Poor Buddy could really use one on his walks.

Get the Boot: purchasing winter foot wear that isn’t UGGly

 

Wearing fashion boots in a city like Winnipeg is difficult given the fact that it sucks to walk through a foot of snow in anything other than clunky, chunky, UGGly winter boots.

It took me a long time to find a pair of winter boots that were both practical (warm and fuzy on the inside, durable and able to withstand the freezing temperatures of Mars on the outside) and attractive.

Three years ago I finally found exactly what I was looking for at Rooster, a great local boutique in Osborne Village. They weren’t cheap but they’re extremely warm and they still look pretty attractive even after three years of serious wear.

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The boots are made by Frye, a Massachusetts-based company that has been making foot wear since 1863. These one hear are unisex but Frye makes variations on this boot that are a little more feminine.

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What I like about my Frye’s is they offer a few great qualities that all Winnipeggers need in a winter boot:

  • they’re made from a thick leather that does a good job of keeping the cold locked out,
  • their heavy rubber soles have tons of grip for icy walking conditions,
  • they come up high enough on my calf to ensure that no snow sneaks inside,
  • they’re black (anything lighter is going to get marked up by salt and dirt),
  • and they are easy to treat with a little bit of mink oil once every month.

I think that as Winnipeggers it’s completely justifiable to spend a little money on a good quality pair of boots. I also think it’s really important that we try to find something that transitions well between the outdoors and the indoors; it’s annoying to have to bring an extra pair of shoes with us because we are self-conscious of the way are boots look with the outfit we’ve chosen.

Here’s a list of some Winnipeg boots that carry Frye and other well-made boot and shoe brands:

 

Hats On

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Some of my ever-growing hat collection 

By far my favorite fashion fade this winter season is the hat (a.k.a beanie, toque, chapeau). A hat has the power to transform a simple outfit into a stylish work of art. And the best part? It’s winter wear at its most practical.

A hat can also be the perfect place to start experimenting with your wardrobe. Choose from a variety of colours, styles and even sizes. My most beloved hat is an oversized, slouchy, mustard-yellow one that I purchased earlier this year at local Winnipeg skateboard shop, Sk8 Skates. I often wear it with a simple long-sleeved shirt and jeans or if I’m heading out, a pair of my favorite healed boots for some added femininity.

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My favourite yellow hat paired with a simple, long-sleeve flannel 

People often seem to seem to think that hats are a very casual style choice but they can also be worn to work with a blazer or a structured shirt. Below are a couple of my is one of my “fancier” hats. I got the one on top from another great local clothing store, Danali. It’s super soft and super elegant (I know this because my grandma said so). The bottom hat is originally from Club Monaco but I found it at Value Village last year. When I’m looking to wear a hat in a more formal or professional setting, I try to look for hats that are knitted or made from softer, lighter fabrics.

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Another great thing about the hat and its transformative abilities is that it is usually a very affordable wardrobe addition. Many of my most awesome hats come from Value Village or second-hand clothing stores (and no, lice is not an issue as long as you give your purchase a good wash in some scolding water).

Make sure that when you are buying a hat you choose one that works with the shape of your head. I have a very narrow head and so I find that I tend to look better in hats that aren’t too tight around the front and have a  bit of slouchiness at the back. My friends with rounder faces like to wear their hats a little more form fitting.

Check out the shops that I mentioned above and if you have any other cool hat spots please let me know. I believe strongly in the hat and I hope that I have persuaded you to try wearing one beyond the freezing outdoors this winter season.