Monday, 15 July 2013

Caroline vs. Cities & Typography

I was bitten by the travel bug at a very young age, and since the past few years have been relatively light on the travel front the internet has been great for feeding my wanderlust.  As such, my Tumblr and Pinterest are constantly inundated with photos of faraway places, filling me with nostalgia for places I've been lucky to visit, and giving me a kick in the pants to get my act together so I can discover new places.  A few of my recent favourite travel-oriented photos come from Turkish web designer Gökhun Güneyhan, who has done a really interesting job of marrying photos of European cities and countries with a typographical interpretation of the names of those places.  My hands-down favourite is "Valencia," although I admit to being slightly biased, as the building pictured (the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia) was right across the road from my family's apartment when we lived there.
The Palau is part of the hyper modern City of Arts and Sciences, largely designed by the famed Santiago Calatrava
Some of my other favourites are below, but click through to see the rest!

Prague's distinctive architecture

Saint Mary's Basilica, located in Krakow's Rynek Główny, which is the largest medieval town square in Europe!

View of the Eiffel Tower from Place de la Varsovie

xx, C.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Caroline vs. The Drake Hotel

A few months back I decided I wanted to surprise my boyfriend Clement with a Valentine’s Day staycation, and what better place to do so than the Drake Hotel.  I’d only been to the Drake a couple times, and even then only for drinks, so I was eager to find out what it would be like to actually stay there.
The Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen Street West, Toronto
Thirty minutes after I left my Annex apartment, the Queen streetcar dropped me off right in front of the Drake.  Check-in was quick and easy, and the front desk staff were glad to answer any questions I had.  Because the hotel is in an older building there is no elevator, which was no problem for me and my small overnight bag, but getting up the two flights of stair with a full suitcase would have been difficult had I followed my notorious overpacker instincts.
Our little Crash Pad!  The perfect size for two.
As soon as I opened the door and walked into our assigned Crash Pad (the second smallest offering of rooms at the Drake) I was met with the slightest peppermint scent, which put me at ease right away.  I really enjoyed the fact that the room was scattered with trinkets available for purchase through the Drake General Store, located next door to the hotel entrance, and to which guests receive a voucher for 10% off (I ended up buying a Luckies of London scratch-off map of the world).  The room was by no means palatial, but it was very well organized and not once did we feel cramped.  There was no mini-fridge, but snacks and drinks were displayed neatly on shelves – the constant visibility and the aesthetically-pleasing packaging made the pricy goodies that much harder to resist!  There was a small bag of caramel popcorn beside the bed with a welcome card on it, which sufficed as our snack for the night.
Spoils from Malin+Goetz: cilantro hair conditioner, bergamot body wash, and peppermint shampoo.
I arrived alone, about an hour before Clem did, so I had some time to get myself all made up.  The bathroom lights were bright enough for me to see precisely what I was doing, but they didn’t cast the harsh glow I have come to expect in hotel bathrooms.  The array of wonderfully scented Malin+Goetz toiletries made me feel extra luxurious, and I really wish they had sample sizes so I could take them home without being charged.  In theory, one could pick up some travel-sized bottles from the Shoppers Drugmart down the street and fill them with the products, but unfortunately for me this thought didn’t strike until after we’d left (and shelled out $36 for a bottle of the peppermint shampoo).

The Striploin Maki.  Perfect for sharing.
After primping I glided down the stairs and met the boyfriend for drinks at the bar.  I’d only ever been up to the rooftop Sky Yard, but this time we decided to escape the cold and cozy up in the Lounge.  It was big, but still felt warm and homey; the back wall was filled with books and vinyl and retro record players, which almost made us feel like we were in our own living room.  The Drake has a wide array ofcocktails, so I asked our server which ones he recommended, and I was very pleased with both the Paper Plane and the Paloma (both $13).  Cocktails generally run between $10 and $14, so a bill adds up pretty quickly, but if you’re in the mood for only one or two expertly mixed drinks, the Drake is the place for you.  Clem and I had agreed beforehand that a night at the Drake would stand in lieu of a nice dinner, but we couldn’t pass up ordering an appetizer to go with our drinks.  We ended up with the Striploin Maki ($15.95), which was unbelievable.  I’m not a big fan of seafood and tend to stick with vegetarian sushi, so the beef was a nice change of pace.
Really great touch!
After we had spent some time at the bar, Clem and I left the hotel in search of something more substantial for dinner that would also be easy on the wallet.  We ended up at Poutini’s, just a block away, and immediately chowed down on some poutine.  I HATE gravy (weird, I know.  My family never ate it when I was growing up, so I never got the taste for it), so I opted for the pulled pork, which was saucy enough that my fries and cheese curds weren’t too naked, meanwhile Clem heartily dug into his classic poutine.  The two poutines together came to less than $15, so we left with bellies and wallets totally satisfied.  We then went back to our room, and were greeted with a small plate with two cookies, and a card wishing us goodnight!  One thing I love about boutique hotels is the little touches they have to make guests feel totally at home.  After scarfing down the cookies we changed into the comfy Drake Hotel bathrobes, and settled in for the night with a movie and the clichéd-but-necessary bottle of bubbly – Clem had picked up my favourite, Freixenet Cordon Negro.

I need to eat breakfast in bed more often.
Before we went to bed we decided we would splurge on breakfast in bed.  I mean, why not, right?  We chose the continental breakfast ($26 per person), which was delivered bright and early the next morning.  We had coffee, orange juice, fruit salad, yougurt and pastries.  The coffee was delicious and the juice was freshly pressed, but the rest of the breakfast wasn’t too spectacular.  The fruit salad was very standard, full of melon with very few berries, which was disheartening for me as I don’t care for melon (but LOVE fresh berries).  I mixed the fruit with the yougurt, which I gathered was natural-flavour Greek yougurt; it was good with the fruit, but not so much on its own.  A little honey and I would have been a happy camper.  The pastries were small and almost crunchy, but this was remedied with the cream and jam that accompanied them.  All that aside, however, we got to eat breakfast in bed without cooking it first, which was a special treat.
This little guy from the Drake General Store was so cute!

Check-out was at 11am, and with that the real world beckoned, and our little staycation was over.  We both had a really good time, and even though it's unlikely I'll be able to stay at the hotel again in the near future, it will remain one of my favourite spots in Toronto for eating and drinking.

xx, C.

Credits: First photo from The Drake's Facebook page, all others my own.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Caroline vs. DUY AW13

I wasn't able to attend Toronto Fashion Week this week, but in my perusing of social media I found the above gem from the DUY show on Bianca Venerayan's Instagram...and my jaw dropped.  I've come to love formal-wear, but I'm also a big fan of being comfortable, so this perfect combination of comfort and style is really appealing to me.  With a little sleuthing, I found out that the designer, Vietnam-born Montreal-based Duy Nguyen, was last year's Mercedes Benz Start-Up winner, and boy, did they pick a good one!  The collection has lots of texture, with big knits, fur, and leather, which helps give dimension to the neutral colour palette.  Below are a few of my favourite looks:
Flare's shot of my favourite look.  I'm just waiting for an opportunity to pair a full-length skirt with some soft knits!

I love the skinny silhouette created with the trousers balanced with a super long coat.

Fur and feathers!  The perfect things to spice up any outfit.

Metallic silver is perfect for the holiday season, and it's modern without looking crazy futuristic.

Click through to check out the rest of the collection, as seen through the lens of Flare's George Pimentel.

What were some of your favourite looks and collections this week?

xx, C.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Caroline vs. Drake General Store Warehouse Sale

Today is the first day of the Drake General Store's Warehouse Sale!  They have a great selection of stuff in all their regular outposts, so I can only imagine the loot available at their warehouse sale.  They've also teamed up with Pendleton, who will no doubt be offering some amazing items.  Plus, think of the sale prices!  If you're looking for a way to update your apartment or your wardrobe for Spring, you definitely want to spend some time there this weekend.

442 Dufferin Street, Unit 'I' (North of Queen Street), 416-538-2222
Friday, March 8th: Pre-Sale (invite only), 2pm-8pm
Saturday, March 9th: 11am-5pm
Sunday March 10th: 12pm-4pm

xx, C.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Caroline vs. Carven Dress

Paris Map Print Cotton Dress

This Carven dress gives me a healthy dose of fashion envy, with a dash of wanderlust.  Imagine how meta it would be to wear it in Paris!  What I love most about this dress is that from a distance it looks like a delicate pattern of pastels, but upon closer inspection it is actually an illustrated map of one of the world's most romantic cities.  This dress is fun and still chic, and with some delicate sandals and a great hat it would be the perfect summer go-to.  Carven also used this pattern for a blazer, a skirt, a blouse, and yes, even shoes.  I want it all in my closet immediately!

xx, C.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Caroline vs. Cast of Vices Bracelet

Cast of Vices Coming or Going Bracelet

How luxe is this bracelet??  I absolutely love it!  It reminds me of the gaudy plastic wristbands we all needed to wear for events at my college - they were used for entrance to events, and to determine at a glance who was or was not of legal drinking age.  I'm closing in on graduation from my undergrad, and I kind of love the idea of actually getting this, as a reminder of the memories I made (or didn't...) with my friends and peers over the past five years.  Instead of having a gross plastic wristband I'd inevitably cut off and throw away, I'd have an amazing piece of arm candy that would be meaningful to me, and still interesting for others to look at (and lust over).

If you want me, I'll be waiting for this to go on sale, and hoping it doesn't sell out.

xx, C.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Caroline vs. Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day, lovers!  I hope all of you are celebrating love today, either with others or with some me-time.  My boyfriend and I are spending the night at the Drake Hotel, which I am super excited for, but because we're being spendy with a hotel room, we've decided to forego a fancy dinner and just get takeout instead.  Being a poor student sucks!

I wanted to share this video with you guys today, because who doesn't love little kids talking about love?  It makes me nostalgic for the time when love was so simple, when just loving your parents or your pet or your best friend was enough.

xx, C.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Caroline vs. Around the World Watch

I pinned this photo of an arm party months ago because I was really drawn to the watch.  I have a really tough time with watches because I always wear one, but I'm not a fan of anything too trendy or elaborate - I like to leave that for actual bracelets.  But this watch has a lot of things I look for: a classic shape, a neutral colour palette, with with a little punch.  I was so impressed recently when I found out it's from Urban Outfitters!  I've never loved UO, but they knocked it out of the park with this one, and I definitely need this watch in a big way.  It even has a leather strap, which I love so much more than synthetic straps.  It gives me a pang of wanderlust, and I'm really wondering what map they took this from.  What do you guys think?

xx, C.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Caroline vs. Berlin Street Style

Two summers ago I was really lucky to call Berlin my temporary home while I was doing a summer course.  I fell in love with the city and its history, and I also fell in love with its sense of style.  Parisian Chic and London Cool aren't popular looks in Berlin; Berliners have a style that is casually grunge but put together, as well as being fiercely independent.  I spent most of my time in the neighbourhoods of Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg, where I noticed a lot of people mixing vintage with high street brands and boutique pieces.  These two neighbourhoods are popular with immigrants, young families, and students, so designer brands weren't something people really bothered with.  Women's Wear Daily recently did a roundup of 26 great examples of Berlin street style from Mitte, a neighbourhood more synonymous with tourists, high end stores, expensive restaurants, and offices, yet photographer Kuba Dabrowski didn't produce photos of people dashing about in perfectly fitted suites or decked out in luxury brands.  Instead, she found people who really exemplify the style of the every-day Berliner: basics layered with standout pieces that come together in a way that looks a little wrong, but still so right.  Here are some of my favourites, but click through to see more.

xx, C.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Caroline vs. Powder Puff Party

Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending Holt Renfrew's Powder Puff party, which was billed as "the beauty event of the season."  I'm not a beauty-product fanatic, but the $25 ticket included free beauty services such as eyebrow treatments, facials, and manis, plus it could be applied against a purchase of $75 or more, so how could I say no?!
Emily and Lisa.  Photo from my Instagram.
My friend Allison and I arrived shortly after the event started, and were surprised to see how crowded it was.  The sign of a successful event, to be sure (tickets had sold out well in advance), but it did make manoeuvering a bit difficult; there were lineups for free samples of Hermès perfumes and for a Wheel-of-Fortune-type activity that had to be controlled by security.  Allison and I opted for the wheel game, so we joined the end of the line.  Luckily for us, we ended up standing right beside the stage set up for a Q&A between HoltsVP Fashion Editor Lisa Tant and Emily Weiss from the beauty blog Into The Gloss; they talked about how to wear some of this Spring's beauty trends, such as brightly coloured eyeshadow, and eyebrows.  As someone with dark and heavy brows, I am so glad they are back in style!
My stuff from Diptyque!  It all smells amazing

As we inched closer to the spinning wheel, we figured out there was a prize guaranteed with each spin: landing on the pink "Powder Puff" sections meant a powder puff, landing on the black Mercedes Benz logo (one of the event's sponsors) yielded a sample sized nail polish, and landing on the only white section meant you walked away with a "grand prize" of sorts.  Spinning that wheel was quite nerve-wracking!  Allison walked away with a gorgeous red nail polish, and I lucked out and landed on the grand prize section!  I chose bag of Diptyque goodies, which contained a mini candle in "Figuier,"  and samples of "Lait Frais" hand lotion and "Philosykos" Eau de Parfum.  They all smell amazing...I might have to start saving up for some other Diptyque products.
My scented Conditioning Brush Cleanser.  Good for all brushes, but the chocolate is great for cleaning lip brushes!
Holts was also working with Beauty So Clean, who set up a brush cleaning station and sanitized up to two makeup brushes per person.  I have a ton of brushes, so on my way out the door I grabbed my two grimiest, a concealer brush and a lip brush.  They had two sprays, both were essentially hand sanitizer plus conditioner for your brushes, made with dermatologist-tested ingredients; the only difference between the two was that one was chocolate scented!  And I was actually the first person to have a lip brush cleaned, so I got a free sample of the chocolate-scented Conditioning Brush Cleanser!  I was on a roll!
Clinique purchases: High Definition Lashes mascaraRedness Solutions Daily Relief Cream with Probiotic TechnologyRedness Solutions Makeup SPF 15 with Probiotic Technology.
Free gift with purchase at Clinique!  From left to right: Chubby Stick in "Chunky Cherry;" Take The Day Off Makeup Remover For Lids, Lashes & LipsBlushing Blush Powder Blush in "Sunset Glow;" Liquid Facial Soap MildHigh Lengths Mascara; all on top of the cosmetics bag.
I also picked up some beauty products at Clinique for my mum and me.  We both have very sensitive skin, and Clinique makeup really works for us, so every time there is some kind of promotion I'll go to a Clinique counter and stock up.  For my mum I got her favourite foundation, Redness Solutions with SPF15 and probiotic technology, as well as a Redness Solutions face cream; she has rosacea, and these products are specifically designed to work with that.  For myself I picked out my favourite mascara, High Definition with a brush and a comb!  I have naturally long lashes so I'm not concerned with length, but this mascara is really good at separating the lashes so it looks like you have more.  I was also surprised with a gift with purchase, which included makeup remover, mild face cleanser, blush, High Lengths mascara, a Chubby Stick, and a cosmetics bag.  I'm a big fan of this makeup remover since it gets everything off so easily and is also so gentle.  The High Lengths mascara is interesting, because it's just sort of a wand with teeny-tiny bristles, as opposed to a brush or a comb; I find it does a decent job with the first few layers, but it's not so great if you constantly reapply mascara during the day, and I find that the more times you reapply the more it clumps.  I haven't tried any of the other products before, but I look forward to giving them a go!
Mani time!  The black polish is The Black Knight, and the pink polish is Queen Vic, both by Butter London.  Photo by Allison.
Nail polishes on offer!  This shade is Rosie Lee.  Photo by Allison.
As soon as we had arrived at the event we checked out the brow station, but they were already full up for the night, which was disappointing.  Instead, we managed to put ourselves on a list for manicures with Butter London polish, which is carried at Holts.  I am the proud owner of 55 nail polishes, so every time I get a manicure I find it really difficult to pick a colour unlike anything in my arsenal.  I don't own anything by Butter London (yet), so once my allotted time came around near the end of the event, I was able to quickly pick out two colours I liked: The Black Knight for eight of my fingers, and Queen Vic as an accent on my ring fingers.  The Black Knight is a black base with silver, pink, and blue glitter that gives the look of the galaxy trend with just one colour, and Queen Vic is a deep magenta that almost matches the colour of the Holts bags, which I thought was appropriate for the occasion!  The manicure only took about ten minutes because it was just nail painting - no lotions or nail cutting.  I was out of my chair as soon as all ten of my nails were painted, and because the event was ending we had to go right to coat check.  Getting dressed again for the brutal -24C weather outside took a while!  Big thanks to Allison, who took pics of me getting my nails did, and also writing down the names of the polishes I picked :)
Macarons from Butter Avenue.  One was Earl Grey, one was Sea Salt Caramel.  Both were delicious!
All in all, I had a great time.  Fancy hors d'oeuvres, virgin mint juleps, and bottles of Voss water were passed around, and there were stands scattered around the floor giving out Belmonte Raw juices, Butter Avenue macarons, and samples of David's Tea; I definitely did not go to bed hungry.  Thanks Holt Renfrew and Into The Gloss for such a fun event!

xx, C.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Caroline vs. A Night at the NAC

Growing up in Ottawa, I never quite settled into the holiday season without at least one trip to the National Arts Centre.  This year I forewent seeing The Nutcracker, and instead saw a performance of Handel's Messiah.  Seeing the Messiah isn't as big a tradition for my family, but I always love going to a performance; I constantly listen to the music on my iPod (and the Messiah was even a unit in a music history course I took last year - fun fact, it was actually composed to be performed at Easter!), but with a live performance one really gets to enjoy how animated the singers and orchestra get.
Baritone soloist Alex Dobson, and conductor Paul Goodwin.  From The Ottawa Citizen's review.
Every year the NAC puts on two performances the week before Christmas, and my parents and I were lucky enough to get seats right in the middle of the hall, mere rows from the stage - juuuuuust outside of the "spit zone!"  The choir was made up of singers from the Cantata Singers of Ottawa and Seventeen Voyces, and the orchestra was the NAC orchestra, led by the talented Paul Goodwin.  They were all amazing to watch and listen to, and my eyes would always go back to concert master Yosuke Kawasaki, who would move around in his chair in ways I've never seen a violinist do before.  The soloists were tremendously talented, but as an alto myself I really enjoyed mezzo-soprano Diana Moore; some of my favourite parts of the Messiah belong to the alto soloist, and I almost found myself wanting to sing along.  The performance was given a standing ovation from a full house, and you could really see the happiness in the eyes of the musicians at the realization that their craft had touched so many people.
View of Le Café from across the Canal.  From LE CAFE NAC.
Before the performance, my parents took my brother and me to Le Café, the restaurant in the NAC.  I've always known it was there but had never been before, and I very much enjoyed myself.  It's very popular for office lunches and dinners because of its proximity to Parliament Hill, National Defense HQ, as well as plenty of downtown offices, and both my parents frequent the restaurant with their colleagues.  We even saw MP David McGuinty having dinner when we were there! #OttawaLyfe.  I probably wouldn't choose to eat at Le Café if I was just hanging out with friends - the menu isn't really built to accomodate the student/starving artist budget.  But the food was very, very good, and the service was impeccable, so I'd go back again if someone else was footing the bill, or if I had a real job that provided me more disposable income than the tips I earn as a bartender.  Another selling point for Le Café is that because it is part of the NAC complex, it is easy to get from the dining room to any of the theatres, and the chefs and servers are conscious

I haven't spent much time in Ottawa for the past five years, so when I am at home I always try to rediscover a little bit more of the city I grew up in.

xx, C.