Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A lightning-quick hello

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I'm jet-lagged, I've got an itinerary a mile long, I love this city so far, but I wish I'd brought about twenty extra scarves (I had no idea there was such a freezing wind here). I've had an amazing pastrami sandwich, a cool peanut butter doughnut, and some frankly horrible $8 tiramisu, a lot of coffee. I'm revelling in the accents, both English and Spanish. I'm loving how friendly everyone is... I can't remember the last time a stranger offered me help on the street (that would never happen in London, or Barcelona).

Hope you're all well!

Oh, and check out the lovely Miss Molly's feature of me in her Muse Project! I just wish that that pretend vacation she had me pack for was a real one!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

meet the cameras

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It seems there may be a DSLR in the ruby future of the blog (one of the reasons for going to New York, hehe). I created a monster when I first asked my boyfriend to take an outfit shot... or rather, I think the interest in photography was always there, but my having a specific request gave him some structure to practice with. I used a similar method when I wanted to write a book, incidentally. I'd always wanted to write but could never finish anything, until my mom said "You know, Harlequin are always actively soliciting new writers." So my first book (unpublished, like the second) was a cheesy romance. I've never been a romance reader or fan, but knowing what the plot was and how the characters had to be more or less allowed me to focus my energy into putting words on paper. Wow, that was a complete tangent. Anyway, Albert's really into photography now, and I'm excited about the camera-to-be and the upcoming potential to blur backgrounds so much you won't even know we're in New York. ; D

However, I've also been a big proclaimer of the idea that you don't need a fancy camera to take fancy pictures, so before the fancy camera arrives on the scene, I thought I'd celebrate the unsung heroes of the blog.

The Lumix:
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This is Albert's camera, and it's a good one. It looks a lot like a very posh and expensive Leica, and in fact it has a Leica lens, so it's essentially the same. However, it's made by Panasonic. At about $400, it isn't exactly bargain basement, but significantly less than a DSLR and it takes excellent photos (my parents also have an earlier model). Most of the pictures on the blog are taken with this camera. An example:
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It does some nice blur, and you can set it to Aperture or Shutter and adjust the ISO. Drawbacks include some distortion depending on the settings (but since this usually gives me longer legs I don't complain) ; ) and a really lame zoom.

The Sony:
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One year, when exceptionally broke, I needed a new camera (that has always been a necessity in my books). So I went to Zellers with my mom, the negotiator extraordinaire. This camera was originally almost $200, but it was on sale for something. Then we discovered that the only one remaining was the display model, so my mom wrangled a discount. Then I signed up for a Zellers card and got an additional $10 off. Result: $89 of great investment.
I love my camera. It's cheap, it's cheerful (it was $89 for chrissake) and it's great! Colours come out strong and clear. The low light capacity is excellent. It has an ISO setting which you can't really adjust but which does improve the light, and adjusting the white balance allows me to go from ghostly white to pleasantly yellow, which I'm in favour of. It's obviously not as good as Albert's camera, but for the price, it's ace.
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(The first picture is also an example of adjusting the white balance to give myself some colour... it makes things look warmer in general).

The Pentax:
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The Pentax is kind of our impractical baby. It was Albert's dad's, in the 70s/80s. It takes the best pictures of the bunch, but it's tempermental. Usually only a few pictures can be developed from each role, for mysterious reasons. It has been sent to the repair shop. Poor baby.
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So there you have it. What's your relationship with your camera? Do you feel it adds to or takes away from your blog?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

spring fever

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Now that my "Hits of the Winter" are out of the way (who really wants to dwell on winter anyway), let's get on with the real star... spring! The weather has been so unbelievably great the last week or so... so obviously I've been stuck inside with school/a boring data entry job. I'm not complaining though, money is always a good thing!

I've been saving photos of girls in pastel yellow skirts and floaty dresses and cropped sweaters, but Spring is actually jeans season for me. I get to this time of year and I'm soooo sick of tights, which have all lost their elastic generally, but it's too late to start buying new ones. I'm generally more of a dresses person, but I actually love jeans--on other people. I've been avoiding skinny jeans like the plague for the past 6 years, but after seeing the lovely Zoë working them like no other, I headed straight to the shops (and broke my shopping ban, but I am unrepentent since I've worn them about 12 days out of 14 so far). So, this is transitional dressing at Ruby Slipper Journeys.

Albert thinks blog posts should have the minimum amount of pictures to get the point across, and I also have the "less is more" attitude, but bear with me here please! I love these photos, I loved this day, my hair is actually doing something that is recognizable as a hairstyle and there are daffodils! Oh, and some of the backdrops aren't so scenic, but that's because I'm trying to get away from the myth on this blog that I live in a park surrounded by wilderness. I love the canal, but it's still a very urban setting.

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Spring forward! I must not forget to change my clock this weekend as my flight is on Sunday...

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Nailed the landing. ; )

Photos by Albert

jeans: Warehouse, blouse: Zara, shoes: Aldo, hat: The Bay
(ha, I realize that two of my favourite items are from the twin evil empires of Zara and Aldo... just shows that it's always worth a look)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

hits of the winter and an annoucement

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from Lulu Letty

Ok, first the announcement, before I forget yet again to mention it. I'm going to New York for a week (leaving this Sunday, returning the next). I'm über excited, as I've never been before, and basically, have hardly even been in the US before. So, if anyone happens to live in New York or Brooklyn, or some nearby place that I don't know about because I have no sense of US geography, and is interested in a coffee or something like that, let me know!

Moving on, it's spring now, so I figured is was time for one of my seaon-ending recaps. I saved so many pictures that inspired me over the winter, and was pretty brutal in cutting them, but here are some of my favourite bloggy outfits from the last few months. Oh, and Maria at the top was my absolute favourite look of the entire winter!

Tonal Neutrals:
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from Barbro Andersen and Style Bouquet

I'm generally a fan of colourful outfit, but if there's ever a time to retreat into a neutral palette for a bit, winter is it. I love how Barbro and Abi took some potentially blah colours, in navy and brown, and upped the ante with awesome silhouettes.

Cosy Patterned Sweaters:
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from Letters from Maud and Idée Géniale

I know grannie-chic is all the rage these days, but I have to say that I like grandpa-chic the best. Especially when paired with some more bonkers patterns (Maud) or velvet collars and platforms (Mel). I guess this is also my French Canadian tribute of the post... next winter I'm heading to Québec to get lessons in how to wear great sweaters!

Beatiful Dresses, Awesome Patterns:
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from The Clothes Horse and Lulu Letty

I'm actually not a big fan of floral print dresses (although I own my fair share--they're everywhere) so I loved the unusual patterns on these stunning dresses. The fleur de lis print on Rebecca's was eye-catching, especially when perfectly paired with the military jacket. And the waving-grass motif on Maria's? Gaaaah!

Red and Green:
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from Calivintage and Selective Potential

This is the season of Christmas, after all. I loved Erin's use of bright green (especially on the headpiece). As for Tieka and her perfectly proportioned use of knee-highs and a Mickey Mouse sweater, I was going to have a hits of the holidays post, but didn't get around to it. But hers was hands-down my favourite Christmas look. Playful and colourful!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

i wonder where de boidies is

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So, today is (was) the first day of spring. It's been sunny for a while, off and on, but today was the first day it also smelt like spring, and was warm in the evening. It was also the day I handed in an essay and made two presentations, and now am as free as a boidie, as they say. It was a mad, frantic couple of weeks, and I apologize to anyone (everyone!) who I've been neglecting throughout. I plan to be back mad, bad and dangerous to know, but we'll see... I have an action packed Easter break ahead.

Between my two presentations today, Albert and I made a little jaunt over to Notting Hill, a region I haven't visited since arriving in London, although I was here a few years ago. I can be a bit of a reverse snob sometimes: I prefer areas with a bit of character, a bit of diversity, slightly rough around the edges. But I have to say, Notting Hill is much prettier than East London, and the people seemed really laid back, whereas I find my area can be a bit judgmental sometimes. I frequently feel that I'm not trendy enough to exist within a five mile radius of Brick Lane. ; )

I was really wanting a dress like this one (they used to have the same dress in a different/better print) and simultaneously craving this dress. So I was mighty pleased when the charity shop threw up a happy combination: the shape (and more realistic length) of the first, and the great star print of the second. Looking forward to summer for this one!

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photos by Albert
blouse, dress and sweater, Charity shop
shoes: Camper

Thursday, 17 March 2011

land girl

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Almost a month ago I posted a quote from a Steinbeck novel I was reading: "The women and girls wore pants usually of corduroy and thick sweaters, and they covered their heads with bright-colored scarves to protect their hair from the dust that rises from the fields with the smallest wind."

Steinbeck was speaking of French-Canadian potato harvesters in Maine in the 60s, but, here in London, it also reminded me of the Women's Land Army. This was an organization during the two world wars that organized for young women to go an work on farms, as extra food provision was necessary, and many of the men had been conscripted. I first heard of them several years ago through the film The Land Girls, starring Catherine McCormack, Rachel Weisz and Anna Friel (from Pushing Daisies). It's not an amazing movie, but very interesting and well acted.

While many of the girls who worked the fields were already from the country, many others were city girls from London or the Northern cities. Despite the back-breaking work, I bet many of them had the times of their lives away in the country with a group of girls. Like the women Steinbeck mentions, they were dressed for hard labour in thick trousers and sweaters, with scarves to keep back their hair. I skipped the labour but took the inspiration for a walk up the canal.

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sweater: vintage, shirt: Pure by Alfred Sung, trousers: H&M, shoes: ebay, scarf: gift

Photos by Albert

Oh, and I'm quite loving my orange lipstick again. So glad it showed up in my passport bag!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

gloomy ponderings on an inspiring exhibition

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Here I am at the Natural History Museum, a beautiful building (especially on the outside) with a skeletal dinosaur looming in the entrance hall. They have permanent exhibitions of practically anything you could wish for in the natural world, and like all the best British museums, entry is free (at least for now; we'll see how long it takes the new government to do away with that). But we were there to see a very particular exhibit, the yearly "Wildlife Photographer of the Year."

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So you think you're a photographer....

This photo of a bird up there was in the 14-17 years old section!
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Most of the photographers are adults however, many professionals, and all of the accepted submissions are simply stunning:

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Some are sad: a shark crying a tear of blood as its fin is cut off, a turtle caught in a drift net (the turtle, at least, was released by the photographer).
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While I appreciated that the exhibition featured the joyful, funny and purely wild of the natural world, these darker photos resonated with me, especially in retrospect. Perhaps it's the gloom of seeing the destruction in Japan, perhaps it's the depressing nature of all my Climate Change readings for an upcoming presentation, but it's been really driven home to me this year how severely we're messing things up. The earthquake, I suppose, cannot be blamed on Climate Change, but from my reading all of last week I can say we're in for many many more natural disasters, from storms, to extreme heat or cold, flooding, and so on. And we continue with our destructive ways; I myself spend more time fuming about a lukewarm latte than thinking about the ridiculous waste and pollution that has gone into producing it for me in the first place. We are overfishing the oceans, hunting endangered species like that poor shark, over-logging the Amazon, eating too much meat, driving oversized cars (which were swept away by that tsunami in a flash), flying too much, eating too much, and definitely not thinking enough!

We're going down.
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Sunday, 13 March 2011

gypsy swing

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After a puzzling and lengthy trip to an area unserved by buses in South London, we arrived at a bar decked out a little like a trattoria, with a "tropical patio" which we avoided (erm, London ain't exactly tropical at this time of year). There was red wine (only available by the bottle--oh dear), tapas, and a band playing gypsy swing, in the style of Django Reinhardt. For those who don't know Django's style, check out the video below showcasing him and frequent musical partner Stephane Grappelli. My uncle bought me a Django CD when I was a teenagers, and I loved him from the sound of the first note. As though his lilting guitar solos weren't impressive enough, he played without the use of two fingers on his left hand, which were paralyzed in a fire.



The jam session that night weren't any competition for Django's ghost, but it was a fun evening nonetheless.

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We look a bit like one of those couples who dress alike here, but I can assure you, we're not!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

a quick hi

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Just a quick hello today! I know that there are some new people who have stopped by, largely due to NRIGirl's feature on me. I really enjoyed doing this one, as NRIGirl doesn't have a fashion blog, and her interview line-up was incredibly diverse. So thanks again NRIGirl! I found some charming new blogs through it too... and I'll be stopping in to say hi to you all when life calms down a little. At the moment things are a little hectic: I have a friend visiting, and three presentations and a paper due in the next two weeks. Typical end of term stuff, but somehow is always sneaks up and surprises me...

I took these pictures the other week when I overcame my phobio of being in public with my tripod just long enough to give it a whirl. The weather was much too nice to waste, after all! So if there's a slightly strained look in my eyes, it's that "I'm-not-photographing-myself-I'm-just-scoping-the-picture-I-intend-to-take" glare. I think they turned out rather well for all that, except for the shadow of the tripod... doh!

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dress: American Apparel (sale)
shirt: Pepe Jeans (sale)
shoes: Fly London

Sunday, 6 March 2011

the age of enlightenment

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Albs came for a three day visit to London last week, which was obviously awesome from a social point of view and disastrous from a university work point-of-view. The first day, we went to the British museum.

I've been before quite a few times, since it's about a ten minute walk from my university, but it was my first time spending any time in the Enlightenment Room. The 18th century is an era of British History that I've never been much interested in, perhaps because I studied literature and I don't have much time for the poets of this era (except for the brilliant Alexander Pope). I love the Victorian era, the 20th century, and even the Middle Ages, but have neglected The Age of Reason, which is a shame, because it was the birth of many of the ideas that make the Victorian period so interesting: the questioning of traditions, morals and religion, the interest in science and natural history, the "open discussion of public issues" (Habermas).

The room was organized into different themes (see link) but I just drifted around reading the spines of all the French tomes, ogling the finely carved stones and minerals, staring back into the beady centuries-old eyes of taxidermied birds, while Albert chilled with the Greek busts. Apart from anything else, it was the era of great collections, when perhaps it seemed as though the key to understanding the world could be accessed through lining up all it's riches, mineral, animal and vegetable, to be prized and studied.

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This dude has a lot to answer for
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Do any of you vintage experts have any idea how old this coat may be? I found it in the half-off section of Beyond Retro off Brick Lane, and was powerless to resist the charm of its velvet bows and cuffs. The brand is Rothschild, It was made in Yugoslavia, and the RN number is 38843, which by my total-newbie googling puts it at about 1969... but I'd be happy to know what you think.
And yes, it needs a button (two actually) sewed on, but since I wanted to debut it this winter and not next...

coat: vintage
shoes: Camper
awful hair and puffy eyes: not my day

A bit of Alexander Pope to send you on your Sunday ways! (from the Essay on Man)

Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish or a sparrow fall,
Atoms or systems into ruin hurl'd,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.