Monday, August 31, 2009

Great garbage find

I was wondering what I would post on the blog today as I was walking home yesterday afternoon, when 'lo and behold, I saw this funky lampshade on the curb.

It was attached to a base that looked like a robot - the industrial look was carried a wee bit too far - but I couldn't walk away without the shade ... isn't it just fab?

As you can see it's made of mesh rings and has little sprongy things hanging from the bottom - truly a grungy glam lampshade that's perfect for the Grunge Queen!

See how neat it looks lit up and how it casts teeny honeycombs on the wall?

I put it on a modern lamp base that I found in my closet - if you check out my numerous lamp posts you'll see I play around with shades and bases - and no doubt I'll play with it some more before I find the perfect arrangement for the moment.

For now I've put it in the kitchen along with a small Persian-y rug so the look is bohemian industrial for now.

This is only the beginning - think I feel a kitchen makeover coming on!

A tip on garbage picking: you have to have no shame, and looking purposeful and somewhat in-your-own world can make you look like some eccentric designer type who's going to get your big break by digging "x" out of the trash.

I picked this in full view of a family sitting on their porch. They watched me; I watched them; then I watched the lamp; then I decided, what the heck - it's too fabulous! - so I took the plunge and started rooting!

Friday, August 28, 2009

My latest thrifty haul

Ever slept with a new thrift find by your bed?

Ok, kinda sad but I just felt like a kid when I found this retro placticized fabric clutch at the Common Sort 50 percent of sale yesterday.

I love the hardware, and inside the silky lining is in perfect condition - no stinky moth ball smell! - and there's even a mirror with the maker's name (Madison Creation) inside a tiny side pouch. So ladylike!

It was $10.50 with the discount, and yes, I slept with it on the floor by my bed last night.

I had to restrain myself from buying too many summer ditties since I try to look forward to the next season when I thrift shop - I have too many summer dresses in my closet, let's put it that way - so this super sassy rocker elasticized belt will be just perfect with anything from jeans to a suit. It was $9 with the discount.

This past year I've really gone to town on belts. I have a small waist and I figure I may as well accentuate the positive.

This vintage velvet elasticized belt with funky gold-tone hardware was a real find. I have one that's somewhat similar (see my tan post below - it's the one I wore higher up on my body with my $4.99 dress), but that one was $30 at the Toronto Film Studios fall sale, pricey for me but these belts are relatively hard to find.

This one was only $8 with the discount.

Nicole Babin owns Common Sort and has these sales a few times a year to clear out her stock. She also buys, sells or trades items that she sells in store, so she may take your castoffs if they suit her style ethic.

And once you're a customer you'll go on her email list and be notified of the 50 percent off sales! Last year I found a vintage Bergdorf Goodman quilted jacket at the sale. It's brilliant.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More mirrors, no smoke

I'm still on my mirror theme today. They add glitz and glam and light to any space and, well, they're shiny and I'm attracted to them like a kid to a lollipop.

This uber heavy gilt mirror suits my rough-and-tumble chic look. It has an old flaky gold leaf look to it that speaks of age and a certain amount of decrepitude.

It was sitting in the basement of a dingy second-hand store in the west end of Toronto (that didn't stay open for long, alas) for $3.99. Natch I snapped it up.

I love the way it pops against the deep blue.

I've already shown you my little beauty nook in a tiny hallway, where a heavy second-hand mirror (about $30, pricey for the Grunge Queen) hangs over a gilt shelf ($2 at a garage sale in Ottawa when I went on vacation last year!).

I recently jazzed up the hallway by hanging a print under the gilt shelf. It extends the space and makes the ensemble look like an entire unit.

If you look behind it to the left you'll see a smaller version of the lacquer mirror I showed you yesterday, hanging over an empty frame I found at a garage sale (3 of them for $2).

This is the smallest decor mirror I've ever bought. It was about $6.99 at my local east-end Toronto thrift store, Stretch Thrift.

I use it to check my butt out in my oblong mirror when I'm getting dressed in the morning.

I love the rustic, semi scraggy look. It provides an interesting contrast to all my pretty shiny perfume bottles.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mirror, mirror - not on the wall

I'm feeling a bit betwixt and between in terms of new decor ideas. It's finally summer in Toronto yet despite the warm temps and some humidity it feels more like fall ... except it doesn't yet feel like fall, if you catch my drift.

My point? It seems too late to keep streamlining my pad, as I naturally seem to do in the summer, yet it's way too early to haul out the velvet drapes and go to town with cozy winter decor.

One feature that stays the same in my space no matter what the season: mirrors. Lots of them.

I'm not a narcissist, really. It's just that mirrors reflect light and make a room look bigger, and whatever the season, that's a good thing in my humble opinion.

So how many mirrors do I have? Seven, I think, not including a small funky one on a stand that I'll show you tomorrow (thrifted, of course).

The cool thing about the larger ones you see here is they're so versatile. I don't even hang 'em; I just prop 'em.

They can be turned sideways to create a different shape.

This gold mirror was $14.99 marked down from $19.99 at Value Village.

I like that it's a bit of an oxymoron: it gestures towards glitziness with the gold, yet the gold is painted over a rustic wood frame.

And it's no secret that mirrors just look so glam.

This (very heavy) wood lacquered one was on major special, over $200 regular price but if memory serves about $60 at my fave mirror and framing shop in Toronto, Syllogy at 217 Danforth Ave.

They have regular screamin' deals, cash only, on their huge wall mirrors, which they make themselves.

Heck you can even plop 'em on the floor, and balance a painting on top as I did here.

Lesson: you can move mirrors around your space just as you'd juggle pillows or candlesticks.

And they don't just have to hang on the wall.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Shoe boo

Here's my beautifully tanned foot - see post below - wearing ... ta da: my new sandals!

I had a good response to the Which is Thrift? post on new and used shoes.

Many people thought both pair of shoes looked new, but Style Symmetry and Smartchic (whose link I can't get to work, sorry) guessed right.

The sandal to the left was bought new for about $69.99 - not cheap for the Grunge Queen - while the shoe that was beside it by Geox was $6.99 for the pair at the Goodwill.

Here are my white feet from a few weeks ago, wearing my new silver Kenneth Cole ballet flat to the left (around $50 as part of a 2 for 1 sale), and on the right a used pair of Kenneth Cole flats bought at the same Goodwill for $6.99!

Both are in mint condition.

Kudos to your thrifty reasoning for those who guessed right and thanks to all who posted comments!

Just goes to show that it is possible to find new shoes at the thrift shops - it's not easy but sometimes you can score big. I look for shoes that don't have a worn look or stink too much. A current style always helps but sometimes you can find some fab 1980s heels that could be spruced up with a visit to the shoe repair doctor.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Brown and white versions of moi

There are certain things in life I don't like cheaping out on.

I'm paler than pale and have tried numerous tinted moisterizers and self-tanners from over the counter, all with the same depressing and orangy streaked results.

So when The Forest Hill Spa announced it had just introduced the St. Tropez method of airbrush tanning, I figure I'd give it a whirl.

It's only $65 for a full-body spray that takes about 20 minutes, then maybe another 25 or so to try.

Here I am in front of the booth, with legs whiter than the underbelly of a fish.

This is me after, looking hopefully like a bronzed beach babe.

I've never been this dark before, and it feels good. Having a tan - even a "fake" one, just makes you look healthier.

And there's no exposure to UV rays with this method.

What do you think? Shall I drop large hints to the man about getting me a package of 3 or 6 more treatments? (Hey, the Grunge Queen can maybe do $65, but not several hundred smackeroos).

This will wear off in a week or two, so if I don't keep it up I'll be white again in no time.

But for now it's nice to try out a different look, and it's definitley nice not to wear cover-up on my face! We'll see how the man - and men? - reacts.

P.S. I'm writing this the next day and I have the answer: men go bananas over tans. On my way home after work yesterday a man FOLLOWED ME ONTO THE BUS after I told him I wouldn't go out with him. He said I was "the most elegant woman" he's ever seen!

Mmm, this could be an interesting social experiment. Maybe I should dye my hair blond too!

BY THE WAY that dark blue dress I'm wearing is new, though it was $4.99 at an end-of-the-line shop I discovered across fromt he Value Village on the Danforth in Toronto.

Deco Nostalgia: a look back

As you can maybe guess by new new banner up top, I'm feeling nostalgic tonight for some looks I've created in the past.

I normally don't mourn what's done on the decor front; I just move on to the next look as I'm constantly craving change in my space.

But as you know, nostalgia plays a huge role in my Grunge Queen philosophy. It's only by exploring where you've been and what moors you to this earth that you can begin to express yourself and your style through your decor.

Looking back and revisiting ideas or looks isn't unimaginative; it's celebrating the essential 'you' and can lead to a more refined style.

On the subject of looking back, I'm wondering if the impulse to collect a particular item - like I collect jewellery or head vases - isn't on some level a re-living of that initial moment of love-dom.

It paints a rather compulsive picture of collecting, but there ya go: my deep thought for the eve.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Movie star looks a la thrift


Ever since finding my $3 retro purple sunglasses
I've been slightly obsessed with ... you guessd it, large purple retro shades!

These purply pink retro shades called "Comet by Newtrend" were only 99 cents at my local thrift shop.

The person who wore them had a small head as the arms have been bent super short. But my optician can heat them and adjust them to fit me - remember that when you're scouting for retro shades!

I found another goodie yesterday while doing a shopping column in North Toronto. In one of my fave consignment shops, Around the Block I found this wonderful piece of costume jewellery for $10.

As you'll see with my other thrift jewellery posts, costume necklaces with multi-tiers are a particular obsession of mine. Pearls and chains are classy yet can be funked up, and they can solve various style woes.

I'm wearing them here with a jersey wrap-inspired dress by Bionic Woman by Toronto designer Mark Foreman, which has a long V-neck that shows my scar and makes me look even more flat-chested than I am.

A tangle of pearls and chains like this remedies those problems and makes me look like a rich beetch to boot.

Tip: always look for costume jewellery with some weight. It tends to look more classy and substantial. I can always tell it's retro by looking at the clasp, which always has cool and very ancient looking hardware.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Layway art

What do you think?

This is a beautiful painting by Toronto artist Julie Glick Julie Glick. I found it at the Red Sable
gallery in Toronto while doing a recent Shopping Column.

Let's just say I fell in love with it.

Now reader, you know I normally get my art from the thrift store.

But Julie, also the curator at Red Sable, was flexible and let me do layaway.

I love that. Who does layaway anymore? It makes sense for big purchases like art, which will never go out of style, but not for things like fast fashion, which'll be outta style by the time you end up paying for them!

So in a few months, this lovely oil painting - here's a pic of it I snapped in the gallery with the frame - will be mine.

It's a nice feeling to have something to work towards. I love the feeling of anticipation. And every time I put some cash on it I'll get the same thrill I do when I'm in the thrift shop. It'll feel so good to finally bring it home, like I've worked so hard to get it - boy this feels kinda old-fashioned doesn't it?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Which is thrift?

I really put my foot in my mouth. Just after I buy two pair of new summer shoes I find two similar pair in the thrift store for next-to-nothing!

Can you tell which wedgie is which, new or thrift? One is by Geox and the other Easy Spirit.

I think I'll have to rethink my "Never buy shoes thrift rule." Rules are meant to be broken anyway, right?

How about these?

Both ballet flats are by Kenneth Cole, but one was super cheap and the other, though part of my two-for-one deal mentioned in yesterday's post, were still $50.


I should mention both thrift shoes are in mint condition and look like they haven't been worn hardly at all. I guess that's the big issue I have with thrift-bought shoes: they tend to be really quite worn and stinky. But if you find a pair in good shape that suit you, take a second look by all means.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Retro shades & hunky Aussies

What do you think of my movie star sunglasses?

I found them in an old hardware store on Danforth Ave. in Toronto for $3!

They're not new. The hardware store, Tracy's Hardware, has been around for 55 years. It does sell hardware but the window is full of second-hand treasures like brass Buddhas and 1960s Murano glass.

I couldn't resist these - purple too!

I wore them last night to the funkiest networking event I've ever been to, held at a drive-through storage facility in Toronto called All Canadian Self Storage and organized by Toronto area Business Network News. I paired them with a fab pink A.X.L. dress I found at ENDS in the Beach for $29!

Funnily enough I tried the exact same dress on a few months ago at the same place when it was $10 more, but left it there as I didn't think it looked good on me!

I also found this ring - new - for .50 cents at another end-of-the line place on the Danforth!

It looks so classy, doesn't it? I think it may be copper.

The lady said it's from Johnson's jewellery in New York but I'm still investigating. Looks like there may be a stamp inside.

I didn't get any pics of me in my amazing dress, but someone else did!

Here I am with some Aussie football players at the The Aussie X booth.

I think I may end up on a brochure somewhere!

Sunglasses, $3; dress that would normal retail at $200: $29; necklace for a couple bucks at a garage sale - that's $34 for this outfit not including the silver leather shoes, which were part of a buy one get the second pair FREE so they were really $50!

I call that a thrifty shopping goal - or is it a touchdown?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Decor & innocence

Kids love my apartment!

This is important to the Grunge Queen. One, I'm single and sans kids and always worry the little tykes will either destroy my apartment or swallow something tiny.

But more important, the fact that my tiny nieces and nephew visited my apartment yesterday and loved it - I believe my six-year old nephew called it "beautiful" - makes me rejoice in my design style and ethic.

See, Grunge Queen philosophy goes something like this: that you're happiest in your space when it's a reflection of you, your history and your tastes, and that injecting a bit of magic here and there is good for the soul.

Play is important here as a fun and self-affirming way of exploring your style is to tinker and toy around with items in your space until you come up with an arrangement that you love ... until you start playing again.

The elements of my apartment the kids were really jazzed about - the crystal ball, the swishy gold and satin pillows, the glittery purses hanging from my bureau ... basically anything shiny and shimmery - are exactly the decorative bits and bobs that attract me the most and that I seek out in thrift shops.

So what does that mean? My take? I'm a kid! The Romantic poets, particularly Wordsworth, wrote about capturing the innocence of youth that is invariably lost as one ages.

I suppose Wordsworth believed he could connect with his inner child through poetry. Just as I believe I can connect with my inner child through the creative endeavor of decorating and "playing" in my apartment.

Decor and innocence: what an amazing concept!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Classy glass

My streamlining of clutter project has meant I've had to curtail my weekly thrift store digs, and in an effort to save moolah I avoid my local Value Village, which tends to be a bit more expensive than my local thrift store.

But I couldn't resist this gorgeous tealight at VV for $2.99. It's by Orrefors glass and it's uber heavy.

My sister received two of these for Christmas from a relation who loves buying expensive things, so I knew it cost something sweet retail.

I just love the design - it looks like a bunch of frozen berries clustered all together.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A throne fit for a queen

Lest you think this blog is becoming a catalogue of my various social exploits, let me reassure you that this entry is 1). Related to a shopping column I'm doing about Yorkville in Toronto; and 2) An illustration of how you can rock in second-hand clothing and accessories!

But first: isn't that throne me and my date are sitting on fit ... for a queen?

We were at a party at MoRoCo Chocolat and we just had to get the sweet owner Kelly Kimel to snap a pic of us in this very regal looking chair.

My outfit: a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress found at Toronto resale boutique Extoggery. I found the chunky silver tone necklace at the thrift shop for under $10, and decided to jazz it up a little (and cover the scar on my chest) by simply knotting it - looks neat doesn't it?

We saw some very classy looks walking around Yorkville that night, and also some trashy ones. Just goes to show you can look uber classy even when wearing second-hand duds!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Grunge Queen gets crafty

Dear reader, if you know me well enough you'll know I'm an "as is" kinda gal, not crafty in the least.

Well at the opening of the new Yorkville Anthropologie store in Toronto last Friday night, let's just say I got a little crafty dafty.

Here's me with a hot glue gun to prove it.

To celebrate its launch Anthro held a "statement piece" necklace making workshop using used bits and baubles from vintage jewellery and such.

My gal pal Andrea and I were pretty useless, I'll admit. While droves of 20-somethings put together beautiful statement piece necklaces in 10 minutes to half an hour, we slaved away at that table for 2 hours!

Andrea, lucky gal, ended up finding her necklace mostly done. She strung it up and voila, she had a gorgeous piece!

Here's me with my final creation: a swirl of pearls and smokey grey beads glued to a royal blue felt bib. The silver floral pieces are really special.

It actually turned out ok, kind of elegant, n'est pas? The string part is a mess and I'm not sure about the velvet, so I may recreate the piece on a different fabric.

I'll post the full story soon on my Twitter feed, where you can read all about my local shopping exploits in Toronto!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Grunge Queen does Yorkville

For Grunge Queen purchases, there's cash.

For Yorkville buys, there's my credit card.

My pal Andrea and I are pretty happy here, as you can see. Last night before the opening of the Yorkville Anthropologie store in Toronto, we popped into the charming boutique, where there was an astonishing sale on their cashmere sweaters, wool scarves and other pieces: BUY 1 GET 2 FREE!

Once we could think clearly we decided to split the sale. Andrea bought one cashmere cardigan for $76 and change, regularly $195.

Meanwhile I bought a cashmere sweater and a gorgeous Indian scarf, each priced at $195.

The bill could have been almost $500, but with the 3 for 1 I paid $146 including taxes.

I just looove this gorgeous wool scarf made in India with all the boho embellishments - rather Anthro, come to think of it.

More to come on the Anthro visit and how we attempted to make our own statement piece necklaces using vintage beads and whatnot - truly funny!

For now it's the long weekend in Canada, and I'm off to the beach!! Have a good one!