Friday, January 29, 2010

A tale of two (yellow) coats

It's minus 15 degrees C in T.O. and the skies are still super grey.....

Definitely time for some colour to jazz the world up a wee bit.

Alas, it's too cold to wear either of these coats, both thrifted.

But this one I can wear if it warms up a few notches.

It's a 1980s Bill Blass swing coat with big brass-like buttons. If memory serves it was $12.99 at Stretch Thrift, my fave shop in my 'hood!

Alas it looks kinda chunky on my body form (wish I had my own personal photographer who could take pics of me in my thrifty get ups every morning), but suffice it to say it really does look quite swish on.

I can even wear it with jeans.

Since yellow actually looks like crap on me I've spruced it up with a colour that looks fab on me - blue - and added a darling vintage pin I thrifted for $1.99.

Normally I say DO NOT thrift items whose colours look icky on you, but sometimes a gal's gotta trust her gut and break the rules. I get heaps of compliments on this coat.

And the tip of the day is you can mix in a complementary colour to really get a bang out of the colour - so long as one of the colours looks good on you AND the colour that does look good on you is close to your face.

Here's the spring counterpart to the Bill Blass, a yellow trench I found at Sally Ann last year for $6.99.

I added this darling scarf bought new in Ottawa but made of recycled fabric bits.

I just had to throw in that pop of teal again, so I tried the look with this teal bag by Winnipeg label emk.

It looks pretty springtime fabulous doesn't it?

Alas, I won't be wearing this ensemble for a while but let it serve as a happy reminder that spring will be here one day.

And let it serve as a reminder to me as I get dressed this cold, cold morning that colour actually can change your mood! I AM rather sick of the sea of black I see on the subway every morning. Mmm, what shall I wear to zoot things up a bit today????

Do you have any fun fashion tips to get through winter, or if you're in a warmer clime do you have any fashiony tips for cooling down?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pretty shots

Good morning, GQ is running late this a.m. so there is no theme to this post other than showing you pics of my recent apartment makeover.

I love the grouping of black and white framed photos.

The velvet chair was thrifted for $60; the pillow is made of old Victorian fabric and was found at a consignment shop for $30.

I liked the idea of creating a little reading nook.

Pretty things scattered across my bedroom bureau .....

I've been collecting pill boxes over the years so fam and friends bring me them now.

The blue glitter one with the lady on it was one of the first ones I bought - when I was 19 years old visiting Toronto.

Decor mags piled up on an Italian table found in the trash.

Like the boho shabby look.

Speaking of boho one of the mags on top is a new mag out of the US, called Boho. It's printed on recycled paper and the content is indeed boho.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How I rationalized thrifting 2 bowls in a week

"Do I need another bowl?"

This thought raced through my head as I stood falling in love with this blown glass bowl in front of my friendly neighborhood thrift store, Stretch Thrift on Pape Ave. in Toronto.

Same store I bought the turquoise bowl only days before.

Talk about bowl guilt.

Reader, dear reader: would you have left it there?

Here's how it looks on my console.

Ok here's the rationalization:

I didn't need another bowl.

But I'm a lover of beauty - cheap beauty.

It met both criteria, being beautiful and only $5.99.

A bonus: the bowl was signed.

Did a Google search yield anything about the name on it?

No, not a whit. But hey, it's signed!

Some talented person but his or her name to a beautiful creation.

I'm getting all teary-eyed thinking about it.

What a feeling that must be to leave something like that behind for someone to find and treasure.

I also really dig the fact that it's asymmetrical.

As you may know, Grunge Queen has a thing about imperfection.

Plus its most predominant colours match the purply hue Grunge Queen is fond of! It was, afterall, the colours of royalty (that's another story).

So reader, the bowl is most emphatically and rejoicingly mine.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

View to my couch

This is the view to my couch, a place I am trying to spend some more time on these days as I unwind at night.

On the other side of the console table is another loveseat, which you can't see.

I love the idea of creating a cozy nook with two loveseats facing eachother. I find I tend to cozify my decor in the winter months, when nesting takes place - don't you?

I traded this console with a nasty ex beau; in return he got a (hopefully termite ridden) chest of drawers another ex brought me from the trash - talk about trash romance Karma!
Mt stinker of an ex said he bought this at auction and it belonged to Canadian parliamentarian Stanley Knowles. Who knows if that was the truth?

But I dig the table anyway - think it's actually a vanity as there's a ridge at the back where a mirror should attach. I like using as a divider in my living room. And generally, I like a clean look with no clutter under tables, but an old wicker chest piled up with decor mags and a worn handpainted wood bowl (and with a gorgeous thrifted purse hanging from the handle - I get off using fashion accessories in my decorative vignettes), made the look a bit more sloppy boho.

A smattering of beloved hardcover books - from ballerina Karen Kain to thrifty decor - are piled on top.

Another purse: the silk Banana Republic clutch bought at a consignment shop therefore found a home on top of a book.

The crystal tea light holder under the thrift shop lamp and garage sale shade was also thrifted. My sis received two exactly like that as a gift from a person who loves buying expensive gifts, so I know it's worth something (but that's not why I bought it reader: of course I love it!).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Yes, fashion & the dollar store can be in same sentence!

My face is blown out in this shot but I did that on purpose, ha ha: I wanted you to focus on the scarf.

Designer? Vintage? Mega bucks?


Found at the best dollar store ever in the basement of Empress Walk shopping centre (located just outside the North York Centre subway stop).

It was a couple bucks.

Generally I don't go looking for style in the dollar store, but lesson number one when you're a deal diva is to have an open mind.

It's summer weight but I used it to jazz up a pair of riding pants and a chunky sweater by west-coast designer Talula Babaton (the latter thrifted for a song at Goodwill).

Other apparel items I buy at the dollar store?

White sports socks. Can't beat the price.

And sometimes, blush, you can find really decent undies and thongs for a buck. Hey, why pay more at the department store?

Do you have any dollar store fashion secrets?

P.S. Thanks to Antonella for snapping the pic!

Friday, January 22, 2010

And the winner is ...

Thank you to everyone who commented on the giveaway post - the post was a great way to connect with regular readers and followers, bring some quiet readers out of the woodwork, and introduce some new readers and followers to this here little bloggie.

And the winner of the Domino book is ....

Thrifted Treasure!

I couldn't believe it when I drew her name. Not only did we start our blogs the same week; we're also dedicated followers of one another ... and I stole the idea of the book giveaway and the rules from her as well!

Congrats Thrifted Treasure, I'll get your details and this book will soon be winging its way to Aussie Land!

The winner of the crystal-esque vintage necklace ....

Vintage Girl!

Congrats Vintage Girl, and thanks to everyone for participating. I think I'll look at doing giveaways and other fun interactive stuff more regularly - it's fun!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Antitote to greyness

It's been nothing but grey skies in Toronto this January.

I've been stuffing clementines in my face - for the energy, for the vitamins, for the pop of colour.

Walking by my fave thrift shop window the other day, I spotted this torquoise pedestal bowl in the window - a bowl in which my clementines are now nestling.

The bottom revealed a "Made in Japan" stamp, and a $3.99 pricetag.

I've always wanted a bowl with a pedestal, and pottery and glass pieces Made in Japan always appeal to me for some reason - I think its their simplicity of design.

Natch I bagged the bowl. I love the contrasting jolts of colour, and the way the bowl pops against the black tablecloth. It helps ease the grey feelings.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

5 buck pick-me-up with G-Q reader pal

Happy Grunge Queen story: I met Doreen, a reader who found this blog and contacted me after the Toronto Star article Rita Zekas wrote on me and my pad came out in November.

Doreen and I have become friends, and recently we took a stroll along Mount Pleasant Rd., where there's a bunch of antique and decor shops.

At one shop specializing in refurbished lighting, we found bins of chandelier pieces selling for $3 to $6.

This big red piece, about 2 inches long, called out to me. The owner let me have it for $5 - luckily exactly what I had in my purse! It'll make a striking pendant necklace with a velvet or silky ribbon.

Doreen says all I have to do is buy a clasp at a bead shop to go through the hole on top. If I'm feeling really lazy and grunge-queenish, I can just string a ribbon through it.

Anyway I love it. It satisfies my constant need for bling, and will turn out to be a nifty statement piece necklace once I'm done with it.

The gent at the shop tells me red chandeliers were quite rare so these pieces aren't easy to come by. I thought the shape was really different too.

If you're ever on the Mount Pleasant strip in T.O. check it out; the shop has unique chandeliers and some very cool Art Deco wall sconces with icicle-like chandelier pieces dripping from them:

Akladios Antiques
558 Mount Pleasant Rd.,

How do you get your bling bang on? Any creative ways you've found or put together inexpensive jewellery?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Raise a glass ... or two, or three

I have some cheap IKEA wine glasses at home for when the gals and I slosh back the vino; they're cheap, and though unattractive, they're replaceable.

For more special occasions, I found these retro faceted multi-coloured glasses, in two sizes, at my local thrift shop for .99 cents each.

Aren't they nifty looking? I've never seen anything like 'em.

There are three big and three small - I'm guessing the weeny ones are for liqueurs, which I don't drink, but they were so pretty I had to nab the whole set.

Think it's time to donate the IKEA ones back to the thrift shop.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Audrey Hepburn from the 1960s

Thanks to all who responded to my anniversary post, and welcome to new followers! I will be drawing for the book and necklace Friday and will make the announcement then!

Don't wear these shades when you have a hangover - I have a feeling the blue won't match a green face.

I don't have a hangover here; I'm just groovin' in my retro 1960s blue shades made in Italy, picked up at my fave vintage accessory store in Toronto, The Bead Goes On just off Mount Pleasant Rd.

They were $35.

This style of sunglasses always reminds me of Audrey Hepburn from the 1960s, when she had short hair that was a little poufy on top, and clad herself in swish pantuits and humongeous shades like these.

So many people see Audrey style as her Givenchy or Breakfast at Tiffany's look; but her mod look was just as fab, and my fave.

Here's me wearing my new shades yesterday while brunching with the man at the King Edward hotel in Toronto.

The shades exactly match my thrifted Butte Knit dress (found at Sally Ann for under $10). Though the style of the boots - Kenneth Cole Reaction thrifted at Value Village for $49! - may be inspired more by the 1970s, I think the whole ensemble is still pretty swish.

Maybe I look a wee bit Audrey from the '60s, yes?

Friday, January 15, 2010

One Year Anniversary Giveaway!!!

"Da da da da da da da: They say it's Grunge Queen's blogs Birthday ... Happy Birthday to her!"

One year this week! I feel like a proud mommie. Love this blog; love that all you lovely readers follow and comment and encourage and compliment the way along.

Here's prize number one (yes there are two!):

Are you a decor junkie? Love glam, but not sure how to get it? Did you cry your heart out when you learned that one of your fave inspirational mags, Domino, went the way of the do-do bird last year?

This boo-tiful 250 page book, Domino, the Book of Decorating: a room by room guide to creating a home that makes you happy is very Grunge Queen in a way. It's not about thrift per se, though it may feature some rooms with thrifty items in them.

But it is about creativity, creating a happy space that reflects the essential YOU, and sharing helpful tips and ideas ... all Grunge Queen mantras.

I am frequently inspired to do thrifty little dcor re-dos by the likes of Elle Decor, Domino, and the recently funked up Canadian House and Home magazines.

I hope this book does the same for the lucky winner - this will go to the first name I draw!

How to enter in a sec. Here's second prize:

Ok, so you're not a decor nut. But you are a fashion freak, in the most glam of senses.

This vintage/retro 'crystal' necklace is a piece I thrifted while doing this blog, and I love it.

It's so simple, there's a totally retro clasp (that you have to make sure you close correctly) - and it's so old you can even see that the beads were strung with string!!

This will be yours if you are the second name I draw!!

How to Enter:

1). Leave a comment on this post = 1 entry.

2). If you are a follower or become a follower (by clicking "follow" button - you can create an Anonymous profile by the way), leave a comment and tell me = 1 entry (your second if you do above).

3). If you shout out this giveaway to other thrifty decor and fashion junkies (on your blog, on Twitter, on someone else's blog as a comment in the case you don't have a blog), and then post a comment here to tell me = 1 entry (your third if you do 1 and 2).

Three chances to win a prize, and two prizes to win ... and if you were born with a horseshoe and I draw your name twice you could actually win two prizes! I will ship the prizes to the winners!

I will do the draw and make an announcement next Friday January 22. The winners will have to email me back with their contact details.

Good luck and thank you for reading Grunge Queen, where chic is indeed cheap.
And thanks to Thrifted Treasure 'cos I copied the rules from her ....

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Something old, something new

My recent bedroom makeover was inspired by this lovely red bracelet that I received as a Christmas present.

It has an ethnic-elegant look to it, and the red seemed a colourful and warm antidote to the icky January greyness.

All I did was change the duvet cover, add in some curtains and some throws, but the final look is more exotic.

I've had this Navajo-inspired blanket since my early 20s, and haven't used it for years - in fact it was in my donate pile until I pulled it out.

It looks great over the brick red duvet cover I put on the bed as part of the makeover (I have several duvet covers on hand to change things up every once in a while).

I added some multi-coloured striped silky pillows....

Threw up some purple drapes that I relocated from the living room ....

Added more purple ....

And voila!

You see the kitties approve!

Tomorrow: my anniversary giveaway!

Thrifted Treasure Giveaway

Ok folks, I'm put to shame by fellow thrifty blogger extrordinaire Thrifted Treasure , whose is also celebrating her year anniversary this week and who is doing a giveaway - please take a wander over there and leave a comment, become a follower and/or mention her giveaway on your blog for a chance to win this fab-o book called Fleamarket Style. If you do all three you get entered three times - draw is Monday so get a move on!

I read and follow Thrifted Treasure and she's one of my fave blogs on thrifting.

P.S. I will be copying Thrifted Treasure and doing a giveaway - perhaps a few different things? - on Friday to show my appreciation for all you fab readers out there. Please come back then!!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New year, new look, new apartment?

I'm a poster child for change when it comes to the spaces in which I live.

Not two weeks after completing my full-on apartment re-do, I'm contemplating moving - to smaller digs!

I live in the equivalent of social purgatory now - apartment land, basically - and I long for life on the busy Toronto shopping strip where I used to live.

That's exactly where this apartment is.

It's just been renovated, and the deal breaker for me are these gorgeous windows with south-eastern exposure, overlooking a church across the street with shops and restos in sight to the left - ideal!

I have first dibs if I want ... and if the numbers in my cheque book (and the stars) align!

The big thing: I'd have to get rid of a ton of stuff as the space is about a full room smaller than what I'm in now.

As hard as it is to think of this, divesting myself of all my STUFF sounds appealing. A simpler life. Could I do it???

I would consider doing it if it meant the windows in this apartment, and the hipper location.

Any thoughts out there on moving into smaller digs or downsizing??

P.S. It would mean moving slightly away from my fave thrift shop - which could mean I'd accumulate less stuff to refill my new pad!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

One Year Anniversary: decor then & now

My blog turns a year tomorrow, and I'd like to thank all you lovely readers for reading along, commenting or emailing me privately, or linking back to me - you make my day when I do!

Here's a pic of my living room Jan 18 last year. It's wide and open, and now that I look at it it does look cluttered, with all the stuff on the wall.

This is my NEW living room, the result of an agonizingly creative day-long apartment re-do after the holidays.

True, I essentially chopped the room in half by positioning the two love seats facing eachother, but I'm really liking the cozy vibe of the smaller space I created.

I also pared down some of the accessories to keep the look more streamlined.

I think style constantly evolves, and I'd like to think my design and decorating sense has refined itself this past year. It's been fun fun fun to play with my space!

Thanks for reading. Have a fab day!

Monday, January 11, 2010

St. Lawrence costume jewellery find

I rarely go to St. Lawrence market in Toronto, but yesterday I met an old university pal for brunch in the area, and ended up checking it out.

Natch, I looked for what is always my big weakness: costume jewellery.

This piece took the cake.

It fits high on the neck and the multiple chains fall on the side just as you see it here. There's even a double clasp to make the necklace more of a choker.

I tend to be drawn to 1970s stuff but I'm not sure I can place this era - any one out there want to hazard a guess?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Entry way re-do

My New Year's apartment makeover coverage continues ....

I've had this ratty old bookshelf since I was in my 20s, and I've carted it into every apartment I've ever had as it carries my overflow of books. It was a faded yellow when I first picked it up at some long ago garage sale; then I painted it a grotesque emerald green (hey I was in my 20s). It's been white for years now.

I decided to move it to my entry way area and use it as a bookshelf and accessories holder - one, to be different, and two, it made sense as I wanted something narrow in that space that I would not bump into or stub my toe on.

I threw an electric pink scarf over top as a runner (that I've also had since my 20s) and went to work.

On the lower shelves, I've stored scarves, a few vintage purses, and some boots (the latter from the thrift store - ooh I have a fabulous boot post coming soon!), along with some old books on dancing that I've hung onto since my dancing days in my 20s.

And do you see that green peacock fabric on the left-hand side of the third shelf from the bottom? Part of a skirt I've had since I was 15 - the skirt has long since fallen apart but I love the fabric so much I am going to get someone to make me a pillow.

I tried to make the top both practical and whimsical, like those "entry way makeovers" you see in the decor mags.

I love the glam little lamp I dug up at Goodwill for $4.99. I plopped a shade on it that I had around the house.

The clear glass ashtray (used here as a change holder) and paperweight were a few dollars each at thrift shops, and the brass bowl which holds my sunglasses was $3.99 at a thrift shop.

The painting, a work of folk art by well-known Nova Scotia folk artist Leo Naugler, is called "Skiing" and I love it. I bought it from a Toronto dealer for a good price.

Friday, January 8, 2010

What in the world is it?

I love it when readers comment, send questions and otherwise interact with the Grunge Queen! Today I have a couple reader-related posts, both to do with silver!

The photos and the text below are courtesy of River-Rose, who has a wonderful "What in the world is it?" question re: a thrift find that I'm throwing out to all you savvy thrifters there!
Here it is:

Dear Grunge Queen,

I found this pretty piece at the local thrift store. It seems old and I just love the Acorn insignia at the top. "From small seeds do big trees grow", came to mind and thought it would make an interesting and lovely birthday present to my mother. My only question is- what in the world is it?

It has a wonderful design and separates in the center. The lower half has 4 oval openings.

The mystery deepens as I cannot find a similar image on the Internet. I have also taken the object to my county's museum and at the time they did not have a similar item, but guessed that is was, perhaps made in the 1920's and resembled an incense burner. There are no burn marks on the interior.

It was also taken to an antique shop and although the owner wasn't in at the time, a young employee guessed it is an ornate toothbrush holder. Finding this piece has been a fun experience! If anyone out there has any guesses, please let me know.

What a beautiful piece, River-Rose! I'm going with incense burner, but like your Mom I would use it as a pretty decoration.

Please post your response here if you want to guess what it is; you can also email River-Rose at

Speaking of silver, my gal pal Sarah over at East End Pioneer dedicated yesterday's post to Grunge Queen, showing off her fab silver Value Village score and thanking yours truly for inspiring her in the thrift decor department!

Right on, Sarah, I love the silver and I love that Value Village too! Please check out Sarah's blog as she celebrates all the wonderful things in the community just east of Greektown - my 'hood too!